Before deployment, many military couples want to exchange small gifts to show their love and to encourage their partner throughout the upcoming deployment.
Finding the right pre-deployment gift can be difficult, since service members don’t have room to pack anything large or bulky. These great pre-deployment gift ideas are small, thoughtful, and meaningful, so they can be treasured no matter how long or harsh the deployment will be.
You’ll find great pre-deployment gifts for the service member or for the loved ones staying behind!
Pre-deployment gifts for the one leaving.
Many service members like to keep a record of events during deployment, whether it is personal experiences, funny stories, or just a place to unload private thoughts. Any sturdy journal or notebook can become a treasured gift during deployment and a useful form of therapy. It also makes a wonderful token to share with your loved one afterwards, to give them precious insights into deployment life.
2. Matching jewelry.
Whether you prefer matching rings, bracelets, charms, or dog tags, there are numerous options online designed for long distance relationship couples. Ask the service member first what they will be allowed to wear while in uniform, then find a matching set that you can each wear to be reminded of each other throughout the day.
3. Wallet insert.
A metal card the size of a credit card can be personalized with a photo, quote, or loving message. This fits easily into the service member’s wallet and will withstand most harsh deployment environments.
4. Open When… letters.
These thoughtful notes make a great pre-deployment gift, or they can be included in the first care package. The idea is to send encouraging cards, notes, or gifts that the service member can open when needed. You can find hundreds of creative ideas online. Some common topics are “open when you are lonely,” “open when it’s your birthday,” “open when you need a laugh,” etc.
5. A paper hug.
This is a good gift from the kids. They can lay down and trace their outstretched hands on a long piece of paper. When cut out, it will make a paper hug that can be easily mailed or tucked into the service member’s bags.
Whether you want to highlight special memories, share something that will make them smile, or surprise them with a sexy boudoir photo-shoot, there are tons of personal photo gift ideas that can help a service member fight the homesickness of deployment. Get crafty and make your own small memory book with laminated pages. If you purchase photo gifts, try to choose a small and sturdy item they can easily fit in their pack.
7. Religious Token.
Service members are authorized to wear religious medals in uniform. A traditional gift before deployment is a St. Michael the Archangel medal (the patron of the military), or a St. Christopher medal (the patron of all travelers). Depending on their faith, service members may also appreciate a small gift like a cross, set of prayer beads, or a Star of David.
8. Hidden messages.
If possible, write small love notes and tuck them into their gear and bags while they are packing. Some spouses even write short messages inside the boots, where the service member will see it every day. These sweet surprises can give them encouragement throughout their deployment.
Pre-deployment gifts for the one staying behind.
1. Kisses in a Jar.
The service member can leave a Hershey kiss in a jar for each day (approximately) that they will be away. Loved ones can enjoy unwrapping a kiss each evening to remind them that they are loved throughout the deployment.
2. Voice Chip.
During deployment, communication can be irregular, and loved ones sometimes go weeks without hearing their service member’s voice. Plan ahead by pre-recording a short loving message in a teddy bear, card, or voicemail so that it can be played back any time.
3. Dog tags.
Not everyone views these as a sign of good luck, but many military loved ones like to wear their service member’s dog tags (or a copy) during deployment. It can be comforting to keep something that is theirs so close to your heart. If their branch doesn’t issue an extra copy, you can order some online with personalized quotes or names.
4. Countdown sign or chart.
Most military loved ones enjoy counting down the time left in the deployment. Some prefer to count the days, others count the weeks. There are numerous customizable options online, including blackboard signs, wooden date blocks, customized photo calendars, or this kid-friendly wall countdown chart from The Seasoned Spouse.
5. Cozy throw blanket.
The service member can still be sure their loved ones feel snuggled and warm, even on the other side of the world. A patriotic throw blanket or branch-specific decorative pillow can be a comforting item during deployment.
6. Books or Devotionals.
There are many books written by and for military spouses, designed to encourage military loved ones through a deployment. Check out this giant list of military spouse books to see which ones to add to the reading pile.
Want more on military life?
- 10 Things Military Spouses Won’t Tell You About Deployment
- 21 Best Deployment Quotes for Military Spouses and Significant Others
- Why Deployment Meltdowns Are Actually a Good Thing
- What You Need to Know About This Deployment Goodbye