Last month, my church sent 16 care packages to two graduates (my former neighbor and the boyfriend of a friend) of the local (read: hometown) high school.  Today, I received a phone call from a woman sending 12 care packages overseas.  The local (read: college town) Army recruiting station had given her my phone number.

Even though the American military has been at war for eight years (and even though combat operations officially ended half of forever ago), I realized that many people may not have experience with shipping care packages.  So, here is Care Packages 101.

Check out Shooter's adorable polka dot water bowl.

+ When shipping care packages via USPS, request Priority Mail APO/FPO Flat Rate boxes.  You can ship whatever will fit for the flat rate of $12.95 ($2 cheaper than the Priority Mail Large Flat Rate Box, which is the exact same size).

+ If you’re shipping baked goods (i.e. brownies, cookies), include a piece of bread in the container.  It will prevent the goods from drying out and going stale on their journey overseas.

+ Plain popcorn makes a great, inexpensive, biodegradable packing peanut.

+ Pick up and fill out customs forms before going to the post office to ship your boxes – this saves time.

+ Keep track of the approximate cost of the items you’re shipping — the customs form will include a space for you to document the value of the box.

+ I refuse to send beef jerky unless it is Jack Link’s.  This is my all-time favorite jerky and I think everything else is sub-par.  If I’m going to send jerky, I’m going to do it right.

+ If you’re sending a care package to a loved one, include a journal you’ve been writing in for a while.  Internet connectivity is not always reliable and phone time may be short, so writing down your thoughts and daily adventures will provide a tangible conversation.

+ Do you have any tips for sending care packages?