Supporting Your Sailor: Themed Care Packages

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ARABIAN GULF (July 12, 2016) Seaman Cody Platt opens a care package aboard the dock landing ship USS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49). Harpers Ferry is part of the Boxer Amphibious Ready Group and, with the embarked 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit, is deployed in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Zachary Eshleman/Released) 160712-N-VS214-068

It’s deployment time for many Sailors and Marines, which also means it’s time to send out care packages. While deployments are never easy, sending a service member a care package from home can be a real morale booster. Since we know that choosing the perfect items to send your loved one can be challenging we’ve come up with some fun themes to help you break away from the typical boxes of beef jerky, hot sauce, and whoopee cushions. So gather up the family and get everyone involved in making these fun care packages any service member is sure to love!

It can be rough spending your birthday away from home, so why not send your loved one a birthday bash in a box? We recommend filling this care package with simple decorations like streamers, banners, kazoos or party blowers, classic party games, and pop up décor. Include small wrapped gifts like headphones, a watch, a manicure set, or even a digital music player or e-reader pre-loaded with content. Next fill all the little spaces in the box with hard candy that won’t melt and top it off with a musical card that’ll sing them happy birthday or a recorded message from you. Bonus points if you include a bubble-wrapped cake in a jar (just keep the candles at home).

Since homesickness often accompanies deployment, consider sending your loved one a care package that doubles as a little dose of home. Items in this box might range from artwork done by the kids to pictures of family members, outings, pets, and your home or garden. You can also include something more substantial like fuzzy socks or a light blanket. Add in some hand written letters of appreciation, notes of encouragement, or a DVD of greetings from family. Top it off with some fancy instant coffee, a new travel mug (with a lid is best), Sunday comics, or magazines. Tuck in an air freshener in your home’s signature scent, and it won’t be long before this little box of comfort has your Sailor feeling right at home.

ARABIAN GULF (May 27, 2011) Sailors read letters included in care packages received from Operation Troop Aid (OTA) aboard the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76). Ronald Reagan and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 14 are deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility and will be conducting close-air support missions as part of Operations Enduring Freedom and New Dawn. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Melissa Russell/Released) 110527-N-RG360-059

On the flipside, one of the highlights of deploying is getting to visit different countries along the way. Encourage your loved one to explore by sending them a travel-themed box. If you know some of the ports they could be visiting you might include small, lightweight guide books or print out common phrases in the local language. If you’re not sure where they’ll be stopping, you can include more general items any savvy traveler might keep on hand such as sun screen, bug repellant bracelets or spray, wet wipes, a compact travel toothbrush, a sleep mask, and snacks that can handle being tossed in a backpack like hard granola bars, nuts, and flavored drink mixes.

Lastly, because deployments are often six months or longer your loved one will likely miss some holidays, but you can send them some cheer with a holiday-themed box. This care package can either mark a holiday they’re missing or give them a sneak peek of a future holiday. For example, you can send your Sailor an Easter-themed box in April if they’ll be missing it, or a Christmas-themed box in July. Just include décor, snacks, candy, movies, and gifts that coordinate to the holiday you’ve selected. And while they may not be official holidays you could even send a World Series baseball, March Madness basketball, or Super Bowl themed box complete with miniature sports games or balls.

Whether you mail your Sailor one of these themed care packages, or an equally awesome traditional care package, they’re sure to appreciate whatever you send. For someone on deployment, there’s just something special about hearing your name at mail call and claiming a care package. So make your Sailor’s day and send them a box!


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