What do you send to your military person?

Gift ideas for your military person.

Receiving a surprise package in the mail is fun for everyone, but it is particularly important for a deployed military person. It is one way to boost their spirits because it shows you are thinking about them. But…what to send them?

This is the second part of the two part series on mailing “surprise” packages to deployed military personnel. What to mail is very important. Michigan State University Extension recommends you keep food safety in mind as you think of what to send.

10 ideas for “surprise” gifts:
  1. During the cold months, a hot beverage takes the edge of the cold. Powdered drink mixes to include would be cocoa, instant coffee, tea bags, and creamer packets. During the warmer month’s suggestions for powdered drink mixes are sweetened lemonade, sports drinks, and iced tea.
  2. Anything that can be mixed with MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) would be greatly welcomed. Ideas are ramen noodles, seasoned salt, individual packets of hot sauce, mustard, relish, ketchup, and other herbs and spices.
  3. For a quick protein consider energy bars, tuna fish, sardines, non-perishable beef jerky or beef summer sausage. The beef needs to be labeled USDA Beef.
  4. For snacks, think about small hard containers of chips, pretzels, and nuts. Small containers are easier to carry around than large ones. Avoid sending bags that could pop under high pressure. If you do send large bags or containers, be sure to send some zipper-like plastic bags so small bags are easier to carry. The high demand snacks are cookies, snack cakes, and cheese and crackers. Salty snacks are a good choice for those service persons stationed in the desert, particularly during the warm months. During the warmer months, salty snacks will actually encourage the service member to drink more water.
  5. When it comes to candy and gum, avoid chocolate, particularly if the service member is in a warmer climate. It will melt becoming a mess. For candy and gum that may soften in the heat, send them in zipper-like plastic bags to help reduce the potential mess. Send extra candy and gum just in case your son or daughter comes in contact with children.
  6. Other welcomed “surprise” gifts include small, travel-size containers of toiletries, personal care like individually packaged baby wipes, foot care, disposable hand warmers. Goggle-style sunglasses, cotton socks and underwear. For cold climates, fingerless gloves, stocking caps, long underwear.
  7. When it comes to entertainment and communication “gifts” look for paperback books, current magazines, comic books, crossword puzzles, word searches, jigsaw puzzles. Game equipment that could help pass the time include foam footballs and basketballs, Frisbees, Hacky Sacks, playing card, yoyos.
  8. For electronics, a portable DVD player, CD player, DVDs, CDs or handheld electronic games are highly valued. Be sure to send batteries, particularly Size AA and D. Just do not send the batteries in the electronic devices because you do not want the device to turn on accidently. A disposable camera and writing materials such as paper, envelopes, pens, pencils, and stamps are nice. Phone cards can be invaluable when it comes to keeping in contact. Just make sure to shop around for cards with the best overseas rates.
  9. In every care package try to include a personal note or something special as a reminder of home. Your service person might find photographs, drawings, videotapes of family and home activities comforting.
  10. Other ideas with the home touch in mind include a homemade cassette or CD of your service person’s favorite music, the Sunday comics from the local newspaper, and homemade cookies and brownies in an airtight container.

Finally, there are some items that should not be included in the “surprise” package from home. These items will depend on where your service person is deployed. If your service person is deployed in the Middle East or Persian Gulf areas, you should not send anything that would offend the people of the Islamic faith, these items would include pork or pork by-products, obscene material, religious material contrary to the Islam, no pornographic or sexual items, no alcohol or unauthorized political materials. It would be best to contact the command family support group for other restrictions that may be present.

By the end of November and early December is the time to start thinking about what to include for the upcoming holidays and to send the “surprise” on its merry way overseas. Mailing early is a must so it will reach your military person in a timely fashion. Being mindful of the type of climate, can be helpful in knowing what to send as well.

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