As the daughter of an Air Force Colonel, I love to support our troops. One great way to say we all miss you back at home is to send a care package. But what to put inside it? If you have a loved one in the military, too, here are some great things to stuff in that box to give them a taste of home away from home. (And please remember: even if you don’t have a loved one overseas, you can always adopt a soldier to tell them America says hi from home.)

Home decor and sometimes basic niceties aren’t provided to the troops, and it’s really the little things that can mean a lot to help make a space feel like a home. Comforting small decor items such as pillows and sheets can help a bunk feel more like home. Also, what about a tiny atmospheric touch, like an air freshener? Those work wonders, and if your loved one is stationed somewhere warm, that could get smelly quickly, and a dollar store air freshener could make that little bit better.

Basic personal items are often overlooked because there are so many to think about – toothbrush, toothpaste – plus, what fits in that box?? Well, as for personal items, let’s think feet: everybody needs socks, and when you’re on your feet as much as a soldier, why not ease their a well-used tool? Comfortable or warm socks help a soldier feel their best and work their best. Also, out in the field, mini hand sanitizers go far, and can often be kept on their person.

For food, you need something that is non perishable so it makes it over there and is easy to store, too. What about some great treats to stock such as coffee, specialty teas, or your own signature hot chocolate mix? Also, think big picture:

hot sauce or water flavoring packets help spice up a dish or all the water they drink when out working. Hometown flavors are very appreciated. What about sending a packet of spices from the local farmers market or a special locally made peanut butter?

Other ideas for stuffers include: lip balm, sun block, protein bars, canned soup, soap, tuna, shampoo, baby wipes, mouthwash.

As far as entertainment goes, a video game, board game, movie, or book / e-book can really go a long way. According to a handy guide by Veterans United, Plastic Model Kits are also very popular.

Don’t forget to put in a note from you – that’s the most important thing! And if there’s a little one left behind, a cute tip is to always stamp the outside with the child’s hand so their proud mama or papa can see how they grow from care package to care package.

Great job! Remember: whatever you pick will say immediately “I’m thinking about you, I miss you, and I hope you come home soon – but in the meantime, here’s what I could send of home to you.”

In closing, here’s an extra tip to grow on: Don’t forget in all your planning that also, there are other soldiers who don’t have anyone reading this article. Why not put in a little extra to share?

Share the love, and God Bless America and our troops that keep her free.

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