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How do you celebrate your anniversary? A date night? A weekend getaway? Maybe an extra long dinner? If you’re a military couple, odds are you’ve celebrated your anniversary with a sketchy internet connection and a very cold and empty bed. Yes, the military does tend to get in the way of the best laid plans and any sort of romantic gesture, but it doesn’t have to derail everything, even during deployment. If you’re celebrating an anniversary while your loved one is away from home, consider sending one of these traditional anniversary gifts perfect for a care package!
Now, full disclosure here: the “traditional anniversary gifts” concept normally applies to just wedding anniversaries, but if the military is making you celebrate in a non-traditional way, I don’t see the harm in using these ideas for dating, engagement or even “day we met” anniversaries.
Full disclosure #2: I normally suggest that you don’t send highly valuable (either monetarily or emotionally) items in care packages because you just never know what will happen to your box or to your loved one’s belongings when they’re shipped home. So while there may be dozens of really cool traditional anniversary gifts, I tried to limit the list to items that make for the best care package contents.
Traditional Anniversary Gifts for Care Packages
1 year: Paper
This one may be the more care package-friendly of them all because paper is so easily sent overseas. I mean technically just decorating the box counts since you use paper!
Other ideas include: a hand-written love letter, receipt for an upcoming vacation (you could also send a map or guidebook of your destination), photos or a photo book, a new book to read or a journal. You could also send a mini scrapbook of your first year together or even a Love Book, which is a super cute way to tell your story.
2 years: Cotton
Certainly clothes fit the bill here, but what if you took them an extra step? How, you ask? Well let me tell you: put your face on them! Socks, boxer shorts and t-shirts can all be customized in this goofy way. You could also add photos to a blanket, in case your loved one isn’t the gag gift clothing type. Another option would be to take a pillowcase and write a love letter on it.
3 years: Leather
Leather can be tricky since most items are meant to be worn (and not normally with a uniform), but you could send: a passport holder (I really like this one), a wallet, a belt or even a new watch. An additional option is this fun anniversary baseball that you can personalize! Just be ok if your loved one opts to play catch with it too!
4 years: Fruit and Flowers
I won’t lie, year 4 is a tricky one for care packages. You can’t send perishable items in a care package, but you can still pay tribute to this traditional gift. Sending fruit leather or dried fruit is a fun twist that still sticks to the rules. You could also send floral scented air freshener, which, let’s be honest, a room can always use. I also really like this pretty floral bookmark if your loved one enjoys reading while away from home.
5 years: Wood
Rather than sending your loved one a chunk of the tree from the backyard, consider sending something that incorporates wood into. Maybe it’s sunglasses with a wooden from or a wood-patterned water bottle. You could also choose a wood-scented cologne or perfume; just be careful shipping liquids! Other fun options include this calendar, card, watch and knife.
6 years: Iron/Candy
Iron represents the strength in a marriage and can be a bit tricky to incorporate into a care package, but it can be done! Sending a small keychain, like this one, can be just the right touch. If candy is more your style, consider these personalized M&Ms as a fun spin on the traditional care package candy.
7 years: Wool/Copper
Depending on when and where your loved one is deployed, wool can be very tricky. Certainly if they’re in the appropriate environment, you could send socks, gloves, a hat or scarf. I also really like the idea of these slippers; my husband owns a similar pair and loves them. But if warmer climates make wool clothing a little ridiculous, consider sending something else made of wool. A new shave bag or travel backpack could be a nice addition to your box. If you’d like to go the copper route, this penny keychain is so stinking cute!
8 years: Bronze
Bronze represents the coming together of two unique things to create a new third item, just like a marriage joins two people into a team. You could play off this concept and send a box of things that are better when joined together: chips and salsa, milk and cookies, peanut butter and chocolate, etc. While it’s not technically bronze, it keeps the spirit of the gift alive.
If you are looking for something more on the literal side, what about this wallet insert card? It’s described as being for a man, but it would be just fine as a gift for a woman!
9 years: Pottery
There are so many wonderful options for this year, but when you have to ship them overseas, the list narrows down considerably. My favorite suggestion for a pottery-themed gift would be a new ceramic coffee mug. I love this personalized one as well as this one if your loved one is more of a tea drinker.
10 years: Tin/Aluminum
So much metal in this list, huh? Again, keychains or wallet insert cards would be a great option here, but depending on how long your loved one has been in the military, you may have already sent those!
For this year, try putting a few special treats inside a tin container within your care package. Maybe some of their favorite snacks from home or a few of those extra expensive toiletry products they secretly like using. You could also try sending baked goods in the tin; remember to wrap each item in plastic wrap and then put them in a plastic bag to keep them as fresh as possible. This tin is a really pretty option!
11 years: Steel
While some of the previous metals proved to be a bit tricky, steel actually has some really good care package-friendly options! Things like this water bottle, shaving set (or just a really nice razor) or Swiss Army knife would all be nicer versions of care package staples. You could also send steel cut oat oatmeal, if your loved one is a fan. Last, but not least, try out “I steel love you” as the saying for your care package decor!
12 years: Silk
I know, I know. Silk and deployment don’t really seem to go together, but you can still incorporate a little luxury into your care package. Consider sending something like a silk jammie set, silk pillowcase, silk sleep mask or even these fun boxer shorts!
13 years: Lace
Lace is another material that isn’t found a whole lot in deployment settings so you have to get a bit creative on ways to incorporate it into your care package. You could use paper that has a lace print on it to decorate your box or even tie lace bows on some of the items you’re sending. Another option would be to send a book or thumb drive with a series of boudoir photos in it. Alternatively, you could send something with laces, like new running shoes.
14 years: Ivory
Ivory is intended to represent the integrity and fidelity within your marriage so a great way to honor this would be to send updated vows on ivory paper; maybe include your promises for the next 14 years. Other options include Ivory soap or something that’s ivory colored like a fluffy bath towel or a mug.
15 years: Crystal
If there were any traditional anniversary gifts that you should not send in a care package, crystal is 100% it! No matter how carefully you package your crystal anniversary present, I can pretty much guarantee it will arrive broken in some way. This just means you have to get a little creative with your interpretation of the word. Send something like rock crystal candy or Crystal Light drink mixes instead!
Celebrating anniversaries during times apart can be tricky, but hopefully all of these fun traditional anniversary gift ideas make it easier!
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