43 answers

Going to the Army -Gift Ideas

My cousin has just enlisted in the US Army. We are having a party for him this weekend. I was wondering if anyone had any ideas of gifts to give to someone going away to serve our country?

Thank you in advance.

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So What Happened?™

Thank you everyone for such a great response! You all gave me some really great ideas. I appreciate the words of encouragement for my cousin.

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There is not a lot of personal space in a barracks so tell everyone to stick to small things that will pack in his locker. One thing that helps a lot are self adressed stamped envelopes and postcards from every one at the party. Postcards are really good because he can just write a short note and do several people in a short time. A small photo album of family and friends...small being the key word. How about "Thank You" cards from everyone in the community! Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful

When my brother went off into the Navy we all got together and bought something different for him and put it in a goodie box. One of us bought a football and one of us bought him a basketball. We also bought some different little things like gum, hard candy, movies etc... We also got him an address book and put everyone's information in it for him.

I heard gift calling cards (like AT & T) are really a good gift. Pre addressed envelopes with writing paper are also a good idea.

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About two weeks ago the troop from the National Guard at Randol Mill Park in Arlington headed out for Iraq. Our neighborhood had a party for them. They had given us a list of things that they needed. Here is their list.

Personal items:
razors. hand sanitizers, deodorant, lotion, toothpaste, baby powder, etc....in small sizes, thick sox, t-shirts, and pre-paid phone cards

nuts, candy, gum, mints,crackers, oreos, beef jerky, Girl Scout cookies,pringles. teas, flavors to add to water, microwaveable popcorn, soups, etc.

Books, crossword puzzles, devotional books and bibles.
Also: small candies and "kid toys" to pass out to kids in the villages.

J. Harrell

1 mom found this helpful

There is not a lot of personal space in a barracks so tell everyone to stick to small things that will pack in his locker. One thing that helps a lot are self adressed stamped envelopes and postcards from every one at the party. Postcards are really good because he can just write a short note and do several people in a short time. A small photo album of family and friends...small being the key word. How about "Thank You" cards from everyone in the community! Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful

I think it would be really cool to put out a request here on Mamasource with an email address where the ladies here could write a quick note of thanks to him for serving his country. I know there are lots of moms here who would be very willing to send you an email with their words of gratitude, encouragement and thanks. Then you could print all of them out and give them to him. Maybe all those good thoughts and well wishes would help him in the tough times ahead.

1 mom found this helpful

I went to James Avery and bought my son a Pendant that is a very simple Oblong shaped w/ a cross on front and on the back it says I am with you always. He went to Iraq for 15 months and had it with him the whole time. Good luck.

My oldest son left this summer for the Army and some of the things he got were: A camo Bible, devotional and visa gift cards. Thoses can always be used at anytime and anywhere.

Tell your cousin THANK YOU for choosing to serve.

You might also tell his mom that there is a great website for mom's to go and talk about what is going on in their lives as well as her son's. If this is her first one and she has no dealings with the service they can help. His recruiter should know about it or you can email me.


stationary, postage stamps
gift card - they need to supply their own socks and underwear and personal care items
they are not allowed snacks during basic or use of any type of phones, olny contact is through the u.s postal
regular mail

Your cousin won't be able to take very much with him/her when he/she leaves, so don't get anything big. I would suggest maybe a small purse sized photo album with pictures of family members and addresses (write them on the backs of the pictures) so they can write home. You might even get some stationary and stamps. Also when my brother-in-law went into the Marines, we gave him a small bible that he could carry in his pocket and always have it near.

If he is just going to basic, there is not much he can bring with him if anything at all..He would have been told this when given his orders to report. Please listen to those who are giving that advice..He will be part of his "platoon" and they will have privileges together including phone calls. Gift cards to restaurants will have to wait as they will not be allowed off post at anytime... Give him hugs and voices of love and support because leaving home is hard...He is doing a wonderful service. Be ready to support him on graduation day as his time will go by quicker than you know..

Husband is 20 year retired military, dad is 20+ year retired military, uncle is 20+ year retired military(he was stationed at most basic training posts as that was his job-training new recruits), brother and sister are former military....

A small book with pics and personal notes thatpeople enter as they are at the party- ask everyone to bring a pic and make it easy on yourself-
I would say to ahve eveyrone do a scrapbook page- but that's too big for him to take with him
A small photo album size item would be perfect!

If you need any host assistants for your party- please call us- We will do whatever it takes to keep you in the party and out of the kitchen- trash- set up food- get out deserts- tend to guests. You will ahve time to be with the guests and relax.-I have an amaazing staff and it is very affordable.

