Holiday Care Package Tips for your Deployed Loved One

Wendy Poling
Frequent Contributor

The holiday mailing deadlines are here. To get your package there in time for Christmas you'll need to move fast!


Here are some tips to help as you prepare your holiday care package:



If your spouse hasn't already told you what they would like you to send, I recommend asking them for a wish list. You might be surprised by what they request. You could discover your theme of "Keeping You Warm" that includes really thick wool socks, a cozy blanket and soft flannel sheets doesn't have anything on the "wish list". Instead learning they prefer a CD of their favorite music artist, a specific video game, a couple of cigars, beef jerky and protein bars. Include the "wished" for items and your care package will be that much more of a success!


Shopping Plan

Online retailers, for example, will ship direct to an APO address and save you the trip to the post office. Make your shopping list and then determine which items you can have shipped directly to your spouse's APO address. If you have Amazon Prime, shipping is free.


Creative Christmas Content Ideas

Consider sending Holiday themed items in the box to help bring Christmas to a far away place:



  • Mini tabletop Christmas tree, battery operated lights, with mini ornaments
  • Christmas themed artwork from the kids
  • Santa hat
  • Christmas lights



  • Christmas Cookies, other homemade cookie favorites
  • Green and Red M&Ms
  • Christmas Oreos
  • Popcorn, regular and flavored
  • Hot Cocoa, Hot Cider


  • 12 Days of Christmas - Include 12 mini gifts (favorite treats, family photos, hand drawn kid art, love notes, etc.)
  • Movie Theme - Favorite movies or new releases, movie candy, popcorn, home-made movie of your family (and pets) featuring Christmas messages to your spouse filled with words of hope, encouragement and love.

Post Office Visit

Lines at the post office can be really long this time year. There are some tricks to make this part of the process go much smoother, saving you time and money. Visit the post office a few days prior to pick up flat rate shipping boxes. These flat rate boxes allow you put as much as possible in your box for one flat rate. You can also pick up a customs form to fill out at home. Return to the post office with your box packed, labeled and customs form filled out in its entirety. Completing these steps in advance will save you valuable time when arriving back at the post office.


Holiday Mailing Dates

  • APO/FPO/DPO AE 093 Priority Mail Service Dec. 3.
  • APO/FPO/DPO AE Zip 090-092, 094-098, 340, 962-966 Priority Mail Service Dec. 10.

The most creative thing we ever sent in a Christmas Care Package was a Build-A-Bear stuffed beagle puppy (we have a beagle). We had to pre-order the unstuffed puppy from the website and go into the store to purchase the voice chip (the website didn't offer this separately). Once the puppy arrived and we had the voice chip, we recorded our beagle howling, our Christmas "we miss you and love you" message and then returned to the Build-A-Bear store to bring the beagle "to life". It was a big hit. We still have that stuffed beagle to this day and my husband keeps it in his office.


Let me know what you are including in your Christmas Care Package!


Related story:
Last Minute Holiday Care Package Ideas