Guidelines for Shipping to Deployed Service Members

I was asked by my friend Carrie of Fields of Cake to put together a “How-To” for shipping goodies to deployed service members. I’m sure there are more tips and tricks out there, but these guidelines are what I’ve learned from my own experience.   I thought it was good information for everyone to know if you plan to send goodies to Iraq or Afghanistan.  Let me know if you have any questions about what I’ve written! Thank you!

Guidelines for Shipping Baked Goods to Deployed Service Members

Tips for Choosing what to Send

In the warmer months (Late Spring, Summer and Early Fall):

  1. Try to avoid butter, margarine, peanut butter, & nuts. These fats tend to go rancid quicker in high heat and should be avoided when sending in hot summer months.
  2. Also avoid brown sugar, corn sugar honey, & molasses. *These sugars can speed up the molding process in hot summer months.
  3. Bar cookies and brownies are the best bets to retain their shape during shipping.  *You aren’t limited to these, but special care must be taken when packaging.
  4. Don’t send chocolate! *Chocolate WILL MELT in the hot summer months and your care package will go to waste.

Tips for Packaging

  1. Wrap items individually if possible using foil or saran wrap.  If possible, vacuum seal your items… this will help hold the freshness longer.  Wrapping individually helps to cushion the item and helps prevent breakage in transit.
  2. Once they are individually wrapped you can do one of several things.  You can either:
    1. Place the items in a zip-loc type container with lid.
    2. Place the items in large zip-loc type bags.
    3. DO NOT SHOVE TOO MANY ITEMS INTO THE BAG/CONTAINER.  Over-crowding creates an environment where your goodies will break easier!

*You want to make sure they are in this second layer of wrapping in case some of them break or start to go bad, they won’t ruin the entire package.

  1. Once they are in their container/bag, they are ready to be boxed.  When boxing, remember these tips:
    1. Put a layer of cushion between the bottom of the box and the first layer of goodies.  You can use:
      1. Packaging peanuts
      2. Crumpled up newspaper
      3. Bubble wrap
      4. Any other packaging cushion you have on hand
  2. Add your goodies to the box. Fill in any gaps between goodies with more of what you used on the bottom.
  3. Leave some room at the top of the box to fill with crumpled up newspaper or other packaging paper.  This will help keep the items in place during shipping.

Shipping

  1. USE FLAT RATE BOXES! When shipping to an APO address, flat rate boxes offer a discount and are really a great value when shipping overseas.
  2. Use clear tape to seal box.  Make sure to seal all edges with at least one layer of tape.
  3. When addressing the box, make sure you have the soldiers correct address.  It should look something like this:

Rank Last Name, First Name

Unit Name or FOB Name

APO AE #####

  1. DO NOT PUT IRAQ or AFGHANISTAN or the COUNTRY NAME on the box.  If you do that, it will be put in that countries mail system and the soldier may never receive the package.  Stick to the address the soldier has given you.  Nothing more, nothing less.
  2. Before you go to the desk at the post office:
    1. You will need to get a CUSTOMS FORM.  They can be found at the post office.
    2. Fill out the following:
      1. To including address
      2. From including address
      3. Contents of box
        1. Be specific, but don’t be too specific.  You want to declare that there are snacks, letters, books, etc, but you don’t want to say that there are super valuable items in the box.  You can be vague and say, electronics or movies… but don’t write laptop or portable DVD player.  It’s more likely that it will get stolen in route to your soldier.
      4. Value
      5. Check the box: If undeliverable, return to sender
      6. Check the box: Gift
      7. Sign and Date
      8. At the post office:
        1. Take your package and customs form to the counter to be mailed.
        2. They will attach your customs form to the box and take your payment.
        3. Answer NO to all their questions about the contents of the box.
        4. You won’t need confirmation of delivery for your package.
        5. Only get insurance if you are sending something of great value that would be hard to replace.

One thought on “Guidelines for Shipping to Deployed Service Members

  1. Excellent instructions. I ship goodies overseas to our military in Iraq and Afghanistan. One thing I would add in the “if undeliverable” box I put..”commanding officer” as the return–or chaplain. Seems to get to someone.. but then I ship to people I don’t know personally.

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