Military Care Package Ideas: What To Put In A Care Package in 2020

Military Care Package Ideas: What To Put In A Care Package in 2020

Posted by Jack Wray on Feb 11th 2019

One of our top questions is what to put in a care package for the military. After all, most of us have never been in deployed, so it's hard to come up with military care package ideas, and even harder to know what to put in a care package. Most information out there on the internet is for fun care package themes, but we found that these care package ideas often didn't cater to what those of us in the military really wanted. That's why we designed this product-by-product guide, to let you customize, and put what you want in the care package, while at the same time giving you ideas for useful items for your military member.

Obviously, if your service member requests something, send that! When I was in the Navy, for example, I used to play catch on our flight deck on Sunday afternoons. Playing catch on deployment for the military; military care package ideas; what to put in a care package(Yes, this is a real photo of me out at sea.) As accurate as we may have been, we'd lose baseballs over the side as the ship rocked back and forth. I put the word out to my family: send old baseballs in the next care package. And from then on out, each military care package I got had a couple of beat-up baseballs in it. My grandfather even sent a whole box with just baseballs and a simple note: "Hope this helps." Well, it did, and I still remember that care package all these years later. It was like a treasure trove for a young sailor who just wanted a bit of normalcy on those long deployments.

But for every baseball I got, I also loved the things that came along with it.  And frankly, if all anyone sent me were baseballs, I'd run out of space! That's why we've put our heads together, brainstormed a list of 100 items, and whittled it down to the top 20 items to include in a military care package. And we put them together into a list here, complete with easy links to buy each one on Amazon. We guarantee that, if you add these to the care package, it will make for a fantastic military care package. If you choose to buy one of these products for your Hero, if you use our link, you'll pay the same price, but we get a small commission, which helps us to keep bringing you great content! We aren't paid to list any of these, though. We came up with this list all by ourselves!

You'll notice some commonalities among the products, which should help give you guidance on what to put in a care package. First, these are all small items. Military members don't have a lot of space, so space is at a premium. Second, every snack is packaged in single-servings. It's hard to keep things fresh, and it's so much easier to store unopened snacks, and they're more compact as well. Gatorade powder, for example (see #7) is best given in single-serve packets. Sure, it costs much more per serving, but we were all in agreement: we'd rather have 10 single servings rather than 50 servings in a tub. Finally, our most important thing is to keep your service member in mind when choosing, and the more it relates to home, the better. If you have a local coffee shop, sending that coffee is a game-changer. But absent that special treat, we guarantee that if you use our list, you can't go wrong.

And just to build suspense, we start with #20 and work our way to #1. Without further ado:

Our Top 20 Products


Jack Link's Beef Jerky; military care package ideas; what to put in a care package#20: Quick Protein

Our service members work hard, and a source of quick, high quality protein is always great to help keep them going. Include some "quick protein" in your next care package. "I ate so much beef jerky while deployed, but it helped when I was starving between meals," one Marine told us. Beef and turkey jerky is great, but mixed nuts can get the job done, too. A must have for each military care package.

Military Care Package Item #19: Air Fresheners; military care package ideas; what to put in a care package


#19: Air Fresheners

Deployments will often find many heroes sharing a small space, so any effort to freshen the room is often appreciated! While not the most exciting gift, it's definitely one of the most appreciated. We like these  Febreze stationary air fresheners and refills because they are discreet, work continuously, and get the job done, even in close quarters.


Military Care Package Item #18: Hand Warmers; Military Care Package Ideas; What to put in a Care Package #18: Hand Warmers

Admittedly, these only work for about half of the year, but they're so great for those time periods that we included them on this list. Nights in the desert, nights at sea, and duty stations in cold climates leave many service members exposed to cold temperatures.  Hand warmers are air activated and can help keep feet and hands warm, and they'll last through an entire shift.



Military Care Package Item #16: Body Wipes; Military Care Package Ideas; What to put in a Care Package

#17: Unscented Body Wipes

Body wipes are a popular request for military care packages, particularly for our heroes that serve in a desert environment. Usually, people send baby wipes, but these  Dude Wipes are FAR better. They help keep you fresh when a shower isn't ready available, which happens across all services, especially for soldiers and marines.  They're great for wiping sweat and grime from the face. We like these Dude Brand body wipes because they are thick and unscented, and they are a far cry from the standard baby wipes. These are especially good for marines and soldiers serving in hot desert climates who need military care packages.



