Military Care Package Packing

How to Pack Care Packages for Soldiers, Marines, Sailors and Airmen...

How to Properly Pack a Care Package for a Military Service Member

I’ve listed these instructions to give you the best chance for a successful shipment.


The Box

I always use USPS Priority Mail shipping boxes. Why? They’re free and durable. If you choose to use some other type, make sure it’s made of sturdy cardboard and avoid using used boxes. You can also order (for free) a Military Care Kit from USPS. The kit is free, and each box is labelled with the words “America Supports You,” which is cool. Here’s the USPS Military Care Kit Link.



The Box Size

I’ve read over and over that the package should be no larger than a shoe box. I have sent larger and know that they made it, but just use your best judgement here. If you can break up the shipment into a couple more convenient sizes to handle, please do.



Don’t Over-Stuff the Package

Over stuffing the box might cause it to pop open during shipping.



Use Heavy Duty Freezer ZipLock bags

The best way to pack individual items like Chapstick, eye-drops or shampoo is to place them in a sturdy ziplock freezer bag. The service member will love this because they will re-use those bags to keep their personal items dry and sand/dirt free. They will know what to do, but you can still make sure they realize that you packed like that on purpose for them, by adding your reason in a letter to them with the package.


Manufacturer’s Packaging

When possible, always keep the items in the original manufacturer’s packaging. This will help for a speedy customs inspection.



Separate Toiletries and Food

The smell of shampoo or soap can creep into food. Double pack and separate toiletries from food products. I prefer to ship in totally different packages.



Packing Materials

Never use Packing Peanuts.

As you shake the package, the contents should stay firm. Nothing loose.

Use something the service members can re-use. Examples include:


  • Zip lock bags with air in them
  • Small flexible pack of ten tissues still in the manufacturer’s plastic packaging
  • Hard candy still in the wrappers (think individual packages of mints)
  • Plastic grocery sacks
  • Small pads of paper



Before You Tape

Include a letter identifying the contents of the box.

If you’re shipping more than one package to the same person, number the packages and in the letter state how many packages are coming and which package number this is. Example: (package #2 of 5)


Also, it’s always a good idea to place large stickers (closely matching the color of the box) over some of the seams. This way, a service member can easily see if the package was tampered with.


Include a second shipping label inside the box just in case the outer label becomes damaged or unreadable.  



The Tape

Use only clear packing tape and use a lot of it. Especially over top of the address you just carefully wrote or printed, to avoid smearing.

Every seam of the package needs to be taped well.



In Conclusion

I'll be updating all pages on a continuous basis. Please come back through the steps each time you ship a care package.

Now that you have a good feel for how to pack care packages, I'll show you the other steps..


Here’s the list for what’s super great items that service members have requested.

Here's the list for what NOT to send to service members.

Here are the instructions for the easiest way to send care packages to random soldiers.