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What’s in Your Care Package?

July 21, 2009
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We already know how easy the U.S. Postal Service has made it to mail a package to a deployed loved one. But what goes in the box?

Here’s a quick guide to what doesn’t go in a box headed to Iraq or Afghanistan: Pork. Alcohol. Bulk quantities of non-Islamic religious material. Obscene media (which could be interpreted as slightly racy magazines, depending on who’s doing the looking). On this page, you can plug in the ZIP code of the APO/FPO in question and find out exactly what is prohibited. When I did that, I discovered that I couldn’t send my sweetie “precious metals in their raw, unmanufactured state.” So much for those lumps of gold ore I was about to mail!

There are also things that, while not illegal, aren’t such a great idea. Chocolate doesn’t do well when it’s headed to a place where the temperature is well above 100. I double-wrap toiletries, in case of leakage or melting; getting Murray’s hair wax out of anything is challenging enough when you’re not in a war zone.

When I bake, I choose something that will still taste good stale, or can be revived by dunking in coffee – gingersnaps and biscotti are standard fare. I’ve heard success stories from people with vacuum sealers, but have not tried one firsthand. Any testimony?

Then there are the special requests. The strangest thing I mailed to Baghdad during the last deployment was a violin. A bunch of guys in my soldier’s shop decided they were going to convene a small orchestra – never mind that none of them knew how to play.

This deployment, the weirdest item sent (so far) has been a kilt. A side effect of working with Scots? Or has the heat gotten to him? I’m sure I’ll find out eventually.

I’d love to hear what everyone else is sending in their care packages. What can’t your loved one live without? What is the oddest thing you’ve sent? How much can you pack into a flat-rate box?

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. July 22, 2009 7:43 am

    Okay, I HAVE used the vacuum sealer and it worked like a dream, the cookies arrived fresh and unbroken. But, I can’t stress this one enough, you can only use it on sturdy items like Monster Cookies (what I ususally send). My MIL is still traumatized by her attempts to vacuum seal bread, so needless to say if it is delicate or soft? The sealer will likely ruin it.

    I’ve been sending lots of reading materials including requested books and every new issue of his fave magazines (and don’t forget the 40 lbs of donated magazines from my co-workers, YAY!), socks, toiletry items, gum, granola, and snacks. I did send an iPod early in the deployment and the weirdest request was a shelving unit. I had to get creative to find something that would work AND fit in that flat rate box! Swiss does the “I don’t need anything” thing a lot, so most of what I send that isn’t a direct request (books) is a guess/shot in the dark. I figure whatever he doesn’t want, some other guys in the TOC can use it!

    Fun post! 🙂 And I love that you sent a Kilt. That is awesome!

  2. 610photography permalink
    July 22, 2009 7:45 am

    I’ve used a vacuum sealer before and it sucked all the air out of my cookies leaving them hard as rocks!

  3. July 22, 2009 8:07 am

    Yes great post. When D was on deployment he couldnt get enough beef jerky. He also had me get a bunch of taco bell sauces in all the flavors and send them to him. He will still tell people to send beef jerkey & taco bell sauce to people that are deployed. Those were by far his favorites. I never tried to send baked goods but magazines, hard copies of pictures, pretzels and small things that remind them of home / smell like you or home are great.

    I never had and really odd requests, and as you can see my hubbs mostly just wanted food & snacks. 🙂

  4. Meghan permalink
    July 22, 2009 9:48 pm

    Awesome post! I am going to reference this very soon and I was about to ask all of you , but you beat me to it! Thanks for the ideas and the info on mailing. I was wondering how everyone mailed baked goods. Tucker, can I have your monster cookie recipe?

    • July 31, 2009 2:34 pm

      Absolutely! I will send it to you in an e-mail! (Sorry for the delay in reply!)

  5. July 24, 2009 3:06 pm

    I’ve used a vacuum sealer before, all the time actually. The trick is to space out the cookies, and like Tucker said don’t do soft goods like bread. But definitely space things out. The first time I sent cookies over, I just crammed them all in one giant bag and sealed. WHOOPS! Anyone want ONE GIANT COOKIE??

    I’ve also sent magazine, toiletry items, and M LOVES trail mix. Stupid little games that I find in the kid section of stores (hand held guitar hero games, mini battery powered race cars, etc) are also a big hit. They offer lots of entertainment, and can be beat up because they are cheap!

  6. Heidi permalink
    August 9, 2009 6:16 pm

    I sent banana bread once but it was in the summer so it got so hot that it fermented and became alcoholic. I’m told it was quite a hit. The other popular item that I sent was a box of treats from World Market. They have shelf stable cheeses and smoked salmon and such.

  7. redgrrl40 permalink
    July 30, 2012 11:37 pm

    digital music on thumb drives – hours and hours of it – and dvds. and i wrap everything even if it’s just in tissue paper and if i remember when i’m putting on perfume i do it over the box before i tape it up.

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