CAMO - Connecting All Military Others
This is my first deployment with my husband and at first I was a little overwhelmed with care packages. I wasn't sure what to send, what I could send, and what he needed or wanted. Through trial and error (my own and others), and a lot of brainstorming (again, my own and others), I have come up with some solid ideas that are useful and fun.
US Postal Service Flat Rate Priority Mail is the cheapest and fastest way to ship to an APO address! The large boxes ship for a discounted rate of $13.45.
*To keep myself better aware and organized of what is needed, I ask what items will be needed in two weeks and what will be needed in one month. That gives me time to get everything together and send it out in time and it helps him narrowing the options as "do you want or need anything?" is such a broad question, it can be overwhelming.
*I use the small flat rate priority mail boxes to send out travel-sized toiletries that can be used on missions or any travel to save space. In them I include wet wipes, toothpaste, mouthwash (Alcohol-Free!!), sunscreen, chapstick, gum, and deodorant. Since he doesn't have a lot of storage space, sending these small packages every other week or so will make sure he has what he needs without causing clutter.
*To help with storage, I sent a hanging shoe organizer (with pouches) and adhesive plastic hooks to hang it on the wall. He LOVED it!
*Every package I send, I wrap everything up inside like a present using wrapping paper, tissue paper, and ribbon to make it colorful and more fun to open.
*I send home baked goods like cookies. I wrap the cookies in a ziplock bag with a zipper and either send them in a tube or put them in small flat rate boxes inside larger boxes. The cookies have been verified not stale and very delicious. To send breads you just need to wrap them in aluminum foil but I have found that they tend to get moldy shortly after they are received.
*Send nice toilet paper. I send packages of 4 of Charmin about once a month or so and it is very much appreciated.
*I have sent plenty of fun things to do with his spare time either alone or with friends. I have sent activity books, playing cards, sidewalk chalk, water balloons, magazines, tv shows and movies, and computer games. I also sent him Maxim magazine and the SI swimsuit issue, he said there were already some over there but it was nice to have his own.
*If I am sending anything that can be crushed, I put it in a small flat rate box inside of a larger box. A few examples are sunscreen, mouthwash, and Gardettos (or other similar snacks). I use these a lot when sending packages to also help with preventing too much shifting while shipping, and they make wrapping everything up a lot easier. You can fit 8 small boxes in a large flat rate box and 6 in a medium flat rate box.
*When sending anything liquid, or anything that can seep or spill due to pressure and temperature changes, wrap it up in a towel (a paper towel works too), and put it in a plastic bag so it does not make a mess of everything. If something does spill in the box and seeps out in any way, chances of your package getting delivered are very slim!
*Small hard candies, individually wrapped, like a bag of Jolly Ranchers or Werther's, come in very hand for them when they are on long missions.
*Water flavorings like Mio or Crystal Light have been very much appreciated.
*He wasn't able to fit a pillow to bring with him so I sent him one with a pillowcase since they are not provided (at least where he is).
*Keep the Prohibited Items list handy and make sure the things your are sending do not contain alcohol (mouthwash, shave gel, etc.). Here are the links to the Prohibited Items Lists:
*Tape up all seams to the box to help keep water out and put clear tape over the address label to keep it safe from water as well.
*I saw a tip to first put a trash bag in the box to keep everything waterproof and I have tried it but it hasn't been received yet so I do not know if it makes a difference.
I have learned a lot about customs forms as well from the nice folks at my local post office, so if anyone has any questions about those, I will be happy to share what I have learned.
I hope this information was helpful! Let me know if you have any questions and add any other ideas in the comments!
Another tip is to establish a good rapport with the folks at your local post office, it will make sending packages a lot easier and more enjoyable!