God Bless- You have an amazingly courageous cousin-
Please tell him thank you
D. S
###-###-#### (my new ph service may not be installed-call cell)
call ###-###-####

If he is going off to basic combat training, he can't take anything with him. However, I would suggest sending him a letter with a phone card in it about a week after he leaves. My oldest son completed basic military training for the Air Force earlier this summer and he couldn't have any outside contact for about the first 2 weeks. Good Luck and thanks to your cousin for serving our country!

When my brother went off into the Navy we all got together and bought something different for him and put it in a goodie box. One of us bought a football and one of us bought him a basketball. We also bought some different little things like gum, hard candy, movies etc... We also got him an address book and put everyone's information in it for him.

Also a pre-paid phone card is great.

Prepaid phone cards are about all that they will be able to take with them to basic training & unfortunately they won't have much time to use them until they graduate. After that, and i-pod or mp3 player and gift cards to upload i-tunes were a favorite for my nephew who is now serving as a Marine in Fallujah. He loves to just listen to his favorite music in his down time - sort of removes him from the chaotic environment over there for a little while. And international phone cards if he/she is to be deployed. We have enjoyed hearing from my nephew so much - it's like he really isn't that far away (more selfish for me than him).

The best gift to give anyone going into the military (even the ones that are currently in) is a Thank You. A hand shake or a hug with a Thank You. Since he's family, telling him that you are proud of him and what he is doing would be great. I belong to the Veterans of Foreign Wars Ladies Auxiliary and this is what we have been told is the greatest thing anyone can do for veterans.
Thank your cousin for me.

My brother went to the Air Force. If he is just starting basics they really won't let him have much. The best thing we could give him were letters and phone cards. If I remember right they want you to send the phone cards. He can take a couple of them with him.

I can tell you from experience that there is not a lot that he will be able to use while in Basic Training. For the most part the Drills make you inventory all your stuff in your suitcase and then you have to lock up everything in a room until the end of training. You could get him a journal or a Devotional or letter writing material as well as stamps. I went thru a lot of paper and stamps to write home.
Honestly, while he's in Basic there won't be a lot of time for much. After Basic he goes to AIT(training for his Army job) and he won't get much there either until towards the end and even then it's mostly on-base priviledges. If you got him a gift card he won't be able to use it until after all of his training.
Letter writing material and stamps are the best!
I wish him the best. If he gives his all he will love it!

Loved the responses, boot camp: my son wasn't allowed to have even a package sent to him. But they also need money for going out with what little (very little) free time he will have, so not only phone cards but wal-mart, visa, if you know of any restaurants where he will be, cards for getting a meal there.

After boot camp: prayers,letters and boxes of home made cookies are appreciated. This party is really sweet of you, I hope it turns out well.

Hi Tami, I am proud to support http://www.opperationjerky.com
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And I will throw an extra prayer in for love and peace for the world,for your country,state,town,neighborhood,neighbor,family,and those that serve.

There once was a king who offered a prize to the artist who would paint the best picture of peace. Many artists tried. The king looked at all the pictures. But there were only two he really liked, and he had to choose between them.

One picture was of a calm lake. The lake was a perfect mirror for peaceful towering mountains all around it. Overhead was a blue sky with fluffy white clouds. All who saw this picture thought that it was a perfect picture of peace. The other picture had mountains, too. But these were rugged and bare. Above was an angry sky, from which rain fell and in which lightning played. Down the side of the mountain tumbled a foaming waterfall. This did not look peaceful at all.

But when the king looked closely, he saw behind the waterfall a tiny bush growing in a crack in the rock. In the bush a mother bird had built her nest. There, in the midst of the rush of angry water, sat the mother bird on her nest - in perfect peace. Which picture do you think won the prize? The king chose the second picture. Do you know why?

“Because,” explained the king, “peace does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. Peace means to be in the midst of all those things and still be calm in your heart. That is the real meaning of peace.”

p.s kudos to Aimee M very nice idea!

Here is a suggestion, have the party, put all the neat gifts in a box and store the box until he gets his first assignment. While in basic anything extra will be stored or sent back home. All the things that he will need will be provided by the government. Do have the family and friends write letters and once you have a mail address from him/her you could send them while in basic.

As far as the foods and things, it will depend where he is sent as to what he can have sent to him. Some websites make up hugs and kisses to keep the sweat from running into the eyes of the troops while on patrol. Many make and send gifts for the soldiers to give to the little kids in their areas.

Basically just keep it to the basics, razors, toothpaste, deodorant, lotion and such.

Thank him and give him a big hug.

Retired military wife with husband who did tours in Sea East Asia and South West Asia, mother of former enlisted Amry soldier and now grandma. The other S.

My dad was in the Air Force so we did lots of gifts to new Airman coming in. The one we do most often was stationery (patriotic) with a pen and stamps. that way they have the paper, envelopes, pen and stamps to write home to loved ones while away.

