This post is in partnership with Gillette’s new SkinGuard razor – available new at Walmart today.
So, you’re ready to send a deployment care package. But how do you get started and what should you include? There are some items I include in almost every care package I send to my husband during deployments. Then there are other things I add in for special occasions. The purpose of a care package is to bring your service member joy and brighten their day with some of the familiar comforts of home. For a successful care package, follow these steps.
Gather your supplies
You’ll first need to decide what size box to use. Shipping to an overseas APO or FPO address is usually cheapest when you use the flat-rate boxes from the US Postal Service. They come in small, medium, and large. I typically use large if I am only sending one box that month, but a medium box is easier to fill. You can get boxes and shipping supplies for free by ordering a military bundle from the USPS. There are more details on how to do that here.
Next, go shopping! Sometimes it’s good to stock up on bulk items you know you’ll be sending throughout the deployment. But it is usually quickest and easiest to get everything you need at once. Walmart supplies all the basics. It’s great to get toiletries, snacks, AND your crafting decorations all in one place.
Include the essentials
Always begin with the necessary items. Is there anything your service member has requested recently? Something they forgot? Be sure to pick that up first and plan how much space is left in the box. You can pack food and other items around it. Something my husband always requests is new razors and shaving cream. As a Marine, he has to shave every day, even during deployment. At home, he always struggles a little with razor burn on his neck. In deployment environments, shaving can sometimes cause painful razor bumps and irritation. He has been in hot, dry desert environments and also has slept in tents in the snow! So, I was excited to find the Gillette SkinGuard razor at Walmart. It’s their first razor
specially designed for men with sensitive skin, with a SkinGuard bar between the blades to minimize “tug and pull” and shave at skin-level to prevent irritation. The PURE Soothing shaving cream is also available at Walmart and goes great when used with SkinGuard.
When sending toiletries, be careful of anything liquid or under pressure. Since care packages will go on planes and be in hot and cold environments, anything under pressure can burst, and liquids can destroy an entire care package. When in doubt, place items in sealed Ziploc bags to keep them contained. Also, any soaps or lotions with a strong scent should be placed in a Ziploc bag to contain the smell.
Add some snacks
You know what your service member likes to eat! Try to include their favorite flavors and brands in the box, especially if it is something you know they can’t get during deployment. My Marine always requests protein-rich snacks, which is great because these are all shelf-stable and transport well. Either surprise your service member with seasonal treats or ask them if there is something they miss. Before sending microwavable items like popcorn or mac and cheese, ask if they have access to a microwave. Need ideas for care package favorites? Check out this list of care package basics here.
A warning about sending snacks: remember that care packages will go through hot and cold environments. Chocolate is likely to melt, especially during summer deployments. Packages can take 2-4 weeks to be delivered, so all items should be shelf-stable and not require refrigeration. Finally, remember that pork products are not allowed to enter some Middle Eastern countries, so check with your service member or their unit about any shipping restrictions before sending your first package.
Decorate with personal touches
Some people like to decorate their care packages with cute messages, photos, puns, or seasonal themes. If you are crafty and enjoy that, you can find tons of ideas on Pinterest, and get supplies at your local craft store… or in the craft aisles of Walmart. You can also order seasonal or custom designs from sites like Countdowns and Cupcakes (She’s the care package expert in our Deployment Masterclass!)
However, if crafting is not your thing, or your short on time, it’s totally ok to send a plain undecorated box. To be honest, that’s usually what I do. I asked my husband once if he wanted them to be decorated, and he asked, “Why? I just throw the box away!” Instead, I make sure to add some artwork from the kids. We have an area where they can constantly leave “messages for Dad,” which is sometimes a drawing, a sticker collection, or a project from school. When I’m ready to send a package, I grab the contents and add them to his care package. Easy peasy.
Assemble your care package
You’re ready to send this package on its way! Unfold your box and use packaging tape on the bottom. You may also want to use tape to reinforce the corners, because those boxes can get really beat up. Tape your decorations to the box flaps and bottom. Add in your essential items first, then fill in the spaces with snacks and artwork. When it’s full, tape up the box and complete the address and customs form. There are more instructions on how to do that here. Then take your box to the Post Office and send it on its way!
Putting together a care package doesn’t have to be expensive, time-consuming, or frustrating. You can find everything you need at Walmart for an easy one-stop trip. Remember to grab the Gillette SkinGuard razors at Walmart as an essential part of your next care package!