What makes a great care package: Anything!
Before the Sailor deployed, I had seen and read a lot about care packages. Mostly there were pictures of these elaborately themed and very colorful boxes with food and stuff inside of them. My immediate thought was "Gosh, the Sailor would hate that!" After talking to him about it, he confessed he thought it was embarrassing and made it clear he didn’t want any decorated boxes. I assured him I “wasn’t going to be one of those wives” and would send boxes without construction paper and creative themes. Hindsight being 20/20 though, I wish I had. The decoration process is more for the spouse/family than the actual service member, and I bet the Sailor would have laughed (maybe internally) if I had sent him one or two. Next deployment, he’s getting some really embarrassing decorations ;)
While doing my research, I found that it takes most care packages about 3-4 weeks, sometimes more, to arrive to their destination. So I knew the sooner I sent out a package, the better. What to put in a care package is pretty open as long as it wasn’t hazardous or a weapon.
Here’s a list of things that I sent the Sailor:
Letters – not the “open when” kind, all of them had random themes, like my favorite foods, a love letter, things he didn’t know about me, or old memories. I wanted him to be able to read them whenever he wanted and not feel like he had to be feeling some way to open one. Also, I didn’t really know what to say to him in response to a lot of those prompts. I sent 10 of these (at least) with every package and he kept them on his ship until he left for shore duty.
Pictures of us – I had some small little book made at target with photos of us. I also sent some of our engagement pictures that we had taken right before he left.
~*sExY*~ photos – this may or may not turn some people off, but it’s what I did. I didn’t hire a photographer, I had a camera with a timer and a tripod which was all I needed. I sent them to him on a flash drive CLEARLY marked that no one else should ever see what was on it. This idea is not for everyone, but if it’s something you want to do, go for it.
Music – I used to make him CDs when we were friends and dating, so I made playlists of music in folders and sent them on flash drives.
Books – SO many books, I sent one package of just books and it weighed about 20 pounds! *I would advise not doing that and sending a few books along with some lighter things*
Socks – boring, but he asked for them.
Shirts – on the days that he did go to port, I sent him some plaid button down shirts since I wasn’t sure what the weather was going to be like anywhere. I was so excited when pictures appeared on Facebook of him in port wearing his new shirt <3
Baked goods – Nutella muddy buddies, chocolate chip cookies, snicker doodle cookies, mason jar cakes (these are amazing!). I read that most brownies and pies do not hold up and things like cookies did better. Next time I might venture a little more into different types of baked goods.
Videos – towards the end, I started making videos talking to him, really about anything: how I was feeling, what happened to me that day, etc. Skype was finicky, and we didn’t get to use it that often, so I thought it was a good way to see me in sort of real time and hear my voice. These are another thing he says he has re-watched, even on recent underways.
Some he ended up really liking, others not so much. I’d say the top things he enjoyed were the letters, videos and baked goods. I sent a few too many books and turns out he didn’t listen to as much music as I had thought, so those didn’t go over as well. I’m also not sure about the pictures of us, because with social media nowadays he can pull up photos anytime he goes on a computer. And as always, different strokes for different folks. What works for one couple may not for another. This was just my care package undertaking for our first deployment together.
What are your best care package ideas??