I'm deployed but not for much longer so I'm good on care packages.
Here's a few tips I have:
- Ziplock anything that can break or leak. Keeps everything else in the box from getting messed up. Really wrap everything in its own thing to protect it from the other stuff also boxes can get messed up by someone else's poor packaging skills.
- We get lots of Peanut Butter and Jelly, even Nutella time to time. But almost no crackers.
- Soldiers get a fair amount of time to work out down range at a gym or something make shift (like a pole with ammo cans for weight lifting), so anything that one would need for going to the gym would be nice. Small towels, supplements, exercise mags (even a few months old), etc.
- Magazines, even a few weeks/couple months old. Sure Maxim and Stuff are good go tos for guys but those only last a few days because someone can read it front to back and back to front in a couple days. News magazines are nice and anything hobby related (firearms, craftsmanship, automotive, outdoors, etc). Also Gossip mags like US, People, etc are enjoyed too.
- If you're worried about stuff being crushed, pack stuff into a box that would give it some structural integrity like putting rigid things in the middle and sides.
- TV shows and movies. Not everyone gets AFN and what they do show is junk most of the time. New episodes of shows are generally weeks later and people who work different shifts might not catch it. Nearly everyone comes here with a laptop or tablet or knows someone with one so anything on the medium will be loved.
- Blank postcards. Sometimes people make them out of the backs of the cartons that come in MRE's or buy them at a PX if their base has one (generally 25 cents to a dollar for one, mail is free to send). But throwing a few in would be good way to get people to write a post card home.
- Ziplock bags. Those are hard to find here and they come in handy. Even a few empty plastic bags from the grocery store. Use them to compartmentalize items in the box and soldiers here will reuse them for all sorts of tasks.
- Chocolate is best to send during the cooler months like November to February. After that it gets warm and they will start to melt, even M&M's. Switch out to other kinds of non-chocolate when it's Spring to Early Fall.
- If you're gonna send hot sauce, send something other than Tobasco. We get so much of that here. People want some variety. Siracha is very popular as well as Tapatio and Cholula. The more exotic the better. I like to get Buffalo Wing sauce to eat with the chicken or turkey we get because they are pretty plain otherwise.