I make it through my husband’s deployments by doing a few things: redecorating random rooms in our house, training for and running half marathons and sending him care packages. A lot of care packages. And once you’ve sent so many care packages that the post office employees actually know you by name, you’ve learned a few things. Some are super simple (chocolate will melt a little bit no matter how long you freeze it) while others are a little more eye-opening.
Top 5 Care Package Lessons
Care Package Lesson #1: Allow for delivery time
The biggest lesson I’ve learned about the military is to never count on anything happening when you think it will. Care package delivery is no exception, but getting a general idea of when your boxes should arrive is key, especially if you like seasonal themes.
The post office is only responsible for your care package until they deliver it to the military and they are the ones who actually determine when it will arrive. They usually wait for a certain amount of stuff or a certain date before sending a shipment overseas. This means boxes can take a different amount of time to arrive in each deployment location. For example, during A’s first deployment, boxes took about 10 days to get there. But that time ballooned to almost 3 weeks during his second deployment!
My advice is this: have your loved one ask around to see how long boxes are taking to arrive and send your first box accordingly. Then adjust your shipping schedule based on how long the first one actually took to arrive.
Care Package Lesson #2: Send disposable stuff
Some people may disagree with this, but I suggest never sending anything in a care package that you’ll be upset to never get back. That goes for both super sentimental and super expensive items. I buy inexpensive movies, use rewards points to purchase books and magazines and stick to mostly usable stuff that will gone before he returns home.
Why? Because odds are it won’t come home.
A’s ability to physically carry items back himself is limited and there’s only so much room in his trunks that come back via the military. I know that he does a big purge before he comes home and I need to be ok with him leaving some things behind.
Care Package Lesson #3: Pack those boxes tightly!
If you use flat-rate boxes from the USPS, you pay the same price, no matter the weight.Also, if you pack everything tightly, contents are far less likely to shift during shipping and either get damaged or damage your box’s decorations.
So use all of that space! Squeeze smaller items between the larger ones to fill in any gaps, add a few extra notes and pack and re-pack until everything fits as tightly as possible. And take advantage of your flaps to write notes, add photos and really get creative with!
Care Package Lesson #4: Ask for contributions
Even though there’s plenty of ways to save money, the bottom line is that care packages can get pricey! Something I learned very early on is that people WANT to send things overseas, but they don’t necessarily have enough to send their own care package. That situation completely works out to your advantage! Ask friends and family if they have anything they’d like to include in your next box and take some of the financial pressure of yourself.
When A told me that he (and his co-workers) had run out of basic toiletries and likely wouldn’t get a new shipment soon, I put out an SOS to some of our friends and my co-workers. Before I knew it, I had multiple boxes FULL of toiletries. I would have spent hundreds of dollars if I’d purchased everything myself, but by asking for contributions, I saved money and kept everyone overseas smelling just a teensy bit better.
Care Package Lesson #5: Send shareable stuff
A big eye opener for me was learning that not every guy or gal gets care packages while deployed. Awful, right?! Short of shipping out dozens of boxes a month, I think the best thing you can do is to send shareable stuff in your care packages. Send extra toiletries or another box of granola bars so that your loved one can spread the wealth a little bit. It helps him or her make new friends and lets everyone know they are appreciated. Don't forget the single guys when sending deployment care packages. Include shareable stuff! #milspouse Click To Tweet
What care package lessons have you learned?
Rachel is a military wife, avid reader, baker and care package maker. She and her husband are proud puppy parents to their dachshund, Baxter and their German shorthaired pointer, Ruger. She blogs all about life as a military wife at Countdowns and Cupcakes, a place where military spouses, new and experienced alike, can come for support, encouragement, a little humor and maybe a care package idea or two. She can also be found on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Bloglovin.
Rachel has such great ideas! Thanks for sharing your tips with us! If you want to read more about Care Packages, I have written about how to get free package materials, and what to send to those poor single guys that usually don’t receive any mail. And if you want a dose of humor, here’s a fun meme about what we as wives would like to receive in a spouse deployment survival package. Thanks for stopping by!