Another is a miltary themed frame. You could get one that said Army around it. Or frame pictures of his fmaily for him to take with him.

I am very proud of your cousin, that is a great thing that he is doing for our country. If he is just leaving for basics the thing that helped my son the most was that everyone wrote to him daily as soon as we knew what his address was. Each time that we wrote we included paper and a self addressed stamped envelope, this seemed to help him in replying to us sooner. When it came time for family day everyone that was able attended so that he felt the love and support from everyone at home. Then upon graduation everyone in the family attended and we took him to his favorite resturant and presented him with a book at that time that we had compiled during the time that he was in basics. It included photos of everyone and a letter or picture (drawn by the younger ones in the family) to show and tell how we love him what he means to us and how proud we are of him and words of wisdom for his future as well. This is something that he still to this day treasures and says when he is missing the family he gets his book and looks and reads it and it gives him comfort when his is so far from home. Hope this helps to give you some ideas. I will keep him and his mother and father in my prayers because the next few weeks when they are not allowed to talk to one another will be the most difficult.

I would say any national chain restaurant might be helpful. He doesn't need anything that he needs to move around with, just something short and sweet. Also, as a follow-up to the party, write him notes regularly (and once you get his address, forward it to other family members). A card is such a pick me up to servicemen and women.
While at the party, please thank him for me for serving our country and keeping us free.

phone card, phone card phone cards.
And I dont think there will be much that they can have in boot camp so maybe some gift cards that he can buy what he needs.
Some stamps and stationary to mail letters home. Maybe a journal so he can write his thoughts while he is there.

Pocket Bible. Water proof picture holder. A journal for him to write in and a journal written by you and other family members that capture stories and fun memories.

I heard gift calling cards (like AT & T) are really a good gift. Pre addressed envelopes with writing paper are also a good idea.

I was in the Air Force for eight years, and while I was at boot camp and when I was stationed far away from home the things that meant the most to me were real snail-mail letters from family and friends. Having something there at mail call was a real boost to my morale, and having nothing there just made a tough day worse. When my husband was deployed to the Middle East, he said that having letters and postcards to read and re-read was one thing that put a smile on his face every time (and when he came home, he bought back every single card, letter and postcard I'd mailed him). These letters don't even need to be mushy, just talk about what's going on in your life, like you're having an everyday conversation.

Not sure about boot camp and all but when he goes to serve a picture calendar would be cool. My daughter just sent her friend one over in Iraq with each month containing a picture of rememberance of some fun time or friends, family. That way during the month he can look at the love from home. Not sure what website she used but it came out great! Got here real fast and he loved it so much the girly calendar came down... :) even though the other guys ribbed him about taking the girly calendar down :) ha!
A cool idea with def a personal touch. Not enough time to do by the weekend but when he leaves after boot camp.

Many blessings to you the family and of course heartfelt support for your cousin!

The best thing you can give him is the Promise of a Letter each and everyday he is at boot camp. It has been many years since I was an Army wife, but I am now a Marine Mom. I can tell you the Corps allows them, $20.00, their wallet with ID, wedding ring if married and a religous medal and a small address book. That is it. EVERYTHING Else goes in a box till boot is over. So you might see if you can find him a small black book and have everyone at the party fill in their Names and Addresses. Making sure to put his HOME Phone number on the inside front cover. Belive it or not, when they get off the bus at boot they are already tried from the long night at MEP's and the flights. My Son couldnt remember his phone number to call home! I still laugh at him for that one. So he called his cell phone and left me a message there letting me know he had arrived and was dead tired but alive! I didnt get that message until almost a week later when I decided to turn on his phone!
Hug your Cousin for me and Tell him Thank you for stepping up to serve his country and continue the fight for our freedom!
Proud Marine Mom - Sgt. Tom - Deployed
Proud navy Mom-in-law Petty Officer Lindsay - waiting for her husband to return.

I have a great gift idea for your cousin. It's called a Picfolio Minutes Album. It's a nice album that holds up to 24 4x6 photos. What makes this album especially nice is you slide the photos in so more can be sent while he serves and he can slide them in. Also, this album has a strap that doubles as an easle so he can set it up on his bunk or cot. If you'd like to see this album, visit my web-site www.mycmsite.com/christywestmoreland I will give you a 15% discount on your entire order when you mention Mamasource and military gift.

Maybe a new Bible to take with him.

I also suggest giving him a "coupon" book filled with things like "Good for 1 bag of _____ candy" OR "Good for 1 box of _____ cookies" etc.

Explain that he can fill in the blanks with the kinds he wants. Tell him to send you the coupons in the mail with a letter.

Be creative. Make it fun.


