Benjamin Carr was a licensed insurance agent in Georgia and has experience in life, health, property and casualty coverage. He has worked with State Farm and other risk management firms. Benji is also a strategic writer and editor with a background in branding, marketing, and quality assurance. He has been in military newsrooms — literally on the frontline of journalism.

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Benjamin Carr was a licensed insurance agent in Georgia and has experience in life, health, property and casualty coverage. He has worked with State Farm and other risk management firms. Benji is also a strategic writer and editor with a background in branding, marketing, and quality assurance. He has been in military newsrooms — literally on the frontline of journalism.

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Reviewed by Benji Carr
Former Licensed Life Insurance Agent Benji Carr

UPDATED: Apr 19, 2022

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To Sum It Up

  • Sending a Christmas care package to a military member takes planning and thoughtfulness
  • Make sure to follow postal guidelines so your package arrives on time and intact
  • Avoid low quality store-bought holiday items, and try to personalize things when possible

Christmas care packages mean a lot to soldiers and can help relieve stress over the holiday season while being away from home. 

Putting together a thoughtful holiday care package is a balancing act between sending practical items and things with cheerful sentimental value. 

Christmas can be a sad time for troops, especially if they are deployed overseas where different traditions are celebrated. Feelings of loneliness and depression can arise while being away from family over the season. 

However, there are things you can send from home to your service member that will cheer them up during the holidays.

In this article, you will learn how to properly send care packages to military members over the Christmas season, ideas about what to put into a Christmas care package, things to avoid, and what troops really want for Christmas. 

How to Properly Send a Military Care Package Over the Holidays

There are several things to consider when shipping a care package during the holiday season, especially if you are shipping overseas. 

Following some basic guidelines will ensure that your package arrives intact and on time. 

Holiday Shipping Deadlines

According to the USPS guidelines, the shipping deadline for military packages being sent via Priority Mail within the Contiguous United States is December 9. The shipping deadline for Priority Mail Express Military Service (PMEMS) is December 16. 

International shipping deadlines vary for each country, but the window is between November 29 and December 6. 

The shipping deadlines may change every year, so make sure to keep up to date by visiting the USPS website for the latest dates. 

It is recommended to add at least an extra week of lead time to the shipping deadlines so your package will arrive on time with a few days to spare. This is especially important for Navy care packages as the mail delivery to sailors on a ship is more lengthy and complex. 

Christmas Care Packaging Best Practices 

USPS offers a military care kit that comes with six Priority Mail flat rate boxes, Priority Mail tape, customs forms, and address labels. It is recommended to only use USPS Priority Mail service when sending packages to your soldier. 

When packaging your items, make sure to wrap anything fragile, or avoid sending fragile items completely. Liquid items should be double-bagged in a ziplock bag to contain potential spills. 

Make sure that your APO/FPO/DPO military address is correct and add any address information you have. This includes name, full title, military unit, and zip code. 

If you are sending more than one box, number your boxes so your soldier knows how many to expect. 

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Things to Avoid in a Christmas Care Package

Certain items should be avoided entirely in your Christmas care package. 

Items that can spoil, break, spill, and melt should be left out. This includes:

  • Chocolate
  • Carbonated drinks
  • Perishable food items
  • Glass containers

Your package may be opened for inspection along the trip to its destination. Make sure to not pack anything that you would not be comfortable with another person seeing. 

Do not ship anything on the USPS prohibited/restricted items list. This includes alcohol, tobacco, aerosols, lighters, lithium-ion batteries, and matches. 

Making a Military Christmas Care Package Special

There are many organizations that send generic Christmas packages to military personnel. Units receive hundreds of these boxes that are full of cheesy holiday decorations, Santa hats, and store-bought food items. Although the troops appreciate the kindness, they become inundated with dollar store toothpaste tubes and stale sugar cookies. 

You want to show your appreciation for your soldier by taking the extra time to send them thoughtful items that are meaningful to them. 

You do not have to spend a bunch of money, either. Homemade treats that remind them of home, pictures drawn by the kids, and piecing together a photo album are always a hit over the holiday season. 

Troops do not have a lot of space to put things, so send them items that they can use. Travel sizes work very well in care packages, as you can send more variety in smaller containers. 

Sentimental Care Package Ideas

Some items that will help remind your military person of home and family could be:

  • A video of the family decorating the Christmas tree
  • A recording of the kids singing Christmas carols
  • Photos of friends and family in holiday clothing
  • Letters expressing thoughtfulness over the holiday season

Try to keep the subject on a cheery positive note to help keep your soldier’s spirits up. 

Functional Care Package Ideas

Although service members have access to basic amenities, they do not usually get the brands that they enjoy. Send them their favorite toiletries over the holidays; they will appreciate it. 

Lots of brands make holiday-themed essentials that are in special packaging or have a holiday scent to them. 

Some holiday toiletry ideas are:

  • Lotion
  • Soap
  • Deodorant
  • Favorite razor
  • Shampoos and Conditioners
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste

You can also send holiday-themed clothing essentials like socks, underwear, and undershirts. 

Christmas Food and Drink Ideas

Troops will be inundated with a flood of candy canes, cookies, and pretzels from generic Christmas care packages. 

Show them extra thoughtfulness by baking their favorite holiday treats. You can also make holiday-themed drink mixes that can be put into a festive container.  

Homemade Christmas food and beverage ideas are:

  • Holiday fudge
  • Biscotti
  • Snickerdoodle cookies
  • Hard candies
  • Cranberry muffins
  • Granola 
  • Apple cider mix
  • Hot chocolate with little marshmallows
  • Peppermint mocha mix

Christmas treats do not have to be sugary. You can make and send healthy homemade food items like dried fruit, jerky, and roasted nuts. 

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What Military Personnel Really Want for Christmas

After researching feedback on Christmas packages received by military members, many have noted that they receive plenty of generic dollar store decorative items, cheap essentials, and Christmas cards. They also receive an inundation of packaged holiday treats. 

Although they appreciate the thoughtfulness of these Christmas care packages, a lot of the items simply get thrown away. 

What they really want are items that they can use on a daily basis that do not take up much space. They also enjoy digital items, like videos, recordings, and images on thumb drives. 

Anything personalized or sentimental over the holidays is a welcome addition to their lives, especially when serving overseas. 

Game items that relieve boredom, such as playing cards or dice, always go over well. 

Overall, your military service member will be thrilled just to get a package from you, but going the extra mile to personalize your package really helps boost their morale. 

Final Thoughts About Military Care Packages for Christmas

When piecing together a military care package for the holidays, there is a balance between sending items that are helpful to their everyday lives and sending meaningful things full of holiday spirit. 

It all begins with proper shipping and packaging. Make sure to ship your care package well before USPS holiday deadlines.

Take advantage of the free postal military care kits to save on packaging and shipping costs. 

Make sure that everything you send is securely wrapped. If you have doubts about shipping something fragile, it is better to leave it out. 

Always follow the USPS guidelines and be aware of prohibited items. Do not ship anything you would not want others to see. 

Your soldier will likely be inundated with generic holiday items from the dollar store as Christmas care packages flood in from all corners of the country. Try to personalize your holiday package as much as you can by sending them cheerful things that remind them of home. 

Showing you care does not just stop at the holidays. Helping your soldier with tasks while they are away, such as helping them insure a car while overseas, can be a huge help and show you care. 

Overall, your soldier will appreciate anything you send them, especially if it has that personal holiday touch.