Your ultimate guide for sending holiday care packages to deployed loved ones



As you know, USBA is a not-for-profit association that provides life insurance for military. You may not know our ranks are filled with retired veterans and others with family members actively serving in the armed forces. We’re all part of the U.S. military family. Your family.

That’s why we want to remind you there’s still time to send deployed loved ones holiday care packages. We know from experience one of the best gifts is the reassurance a loved one feels about his or her mission when a package arrives from home.

Here are some tips for what to send, when and how to send it.


These are the deadlines for mailing USPS military care packages to deployed military personnel overseas to ensure delivery before December 25. Send no later than these deadline dates and try to ship before these dates, if you can.

2018 Holiday Dates for Military Mail

Military Mail Priority Mail Express
Military Service (PMEMS)
First-Class Mail
Letters & Cards
Parcel Airlift
Mail (PAL)
Addressed to:

Dec. 18 Dec. 11 Dec. 11 Dec. 4
APO/FPO/DPO AE ZIP 093 N/A Dec. 4 Dec. 4 Dec. 4
APO/FPO/DPO AE ZIPs 094-098 Dec. 18 Dec. 11 Dec. 11 Dec. 4
APO/FPO/DPO AA ZIP 340 Dec. 18 Dec. 11 Dec. 11 Dec. 4
APO/FPO/DPO AP ZIPs 962-966 Dec. 18 Dec. 11 Dec. 11 Dec. 4

Get more mailing information here


Care packages are always welcomed by military members who are far from home. Here are some of the most requested (and appreciated) items.

Downtime entertainment
Reading materials such as books or magazines; word games and puzzles; Frisbees and foam footballs; playing cards and yo-yos; handheld electronic games with extra batteries (AA and D are always in demand; remove batteries for shipping so the game can’t turn on); writing materials and stamps; phone cards; disposable cameras.

Personal necessities
100% cotton socks and underwear; foot powder, body wash, lip balm, topical pain relief cream; lens cleaning cloths, lens cleaning solution, eye drops; feminine products for women; sun block; fingerless gloves and stocking caps for cold climates; band-aids; floss, toothbrush, toothpaste; razors; sunglasses.

Snacks and treats
Powdered drink mix (anything you add to water to make a hot or cold drink); individual packets of hot sauce, mustard, relish, ketchup; quick protein such as peanut butter, beef jerky, small cans of tuna, slim jims, beef summer sausage (labeled USDA Beef); snacks in hard containers (not bags that burst under pressure) such as pretzels, nuts, chips, sunflower seeds; mints, gum, hard candy, candy other than chocolate (it melts and is messy); small zipper-lock bags for repackaging smaller amounts of snacks sent in bigger containers; energy and granola bars; dried fruit.

Family matters
Handwritten letters from friends and family; family videos, candid photos of family and sports events; a child’s art project; homemade goodies packed in airtight containers (Pringles containers work well for homemade cookies); small scrapbooks and other small reminders of home and family.


  • Check on size and weight restrictions for packages. Your best option may be to pick up free Priority Mail boxes at your post office. Use the #4 or #7 size box.

  • Enclose a card listing the contents of the package along with the recipient’s name/address and your name. Then if the package breaks open during shipping and the contents scatter, mail handlers will know what to repack.

  • Place items that could spill or leak in heavy plastic zipper-lock bags such as reusable freezer bags.

  • Use packing materials that have a second life. Cushion fragile items with small packages of tissues, copies of the local newspaper, plastic zipper-lock bags filled with popped popcorn, small stuffed toys (for your service member to share with local children), or anything else your service member can reuse. Some families fill the empty spaces in their boxes with Jolly Ranchers.

  • Write out the complete address including your service member’s full name (with or without rank or rating), unit and APO/FPO (Air/Army Post Office or Fleet Post Office) address. Be sure you have the unit name, including the battalion, ship, squadron, platoon, etc., with the nine-digit ZIP code, if one is assigned.

  • Check with your Key Volunteer, Ombudsman, or command family support/readiness group point of contact for details about restricted items, especially if your military member is in the Middle East or Persian Gulf. Here’s a partial list of prohibited items.

Photo: U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Leah Stiles

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