P. <><

How old is your cousin? If he is old enough, then I would buy him a case of beer with a bow! (my husband was in the marines) If he is not old enough, then I wouldnt really get him a gift. I would just make him a Good Luck sign and invite all the friends and family for one awesome BBQ! They cant really take anything with them to bootcamp. And make him a promise when he gets out of bootcamp that you will have his favorite meal....or just a huuuuge steak for him!
Good luck to your cousin!

I have heard that calling cards are great gifts.

My brother just graduated from basic in March. He didn't take a lot of stuff, and we didn't send anything until he was already there. He basically couldn't have anything that was entertaining...magazines, books, music, etc.

I just sent my brother some candy (even though they all have to share that stuff), paper, pens, stamps, envelopes, a big address book, and a lot of cough drops. All the guys there kept getting sick, so I sent a bunch of cough drops to everyone.

Also, I had my son "write" a letter to my brother, and I sent a bunch of pics that my brother could show off his nephew.

Scrapbook... or have the guests sign a book about things they remember, hope for in the future for him...

you couldmake him a nice photo album of all his family and or friends so he can take it with him...and always have the people he loves in arms reach.... they tend to get lonely and it might help him make it through some hard times if he can pick it up and look and remember what he is fighting for :)... i will pray for you and your family and for him to return safely :)

I have been in the Army, and they don't let you take ANYTHING! Really, my mom had bought me a nice leather bag to carry my stuff in, and I still have that bag to this day.

You could get him a stock of shampoo, body wash, toothpaste etc...

Or, something that came in handy on Sunday's (when WE were allowed to make calls) is a calling card.

After being in basic for a few weeks, they are allowed to go to the "store". They can't buy much, but some pocket change is good.

So, for now, the basics are the best. Anything else, and he won't be able to keep it. Really. They strip you of everything and anything that has a personal sentiment.

Tell him good luck, and basic seems like it takes forever, but once he starts going to the "range" (the shooting range), it goes pretty quick!

Honestly, the best present is writing him lots of letters while he is in basic. It means the world to them. I cannot express this enough.

Phone cards. They aren't allowed to take much that isn't on their list.

Phone cards (if they are going to be overseas) are a GREAT idea!!

First Lot of Love and Support.
Calling Cards
Sweeten Kool-Aid or his favorite powdered drink; just make sure it already has the sweetener in it.
Coffee (I would be a real treat to send some special coffee like Starbucks)
Snacks and lots of Snacks (That will not melt)
Calling Cards
More Love and Support
If he is going to the Middle East Depending where it's at there is very limited supplies on everything.

Let him know there is more of us out here that support and LOVE our military. I have included a link regarding the service flag if you do not know about it.

I hope this helps

Military Brat & Air Force Wife

I don't know about the Army exactly, but my son joined the Navy and went to boot camp in the middle of June. He was only able to take one change of clothes and an address book with him. They wouldn't even let him keep his contacts. They gave him glasses instead. No stationery, no mp3, no gift cards or money, nothing. Not even the recruit book or Navy back pack he got from the recruiter's office. In fact, we got a box less than a week after he left and it had all of the stuff he took with him in it including both sets of clothes (underwear included), the contacts he took with him and even his shoes. We gave our son an "Anchors Away" party before he left and put some money in his checking account so it would be there when he finally gets to go on leave. We did get an address from him finally where we could mail him letters, but were told not to send him anything else until he got a "home base". He's only called us "collect" once when he first got to the base and the rest of the time he's gotten phone privileges there, I guess the Navy covers that 'cause he calls and doesn't use a phone card or anything like that. Maybe when he gets stationed someplace other than boot camp, he will need them, but that won't be for the first 2 to 3 months at least. I will say they LOVE getting letters from people though. That's something my son looks so forward to! That and phone privileges, which I take are very hard to get. :-)

Sorry I don't have any better ideas. Thank your cousin for his service to our country for me!

Hi. My younger brother is in the army and when he left we gave him some things to put in his room that would not take up too much space. Their rooms are small and have absolutely no color at all. My brother loves UT football so I bought him a flag to hang on his wall. My mom bought him a cross to hold on to. The cross is shaped to fit in the palm of your hand. You can find them at Christian bookstores. Inspirational books are good too. Please tell your cousin thank you for serving our country!

What a great thing, my 18 year old daughter left 2 weeks ago for Basic in the Army, we had a wonderful going away party with friends from all areas of her life, church family friends, and school. We had good food and made a video of her life so to speak, it was great. We decorated with what else army things and as for gifts, we suggested, gift cards , the ones that are visa and can be used as such, they need cash also, there is really nothing else they can have. Be careful about sending letters, my daughter has to do 30 pushups for every letter so we send them in one big package. They can't have anything sent care wish for the first few weeks, and NO food or they get in trouble. Stationary and stuff to write that they can do, calling cards for when they get that privilege . That is what we have learned so far hope it helps.

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