There are officially 24 days left before Christmas! While we hustle and bustle to put up our tree and buy gifts for the family, let us not forget about the men and women who will be deployed this season defending our country.
And while they may not be in the comforts of their own homes, we can send them a little “touch of the holidays” through care packages.
The the Military Postal Service Agency has established a range of deadlines to ensure before-Christmas delivery of packages and letters to service members in deployed locations.
To get mail to a service member by Christmas at APO/FPO/DPO AE 090-092, 094-098, 340, or 962-966, the latest a package can be sent to arrive on time is Dec. 17 — that means senders have to pay for Express Mail. If senders have already got packages ready and they want to send earlier — and pay less — they can put them in the mail by Dec. 10 and pay for either 1st Class or Priority mail. Mail to APO/FPO/DPO AE 093 must be sent by Dec. 3, regardless of the class of mail service used.
Wondering what you should include in your care package this year? Check out some great ideas from various online sources.
Send your soldier a small Christmas tree that they can decorate for themselves. Send lights that can be put on the tree as well as hung around their living area. Be sure to pack fun ornaments that can be hung on the tree. If you got your soldier any small gifts for Christmas, wrap them up and write a note saying to put these gifts under the tree and they are not to be opened until Christmas morning!
Hard candies and firm homemade sweets such as pralines and toffee are safe to mail because their high sugar content prevents bacterial growth.
Dried fruits, such as raisins and apricots, and commercially-packaged trail mix and nuts, need no refrigeration.
Dried beef or poultry, such as beef jerky, turkey jerky or beef slims, are safe to mail. Bacteria cannot multiply in food preserved by removing moisture.
Dehydrated soups and fruit drink mixes are lightweight and safe to mail.
Regional condiments, such as hot sauce and Cajun seasonings in packets, are useful for spicing up Meals Ready to Eat (MREs).
Dense and dry baked goods, such as fruit cakes and biscotti, are good choices for mailing because they will not become moldy.
Commercially-packaged cookies in airtight tins, dry cookies such as ginger snaps and specialty crackers are good choices.
Send a small stocking for him to have as well and of course include his gifts. You can also send Christmas CDs or your favorite Christmas movies. One family I know watches “A Christmas Story” during the 24 hour marathon on TBS each year so they sent they soldier the DVD so he could watch too. Another I know attends a church service each Christmas Eve, knowing he was deploying, they recorded the service last year and he’ll receive the recording in his package so he can be there at least in spirit.
-Married to the Army
Kid’s craft – paper snowflakes
String popcorn and cranberries
Tiny wrapped packages (use gum, mints, or small items to go under the tree)
Picture book (include pictures from past holiday gatherings)
Small wrapped items to the theme of the “Twelve Days of Christmas”
A box of Christmas Cards stamped and addressed to the soldier’s family
– Army Wife Network