If you've never sent one--there's no time like the "present" to get one packed and mailed. Here are a few helpful hints to get you started.
Bake some cookies, bars or brownies. Nothing fussy or frosted. Solid cookies that will not crumble when jiggled and schmucked around on a forklift!
While those are cooling, buzz over to the Post Office and pick up one of their free boxes. You want the LARGE Priority Mail "flat rate" box (more on this later). Ask for the customs declaration form. Get two of those in case you mess it up. It's easier to fill out at home!
Check out the consignment store book shelves and look for something for your soldier to read. My son mentioned that he wanted to read "light" stories, westerns, action-adventure, but nothing that reminded him of combat or war. And he didn't want us to spend money on new books, because he wouldn't have room in his dufflebags when he left his COP.
Run in to your favorite store and get the latest issue of your soldier's favorite magazine, a puzzle book (crossword, sudoku, word search) and a mechanical pencil. Pick up some hard candy (individually wrapped), gum, fruit snacks (little packets), other treats.
Meander into the hosiery department and grab one or two pair of WOOL SOCKS--especially if your solder has been deployed for more than a few months. He'll be so glad to see those socks, believe me, you'll get tons of thanks!
Last but not least, look for a bag of his favorite chips. My son was keen on Cool Ranch Doritos. I always used a bag to top off the box--and he said even if they got crushed (usually they didn't) that even the crumbs were tasty and a GREAT change from the chow hall food!
Back home, package the cookies in sandwich sized zippered bags, neatly and tightly. Or vacuum seal.
I freeze my cookies at this point, so they get solidly cold. I figure they'll start out frozen/cold then during transport maintain a bit of the chill, and hopefully stay fresh longer. Even with Priority Mail, packages going to a war-zone don't get to a loved one as quickly as going state-side. And depending where your soldier is stationed, the box could sit for a few days in a depot somewhere. On top of which, your soldier could be out on a mission for several days once the mail is dropped off at his COP or FOB!
Nestle the cookies in the middle of the goodies, and keep filling the box. The tighter you can keep things, the less breakage. Lightly crush some newspaper to fill in the spaces. Dear son told me, "Mom, don't use those stupid packing peanuts! Do you know what happens when they get all over everything in my tent?" If you must use packing peanuts, kindly put them in a plastic shopping bag (tied shut), and keep them corralled!
Avoid sending toiletries in food packages as the manly fragrance of Old Spice isn't a nice flavor for Chocolate Chip Cookies! So, do send toiletries, but send them separately!
Once the box is packed, tape it shut. Tape a plain white sheet of paper on the top and add your soldier's address with your return address. Fill out that declaration form you grabbed from the Post Office.
Back at the Post Office, remind the clerk that this package is going to an active duty soldier in a war zone. You get a reduced rate (like $3.00 which is more to spend on what's INSIDE the package!--yeah!).
If you're able to communicate with your soldier, let him know via your network that a package is on its way. This will increase the anticipation of something from home as well as alerting him to be around at Mail Call!
We can't do much for our soldier-sons or daughters when they're deployed, but we CAN let them know we miss them, we love them, and we think of them.
St. Paul wrote to the Philippians:
"I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last
you have renewed your concern for me.
Indeed, you have been concerned,
but you had no opportunity to show it.
I am not saying this because I am in need,
for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.
I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.
I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation,
whether well fed or hungry,
whether living in plenty or in want.
I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength."