Ask the Readers: What Do You Put in a Care Package for Military Wives

Sister-in-Love with Sam at 4 months

I have a sister-in-love who is my hero. She married my “big-little brother” (as I call him), and I don’t really remember life before her. She’s just another sister to me, and I would never consider using the word “in-law” to describe her.

She happens to be a military wife, and as a wife who of a man who travels, I have tasted on a very small scale what it means to have your husband gone while you’re back caring for little bodies and running the home. I want to grow in caring for her from afar since I live thousands of miles away.

But I need help because the Lord did not give me the gift of service or gift giving. I don’t intuitively know what you need unless you live in my home. And when you have a baby it takes me days, even weeks, to decide what meal from my arsenal to take you. I over think gifts and consider not doing anything at all because, “I’m sure you’ll hate it.”

I know some of you are giving me a hearty, “Amen!” right now, while others of you are appalled that I’d choose nothing over just doing something. I get it. I know it’s ridiculous, and I’m seeking to grow in this area. Add to it an incredible desire to serve and care for family from a far and I’m just in a mess.

So can you help me brainstorm?

What do you put in a care package for military wives?

I don’t care how obvious of an idea it is I want to hear it. If you’re a military wife, what would you love to receive in the mail when your husband is deployed or training? Just leave your answer in the comments, and if you have a blog post or blog on this topic, feel free to leave it in the comments as well!

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  1. My little Army-wife-heart is thrilled that you’re asking this, Leigh Ann!! I’ve been through a few long training stints (although no deployments yet), and I think care packages for the spouse-at-home are a wonderful idea! I always love goofy cards that make me laugh. Flowers are pretty great too. My parents sent me some during his last training session, and it still makes my heart smile to remember getting them. I guess my suggestion is, think of little things that the husband might offer when he’s home — a smile, a flower, a favorite chocolate bar — and send those. And bonus points if you can offer them in person! ๐Ÿ™‚

    I’d love to see what others suggest, too!

    1. Oh what a great idea to look at it through the lens of my brother! Genius! And oh what I wouldn’t give to do this all in person! ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. I’m not a military wife- but last year I got a taste of being a single married Mum when my husband commuted between Japan and the UK.
    I wouldn’t want a parcel as such… Physical help would be mine (tricky though if you are far away)
    Help with being the taxi service for the eldest, while the youngest is in PJs and wanting to go to bed.
    Help with babysitting while attending a parent teacher conference.
    On a package point of view… A night off from cooking is always great. A gift for her. Encouraging Bible verses. A telephone call- I did miss having adult conversations…
    I hope that helps.
    I think this is a lovely idea, and after my time last year I have a HUGE amount of respect for military families. We moved our family out to Japan last Aug as our together-then-apart lifestyle just wasn’t working!

    1. It’s amazing what a small taste will do, isn’t it? These are great ideas. Thanks for sharing! And I’m glad you’re reunited with your hubby ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Former ANG wife here! I don’t think I ever received a care package for me while Hubby was deployed. I think ANYTHING would make that wife smile. Wives are there to support and care for their military husbands, but they themselves often get overlooked.
    The best things for me while Hubby was deployed was honestly::a listening ear!! Rarely did anyone ask me how I was doing, they were concerned for my husband, which of course is understandable. But being the one ‘left behind’ is tough as well.
    Now with a child, I think offering to babysit so mommy can go out with other mil moms and wives would be amazing! Praying for them, notes or emails of encouragement…….I would have loved those the best!!

  4. This is such a great idea! There is a strong emphasis placed on sending the service member care packages (as there should be) but I have never heard of blessing the wife in this way! I am a retired military wife, and you have given me a sense of duty to continue to look after my friends who are still facing deployments. On my husband’s last deployment, we had a family bless us with gift cards to Domino’s pizza so that we would continue having Friday pizza night, even though dad was gone. It was a great relief to have dinner taken care of one night a week.

    1. This gave me chills: “I am a retired military wife, and you have given me a sense of duty to continue to look after my friends who are still facing deployments.” Oh please please do that! I know this will be such a blessing to those you minister to! And thanks for the ideas!

  5. I may not be a millitary wife, but care packages are a HUGE deal for missionaries, ๐Ÿ˜‰ It would help to know where they are. If they are state-side, go for gift cards, regular cards filled with encouragement and Bible verses, phone calls, homemade gifts (book marks, scarves, and other light weight items), and candy. If they are in another country, send things they cannot get there (usually that is chocolate or nice soap). Also, regular cards filled with encouragement phone calls, and small homemade gifts, especially ones from little Sam! When people say “it’s the little things that mean the most” it is especially true for this circumstance. It doesn’t matter if they NEED the little item (like a pack of chewing gum) but that you are blessing them by showing them that you were thinking of them!

    1. You know what’s funny, Tasha? I’ve been pinning missionary stuff too! I wonder why? And these are wonderful ideas! You definitely count for chiming in ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. I am commenting because this is something I want to knows too. We were a military family but they say once you’re in you’re in and always part of the family, I run the local FRG and I am always trying to figure out what they want, need or are interested in learning. Thanks for asking this question!

  7. Oh this post made me smile so big! You are so sweet for thinking of this at all! Most military spouses never get packages during deployment – everyone thinks of the soldiers but few think of the wives behind!

    I got two packages last deployment and they were a huge blessing! Chocolate, dessert coffee, cute mugs, gift cards (Starbucks to fund sanity coffee dates, retail cards for retail therapy!), chocolate, a cute outfit for the children to wear at homecoming, Someone sent me some patriotic bibs for my son that I loved! And did I mention chocolate? Sending gifts at holidays like mother’s day, birthday, wedding anniversary – most of the time those holidays go totally forgotten when your spouse is deployed.

  8. I love this post. My best friend’s husband just deployed yesterday. Leaving her home with 4 boys ages 7 and under. Whew…. Tired just writing it. It’s going to be a long 9-12 months. I need all the ideas I can get.

  9. Mother of two sweet boys (ages 10 and 1) and army/National Guard wife to currently deployed soldier. Offering to watch the kids at their home so she can get some time to herself is the best gift on my opinion. Flowers are a wonderful idea as well. Bright cheery ๐Ÿ™‚ Or a night in and a listening ear with a girl’s movie. Also babysitting so she can get yard work done for a day is helpful…I seriously cannot cut the grass if I am home solo due to the one year old. If you are thousands if miles away, I know this is not possible but maybe a spa gift certificate and arrange a babysitter if she had other family or friends that are close? Also, speaking of yard work…if she does herself, you could hire in lawn service for her. We tend to forget ourselves and “me time” doesn’t exist. I have been a single mother and let me tell you, it is more difficult being spouse to a deployed military hubby than being a single mother. Just speaking from experience on both ends. You are taking care of business for you and hubby and taking care of kiddos solo. Luckily I was Blessed with an amazing man and father to the boys, we have a strong marriage and very happy. Support while he is away is definitely needed though and your post is very kind and thoughtful.

  10. Similar to those lots of wives send husbands you could do themes. A spa night in a box. Sunshine in a box with everything yellow and words of encouragement. A gift card to some place you can order from cause some nights you just don’t want to cook or go out. A movie you enjoyed. Flowers (it seems my ladies send me flowers right when I needed encouragement). Things to make you laugh. Call with a joke out of no where. Send her favorite treat and use labels and write a note on each one. When she pulls one out she will hear your voice and love whenever it may be needed. Seasonal gifts. A ton of balloons on a birthday. Really anything that will bring laughter and joy. I feel like that is the thing I missed the most. And listen she may mention something. A pair of socks that would fit her personality.

  11. All these ideas a super, especially looking through the eyes of the husband, or ways the husband is missed… like mowing the lawn, shoveling the snow, providing breaks and an ear.
    Just trying to think of it in another way, you could ask the spouse if she would like help with gathering donations or fundraising support for unit families. If she is living near the base, then she might be involved in fundraising efforts for the unit, and it can become an additional burden, even your heart is in the right place. There are so many restrictions on how they are allowed to ask for donations and support. But, as an outsider, you could reach out into the community and request donations or hold your own fundraiser to benefit the unit families. Just double check with her, and make sure that what you are planning is ok with legal.

