It’s that time of year where we start putting together care packages for service members stationed near and far, as well as family members who are “back home.” This year especially, many people won’t be traveling like in years prior, which means mailed gifts or sending care packages rather than celebrating in person.
When planning your holiday care packages, remember to provide personal touches and items that interest the receiver. Simple additions like homemade artwork from kids, pictures, or local trinkets can take your gift giving to the next level.
Consider these additional tips in order to put together your best care package yet.
- Know your audience
First things first -- who are you gifting to? Consider if you’re buying for family members? Soldiers? Kids? Make a list of everyone on your list and put together a list of ideas. For soldiers downrange, you’ll likely be shopping for necessities. This means snacks, entertainment (books, magazines, movies), toiletries, and any other favorites that your soldier wants but can’t get their hands on in location. These are some of the most well-received gifts of all time, including a mix of thoughtfulness and needs.
Meanwhile, if you’re shopping for family members or kids, you will likely have more creativity.
- Gift them their interests
Next, search around for gifts that you know they will love. There are always gift guide finders (and an entire search function on Amazon), but don’t be above asking, either. Some giftees will assure you that you don’t need to get them anything. But hopefully you get some real, usable info in the process. Find out what your loved ones enjoy and get them something they’ll use!
And remember that gift cards aren’t a cop-out. Include a nice card and then feel good about the fact that you gave them an excuse to order at their favorite place.
- Shop local
One of the most notable aspects about sending a Christmas care package -- you’re not visiting in person. Or rather, they aren’t visiting you. That means you can include some novelties about wherever you’re stationed. Look for non-perishable foods, handmade goods, or any local claims to fame that your loved one won’t find elsewhere. This can also be a fun way to explore local hotspots … or shop online and learn about local businesses.
- Don’t overlook experiences as gifts
GIving a holiday gift doesn’t mean you have to give a physical item. It simply means you have to show a loved one that you care. Consider different types of gifts that can be given for all to enjoy. Kids might enjoy a theme park or zoo. Adults may be wanting to try a new restaurant or brewery tour. Or perhaps there’s a location that’s great for all ages, such as an arcade, bowling alley, or water park. Snag a gift card and let them have a fun day out in lieu of a traditional Christmas gift.
- Get it in the mail in time
Christmas may be weeks away, but you also have to consider shipping times for your package to arrive before December 25th. Look at where you’re shipping to, then follow Post Office guidelines to ensure your package arrives on time. It likely means shopping sooner rather than later, but that also means one more item to knock off your to-do list!
Take these deliver-by dates into account in order to ensure your packages arrive on time.
The good news is that military post office dates still allow December packages to be delivered in time for the holidays.
What are your favorite ways to send Christmas care packages to those you love? Tell us your tips in the comments.