How To Send a Holiday Gift to a Soldier

Spreading Holiday Joy Across the World

Soldier with son

The holiday season is here and if you have a service member stationed overseas for the holidays, the time for mailing your packages has arrived. This is an extremely easy process as long as you remember to always keep the best interest of your soldier in mind. Step by step, we will go over all of the necessary tasks and items you will need for sending your package.

  1. Obtaining the presents - I'm sure you already have in mind what you are getting your soldier for the holidays, but if not, here are a few suggestions. Especially if they are stationed in Iraq or Afghanistan, soldiers are always in need of toiletries and snacks. Items that can be stored for long periods of time are great ideas. Consider sending food items such as beef jerky, candies, mixed nuts, dried fruits, and drink powder packets (such as Crystal Light). You know your soldier's preferences better than anyone, but if possible email, or ask him on the phone if there is anything he has been craving. There is always room for holiday favorites like homemade cookies and candies. Toiletries will always be welcome--things such as shaving supplies, toilet paper, shampoos, Q-tips, and toothpaste. Remember though, that while these things are needed, they aren't the most exciting holiday gifts. Your soldier will need something to keep spirits up while he is deployed. Consider items like CDs, DVDs, books, word-finder books, crosswords, or Sudoku puzzles.
  2. Choosing your box and packing it - The next step will be going to the post office and getting your box or boxes. Your best bet will be the flat rate boxes. There are two different types of boxes--a tall and thin box, and a smaller rectangular box. If the presents you have for your soldier will fit into one of these boxes, that would be the most practical choice. These boxes are $8.95, regardless of the weight. If you feel your items will not fit in these boxes, you can get a regular priority box. These are free for you to take home and package, and then pay for once you are ready to mail. While still at the post office, you will need to grab a customs form. They should be with all of the other documents, such as the certified mail stickers. If you cannot find them, the postal workers are always more than willing to help. You can also grab packing paper or bubble wrap if the Post Office offers it.

    Once you get your boxes home, it will be time to pack them. Before you begin packing, make sure you have a detailed list of the gifts you are sending. You will need to transfer this to the customs sheet later on. It is always best not to ship breakable items to your soldier, but if you do, make sure to wrap them well with newspaper, packing paper or bubble wrap. Wait to place this item around the middle of the box to secure it. Once you have placed all of your gifts into the box, if there is any free space left, make sure to fill it with more packing paper. The box should be as secure as possible so that no items can move about during their transit. Once you have done this, it's okay to go ahead and seal the box.

  3. Customs form - Filling out the customs form will be one of the most important things you will do in this process. It seems at first to be a confusing form, but it is anything but. First you will want to fill out your address, and your soldier's address. Next you will use the list of items you created before. You will need to list everything that is in the box, as well as the number included. Make sure not to miss anything; this is for the safety of your postal workers. Next make sure to check the gift box, as well as the airmail/priority box. Lastly, you only need to sign and date the paper.
  4. Mailing it - This is the last and easiest step! Take your package to the post office and mail it. If you have used the flat rate boxes, your cost will be $8.95. Try to mail your package by the first week of December if you would like it to arrive to your soldier by the holiday.

There may be some of you who do not have any loved ones overseas, but still want to contribute to their holiday joy. First of all, this is a fabulous gesture, and a great way to show your military members that you support them. Here are a few things you can do if you are interested in doing this.

  1. Friends and Neighbors - Your friends or neighbors just might have a loved one in the military. Ask them if their son or daughter would like anything special, maybe a few extra holiday gifts. You will be surprised that they are more than willing to pass out the address in order to bring their soldier a little more holiday joy. If this is the case, follow the same steps from above in order to send them a wonderful gift.
  2. Churches or Charity Organizations - Different organizations such as churches or other charities may have programs that sponsor different service members. This is a great idea if you want to help out. Just go to or call one of these places for more information. Many local organizations will most likely participate in something like this for the holidays.
  3. Treats for Troops - Treats for troops is a fantastic webpage that allows anyone to send a care package for soldiers and other military members. The troops go online and sign up for the service, create a profile explaining their likes and dislikes, and then they choose from several items they may like for a gift. When you enter the site, go to Foster a Soldier, and here you can choose your branch of the military, as well as where the member is serving. The site will randomly choose a service member for you, and you will be able to read up on him, and then begin shopping! You can spend $20 up to $200 if you like. Take a look at TreatsForTroops if you are interested in brightening a soldier's holiday!

Now you see that sending your soldier a package for the holidays is very easy! You will surely be delighted when you receive word of how much he loved the gifts!


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Where do I get a "custom form" ?

By Colette Barry

Thank you Casey for keeping us in touch.. very informative and attainable.

By Colette Barry

What do service men and women miss the most? Family and friends. Something with a suitable photo on it would be a good gift - like a deck of playing cards. You can order them from outlets like Wal-Mart.

By Kathy Steinemann