How to Make A Military Care Package

Submitted by Pat Gifford, Trauma Outreach and Prevention Coordinator, Hamot

There is no better time than the Christmas season to send a military care package overseas. If your son, daughter, friend, spouse, girlfriend or boyfriend is on an overseas deployment, let them know how much they are loved and missed by sending a holiday care package. Even if you don’t know anyone currently serving overseas, sending packages to service people year round is a sure way to make someone’s day a little brighter.

Sending a Care Package in 4 Simple Steps:

  • Buy a plain brown mailing box that is the correct shape and size. (Go to and go to Supplies and click on Flat Rate to find rates for APO/FPO rates).
  • Make sure anything you are planning to send is travel-size.
  • Tape the box up really well after you are done. (If you are taking the box to a local or non-military post office, you may be rejected, have to pay a fee, or need to fill out a customs form).
  • Find a serviceman’s address and make sure to write it correctly, using this format:
  • Name (SSGT. G.I. Joe)
    Street/Box (1st Grenade Repair Co.)
    City, State, Zip

Tips for Making Your Military Care Package

  1. Put everything in plastic baggies to keep sand and other things out. (The Military also reuses baggies).
  2. Secure cookies and other candies carefully before putting them into the box, and send in a timely manner.
  3. Wrap laptops and other important valuables in bubble wrap a few times and tape them up well.
  4. Send miscellaneous items (such as lighters and Q-tips) in their original packaging.

Preparing Your Military Care package for Shipping

  1. Figure out what your marine or soldier wants
    Even if he or she doesn’t use it or prefers not to, they tend to give it to another soldier, so don’t worry what you put inside. Just a note, there are female soldiers and marines as well.
  2. Buy toothpaste in tubes but buy sanitizer in a jug (bulk)
    Buy lots of lotion travel bottles at stores like Wal-Mart, K-mart, Costco, or anywhere that sells stuff in bulk.
  3. Look for the cheapest needs
    Grab a handful of $1 toothbrushes, travel medicine such as Tylenol packs, generic brand items, etc. Generic baby wipes are important, as they use them for cleaning themselves and their weapons.
  4. Think of things that a serviceman might enjoy in cots or while in sleeping areas
    Car, sport, and gaming magazines are excellent. Travel games, pens, paper, notebooks, envelopes, and extra calling cards are great for communication. AA batteries are another top priority item, as they use them for CD players, flashlights, portable items, etc. (They do not need stamps because they can mail letters to the states for free.)

Restrictions to Military Care Packages

  • Label everything. Soldiers share and give out items, so try not to leave the decision-making up to them.
  • Avoid anything that can melt. Iraq can get up to 120 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.
  • Ensure that contents are kept PG-13 or lower. Save any adult-only items for trips home.
  • Leave all sharp and dangerous items out, all boxes are inspected by the military.

More helpful tips for creating safe and easy holiday care packages

  • If kids are in the family, have them make artwork and put it into the box.
  • If a soldier requests a piece of military gear, like gloves, glasses, earplugs, etc., you can fulfill that request.
  • Checkout or for more information and for lists of service people you can send packages to all year long.