  12. As an Army wife, I LOVE this! Getting care packages when my husband was deployed just made my day. Even back when I didn’t have little ones to take care of. My SIL sent me one of the best packages ever when my husband (her brother) was deployed. She sent a reusable water bottle, gum, a couple of books, candy and a card. It wasn’t much, but I loved it. My MIL also sent a couple packages. Hers usually contained chocolate. I wasn’t complaining about that! ๐Ÿ™‚

    My suggestion would be to send little things like that. Books, movies, gift cards, favorite candies, cards, something simple, but meaningful.

  13. Hey i am also form military background, I appropriate your work towards sending care package for military spouse. Its good idea to send him something in care package when her husband is deployed. From my opinion people’s need to send Daily Journal (A daily journal is a great addition to a care package. Make sure to include a special note before you send it), House of Cards DVD ( I love this series, very entertaining and will take quite a while to go through all episodes), A Game of Thrones – Book Set (This is a fantastic series. I am sure your loved one will enjoy them as much as I did). Tell me what you think about these things in a care package.

  14. As a military wife of 13years can I just say getting a care package for me would have rocked my world?!
    I love all the above ideas. Gift cards to plurge on myself or not cook are my fave! I also love the cards and verses.
    Flowers, chocolate, makeup yeah….
    Fabulous idea! FRG’s are the best way to find the women to give them too…if your looking.

  15. I realize that this article was written 2 years ago, but here it goes anyway. I am an Air Force wife, I haven’t gone through a deployment, but my husband goes TDY at least once a month for 4-5 days. Which is exhausting and I can’t imagine how 6 months feels like, so I really appreciate that you are bringing attention to this. When you don’t have family or close friends near by it is hard to get a break and very easy to forget that others care about you. Most people want to send packages to the deployed spouse and no one thinks about the wife and kids. I think knowing her personality is key, if you can tune in to who she is you are already ahead of the game.
    – things she wouldn’t normally buy herself will send her spirits through the roof.
    -nice bath salts or home spa treatments (anything that will help her relax)
    -games to play with the kids (even if its just chalk or bubbles)
    -contributing toward a babysitter so she can go out by herself
    -contributing to typical jobs her husband would do (mowing, changing the oil, etc) or a babysitter so she do could it
    -gift cards for restaurants so She doesn’t have to cook (if she lives in a smaller area check to see what local businesses are available because not every base has a Starbucks close by)
    -idea cards for things to do with her kids (do the research for her on local activities that are available)
    -tickets to local sporting events, play, concert, etc
    -don’t forget care packages for the kids too. I smile every time my son smiles, so seeing how excited her kids get when they get something in the mail will boost her moral too.
    -a cute/fun countdown calendar for the kids
    -reminding her that she needs to take time to take care of herself

    Most of all we want to know you care especially around holidays, anniversaries, birthdays, etc

  16. 20 years ago I was a military wife and as I mailed my hubby his monthly care pack I often thought how wonderful it would be to receive one myself. FlashForward and I currently work for a family in their restaurant. This Italian family moved to our area to be close to their son, DIL & grandkids. Today he deployed for seven months, I put together a care package for him because both mother and daughter in law work at the restaurant. As I dropped it off with the wife yesterday I once again remembered how I always wished for a care package for myself. Things I thought would be wonderful 20 years ago would’ve been stationary and envelopes and stamps maybe a Polaroid camera or some film. But today those things are taken care of with email and cell phones so it was difficult for me to come up with ideas on what I could give to this wife. Reading through this post, which have spanned over several years, I realize there’s always this underlying theme of relaxation, I’m not sure how I can provide this to someone I work for so I need alternate ideas. I don’t know that anybody is even going to read this or that those ideas are even going to show up but if you do read this please post some ideas on how to care for your boss when her husband is deployed. They own a restaurant that I work in so gift cards for food or off the table, I don’t want to do gift cards for a grocery store because that seems tacky, I can’t afford to do a gift card to the spa and that kind of seems too personal. I’m thinking ive got to keep this light airy & funny so maybe a comedy movie and some lemons and sugar with a note that says turning lemons into lemonade. Your ideas are very much appreciated!