4 Keys to Planning Your Holiday Care Packages

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I find there are two types of people when it comes to holiday preparation. My friends are either in the “I start listening to Christmas music before Thanksgiving” or the “I won’t go into Hobby Lobby because they put their Christmas trees up before Halloween” group. I am admittedly in the first group. As soon as the weather dips below 80 degrees, I want to wear scarves and sing along to holiday tunes in the car/house/shower/grocery store...

 

Even if you don’t jump on the holiday bandwagon early, it is time to start preparing the holiday care packages for your deployed loved ones for them to arrive on time and stay on budget.

 

Thanksgiving package delivery dates are not published like Christmas dates, but I use the dates posted by the Unites States Postal Service for Christmas to estimate the deadlines. Plan to send Thanksgiving packages one month prior to the Christmas deadlines. For example, the Priority Mail Express Deadline for Christmas delivery is December 16th, I assume the Thanksgiving delivery deadline will be November 16th.

 

Here are four keys to planning your holiday care packages:

 

Know the Holiday Mailing Deadlines

 

Below is a quick guide to ensure delivery before Christmas published 10/10/2017 by the United States Postal Service:

 

To ensure timely delivery of holiday wishes by Dec. 25, the Postal Service recommends that cards and packages be sent to military APO/FPO/DPO addresses overseas no later than the mailing dates listed below.

Military Mail Addressed  To and From

Priority Mail Express Military Service (PMEMS)1

First-Class Mail Letters and Cards

Priority Mail

Parcel Airlift     Mail    (PAL)2

Space Available Mail      (SAM)3

Retail Ground

APO/FPO/DPO AE ZIPs 014%-092

Dec. 16

Dec. 11

Dec. 11

Dec. 4

Nov. 27

Nov. 6

APO/FPO/DPO AE ZIP   093

N/A

Dec. 4

Dec. 4

Dec. 4

Nov. 27

Nov. 6

APO/FPO/DPO AE ZIPs 094-098

Dec. 16

Dec. 11

Dec. 11

Dec. 4

Nov. 27

Nov. 6

APO/FPO/DPO AA ZIP   340

Dec. 16

Dec. 11

Dec. 11

Dec. 4

Nov. 27

Nov. 6

APO/FPO/DPO AP ZIPs 962-99%

Dec. 16

Dec. 11

Dec. 11

Dec. 4

Nov. 27

Nov. 6

Chart from usps.com

 

Now that you know WHEN to send the package WHAT should you include?

 

Something Traditional Send an item that allows the deployed service member to participate in family traditions even when absent like, a set of the matching pajamas your family plans to wear for Christmas or including their input on which dishes to cook for Thanksgiving (bonus if you can find a send-able version of the dish). Keep in mind any special considerations of the location your loved one is stationed.

 

Something Sentimental Sending your spouse a list of why you are thankful for them and for the sacrifices they are making for your family and a photo of the family holding wishes for the deployed service member.

 

Something Fun Silly holiday themed t-shirts, socks or underwear, or Thanksgiving turkey leg hats will temporarily take the deployed family member’s mind off the fact they will be spending their holidays without you. This could also include something they want or have asked for specifically. Remember, any durable item you send over must be carried home. For this reason, it might be more practical to consider consumable/ disposable or sharable items. Including enough to share will be much appreciated by others who may not receive anything.

 

It seems early (unless you are like me and are already counting down the days to the holidays), but the shipping deadlines are quickly approaching to get packages to your deployed love ones this holiday season. Take the time to plan early and save yourself unwanted holiday stress. You’ll have the chance to be creative while still staying on budget. Knowing you’ve given your package(s) it’s best chance to arrive on time will be a relief!

 

What is the best thing you have sent or received in a holiday care package?

 

 

About the Blogger: Briana Hartzell is a Navy spouse, mother to two beautiful girls (3 years and 1 year), a former full time USAA employee and a graduate of Texas A&M University. Briana writes at Being Briana, a blog focused on the joys that military life and parenthood can bring.