10 Cool Gift Ideas for Deployed Soldiers

So, your husband, wife, son or daughter is deployed overseas.  Just as much as you are missing them and longing for their safe return home, they are missing home.  You want to send them something to remind them of home and let them know that you are supporting them and missing them…but what should you send?  Here are my Top 10 Cool Gift Ideas for Deployed Soldiers.

10. Hygiene Items: Sounds pretty lame, right?  You would be surprised how much a typical “care package” with items like; deodorant, toothpaste, mouthwash, etc. is appreciated by a Soldier living in the field.  Small little luxury items can really lift a person’s spirits and give them some extra motivation…all because they got a clean shave or washed their face.  Another good idea is to send enough items so that your Soldier can share some of the items with their buddy!

9. Tobacco Products:  Go to any combat arms element and you will see Soldiers either smoking or dipping.  Simply sending them a few rolls of their favorite snuff or cartons of their favorite cigarettes can do a lot to lift their spirits.  You may disagree with them using tobacco products, but try and let go of that and do something for them.  After all, they may be in high stress environment and enjoy the drag of a cigarette once in a while…

8. Lickies and Chewies: What are “lickies and chewies”?  Well, anything that a Soldier can keep on him, pop in his mouth and snack on.  Sometimes Soldiers go all day without a meal (besides an MRE, which isn’t always that appetizing) and need some fuel.  Simple bags of candy like; Jolly Ranchers, Starbursts, Tootsie Rolls, Jelly Beans, etc. will withstand the heat (for the most part) and give them a quick surge of energy and sugar.  Sometimes, snacking can help curb boredom as well!

7. Newspapers and Magazines: Your Soldier may not be established in an area where they can get to a PX to get the latest copy of their favorite sports car magazine or daily paper.  Keep old copies of the paper or stop by your local drug store and pick up some magazines.  During their down time, reading is a good way to pass the time and stay in touch with what is going on back home.

6. Homemade Arts and Crafts:  If you have children together or are crafty enough, sit down and do some homemade arts and crafts.  I have seen it countless times where Soldiers will take up their entire living space with photos of their children and the pictures they color for them.  There is something about a son or daughter sending their mother or father a sloppy, colored picture that makes them feel closer to their children despite being worlds apart.

5. Luxury Items: This topic is pretty vague, but I feel like there are everyday items that Soldiers use that can be greatly improved by a simple gift from home.  For example, you know that your Soldier is most likely sleeping on the ground or a cot.  Head over to your local sporting goods store and pick up a nice memory foam pad or inflatable mattress for them.  Go online and Google military suppliers to find nice moisture-wicking socks and T-Shirts.  Anything that can increase their comfort will be greatly appreciated.

4. Love Letters: I stole this idea from my wonderful girlfriend, who, every time I go away for training or what have you will prepare a love letter for each day I am gone.  Now, deployments are typically 12 months (and some have often been up to 15 months!) so that may be difficult, but give it a shot.  It is a nice daily routine to take a few minutes to sit down and read a quick letter and even write back.  Show your Soldier how much you love them and miss them!

3. Photos of Home: Similarly to the Homemade Arts and Crafts, sending Soldiers photos from home can quickly become artifacts on their “wall of fame”.  Try sending photos of great memories you had together right before deployment or even take a few photos each month as to create a sort of “timeline” of events so they don’t feel like they are missing everything because they have been shipped off.

wedding gift ideas2. A Phone Call/Calling Cards: A picture may be worth a 1,000 words, but to me I believe hearing a loved ones voice weighs more.  A Soldier may only get a few phone call opportunities a month, so make sure you are around to answer that call!  Nothing can be more unsettling than calling home and hearing a voicemail or answering machine.  They may be having the worst week since they’ve been in country and the sound of your voice can lift them back up and motivate them to drive on.  Understanding the weight that this has, I would say this ranks very high on the list.

1. Skype or Facetime: Before your Soldier ships out, pick up their laptop and download some Skype software and upload some minutes.  Or maybe even surprise them with a brand new Macbook so that you can Facetime!  Just like the importance of the phone call, the ability to talk face-to-face and see each other has an enormous impact on morale and motivation.  Bringing the kids in to say hello to their mother or father will also make them happy as well too!

Final Thoughts

In summary, these are my top 10 cool gift ideas for deployed Soldiers.  I would love to get your input.  Please leave a comment below to tell us what you think are great gift ideas for deployed Soldiers.  I look forward to hearing from you.

15 thoughts on “10 Cool Gift Ideas for Deployed Soldiers”

  1. Another idea is to send a surprise to your deployed soldier, something new and fun. For example, if your soldier likes to build furniture or work with wood, try sending them a wood carving kit and a couple of blocks of soft wood. Or if your deployed soldier likes crossword puzzles, send some hand puzzles along with the next set of puzzle books – you know the kind, Rubik’s cubes and things like that.

    The great part about sending something unexpected like that is if your soldier doesn’t really get a kick out of the gift, he or she can always share with buddies in their unit who would love to try it.

  2. When my brother and cousins were deployed their favorite thing was letters from home and care packages. My father even set them up with a slingbox so they could watch TV from his cable box and take control of the remote. It’s really neat! My brother was especially fond of getting candies stuffed in little tins that were small enough that he could carry. I took on a few penpals as well because I requested they give me the names of soldiers that weren’t getting mail. I’m told it really lifted morale.

  3. Great suggestions here. Personal hygiene does sound lame, but when you are out on deployment, it is a very important. I also agree with the tobacco products. Nothing like a great cigar when you are sitting around after a day of finding roadside bombs.

    One that isn’t mentioned from what I can tell are books. Reading is a great past-time that many people have set aside. With all the technology out there, many have stopped reading books. Lets get the book reading fired back up by sending books as gifts. A person can find great deals on books in Amazon all the time. I just purchased two books for 1 cent a piece plus shipping.

  4. These are all really great ideas! Just recently, I was checking out at one of our local craft stores and before I left the lady asked me to sign a Christmas card that they were sending off to the troops for (obviously) Christmas. I loved it! So of course I held up the line and wrote a quick little “thank you” to whomever is going to receive that particular card.

    But likewise, in our home we like to do some care packages/gifts for the troops who are a part of our church family. We don’t have a large church, but there are 5 families who have sons or daughters deployed overseas or serving here in our home country. So we like to send them some neat and practical things in a care package. Some of the items we include are toothbrushes, candy, soap, deodorant, disposable razors, beanie babies, and a card thanking them for their service.

  5. It is also my understanding that greeting cards, particularly home-made ones, are also on the soldiers’ wishlist, to have them available to send to family members on special occasions–birthdays, Christmas, etc. Apparently, when they do have access to cards for purchase, the selection is not that great, and hand made cards for them have grown in popularity because of the more personal touch, their uniqueness, and the care with which they were made.

  6. These are all great gift ideas for deployed Soldiers. For people who like to read, you can send them a gift certificate for Amazon so they can buy Kindle books. Kindles are great gifts too, along with IPODs, good digital cameras and any other piece of technology. Of course, these are more expensive than some of the other gift ideas mentioned above.

    I also liked getting beef jerky, magazines, crossword puzzles, puzzles, and other things. The best thing you can do is ask the Soldier what they want/need, since every base is different and has different things to purchase.

  7. These are all great ideas. We also include to-go packs for adding to water, like the ones Propel makes. We are also making something called Cool Ties for soldiers, which are basically neck wraps made from cotton and with polymer granules sewn in. These can be thrown in an ice chest or refrigerator,and then worn to keep cool. The soldiers we’ve sent them to so far love them, and we are in the process of making more. My daughter’s dad loves to get her pictures and letters that she writes, and I take as many photo’s/video’s that I can so that he’s involved as much as possible. Bottom line, keep connected with your deployed soldier as much as possible.

  8. The Skype recommendation is definitely spot-on. My first deployment to Iraq in 2004-05 was tough for the entire family, but about halfway through a group of us got together and bought our own Internet access. Once I could chat with my wife whenever I was off duty, it made things so much easier for everyone. On our 2010 deployment I never went to a phone center (except while in Kuwait); we always used Skype.

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