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Old 01-13-2011, 03:12 PM   #1
live4christp1
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Care package do's & don'ts

Please share your care package tips with me. Will be sending to DH in the near future. Also have many friends asking me how they can help and I think our church is going to put together some for the unit so that every soldier is getting something on a regular basis.

Favorite items

Easiest to ship

Recipes for any baked goods you have had good experience with

Needs

No - no's

Best way to ship

Of course, myself and the kids will be sending to DH regularly but also want to help with any other efforts that go to other soldiers in the unit. This is our first deployment so I need all the tips you can think of.

Thanks!
Cristy
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Old 01-13-2011, 03:16 PM   #2
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some of the things I can think of are:

drink mix powders to add to water

beef jerky/slim jims

sunflower seeds/nuts

pocket hand sanitizers (DH hasn't been gone a week and already purchased two)

disposable razors

magazines




Can we send them cases of bottled water? or do they have access to bottled water?
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Old 01-13-2011, 08:50 PM   #3
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okay I'm going to answer the questions in no particular order before listing things for boxes.

1. No don't mail water. They have an endless amount of it.
2. Order a flat rate box supply at post office website. The APO flat rate boxes are a good size and hold a good amount and shipped for under $15. The only catch is the box has to retain it's shape. No trying to fudge the lid closed.
3. I suggest you wait at least a month or so until your husband gets to theater before you send anything. Chances are he will move more than once when he gets there.
4. Pack everything in its own ziploc bags. You never know what will melt or explode and the ziploc bags come in very handy. My husband had everything he owned in some form of a ziploc bag I think and still managed to have sand in most of the stuff.

As for the church and people wanting to send boxes, talk to the FRG leader and your husband. I would let them get settled and see what they need wherever they are. Some places have good shoppettes/PX and some have squat. Once you get an idea that helps you tell people what to put in the boxes.

Suggestions:
Food/Snack Items
Beef/turkey jerky
Ham, chicken or tuna salad lunch kits (includes the can of meat, crackers, mayo, relish, and little spoon)
Cans/sealed packages of chicken, ham, or tuna in a bag (little packets of mayo can be found at gas stations to send along)
Crackers including soda, salad, and Ritz
Small summer sausage
Pasta buckets
Cans of soup with pop tops
Tabasco sauce or bbq sauce
Hard candy
Little Debbie snacks
Cans of chips such as Torengos or Pringles
Plastic bowls or cans of dips including salsa, cheese dip, and bean dip
Granola/cereal bars
Lunch box sized packets of cookies, cheese nips, cheese &cracker/breadsticks
Good coffee or cocoa
Juice boxes off the shelf not the cold section
Pre-sweetened drink mix like kool-aid, tea, lemonade, or Gatorade

General Items
Boxes of holiday greeting cards unsigned
Envelopes, paper, and pens
DVD’s—blank and with programs
Cd’s—blank and recorded
AA batteries
Int’l phone cards (best found at post office)
Magazines and local news papers
Disposable cameras if applicable
White athletic socks
Good toilet paper
Deck of cards
Handheld/travel size games
Frisbees
Athletic equipment like basketball, football, and soccer
Board games
Books/books on cd

“Theme Boxes”
Holiday boxes including funny or cute decorations
Stocking filled in a box
Coffee/cocoa box (include things like biscotti, cookies, or flavorings with the coffee)
Birthday box
Movie night box (sweets, a dvd movie, microwave popcorn and whatever else sounds good)
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Old 01-13-2011, 09:37 PM   #4
jsmith
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Absolutely use the APO flat rate boxes-generally even if you have to send two its cheaper than one of the others-additionally they are a nice uniform size so they pack on palettes easier and get there faster. Priority mail does matter-they do get there faster.

Fill your customs forms out at home-before you leave for the post office-its a courtesy to the others in line-especially if you are sending mulitple boxes.

No pork products of any kind, no pornography and no alcohol. Confine sending chocolate to the time between thanksgiving and valentines day-other wise it arrives a melted icky mess.

vacuum seal home baked goods-stick to crisp cookies not soft things which will mold easily. While most things get there in 8 to 14 days i did have one box take 5 weeks this summer and another case were i was a bit slow and the recipient came home on leave so they too 13 days to arrive and then sat for 20 days while he was away.

