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Summer Care Package Ideas for the Deployed


June 15, 2023

Every season brings its own unique challenges during a deployment. But it can also inspire you to connect, whether you’re sharing pictures of the kids at the community pool, patriotic holidays that make your heart beat proudly, or memories of past vacations.

That inspiration can carry over into care packages! If your loved one is deployed, send a little bit of the season with these summer care package ideas.

5 Summer Care Package Themes 

Care packages don’t have to be intricately decorated or expensive to be special to your loved one. But theming a box can be a lot of fun — both for you and the person receiving your amazing care package! These themes are a great place to start:

  1. The Beach Box. Fill this box with treats that remind your loved one of family vacations and fun in the sun. Try treats like popcorn and sea glass candy, a new pair of flip-flops or shower shoes, sunscreen (in two or three resealable bags to guard against leaking), and a few pictures of past beach adventures. 
  1. The Summer Sports Crate. Restock your loved one’s sporty stash with items like energy bars, new athletic socks, a reusable water bottle, and a small, personal fan.

Related: Fitness Gear to Rock Your Military Workout

  1. The Staycation Package. Stuff this care package full of reminders of home. Think pictures, notes from family and friends, local treats, and other items that would be special to your recipient. 
  2. The Taste of Summer Box. From strawberry jam to marshmallows and graham crackers, snack mixes to dried blueberries, curate a box of goodies that share the delicious flavors we all crave during the summer.
  3. The Sunshine Crate. Fill this box with yellow items like lemon drops, Juicy Fruit gum, a yellow shirt, shorts, or socks, lemonade mix, Lay’s Potato Chips, dried pineapple, and Starbursts. Include a handwritten note to truly bring the sunshine to your recipient. 

If you need more ideas, these 25 summer care package ideas will offer a lot of inspiration. 

Summer Savings for Military Families

3 Ways to Ensure Care Package Success

You’ve got your care package theme and you’ve gathered all of the items you’re sending. Here’s what to do next:

  • Carefully wrap items that could break easily. The more tightly the box is packed, the less shifting happens, which lowers the chance that things will get damaged. Consider sealing anything breakable in resealable bags to contain a possible mess.
  • Be conscious of shipping costs. In nearly all cases, using USPS flat-rate boxes will be the cheapest option for shipping. When using the flat rate option, packages sent to APO/FPO/DPO addresses receive a small discount on the mailing price. Regardless, ship your care package in the smallest box that fits all your items to minimize your shipping costs as much as possible.
  • Scrutinize your paperwork. Double-check (and then triple-check) the military address to which you’re sending your beautiful care package. Make sure everything is correctly written on all customs forms and on the box itself. When filling out customs paperwork, make sure you clearly and accurately reflect what you’re sending. If you’re not sure, ask a postal service worker.

Avoid Summer Care Package Disasters with These 4 Tips

In many places where military members are deployed, the summer brings intense heat and/or humidity. You’ll want to keep these tips in mind so your care package (and its contents!) get to your service member intact:

  • Avoid melty messes. Because you don’t know how hot your care package might get during transit (or how long it might sit on a tarmac while being sorted), assume that your care package will get very hot during the summer. Avoid sending products that will melt (like chocolate) or get ruined by heat (like gifts that can easily warp). Try these temperature-hardy candy swaps, and when in doubt, wait until the fall or winter to send heat-sensitive items.
  • Rethink homemade treats. Handmade goodies are often the stars of care packages, but summer heat and humidity can ruin them quickly. Consider sending sealed, mass-produced food items that are meant to withstand shipping and have preservatives that can protect against going rancid, drying out, or otherwise going bad. 
  • Go with the appropriate choice. Typical summer temperatures and weather can vary drastically depending on where your loved one is deployed. If you’re sending clothing items and other season-specific gear, consider your service member’s situation as you shop
  • Follow the rules. It can be tempting to bend the postal shipping rules and send cans of a favorite soda or a needed extra battery. Don’t give in! Extreme heat can create serious issues — like cans that explode and batteries that catch on fire.

Whatever you gather and ship, know that by sending a summer care package, you’re participating in a time-honored and beloved military tradition!