Deployments are unique beasts, aren’t they? Even if you’ve been through four of them, that fifth one will come along and be completely different, forcing you to adapt and learn new skills and lessons. Each deployment truly is different.
This is just as true when comparing deployments between branches and even within branches, something I learned firsthand when chatting with Noralee of Mrs. Navy Mama! She and I recently sat down to talk about deployments as a submarine spouse and, of course, what that means for care packages. Even though her husband’s deployment situation is very unique, I was so impressed by how many of her care package tips could be carried over into just about any situation.
Unique Care Package Tips
This was my absolute favorite tip from Noralee! Laminating photos (even at home) makes them much sturdier so they’ll withstand handling a lot more and be better protected from extreme conditions, like getting wet on a ship.
You can purchase a laminator online for a fairly reasonable price, but if you’re looking for a lower initial cost, consider photo album sheets! Just know they likely won’t provide the same quality of protection as they aren’t sealed on all four sides.
Make use of Ziploc bags
While not a perfect solution in every instance, Ziploc baggies can really help protect items in your care package! They can help keep potential leaks contained and avoid ruining an entire box. They can also keep heavily scented items from bleeding over into everything else. But after chatting with Noralee, I realized that baggies can protect important photos, letters or small mementoes, both during shipping and when they’re in the hands of your loved one.
I really love the idea of using baggies to protect items, but encourage you to keep them in mind for storage as well. It will be much easier for your loved one to keep track of a Ziploc bag full of notes and photos rather than all those items individually.
Keep copies of letters
Things happen overseas. Items get damaged, misplaced or accidentally left behind and when it’s an item of emotional significance, that can be a hard pill to swallow. Scanning or making a photocopy of letters you send can help ensure that nothing happens to those memories. Encourage other family and friends to do the same if/when they send notes and letters.
This idea is such a good one that I suggest going back and doing it to old letters. You never know when a box is going to get misplaced (or ruined) during a PCS so having an electronic copy of those memories is so important.
Include items for multiple occasions in the same box
While this is a necessity for submarine spouses, it can be a great time and money-saving tip for other care packages as well, especially around the holidays. Consider sending combination boxes (Christmas and New Years or fall and Halloween) or adding smaller boxes inside your larger care packages.
You can wrap individual items for special moments in seasonally appropriate paper or include notes indicating when they should be opened. Don’t forget that “open when” letters would be a good addition for special occasions.
Keep their situation in mind!
Rough travel, super wet or dry conditions and even tight living conditions can (and should) affect what you send in your care packages. Asking a few key questions about access to microwaves or fridges, the weather or how much space they have to call their own can help you make choices about what’s best to send.
Noralee has had to really adjust how she sends care packages because of her husband’s specific situation, but every military care package requires a bit of flexibility. Don’t believe me? Remember that each country has restrictions on what can and cannot be sent in the mail!
Catch my full conversation with Noralee below and learn more about her here.
Want even more care package ideas? I’m giving away 165+ ideas (plus what to put in them) here.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase.