Holiday Shopping for Deployed Loved Ones — Cool Ideas, Made Easy

Shopping for Deployed Loved Ones

Shopping for Deployed Loved Ones

Make the Most of Holiday Planning

At SargesList, we’re already thinking about the holidays. Thanksgiving will be here before we know it and the jam-packed holiday season will follow right on its heels.

This can be particularly difficult for families who have a deployed loved one who will be missing out on some or all of the holiday festivities.

This also means it’s time to pack and send those holiday-themed care packages!

Fortunately, we’re doing some of the thinking for you. With the upcoming winter PCS season and political turbulence in our country,¬† we know many of you will be particularly budget-conscious this year, perhaps unable to travel to see family, making it more important than ever to find creative ways to shop for your home and loved ones near and far without racking up unnecessary debt.

Timing, Get Ahead of the Curve

You can generally count on about 2 (3 to be safe) weeks for your care packages to arrive at your deployed spouse’s base station in the Middle East (Iraq, Kuwait, Afghanistan) and Africa, and 1-2 weeks for arrival to the Pacific Region.

Gifts for Deployed Family Members

If you’re looking to do a holiday-themed care package, we have a few ideas for you (having been there ourselves). While your deployed loved one may not have a great deal of extra space, a few decorations can really make the time of year feel more festive.

While we still love all the ideas we listed in our post for deployed Dads earlier this year,  we have a few holiday-themed additions.

 Think Holiday Party in a Box.

    • ¬†While finding holiday food favorites in a can isn’t the same as sitting around the table at home, it’s a nice gesture.
    • It’s a safe bet to skip things that light up as there’s a good chance the batteries could be ruined before they have a chance to be used.
    • Small stockings, garlands, Santa hats, miniature trees, menorahs, Dradles, candy, instant hot chocolate and coffee in holiday flavors, and of course, any other relevant religious or cultural symbols make terrific reminders of home.
    • Home-baked goods (properly packaged) are also a great idea, and something your family and friends might like to help prepare.

Holiday music and a stack of cards written by loved ones are always appreciated.

Personalize It



  • Small, personalized gifts of items your spouse or loved one will really appreciate, like a small electronic device can be great additions and a way for them to feel loved, but be mindful that mail does occasionally get lost or delayed.
  • You also might consider sending a package of pre-stamped envelopes and cards so that the military member can write back if they choose.
  • If you’re short on time or want to give a recommendation to family and friends, try something fun and pre-assembled like a package from ManCrates. Plus, they offer a 10 percent discount for military members!
  • Avoids: As always, don’t include carbonated beverages, aerosol cans, alcohol (spiked holiday eggnog will have to wait), perishable food, living plants, flammables and firearms/ammunition. Check the USPS website for more regulations.
  • Remember! Creating and packing care packages is a great way to help children feel closer to a deployed parent, so it’s important to include them in the shopping, wrapping and packing. Allowing them to customize and choose some small gifts will go a long way for maintaining relationships.

Our Favorite Gift: Photos and Photo Books for Deployed Loved Ones

  • ¬†One of our favorite ideas is updated, professional family photography. You can check our OpLove or a local military spouse photographer to capture some priceless moments for someone missing home. This gift can also do double-duty because prints can be given away to other family members as gifts.
  • 7 awesome photobook tips
  • Mixbook discount
    Up to 40% Off! Code: FALLMX Ends: 10/21 Details
  • Don’t know if this is still valid, but Army MWR says that you can stop by and get a FREE photo book coupon code. Click here for more info.

Shopping and Decorating Back at Home

Whether you’ve been at your duty station for years or a matter of weeks, decorating is a great way to make a temporary house feel like home (link to blog post). Be sure to check SargesList for local military or veteran-owned crafting businesses and craft shows as well as all types of gifts listed within your military community. You can find unique items for your home and the holidays at a fraction of the cost. Likewise, if you make items to sell, be sure to utilize our free advertising to get the word out there.

If you can’t find what you need on SargesList, check our partner websites like ThredUp for like-new used clothing for gifts and your family’s needs.

Here are a few more fun ideas for keeping your Christmas patriotic and making sure your deployed loved one is close in heart and mind.

Patriotic Holidays

Personalized Ornaments


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