Agree about waiting to see what the PX is like-my husband has always been lucky to be where he could buy most of the snacky stuff he wanted. but i have a friend in one of 4th ids armor units who has been stuck in BFE four times. He always wants tons of M and Ms-lol.

Edited to add-a word about disposable razors-my husband prefers to use a rechargeable electric razor when he is deployed. Its the only time he uses one. The shower situation-particularly on his first trip was iffy and water usage limited. His skin is sensitive and he hates to dry shave. so-electric is the answer for him.
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Old 01-14-2011, 07:21 AM   #5
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Thanks for the great tips!

I meant to ask about cereal too. Maybe the little individual bowls that you just pop the top and add milk or eat dry or the small boxes. Have also seen some $1.00 boxes of several varieties at Wal-mart - a little bigger than the single serving box but should fit into on of those boxes nicely. Also, oatmeal comes in the individual bowls too and ramen noodles. DH loves ramen noodles (don't know why as I think they are yuck ) I guess those are okay to send as well?

Thanks again!

You both are a huge help!!!!!
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Old 01-14-2011, 07:39 AM   #6
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Care Package Don't...

DDs love Peanut Butter & Fluff (that marshmallows whip in a jar) Sandwiches however only get them as a treat (school's out, vacations, etc.) so they thought it would be awesome to send some in their care package.

The Fluff exploded all over everything!! Luckily they were able to salvage their goodies while having fun figuring out what the sticky stuff was and then a good !!

Don’t send Fluff.

P.S. I also saw Hickory Farms was having a sale with free shipping to APO and FPO addresses.
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Old 01-14-2011, 08:00 AM   #7
live4christp1
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WeDisney4 View Post
Care Package Don't...

DDs love Peanut Butter & Fluff (that marshmallows whip in a jar) Sandwiches however only get them as a treat (school's out, vacations, etc.) so they thought it would be awesome to send some in their care package.

The Fluff exploded all over everything!! Luckily they were able to salvage their goodies while having fun figuring out what the sticky stuff and then a good laugh!!

Don’t send Fluff.

P.S. I also saw Hickory Farms was having a sale with free shipping to APO and FPO addresses.
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Old 01-14-2011, 10:23 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WeDisney4 View Post
Care Package Don't...

DDs love Peanut Butter & Fluff (that marshmallows whip in a jar) Sandwiches however only get them as a treat (school's out, vacations, etc.) so they thought it would be awesome to send some in their care package.

The Fluff exploded all over everything!! Luckily they were able to salvage their goodies while having fun figuring out what the sticky stuff was and then a good !!

Don’t send Fluff.

P.S. I also saw Hickory Farms was having a sale with free shipping to APO and FPO addresses.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Haha, my in-laws had a similar story this last deployment. I'm not sure how they made it through the first deployment sending care packages without bubble-wrapping/putting things in plastic baggies, but this time they shipped salsa. It took a good 8 weeks to get over there, broke on the way, and the box arrived wet & full of mold. My husband had to throw EVERYTHING in the box out, which just seems like such a waste of the time & money spent buying everything.

So - morale of the story - wrap everything very well! I usually try to save the packing materials I get in things shipped to me for a few months before deployments and then reuse it.

You already got a bunch of great ideas for care package items, but here is a link for cake that will stay good in a canning jar. I sent it over for my husband's birthday last year, and it was a big hit.

