Being stationed overseas in the U.S. military has some definite perks – interesting and oftentimes exotic scenery, famous places to visit, and new adventures for the making. However, the holidays can surprise a servicemember with some serious homesickness, and he or she may find themselves missing even the simplest things about life back on domestic soil.
A thoughtful gift from home can really show that an internationally stationed member of the military is remembered, missed, loved, and connected, especially during the holiday season. It can be tricky to think of gifts that meet customs and shipping requirements, aren’t extremely delicate or heavy, and can withstand a potentially long trip. But with a little creativity, you can send something truly unique that your servicemember will actually love.
Here are five unique gift ideas for military deployed overseas this holiday season.
Cash with Stipulations
Cash gifts are very useful and always appreciated, but may seem a bit impersonal, which is why it’s a great idea to add a few fun “strings attached.” You can include a note requesting that the recipient use the cash to enjoy a famous local attraction, eat at a local restaurant, or take the family on an outing in their host city. Encouraging them to use your gift to enhance their time during their international tour can help your gift create memories they might never have allocated funds for before.
Favorites from Home
Oftentimes during deployment, especially around the holidays, your loved one may be missing their favorite treats from home. It needn’t be the fanciest or most expensive items; just foods or snacks that you know they love but might have a hard time getting in their host country. Whether it’s a certain type of candy, a locally made snack, or domestic pre-packaged foods or beverage mix-ins, they’ll appreciate a taste of home. Just be sure to consider how well it will ship, as packages can take weeks to arrive and experience rough travels. Also, be sure to check that you’re not shipping with other items that might contaminant your snacks with strong smells during the long trip (soaps, spices, etc.). Check out our blog for more tips on sending care packages.
Being surrounded with images from home can help battle homesickness that strikes during the holidays. Photo gifts are a great way to send visual reminders of everyone who’s thinking of them during their time away from the States. Online services like Shutterfly make it easy to add your personal photos to all sorts of items, from coffee mugs to phone cases, Christmas ornaments, and even pillows and quilts. Everyone needs a new calendar at the end of the year, and photo calendars spread the love throughout the entire year. You’ll earn bonus points for adding important family and friend dates to the calendar, along with preset Skype dates.
Annual Pass to a Local Attraction
With a little bit of research, made easier by today’s online connectivity, you can give a military member (and his or her family) living in a foreign country a gift that lasts all year, thanks to annual passes. Research their host city to find the best museums, amusement parks, or learning centers that offer annual passes. Having these pre-purchased will encourage your loved one to visit the local attraction more often and help them really enjoy their host city, even if they’re watching their budget.
The military is obviously an important part of your loved one’s life and there are many unique gifts that can help reflect their service. You may consider gifting a shadow box, small presentation case, or military coin rack to give your loved one an attractive way to display their accomplishments in their international home. If your loved one is a veteran or has a special memory of a veteran, you can order replica dog tags as a very meaningful gift. You can also purchase posters and fine prints of your loved one’s favorite aircraft, base, or military-themed artwork (like vintage war posters) as another unique and thoughtful item they’re sure to love.
Taking the time and effort to find a truly special and meaningful gift for your internationally stationed loved one will mean almost as much as the gift itself, and he or she will appreciate the efforts you’ve taken to make their holiday special, even while they are thousands of miles away.
Written by Megan Hammons