June 6, 2002 at 6:29 AM ET
Whether he's gone for business, pleasure or in this case, a military operation away from home, there's nothing like sending a care package to show a man how much you care! And no one knows more about sending love via the U.S. mail than the wives and girlfriends of U.S. military men, so take a look at their top 10 tips (collected from members of the Military Wives and Dating a Military Man message boards) for sending a care package any guy would be grateful for:
Essentials "I pack beef jerky (since it doesn't melt), toilet paper (just in case the provided stuff is like sandpaper), batteries, gum and pictures. That's about all I get to send my husband when he is gone, but he gets excited over anything that smells or looks like home. Which is why putting my perfume on the letter is a hit."
Mementos "Any little reminder of our time together is nice. I especially like to include ticket stubs from the last movie we saw. Because he doesn't even know I saved them."
A Letter a Day "I write him notes, but include the dates when I want him to read them on. Just in case the mail is slow I know he'll have something new from me every day!"
Cute and Cuddly for Him "Once, I sent my oldest teddy bear with a note saying 'It's for the lonely times. Big boys need stuffed toys too!'"
A letter for every situation "I include letters in separate envelopes. Each envelope has a certain theme to help him along: sad, lonely, sick and always a funny one—the 'angry at me' stack."
A Song in Your Heart "I've made tapes of all the songs that reminded me of my boyfriend as well as songs that make me think of our relationship. I even included some songs that we just had fun with on a road trip, even though they're not particularly romantic. For a little extra surprise, I record a message at the end of the tape so he could hear my voice."
Redeemable for Love "I like to include coupons for things he can redeem when he gets home, like a night away at a B&B. Most of the 'prizes' have something to do with spending alone time together since time itself is such a precious gift for us."
Lots of Laughter "I burned some CDs with comedians doing stand-up because I didn't want my husband to be depressed or grumpy on a long flight. He's already put in a request for more!"
Memories "Our private jokes, stories about times we shared and anything else memorable go on 3x5 cards. This way, he can read about them—and remember me—each day."
Toys for Big Kids "Novelty items are great, no matter what the age of the person receiving them. One of the first gifts I sent my husband was a yo-yo. It was just an impulse buy, but the whole troop loved it! I hear they passed that thing around until someone dropped it and it broke. This was before we were even engaged, and he still has it in his drawer as a reminder that love can be shown in many ways."
Baked Treats "Cookies! Two dozen fit right inside two Gladware containers. I make his favorite kind and let cool. Then, I line the inside of each container with Saran Wrap, leaving enough to cover the cookies. I pack them inside (carefully), then cover with the excess Saran Wrap. They will stay fresh for days and days that way. I've even sent them overseas! Trust me, every man appreciates cookies."
In light of the current war, the federal government is prohibiting people from sending care packages to anonymous service people.
A version of this story originally appeared on iVillage.