http://awtr.blogspot.com/2007/09/cake-in-jar.html

I sent the oatmeal packs and cans of soup (my husband's not a ramen fan). I tried sending the small packs of cereal the first time, but he said they were not "man-sized" and did nothing to fill him up lol.
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Old 01-14-2011, 11:13 AM   #9
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Quote:
You already got a bunch of great ideas for care package items, but here is a link for cake that will stay good in a canning jar. I sent it over for my husband's birthday last year, and it was a big hit.
These are hugely popular and according to good food science extremely risky. I have baked and sent them and mike loved them and i know a girl who did enough pint jars for her husbands entire platoon but be aware baking a cake does not get hot enough to kill botulism spores and the sealing process traps moisture -an anerobic enviroment with moisture is botulism heaven. So if you are going to do this make sure your jars are absolutely sterile and still hot when you pour you batter in. (Botuslism toxin is the worst type of food poisining and can be fatal-its not a very large risk but there is one. botulism is the reason you home can in sterile glass jars and that you process them for 15 minutes after sealing).
After i got this lecture from my food scientist mother i slighly modified the bacardi cake recipe and started sending those-they seem to get there just fine too. Mike loved the jar cakes but now im scared of poisioning him.
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Old 01-14-2011, 11:46 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jsmith View Post
These are hugely popular and according to good food science extremely risky. I have baked and sent them and mike loved them and i know a girl who did enough pint jars for her husbands entire platoon but be aware baking a cake does not get hot enough to kill botulism spores and the sealing process traps moisture -an anerobic enviroment with moisture is botulism heaven. So if you are going to do this make sure your jars are absolutely sterile and still hot when you pour you batter in. (Botuslism toxin is the worst type of food poisining and can be fatal-its not a very large risk but there is one. botulism is the reason you home can in sterile glass jars and that you process them for 15 minutes after sealing).
After i got this lecture from my food scientist mother i slighly modified the bacardi cake recipe and started sending those-they seem to get there just fine too. Mike loved the jar cakes but now im scared of poisioning him.
I had read that about the cakes in a jar on one of the military boards too.
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Old 01-14-2011, 03:10 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jsmith View Post
These are hugely popular and according to good food science extremely risky. I have baked and sent them and mike loved them and i know a girl who did enough pint jars for her husbands entire platoon but be aware baking a cake does not get hot enough to kill botulism spores and the sealing process traps moisture -an anerobic enviroment with moisture is botulism heaven. So if you are going to do this make sure your jars are absolutely sterile and still hot when you pour you batter in. (Botuslism toxin is the worst type of food poisining and can be fatal-its not a very large risk but there is one. botulism is the reason you home can in sterile glass jars and that you process them for 15 minutes after sealing).
After i got this lecture from my food scientist mother i slighly modified the bacardi cake recipe and started sending those-they seem to get there just fine too. Mike loved the jar cakes but now im scared of poisioning him.
Wow, thanks for the information! I wasn't aware of that. I'll have to pass it on to my friends who have deployed husbands right now, they are constantly sending the cakes over there.
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Old 01-18-2011, 05:45 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lovemygoofy View Post
okay I'm going to answer the questions in no particular order before listing things for boxes.

1. No don't mail water. They have an endless amount of it.
2. Order a flat rate box supply at post office website. The APO flat rate boxes are a good size and hold a good amount and shipped for under $15. The only catch is the box has to retain it's shape. No trying to fudge the lid closed.
3. I suggest you wait at least a month or so until your husband gets to theater before you send anything. Chances are he will move more than once when he gets there.
4. Pack everything in its own ziploc bags. You never know what will melt or explode and the ziploc bags come in very handy. My husband had everything he owned in some form of a ziploc bag I think and still managed to have sand in most of the stuff.

As for the church and people wanting to send boxes, talk to the FRG leader and your husband. I would let them get settled and see what they need wherever they are. Some places have good shoppettes/PX and some have squat. Once you get an idea that helps you tell people what to put in the boxes.

Suggestions:
Food/Snack Items
Beef/turkey jerky
Ham, chicken or tuna salad lunch kits (includes the can of meat, crackers, mayo, relish, and little spoon)
Cans/sealed packages of chicken, ham, or tuna in a bag (little packets of mayo can be found at gas stations to send along)
Crackers including soda, salad, and Ritz
Small summer sausage
Pasta buckets
Cans of soup with pop tops
Tabasco sauce or bbq sauce
Hard candy
Little Debbie snacks
Cans of chips such as Torengos or Pringles
Plastic bowls or cans of dips including salsa, cheese dip, and bean dip
Granola/cereal bars
Lunch box sized packets of cookies, cheese nips, cheese &cracker/breadsticks
Good coffee or cocoa
Juice boxes off the shelf not the cold section
Pre-sweetened drink mix like kool-aid, tea, lemonade, or Gatorade