Military Care Package Item #16: Cards; Military Care Package Ideas; What to put in a Care Package

#16: A Deck of Cards

Cards have a tradition in the armed forces.  They've kept military members occupied for decades, and for good reason. They're portable, there are endless games to play, are an excellent way to pass the time, and a great group activity. "We had card night every Tuesday night," one soldier told us of his bunkmates.  Service members can never have too many decks of cards, since individual cards have a habit of running off, requiring frequent deck replacement. Toss a pack into every few care packages.



Crossword Puzzle & Sodoku; Military Care Package Ideas; What to put in a Care Package

#15: Crossword Puzzles or Sudoku

For some solitary down time, check out puzzle books, like crossword puzzles or sudoku. They can be great for taking one's mind off a stressful day.  Puzzle books also tend to be inexpensive, so throw a few in! We like this Jumbo book, since it has a variety of puzzles and won't get too old.



Military Care Package Item #14: Cranium; Military Care Package Ideas; What to put in a Care Package#14: Board Games

Another option for off time- travel sized board games. They come organized so it is easy to keep track of all the pieces. There is often an area for communal board games, where service members share things they bring with them or get on deployment, so it's a gift that will keep giving to the entire unit.  Our favorite deployment game was  Cranium.  It's expandable to any number of players, and gets out of control quickly.  Two of our team members remembered Cranium as their top game on deployment, so it gets our #1 nod.



Military Care Package Item #13: Sunscreen; Military Care Package Ideas; What to put in a Care Package

#13: Sunscreen

Many of our service members will serve in hot, sunny environments, so make sure their skin is protected. While the military provides sunscreen, some service members don't like it's thick, chalky texture, and so they'll skip it. Send a bottle of sunscreen they won't mind putting on- we like  Bullfrog brand, because it's clear, non greasy, and absorbs quickly.  It feels like you're just rubbing water on your skin, but it works just as well as the classic stuff.

Military Care Package Idea 12: Dr. Scholl's

#12: Dr. Scholl's Gel Inserts

Half our staff was outraged that thiswas not #1. These are a welcome item in any care box, especially for the hero that spends their whole day on their feet. Our tried and tested favorite is  Dr. Scholl's massaging gel work insoles- it helps to relieve tired, aching feet and joints. No matter the branch, service members are on their feet almost all day.  From standing watch on a Navy ship to hiking long miles in the desert, new gel insoles are miracle cures.  These come in men's and women's sizes, too. Think they may already have them? They need replacing every few weeks, and most service members never have the supply to replace them fast enough, so send one in every single military care package. But be sure to send the work insoles pictured here.  Standard insoles may work for civilian shoes, but wear out in under a week with the military boots.



#11: Writing Material
Military Care Package Item #11: Moleskine Notebooks; Military Care Package Ideas; What to put in a Care PackageWriting material is always a great thing to send, especially if your service member wants to write letters home. Send paper, envelopes, and pens. Writing material doesn't have to be limited to just letters, though. Many service members keep journals on deployment.  It's a nice break from the hectic world they live in, and helps them to process the day and clear their heads. We like these classic Moleskine notebooks, seen here. They're understated, well constructed, and sturdy. Not only that, but they fit in cargo pockets, letting the service members take them wherever they go.  Get them a color besides black, because the black ones are common, and having a different color will make it harder to get mixed up with the crowd.

Military Care Package Item #10: Toiletries; Military Care Package Ideas; What to put in a Care Package#10: Toiletries

Heroes can never have too many travel sized portions of their favorite shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, or lip balm. It's a little bit of their home routine in a bottle! Extra credit: if you know your hero's favorite facial moisturizer (especially if they have sensitive skin),send that along, too.  For men, we like the  Axe Body Care Kit here, because it has a little bit of everything, and is small enough to actually send all these pieces at once in a tidy military care package. For women, we love the Burt's Bees Travel Kit. It's cheap, but really high quality and useful on deployment.

Military Care Package Item #9: Medicine; Military Care Package Ideas; What to put in a Care Package

#9: Medicine

You never know when a headache or stomach ache will strike, and your loved one will be grateful to have travel sized medicine readily available. The best ones to send along are  Advil (liquigels for fast relief), Pepto Bismol, and even a pain relieving topical ointment like IcyHot (we like it in stick form linked here, since it's quicker and less messy). "Great for those 3 am moments when you wake up feeling terrible," one soldier told us. When possible, get tablets or pills, as liquids have a tendency to spill.



