We all know that Christmas is the best time of year…..the decorations, the movies, the music in the air….everything about Christmas exudes happiness and cheer. Unfortunately, though Christmas can also be one of the hardest times of the year for people who aren’t able to make it home to family and friends for the season. And it’s especially hard for the men and women serving overseas.
One of the sweetest things any of us can do to support our service members this holiday season is to send a care package. If you’re a military spouse, you know first hand what a huge morale booster a care package is to a deployed loved one. But even if you don’t personally know a service member, you can still send a care package! Organizations like Adopt a Platoon or Operation Shoebox allow you to send boxes to troops year round and don’t forget that soldiers at home need our support too, especially single soldiers who may not have any family close. Everyone loves getting a package in the mail and it’s pretty fun to send one out too!!
Ok so what kinds of things should you pack into your care package? If you’ve browsed through Pinterest for even a minute, you know that you can be as creative as you want to be when it comes to packing your care package but there are some things that I think you absolutely must include!
If you’d like to send a Christmas care package to a service member this holiday season, here are 5 things you absolutely should include:
+ a letter or note from you: Remember that your service member is spending his (or her) holiday away from family! Take this time to let them know that you’re thinking about them, that you love them, and that you can’t wait for them to be home. Make them feel a part of the Christmas celebration by including photos of the Christmas tree, the lights around town, family member dressed up in ugly Christmas sweaters, anything that reminds them of home!!
If you have children, have them include a little note or a drawing. Make sure to send a postcard with your name and address already written down so they can send a holiday greeting back to you when they receive their package!
+ a few items to entertain: Think things you’d want on a long car ride. Books, crossword puzzles, their favorite holiday movie (make sure you know they have a dvd player handy), Christmas CD’s, video games, magazines, playing cards. Send along a few battery packs (because service members are ALWAYS running out of batteries….just ask my husband) and maybe some notepaper, pens, stamps, and a disposable camera.
+ personal care items: No, this part of your care package doesn’t have to be boring. Depending on your service member’s climate, include a pair of gloves or a beanie hat from their favorite sports team. Of course don’t forget the more mundane things like toothpaste, a toothbrush, shampoo, disposable razors, foot powder, aspirin, and the like. You definitely want to make sure to do some careful packing for this part of your care package–plastic baggies are your best friend for anything that could leak or spill!
+ a Christmas stocking filled with presents: I love the idea of sending 12 small presents to open leading up to Christmas day. Things like a small photo album, headphones, a CD playlist of favorite Christmas songs, a Christmas ornament and a few decorations, and personal coupons (the kind you make that are good for things like watching the movie of your choice or an extra kiss + a few snuggles) would all make really great stocking stuffer ideas. Get really creative here and send things you know would bring a little more of the holidays to your service member.
+ snacks and drinks: When I asked my hubs for input on this, food was the first thing on his must-have list. A few of my husband’s favorites are jerky, sunflower seeds, peanuts, gatorade mix, energy bars, and chips (try not to find small, hard containers for things like chips and peanuts since bags tend to burst sometimes). Even though you might not be able to include the traditional Christmas treats, be sure to add in a little taste of home.
And if you want to be super troop-savvy, you can add in a few pouches of ®StarKist Outdoors Tuna Creations pouches—they come in camo and they’re pretty much perfect to send in a care package! It’s really important when sending food overseas to make sure that nothing will spoil in the heat or over long periods of time and the no-drain tear-open pouches of the Tuna Creations makes sure to lock in freshness and ensure a fast and convenient way for our troops to get the protein they need. And they come in two great flavors too. (I love the lemon pepper seasoned one myself).
You all know that I’m passionate about businesses who support our armed forces, especially our veterans and I LOVE finding out that a brand like StarKist is committed to supporting service members. Besides the convenience and the flavor, StarKist’s “Outdoors” Tuna Creations® Pouches are special because they commemorate another one of those lasting partnerships between a brand and an organization that helps military members. This year for the duration that the Outdoors Tuna Creations are on grocery store shelves (2014 to October 2015), StarKist has pledged to donate $100,000 to Wounded Warrior Project®.