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Most of these ideas came from listening to the radio program “Ryan & Gretchen” in the morning on Q108 (107.9 FM in Nashville). When I tuned in, they were compiling this growing list of items “live” on the air — with listeners (servicemen and women, as well as their spouses & friends) calling in and adding their own ideas for military care packages.
One of the coolest things to me was the fact that they had an in-studio guest who had served TDY in the U.S. military providing feedback about:
- The types of items that American soldiers need most
- Which items are the easiest for male and female soldiers to utilize
- Items that might sound like a great idea, but for one reason or another are not wise to send to soldiers
It was great to hear the point-of-view from someone who has been there, done that!
Best Items To Include In Military Care Packages
Following are the best items recommended for military care packages.
I’ve included most of the items from Gretchen and Ryan’s list, along with several of my own after I did a good bit of research to see what servicemen and women really wanted…
Shower to Shower body powder
Rice Krispie treats
Altoids or mints
Long-distance phone cards
Little Debbie’s snacks
Ziploc bags (for keeping things airtight, watertight, and fresher)
Toothbrushes & toothpaste
Cookies or muffins in individual packages (Big bags often fill with dust if not eaten right away.)
Canned food items
Spices (crushed red pepper), salt, pepper
Smoked oysters and sardines
Macaroni & cheese
Disposable shower towels
Olives, pickles, peppers (Be sure to add lots and lots of bubble wrap around these items.)
Cereal bars/granola bars
Microwave pasta that doesn’t need refrigeration
Bed pillows (these were a hit with my nephew!)
Hot cocoa mix
M&M’s (plain or peanut)
Magazines (these don’t have to be brand new)
Koozies to keep water
bottles and cans cool
D size batteries
Air fresheners (…like stick-ups, F’breeze. My personal favorite is Citrus Magic in the pure linen scent.)
Canned air to blow dust out of electronics
Stress relief squeeze balls
Shoe laces for gym shoes and boots
Inflatable seat cushions
Juice boxes and drink pouches
Notepads of paper
Word Puzzle books
Air activated heat wraps for sore muscles
Icy hot patches
Microwaveable plates, bowls, paper plates
Gift baskets filled with lots of useful items and packaged as a present
Video games (Nintendo Wii, Playstation, Xbox)
A Few More Unique Ideas
Now, for a few really unique ideas that I put together after talking with my nephew who is a U.S. Marine.
These are things that most people don’t already have, and you can bet they would be a welcomed diversion:
- A collection of Bud Light Real Men of Genius commercials
- Cornhole game set (or, build your own Cornhole boards — customized just for them!)
- A ladder golf game set (also called bolo toss)
- Washers game — similar to horseshoes, but better
- Personalized M&Ms with a digital photo or fun saying on them
- A customized magazine cover made from a digital photo — you could have a lot of fun with this!
Care Packages For Military Dogs
Did you know that military working dogs can receive care packages too? They can!
Here are some examples of dog-based businesses that have sent dog care packages to military working dogs:
- A dog bakery sent care packages to military dogs and their handlers.
- One veterinary office collected canine care packages for U.S. Military dogs serving overseas.
- A pet soup kitchen donated items for 300 military dogs.
If you own a business that makes dog-friendly items, what a great idea this would be for a charitable donation!
But you don’t have to own a business to gather some goodies and ship them off to canine soldiers as a gift.
Here’s how to send a care package to a military dog overseas.
Wondering what to include in your military canine care package? These are the best lists of dog-friendly items needed:
- A list of canine care package items needed from Operation K-9 Care Package
- Give 2 The Troops has a helpful guide for donating items to canine troops which includes a list of specific items.
Our Other Fun Ideas For The Troops
- Ideas for gift baskets that you can send to soldiers as care packages.
- Tips for sending packages to U.S. military overseas.
- Fun new gift ideas for soldiers and their families.
- Things that cost less for military care packages.
- What we sent to a couple of military units in Iraq in the past.
- How to find military addresses for those would like to receive soldier care packages.
- Tips for sending food items to U.S. troops.
I like to help people find unique ways to do things in order to save time & money — so I write about “outside the box” ideas that most wouldn’t think of. As a lifelong dog owner, I often share my best tips for living with and training dogs. I worked in Higher Ed over 10 years before switching gears to pursue activities that I’m truly passionate about. I’ve worked at a vet, in a photo lab, and at a zoo — to name a few. I enjoy the outdoors via bicycle, motorcycle, Jeep, or RV. You can always find me at the corner of Good News & Fun Times as publisher of The Fun Times Guide (32 fun & helpful websites).