Consider taking the items you are sending out of their packaging or boxes prior to placing them in your care package. This works well for granola bars, trail mixes, or other items that are individually wrapped. Skipping the box saves room.
Pre-packaged items like chips, candy, and some cookies have air in the packaging which also takes up space in your care package. You can re-package these items in zip lock baggies which can be reused when your package reaches its destination.
You can save money by purchasing full-size or bulk items and creating your own pre-portioned packages.
When you find something that is a great deal or on clearance buy it and put it away to divvy up between future care packages. If you keep a list of what you have bought you will know what you have. This helps when purchasing future clearance or sale items too.
Items like gum, letters, and baggies of small candies or mints make great space fillers.
If you need packing materials for your package, use items that are useful. Rather than using newspaper or packing peanuts as a filler use plastic grocery bags or baggies that can be reused; socks, washcloths, and other smaller soft items also make great fillers.
Make sure liquid items like shampoos, conditioner, lotion etc. are placed inside plastic zip lock bags incase they open or get damaged in transit.
Plastic containers take up a bit more room but work well for added protection. You can also place items in zip lock baggie and then in the plastic container. Plastic containers can also be reused.
Make sure to avoid packing restricted or prohibited items such as GPS devices, cell phones, transmitters, offensive items, etc. The best way to determine prohibited items for military shipping is to type a soldier’s zip code into this form for a complete list of items: https://postcalc.usps.com/militaryrestrictions
It is critical that you prepare your box properly. It is not acceptable to send a decorated box. Use plain clear tape. If you use a flat rate box you will be charged the flat rate price by the carrier. Sometimes it can cost less to use custom size boxes than flat rate boxes.
Print 2 shipping labels. Put one inside your box in case the label or box gets damaged and put the other on your package.
Shiptomilitary.com, powered by Shipthrifty, makes sending to military bases a breeze. A portion of the proceeds from each shipping label is also automatically donated to help military families in need.