How to Give the Best Holiday Care Packages Ever
Ah, the holiday season! Is there a time more saturated with cheer, goodwill, and all the things that remind us of the best of the human condition? There are many who would say the answer to that question, rhetorical though it may be, is a resounding "no". Still, if there's one thing that can put a damper on these times of joy and festivity, it would undoubtedly be the separation families must endure when part of their number is separated from the whole by the harsh realities of vows sworn and of duties honored. Truly, the holidays are a time of stark opposites for military families - a time of warmth and cheer on the one hand, yet on the other, a time of longing for home and the embrace of far-away loved ones.
Happily for all concerned, the holiday care package is an easy solution to such issues. Small in size, the impact delivered through both the assembly and receipt of these humble parcels far outstrips the boundaries of mere physicality - after all, it's the care bound up in the care package that makes it so much more than bits of home wrapped in brown paper.
Given the above, the reader will be pleased to discover that the following guide is full of tips and holiday care package ideas designed to help those who find themselves in need of guidance in the assembly of the perfect holiday care package. Just keep reading to learn exactly how to craft the perfect holiday or occasion-specific care package for that special friend or loved one in uniform!
Christmas is the king of all holidays, so act like it! Truthfully, these care packages can be as much fun to make as they are to receive. Start with the obvious: Send your fighting man or woman a Christmas tree! You can get miniature ones pretty easily at major stores and outlets. For decorations, you can use the standard commercial ones if you must, but this is your chance to go heavy on the homemade, personalized stuff, so why not take advantage of it? Get a few friends together and make as many of the ornaments as possible. Do the same for any cards you might send. Sure, it takes a little more effort and forethought, but the result is well worth it! Regarding gifts, they need not be extravagant - like the ornaments and cards discussed above, it's more important that they be reminders of home and the family and friends who wait there with best wishes for your loved one's safe and speedy return. Edible treats, holiday scents, Advent calendars (both religiously-themed and secular), and other such trinkets are always a solid choice.
Whatever you send, make sure that it comes with clear instructions: All gifts are to be stowed under the tree until Christmas morning. Santa's watching, so no cheating!
Want to give your soldier a taste of home and a shot of nostalgia all at the same time? Send him a Halloween-themed care package! To start, stuff one of those Jack o' Lantern baskets full to bursting with his or her favorite candy. Once you've crammed in enough chocolate to make the entire platoon sick for a week, fill the remaining space with spooky themed cards to keep your recipient up to date on what's going on back home. To close, tie the whole thing together with plenty of decorations! Try to go for things that are easily put up and taken down, though - it'll save you a lot of hassle during shipping, not to mention the regulatory headaches you can save your soldier, sailor, airman, or Marine.
What is Thanksgiving if not a chance to thank those in uniform for their courage, their sacrifice, and the service that has them so far from home? Since your care package's recipient can't be home with you at this festive time, bring home to them! Go old-school with a series of "I'm Thankful for My Soldier/Sailor/Airman/Marine Because..." hand-turkeys. Since the heart of any good Turkey Day is the food, do your best to send your separated loved one a decent approximation of the same good eats they'd get at home - turkey jerky, instant mashed potatoes, stuffing, and other such things (make sure to send a pie if you can swing it!) will go a long way in curing both their hunger and their holiday homesickness.
Incidentally, the true magic of Thanksgiving is in fellowship, so make sure you send enough tasty treats for at least three or four people! You don't want your soldier eating alone, do you?
To round things out, bring the Big Game to their barracks! This is as simple as furnishing up to date team info for their favorite crews, some snack mix, and some sodas.
While not strictly a holiday, the birthday of a friend or loved one is perhaps the most personal of all the occasions mentioned on this list. As such, they make the perfect excuse to send your soldier or other service member a surprise care package. The idea here is to get as many people involved as you can. Get all your recipient's friends and family together and have them make lots of homemade cards and other little tokens of their remembrance. The point is to make sure that your deployed loved one knows that his or her birthday is anything but forgotten by the folks back home.
Once the more personal touches are out of the way (Cards, pictures, and such), it's time to move on to Phase Two! That's right, it's time to send your soldier a Birthday in a Box! Space is limited, so it's a good idea to keep things scaled to about ten people. This will ensure things like size, shipping costs and logistics, and more don't get out of hand while ensuring that your soldier's upcoming surprise party will be of a nice size. Make sure you send all the party staples: Party hats, party favors like noise-makers and gag gifts, goody bags, and related gifts. Also, if you think they'll make the trip without incident, Twinkies and a pack of candles make awesome mini birthday cakes!
Independence Day is your best chance to use the gifts you send as a vehicle for your pride and appreciation. Red, white, and blue should dominate the color scheme; cards and photos of family and friends should take center stage. Make sure that there are plenty of notes of encouragement, thanks, and pride from as many sources as possible. This is, after all, a day dedicated entirely to your serviceman or woman and to the lives they lead for the sake of others, and they deserve to be recognized.
St. Patrick's Day
Give your soldier the Luck of the Irish with a St. Paddy's Day care package! A basket of homemade cookies or other Irish-themed treats (you can usually find chocolate coins in gold foil, for instance), some lucky charms like a favorite childhood stuffed animal, some holiday-themed family photos and cards, and a green basket to put it in will do nicely. Whatever you do, make sure it's green! Deployed or not, rules are rules - you either wear green on St. Patrick's Day or you get pinched!
If your soldier or other military member celebrates Easter, this is a perfect opportunity to send them some religious encouragement. If not, it's a great chance to stuff them to the gills with chocolate! Hand-painted hard-boiled eggs are a great way to get even the youngest civilians involved in giving this particular gift; many stores offer camouflaged baskets and related gifts if you're of the less-crafty persuasion. Either way, make sure to include plenty of family photos, notes, cards, and other such mementos.
With these holiday care package ideas, it should be as easy as 1, 2, 3 to send the perfect care package. The recipients appreciate these packages more than the sender can know, and it will give everyone involved in the assembly and shipping processes a sense of warmth and accomplishment. All that's left now is to make one and see for yourself! Have fun!