Coping with Military Deployment on Valentine’s Day: 7 Gift Ideas

Tim Schlee | Jan 31, 2014 @ 02:17 PM

Military valentine from World War II

We know a lot of our StorageFront users are in the military, and we also know that Valentine’s Day is just a couple weeks away. No holiday is fun when you’re away from your loved ones, but Valentine’s Day can be especially tough on couples who aren't able to spend the day together. With all the rules and restrictions in the military, it can be difficult to know exactly what to send to your valentine deployed overseas. Fortunately, there are a lot of great ideas for long-distance Valentine’s gifts.

What to Send

The best guideline available is to be creative. Do something that will have resonance in your specific relationship. Connect this gift to previous gifts and experiences. Sometimes the smallest gestures have the biggest impact. Some popular ideas include:

  1. Write a letter. Letters are always a great way to communicate with your spouse overseas. If you already write letters with some regularity, do something to make this one standout. Write one a day for the two weeks of February leading up to Valentine’s Day. Or print it on paper and ink designed to look old and distinguished.
  2. Send an audio letter. Instead of simply writing a letter, dictate one to a recorder and send the tape or disc to your loved one. Hearing your voice might be the gift they want more than anything.
  3. Make a picture collage. Your loved one no doubt wants to see your face again. Make a picture collage to celebrate your time spent together or to show what’s waiting for him or her back home.
  4. Make something with the kids. If you have kids, take an afternoon and make something fun to send overseas. A long-distance hug is almost as good as the real thing. You can also paint or draw a picture – or even an entire little book! The options are limited only by the attention span of the children involved.
  5. Candy. Indulge your significant other’s sweet tooth a little, but be sure to send something that won’t melt. Conversation hearts are perfect, as are any other small hard candy, but try to avoid chocolate.
  6. Give “open when” cards beforehand. If your military valentine hasn't left yet, write a series of “open when” cards for him or her to open at specific times. This will ensure the letters reach their destination, and the sight of the soon-to-be-opened letters might provide some much-needed comfort.
  7. Send stuff he or she will need. If nothing else, you can at least send things that will come in handy on base or out in the field. From clean sheets to sunglasses, there are plenty of things that your military valentine will be happy to see in your care package.

Once you've got your gift prepared, be sure to take the necessary steps to get it to your valentine in good shape. If he or she is stationed overseas, you need to remember that it will be traveling through the United States Postal Service as well as a foreign country with different rules and regulations.

What Not to Send

While the number of Valentine’s Day gifts to send overseas is virtually limitless, there are still some to avoid. Most food, for instance, will either melt or spoil before it reaches your spouse. Keep in mind the location where your valentine is stationed. Do they prohibit certain foods or entertainment? There are also a number of items you might not realize most bases are already well stocked with:

  • Cookies and other snack foods
  • Toiletries
  • Small electrical appliances
  • CDs, DVDs, and magazines

It is also important to keep in mind that someone else will be reading the letters you send before your spouse or significant other. Don’t send anything too risqué – in boot camp, this can even get him or her in trouble with the drill sergeant. There’s not much privacy on most bases, so don’t send anything too embarrassing because others will most likely see it as soon as it’s opened.

What to Do on Valentine’s Day

Once you've sent your gift, you might then wonder how to actually spend the day. Chances are your spouse or significant other will be busy or without the technology for a virtual meet-up. If he or she finds the time, however, the two of you could plan to watch a movie at the same time to help make the distance feel a little smaller.

It’s easy to get down in the dumps about not seeing your valentine, so make plans to occupy your time and mind. Find other military spouses in the area and meet up. Spend time outside in the sun or, if you prefer, relaxing at a spa. Even an evening watching television at home can be good if you’re in the right frame of mind.

Send a Gift Back Home

Love is a two-way street, so you and your deployed partner should both make plans. If he or she is stationed in an exotic locale, there should be plenty of interesting souvenirs all around. If not, your partner still knows what you love, so talk about what he or she might want or be able to send you.

He or she may not have the same amount of time or resources at hand, but that doesn’t mean Valentine’s Day has to be one-way traffic. Even something as simple as a letter can mean a lot to a loved one stuck at home. It can also be great fun for both of you to brainstorm ideas for next Valentine’s Day, when you’re together and can do exactly what you both want.

No amount of tips or advice will make Valentine’s Day as wonderful as it is when spent together, but it’s important to remain positive and be creative in overcoming the physical distance between you and your partner. We hope these tips help make the holiday a little more enjoyable. And, of course, you could always get your partner a storage unit.

Do you have a spouse or significant other in the military? What are you sending him or her for Valentine’s Day? Let us know in the comments below!