Military Care Package Item #8: DVDs; Military Care Package Ideas; What to put in a Care Package

#8: DVDs of TV Shows

On deployment, service members have a good amount of down time.  It's usually a necessary break from the stressful times. DVDs are often a great source of relaxation.  While most Americans are switching from DVD to digital storage, the military is a bit behind.  Sending some DVDs will be sure to work with the equipment.  We recommend television seasons.  They are a great way to take a short break, and sometimes movies are just too long to have the time to watch.  Plus, television series lend themselves to re-watching.  We recommend the complete series of The Office.  It's great for re-watching over and over, and unlike some other TV shows, if the service member misses an episode or two, they can jump right back in. Other great options are Game of Thrones, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, or Parks and Recreation.



Military Care Package Item #7: Gatorade Powder; Military Care Package Ideas; What to put in a Care Package

#7: Powdered Drink Mixes

There are all kinds of drink mixes out there- powdered  hot cocoa mixes, juice mixes, even powdered coffee mixes. Whatever you think your loved one may want, make sure you pick some that are packaged in individual serving sizes, not a big bucket We are a big fan of Gatorade powdered mixes- they're perfect for hot climates and for the Hero hard at work- they re hydrate and replenish electrolytes. They're also a great alternative to unhealthy soft drinks, and are good to add in some flavor to everyday drinking water. Toss a few single packs into each military care packages. Although these look like the traditional canisters, inside are single-servings. Make sure you don't accidentally get the bulk serving containers! Click the link here for the right kind.




Military Care Package Item #6: Kindle; Military Care Package Ideas; What to put in a Care Package

#6: Reading Material, Magazines, Books

Reading material is another great idea for solitary downtime. Send your loved one some of their favorite magazines, books, or even a copy of the local newspaper. It doesn't matter if the magazines are older issues.  Time in the outside world tends to stop on deployment, so most service members won't know the difference or care, since either way, the information will be new. "I used to read through a couple of Sports Illustrated issues in my bunk every night," one Marine told us at Hero Care Packages. "Even though some of the issues were old, I didn't really care. It was nice to think about something other than work."  If you really want something great, we recommend the  Amazon Kindle, loaded with a few books.  Space saving is always a must, and having all of your books electronically is a great option.  And the cost of books to send starts to add up.  Much better to get one Kindle and allow the service member to add books when they get the wifi connection.  Make sure to get the one with the built-in light.  We recommend the same one as Amazon-- it's has 35,000 more reviews than the other models for a reason.


Item #5: Candy & Gum; Military Care Package Ideas; What to put in a Care Package #5: Candy and Gum

Candy and gum are a must have! Chewing gum was often the only thing that kept us awake on those long 2 am watch shifts. Gum and candy is also a great alternative to some of those less healthy habits, like smoking or chewing tobacco.



Military Care Package Item #4: Condiments; Military Care Package Ideas; What to put in a Care Package

#4: Condiments

Our service members have salt, pepper, ketchup and mustard in their mess halls, but eating the same types of food in the mess can frequently get old. Condiments are great to enhance meals or MREs. Does your hero have a favorite locally made BBQor hot sauce? Extra credit if you include some in your care package to give your hero a little taste of home.  Absent that, we like Sriracha packets.  They're versatile and the small size is perfect for service members to use when they're looking to spice up their meal.



Military Care Package Item #3: Snacks; Military Care Package Ideas; What to put in a Care Package

#3: Snacks

Crackers, chips, nuts- every military member loves to get some snacks. "We used to microwave popcorn during our movie nights, so my grandmother sent me a whole box just of extra butter popcorn," remembers one airman. Popcorn is great, or send an assortment of smaller sized chip bags for a little variety.  We like the variety pack pictured here because it's affordable, and had a great mix of things as well. 




Military Care Package Item #2: Photos; Military Care Package Ideas; What to put in a Care Package

#2: Photographs from Home

Every single service member on our team talked about the importance of photographs from home. Baby pictures, pet pictures, you name it. Even a picture of Uncle John's new house will help service members feel like they're in the loop. Nearly every military member has pictures taped up in their limited personal space. We all remember that it was the first thing you saw when you woke up in the morning and the last thing you saw before you went to sleep. And there can never be too many of them. 

Military Care Package Item #1: A Personal Note; Military Care Package Ideas; What to put in a Care Package

#1: A Personalized Note

Our #1 pick was almost as easy as our #2 pick. We can't say enough about the importance of an old fashioned letter. A letter from home is something that has sustained soldiers at the front for hundreds of years, and its importance is still felt today. When writing a letter, keep in mind that It doesn't have to be Shakespeare, but it should come from the heart. Make sure to include some news of home and some words of encouragement. Service members read these letters multiple times, and most keep them in a drawer or at the bottom of a pack when times get rough. It's the little things that matter, and adding a note to your next military care package is the most important thing you can do.




Well, that's our list, but we want to know yours! Let us know which items you think are best to include in your military care package!

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