If you know a soldier currently serving in Afghanistan you may want to send them a care package, but are not quite sure how to go about it. When I found out my son was going to be deployed to Afghanistan I immediately began researching different websites and organizations in order to figure out how to stay in contact with my son and how to support him during his deployment. I found a lot of helpful information as well as some interesting tips on packaging the items.
First things first - what to send
When sending packages to your soldier it is important to focus on necessities rather than cute stuff because everything that is sent in must also be carried out. Another important factor is the weather; if you want to send something that could melt (candy bars, chocolate), it needs to be sent during the cooler months. With the help of my son, his fellow soldiers and some other moms, I have compiled a list of requested items which is definitely not all inclusive, but it is a good start.
- Chocolate candy
- Cup o Noodles
- Ramen noodles
- Pop tarts
- Granola bars
- Canned chicken/tuna
- Microwavable meals (Ravioli, mashed potatoes, hamburger helper)
- Peanut butter
- Kool-aid singles, Mio
- Instant hot chocolate
- Pringles chips
- Beef jerky
- Flavored oatmeal
- Microwave popcorn
- Microwavable macaroni and cheese
- Sunflower seeds
- Condiments (Ranch, catchup, mayonnaise, etc.)
- Gourmet coffee
- Plastic silverware
- Ziploc bags
- DVD movies
- Video games
- Playing cards
- Board games
- Notebook paper and pens for writing loved ones
- Self addressed envelopes
- Hand written letters/cards
- Phone cards
- Hand warmers
- Small flashlights (I suggest the wind up kind to avoid running out of batteries)
- Warm hats, gloves and socks (during the winter months)
- Blankets (During winter)
- BABY WIPES (My son used these many times when they had no running water)
- Toilet Paper
- Soap (Make sure soap is double bagged - leaves smell of soap on food)
- Body lotion
- Feminine hygiene items
This is what went in one of my son's boxes
Do Not Send
- Pork products
- Items containing alcohol
- Pornographic materials (including nude/semi-nude)
- Obscene materials
- Horror comics
- Liquid hand sanitizer
- Aerosol cans (They may explode)
- Firearms or ammunition
- Do not send items in glass containers unless they are bubble wrapped
- Do not mail chocolate during summer months
- The best deal is Priority Mail Flat Rate APO large box (They are discounted)
- All packages going overseas must have a customs form
- Priority mail, flat rate boxes and shipping supplies can be ordered free of charge at www.usps.com
- Use things like socks, hats or blankets to pad fragile goods
- Place all liquid items in at least two Ziploc bags
- Empty any items that are boxed into the packing box - this saves a lot of room
- Pack themed boxes: Christmas, birthday, Valentine's Day, Halloween, etc. - Use wrapping paper or scrapbook paper to line the inside of your box. Buy items that go along with the holiday
What if you want to support our troops and you do not know a soldier personally?
If you would like to support our troops with care packages, but do not know how, please visit one of the following websites and adopt a soldier:
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Stacy on December 02, 2019:
Why no hand sanitizer? Is that just because it could leak?
Bill on October 28, 2019:
Thank You for this
Paul on August 05, 2018:
How can I received card from USA to Afghanistan
Kelly Collins on July 30, 2018:
Thank u for the information. Very helpful 4 sending our troops a little bit of home.
Brittany on March 03, 2018:
Thank you so much for doing this!
Connie on February 13, 2018:
Thank you for your list of what to send and not to send very helpful
Meg on November 25, 2017:
Thank you for your list! My family has signed up to "adopt" a soldier during his/her deployment and I'm making a list of items to send.
TheBex on July 24, 2017:
I noticed hand warmers were mentioned which is a brilliant idea for when it is cold, but when it is hot, send the ice packs that you shake to make them cold for sprains and stuff. I think those are allowed, please correct me if I'm wrong lol
Freddie Kimball on July 02, 2016:
Do socks, hats, scarves, shorts, shirts, etc., have to be military things? Will "regular" clothing be accepted/worn?
Macy on May 07, 2015:
My fiancée is deployed and if you go to the post office you can get relatively large military boxes for just $16! it's a great deal and you can fit a lot in them :)
juliecook (author) on April 24, 2014:
I used the large flat rate box - it is the cheapest way. They discount it if you are sending it to an APO/FPO address. I tried using a larger box one time and they were going to charge me around $60 in shipping. Needless to say, I switched over to two flat rate boxes. When packing the box you can conserve a lot of space if you dump everything out of it's original packaging (especially things like granola bars or microwave mac & cheese). Be creative if you need to pad certain items - use socks or a scarf in the colder months and shorts or t-shirts in the warmer months. That way it is all useable stuff, not a bunch of packing material.
shaunie on April 24, 2014:
I was just wondering how big your box was?
I was looking online and the large flat rate boxes don't look very big!
juliecook (author) on February 12, 2014:
Davina, you would need to get that information from your soldier because there are many different addresses. He should have been given the information when he arrived. Make sure when you get the address that you don't share it with anyone especially online because that can put your soldier in danger.
davina on February 12, 2014:
Just wanted to know how to send care package to Kabul Afghanistan military base. He's us.army I don't know unit number or box number or 9digit zipcode I believe to send way over there
Heather T on July 29, 2013:
I would not recommend chocolate or anything that can melt, it's usually VERY hot wherever they go and it will usually melt and create a mess!
cornwall_UK from Cornwall, UK on May 23, 2013:
A really handy list. Voted up. I look forward to more hubs from you.
juliecook (author) on December 12, 2012:
I also participate in sending Christmas packages to children overseas - Operation Christmas Child through Samaritan's Purse. Thanks for your comment!
Judi Brown from UK on December 12, 2012:
Useful hub! We've got involved with sending Christmas packages to children overseas in the past and some of the things on your list applied to them too. We were going to put lots of chocolate in - it didn't occur to us that it could melt and spoil the other items.