Iraq or Afghanistan this year? Bring Halloween to them and let them know you are thinking of them. Here are some Halloween care package ideas for soldiers overseas.
1. Start with a big plastic pumpkin.
To start your Halloween care package for your soldier, get one of those big plastic jack-o-lanterns. This provides a hard, protective shell for the contents of your Halloween care package. (Besides, it’s a lot more fun to pack things in a pumpkin than to pack them in a shoebox!)
2. Halloween candy!
Every school child knows that Halloween is about one main thing: the candy. It’s not a true Halloween care package without the candy. In particular, when you’re picking your Halloween candy, think about things that will not melt or crumble during shipment. Chocolate might melt, cookies might arrive as crumbs; hard candy, like Jolly Ranchers, will travel better.
3. Home-made Halloween treats.
As part of your Halloween care package, consider sending a home-cooked treat that will not go bad when it’s shipped. Rice Crispy treats, for example, are pretty tough, don’t go stale quickly, and have a long shelf-life. Your soldier will appreciate each personal touch you add to your Halloween care package.
4. Family photos from Halloween.
Include in your Halloween care package family photos from Halloween past – photos of your soldier, his/her friends, photos of the family. You can also get your soldier’s kids or little siblings to dress up in their Halloween costumes ahead of Halloween and send these pictures, so that your soldier feels part of the festivities back home.
5. Record a video message.
In addition to your family photos, record a video message for your soldier. You can film the kids in their Halloween costumes, wishing mom, dad, big brother, or big sister a happy Halloween.
6. Innocuous decorations.
Include some Halloween decorations in your Halloween care package so that your soldier can make his/her living quarters a little more like home. In particular, fake spider webs and plastic spiders are inexpensive and don’t take up much room. Your soldier will also appreciate paper and plastic wall hangings.
7. Innocuous costumes.
Send costumes so that your soldier and his or her buddies can have a little fun on Halloween. The large, hard plastic masks will not ship well, but these days there are plenty of wigs, latex masks, fabric masks, and so forth that would be easily included in your Halloween care package.
8. Nothing gruesome.
When thinking of Halloween costumes and Halloween decorations, be tasteful. Don’t include anything too gruesome or bloody. Your soldier might see enough of the real thing day in and day out.
9. Nothing political.
Likewise, your Halloween care package isn’t about politics. Political masks and costumes would be better left out.
10. Wet wipes and ChapStick or Carmex.
Now, wet wipes and lip moisturizer may not say “Halloween” to you. But when I talked to my buddy Tommy, who served briefly in Afghanistan and for two years as a machine gunner in Iraq, he told me that the favorite care package items of soldiers in his unit were ChapStick and wet wipes. Hey, they’re in a desert, remember? It’s hot, sandy, and dusty – and a shower doesn’t always happen every day. Tommy and his friends used the wet wipes that their families sent in care packages as an instant shower, and they went through ChapStick quickly as they tried to protect their lips from the dry desert air. So in your Halloween care package, throw in a package of wet wipes and Chapstick.
By the way, if you’re not already aware of them, read up on military mailing restrictions before you send your Halloween care package. A Halloween care package will make your soldier’s day, so start gathering goodies for your Halloween care package today.