Send Perfect Gifts to Service Members During Deployments

This post is sponsored by Cele.  

The most frustrating deployments are those that stretch over important holidays. Whether it’s Christmas, a birthday, or our anniversary, it’s always a struggle to decide how to celebrate deployment holidays. Should you send holiday gifts to service members during deployments? I want to include my deployed husband, but then I don’t want him to feel like he’s missing out on too much either. The best way to celebrate and make him feel included is to send a gift during deployment.  

But… here’s the problem: my husband is a great gift-giver, and I am not. He always finds the most original, thoughtful, and unique things to give me to mark special occasions. I would say that gift-giving is one of his favorite Love Languages. (Don’t know what I mean? Read this post!

I, on the other hand, am not a great gift-giver. It’s my lowest Love Language. Somehow, it has never been my preferred way to express my love, even for the people I care about the most. I always feel stuck trying to decide what to give him for any holiday, and the challenge feels even more difficult during deployments. I will spend hours Googling things like “great birthday gift for husband,” only to find generic suggestions or gifts that have nothing to do with his interests.  

When I finally do settle on a gift, then I have to wait until I’m on the checkout page before I can see whether they will ship to his deployment APO address. You probably know that during deployments, the service member has a unique APO address which is treated as a domestic U.S. address so you don’t pay international shipping. However, it means you must list the state as AP or AE, and that choice isn’t available from every vendor on Amazon.  

If the vendor can’t ship to a deployment address, I must either pay shipping twice by mailing it to myself and then forwarding it in a care package, or abandon the cart and start all over again looking for a different gift. So frustrating! 

service member stationed overseas receives care package of gifts to service member during deployment

How to Find and Send Perfect Gifts to Service Members During Deployment 

That’s why I was so excited to discover a website that helps you send the perfect gifts to service members during deployment! 

Cele uses a short quiz and AI technology to help you find the perfect gift for your friends and family. Just answer a few questions about their interests, and the program suggests gift ideas that you can be confident in, all for free. If you’re looking for a gift that is unique, personalized, or thoughtful, Cele can help you find it faster than ever. 

What makes Cele so helpful is that it learns based on your feedback. That means this is no generic gift guide. Instead, it’s personalized to not only you and your buying preferences, but also, and more importantly, the interests and hobbies of the person you are buying for. The best part? The more you use Cele, the better the recommendations get, so you can be confident your loved one will love their present. Whether you are buying for a birthday, Father’s Day, or Christmas, the suggestions will improve over time.  

The website allows you to add your loved one to “The Fam” and save their preferences for the next holiday. You can also use the “Stash” to store a few ideas for later.  

Cele has hundreds of retail partnerships. Soon, the website will use an icon to identify the retailers that ship to APO addresses. This is sooooo helpful to military families, because you can see at a glance whether they will ship to the deployment address! 

I definitely recommend visiting the Cele website to help you with your deployment gift-giving and holiday shopping. 

Send Perfect Gifts to Service Members During Deployments

What Makes a Great Deployment Gift for Service Members? 

When I need inspiration for deployment gift-giving, I ask my deployment support group on Facebook for their favorite deployment gifts. With over 8,000 military spouses and significant others all going through deployments together, they have a lot of good suggestions!  

If you’re still stumped on what to send in a deployment care package or to celebrate a holiday during deployment, use these tips to guide your gift choices. 

Keep it small

Storage space is limited in many deployment locations, so there is nowhere to keep large, bulky items. Plus, the shipping costs will be lower for small gifts. 

Make it personal

Anything with a recording of your voice, a picture or you or the kids, or something that helps them remember a special moment you shared is sure to be a big hit. 

Be careful of electronics

Yes, electronics can make excellent gifts, but be careful when shipping anything with a lithium battery overseas. Plus, desert environments will put a lot of wear and tear on an electronic device! 

Know the shipping restrictions

If you purchase shipping insurance, understand that it only covers the package within the United States. Once it’s turned over to a military facility, the Post Office is no longer responsible. You also will not have tracking updates once the military receives the box. 

Ask what they need

At some deployment locations, service members have access to a military base with stores, so they can get all their toiletries and favorite snacks. Other times, they are more remote and miss specific things from home. Or perhaps the weather is extreme and you can get something to help keep them warm or cool them down. Before assembling a care package, always ask for the service member’s input! 

With a little help from Cele, you can up your deployment gift-giving game and find gifts that are creative, personal, and just the right fit for your special someone.  


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