General Items
Boxes of holiday greeting cards unsigned
Envelopes, paper, and pens
DVD’s—blank and with programs
Cd’s—blank and recorded
AA batteries
Int’l phone cards (best found at post office)
Magazines and local news papers
Disposable cameras if applicable
White athletic socks
Good toilet paper
Deck of cards
Handheld/travel size games
Frisbees
Athletic equipment like basketball, football, and soccer
Board games
Books/books on cd

“Theme Boxes”
Holiday boxes including funny or cute decorations
Stocking filled in a box
Coffee/cocoa box (include things like biscotti, cookies, or flavorings with the coffee)
Birthday box
Movie night box (sweets, a dvd movie, microwave popcorn and whatever else sounds good)

Thanks for that list, Tina!

I wanted to add, MAGAZINES even if they are USED. If you have any used magazines at all, they LOVE them. My DBro is a Col/Army and is in Afghanistan for his 4th deployment right now. Hoping to return summer 2011. I send over all my USED women's magazines to DBro and he takes them to the Commissary and gives them to all his women soldiers. They love reading all the articles even if they are a few months old.

It is so much cheaper today to subscribe to magazines than to walk into CVS and buy just one. So, this has been great (when I am done reading) being able to send them off and I also include treats/snacks in the boxes for DBro.

Also, it seems like the boxes are all getting over there pretty quickly. PO is supposed to tell you 2 weeks. My DBro appears to be getting them within 5-7 days as he emails me every time they arrive.
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Old 01-19-2011, 01:28 AM   #13
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Mallomars (with the fluffy inside) make a reall mess in shipping too. I adopted a army lady a few years back and ruined a care package this way. One thing she loved was when I send her a mini nerf football. They had tons of fun using it in there off time. She and I still talk after 8 years!
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Old 01-19-2011, 02:00 AM   #14
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The things I most often sent were:

~socks
~gel insoles
~chapstick
~eye drops
~nuts and sunflower seeds
~trail mix
~jerky
~tuna pouches
~dried fruits
~olives and pickles (DH loves them as a snack...lol)
~peanut butter
~plastic bottles of jelly
~books
~movies
~video games (DH took a DS with him and his roomie had a PS2)
~specific toiletries (the things DH couldn't find at the PX)
~pictures in little frames - like the wallet sized ones
~drawings from the kids

I would recommend seeing what he requests once he gets to his base. For instance, during DH's second deployment he was about as far as he could possibly get from the DFAC, so he really appreciated packs of tuna and boxes of crackers for the nights he just didn't feel like walking down there. Also find out if there are any unit specific things that he cannot have - this last deployment DH wasn't allowed flash drives for anything while my friend's DH's unit had no problem with them. Check to find out what he's got easily accessible to him - one time DH had a microwave and one time he did not.

I liked to do themed packages too - Christmas box with miniature decorations, Cinco de Mayo box (tortillas, refried beans, velveeta, salsa, chips, non alcoholic margarita mix, decorations from the kids), etc. It was really fun coming up with ideas. I think I did one themed package a month and one regular package, plus anything else he asked for. One thing that helped me was to take a walk down every aisle at the grocery and look specifically for small things packaged in non breakable packaging. That's how I found green olives in a pouch - I would have never thought to look for them but they are one of DH's favorite snacks and he was very happy to get them.

I definitely agree with ziplocks - put everything in a separate ziplock. It will help protect against damage and the guys can almost always use ziplocks. For baked goods, stick a slice of plain white bread into the container with the cookies/brownies/whatever and it will help to keep them moist.

While I was typing this I was asking my DH what he liked in his packages....he named off a few things but then said that it really didn't matter to most of the guys what was in them, it was just that they got something at mail call. On that note, send lots of random "I Love You" cards too. And remember that the guys do a lot of passing things around, so anything you send will get put to good use by someone.

My DH's favorite thing for me to make was German Chocolate Brownies. They are super moist so they were still moist by the time they made it over there. I'd be glad to share the recipe if it's something you're interested in.
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Old 01-19-2011, 07:57 AM   #15
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Thanks everyone for all the great tips!

Kendra - I'd love to have the recipe you mentioned.

Cristy
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