How to make a holiday-themed care package to send overseas

Find ways to share the holidays when your loved one is deployed.

Deployments are a difficult time for any military couple. It's hard to be away from your spouse for so long, having to take on all the responsibilities at home while worrying about how your loved one is doing overseas. Though a joyous time of year, the holidays can compound the feelings that you and your partner are missing out on time together.

Sending holiday-themed care packages to your deployed spouse is a great way to show your love, while also providing you with the chance to share in the holidays together, despite the physical distance. 

Read on for our tips for building holiday care packages and important rules to follow for sending gifts to posts overseas.

Give yourself plenty of time 
It will take your packages longer to reach a deployed service member than if you were just sending a gift to an international civilian friend. Start planning your Christmas gifts in late November and early December so you have time to ship it before the holiday. 

"Don't send fragile gifts or foods that will spoil."

Plan for travel
Remember that everything you're sending will need to go a long way, and that it will be handled a lot before it reaches your loved one. Avoid fragile gifts, foods that will spoil or anything irreplaceable. Use a sturdy box and make sure it's completely sealed. It will help to not overstuff the box as well.

Include seasonal favorites
To set your holiday package apart from the other gifts you send during deployment, be sure to include plenty of seasonal goodies. Get a stocking from a craft store and stuff it with candy canes and other festive treats. Cover supplies you send in themed wrapping paper. Include little trinkets that can help bring the feeling of the holiday to the post, like a pine-scented air freshener or instant snow

Personalize your care package
While the seasonal treats are a fun way to share the holidays, don't forget to personalize your gifts so they mean something extra special for your spouse. Include some of their favorite snacks from home, family photos, drawings from your kids or references to inside jokes. These little items will be appreciated for what they are, but also for what they represent – that you know your partner well enough to remember all their favorite little things, and sending the message that he or she is still on your mind. 

Follow shipping rules
There are restrictions to what you can send through the mail, and even more limitations to what certain bases will allow. Nothing hazardous, including aerosols, perfumes or alcohol, can be included in your care packages. That also means nothing sharp, like knives or other weapons. Cigarettes, fireworks and dry ice also make the list of forbidden items. 

"Create care packages that are fun for you to make."

Look up information on the base you're shipping your package to for additional restrictions. Posts in Afghanistan, for example, won't allow pork products or certain types of political literature. 

Have fun with it!
Create care packages that are fun for you to make. When possible, work with other loved ones, like friends, in-laws or your kids, to help you put everything together so your spouse can get something from all the important people in your lives. 

Take the time to enjoy what you're working on so it doesn't feel like a chore – make it a special occasion that will help you feel closer to your partner and have a little bit of him or her home with you for the holidays.