Budget-Friendly Tips for Packing and Sending Care Packages to Military Overseas
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If you’ve ever considered sending a care package to a member of the military (or maybe you are just looking for some new suggestions and insider insight!), I thought you might find this email from a Hip2Save reader to be quite helpful…
[h2s_box]I thought I would share one of my newest journeys into being frugal! My husband is currently on his 6th deployment, and with a toddler and newborn I wanted to be prepared for everything before he left, including being really organized about care packages. Before I started couponing, I would just go to the store and pay full price for items and ship them off, but now, with the help of Hip2Save, I managed to be frugal and smart about care packages.
There isn’t a way to get around this, but some helpful hints include:
Order free flat rate boxes, pay shipping costs, print labels, and arrange for pick up at your house. It actually saves a little more than a dollar per box as opposed to doing it at a USPS location, there is no weight limit, and you don’t have to waste gas on a trip.
Many places ship to APO addresses for free. Cheryl’s Cookies does and with the wonderful people on this site using my link, I was able to send cookies to my husband’s department for free!
Decorating the boxes:
In order to make the boxes more inviting, I used scrapbook paper and cute sayings/greetings to decorate the boxes. I gave each box a theme as well: the obvious holiday ones, but also ones such as “Date Night,” “We Are So Blue Without You,” “Breakfast in Bed,” and “Born to Run.”
Using Michaels coupons I was able to buy a pack of themed scrapbook paper and decorate over 30 boxes for less than $4!
Some of the themes:
Game night (hand-held games, dollar store puzzle books
Sweet Dreams (hot coco, personalized mug, blanket)
Breakfast in bed (cereal, chocolate milk boxes, pop tarts, etc.)
Born to Run: Fitness box (health bars, drinks, water bottle, workout clothes)
Date Night (copy of the first movie you saw together and one you are watching with the kids)
St. Patrick’s Day (everything green packaging)
We are so Blue Without You (everything in blue packaging)
Keep it Clean (Toiletries, towels, etc)
The final countdown (the last box….include plans for when your SO is home)
What goes in the boxes:
I planned ahead and made a list of what I wanted to include. This made couponing and shopping easier! My favorite deals included Hormel microwaveable meals (Target gift card deal paired with coupons), pull tab soups and canned goods, the Beef Jerky deals, and tons of granola bars, candy (avoid chocolate since it melts) and cookies… all almost free after coupons.
A binder for my son’s artwork, sheet protectors, & envelopes for the “Open When” letters (free with Office Depot wrapp), Hanes socks and shirts (Target coupon, Cartwheel matched with a sale), free magazine subscription to Sports Illustrated and Rolling Stone, handheld games from Target toy clearance, Back to School Febreeze and Clorox wipe deals, new towel and sheet set (free after promotions at Kohls), tons of Shutterfly books, magnets, etc. that are freebies!
Some little things that made them special:
“Open when” letters to last throughout the deployment. Some ideas include:
Open when you need to laugh…
Open when you can’t sleep…
Open when you are frustrated….
Open when you need to feel appreciated…
Open when you want to be challenged…
Open when you want to know my favorite ten memories of us as a dating couple…
Open when you want to know my favorite ten memories of us as a married couple…
Open when you want to know my favorite ten memories of us as parents…
Open when you don’t feel well…
Open when you’re discouraged…
Open when you’re bored…
Open when you’re homesick…
Open when you’re halfway through deployment…
1. Use ziplock bags (bought with coupons of course) for any items that could melt or leak (I used them for pudding and energy drinks I got with coupons)
2. Ship ahead of time… They can take up to 4-6 weeks to arrive so you want to keep that in mind in case they are date specific.
Some other deployment suggestions:
You can save money by pausing the deployed person’s phone plan
Stay active to make the time go by faster! There are tons of freebies and discounts for military dependents!
Get the kids involved! We made a countdown board (using a tri-fold board from Office Depot) including a countdown calendar, a map of where daddy is, messages and pictures from daddy! We also used Kohls cash to get a recordable book so the kids could hear their dad’s voice every night![/h2s_box]