Use Sturdy, "Lock-Style" Baggies
Use plastic bags with zip-style closures for everything (like ziploc™ bags). The "freezer" bags seem to be more sturdy than regular storage bags. Plastic bags keep out sand and rain. They are very useful items and our resourceful Marines are re-using them for all sorts of things. Quart size are great to keep their wallets and personal photos with them, in one of their many pockets, and they stay dry. If you're shipping a liquid (shampoo, eye drops), or items that are likely to melt or drip (Chapstick, deoderants, chocolate) be sure to pop it into a tightly sealed plastic bag first. That will help keep the rest of the items from getting gooey or ruined, just in case.
Do Not Combine Toiletries With Food Items
Many returning Marines have reported that food items taste like soap, shaving cream, and/or deoderant when food items are shipped with toiletries. Please pack your food items separate from all toiletries! If you are sending toiletries to your Marine, put each item into it's on zip-style freezer bag. This will help keep the smell and taste from infiltrating the care packages sitting next to yours.
Avoid Using "Packing Peanuts"
The Marines have asked us not to use styrofoam pellets (packing peanuts) as packing material. Because of the heat and static cling, they are almost impossible to clean up.
Re-Usable Packing Materials
Use those little plastic-wrapped packages of ten tissues for packing material; it helps to cushion other items in the package, the tissues are dry even after your Marine has packed them around in their pocket for a couple days, and they can use it for toilet paper which is in short supply in some places! Use plastic grocery sacks for packing material; they're plentiful here, and useful over there!
Pocket Size, Travel Size
Keep the items small: pocket-size, travel-size, sample-size are ideal. Remember your Marine has to pack this around, and if he/she is in a unit that may be mobilized, they're going to travel light.
Foot Care Is Crucial!
Send socks, socks, and more socks! Check with your Marine for color and style. You'll be safe with black, boot-cut socks. However, in many locations Marines are asking for white, boot-cut socks. Also send anti-fungal creams and powders for athletes foot.
Pack Items in Individual "Lock-Style" Baggies
Use plastic bags with zip-style closures for everything (like ziploc™ bags). The "freezer" bags seem to be more sturdy than regular storage bags. These will keep items from spilling and/or keep leaks from other care packages out of the items YOUR Marine's package.
Boxes And Packing Tape
Use sturdy cardboard boxes to ship your items. Avoid using recycled boxes that may be damaged, torn, or punctured. Use clear packing tape to seal all openings of the box. Avoid using masking tape, scotch tape or duct tape to seal closures (it does not hold up as well as clear packing tape in hot climates or under extreme conditions).
Addresses and Labels
Use large, block print for your Marine's address. Use a dark, permanent magic marker to write with if possible. Cover the address with clear packing tape to avoid smearing or illegible addresses in case of contact with moisture or water.
Time To Arrive
Packages are taking about 7-14 days to arrive (much improved over 2003 when packages took up to 28 days!).
Keep the packages small in size. The Marine Corps says "No bigger than a shoe box" is the best size.
Keep products and food in the original manufacturer's wrap and/or box to facilitate quicker inspections for customs.
Address The Package To Your Marine
Care packages and mail that are addressed to "Marine" without a name and company association are not allowed. Ship your care package to your specific Marine.
Home-Baked Goods And Recipes
Home-baked is frequently requested and difficult to ship! Sealing the home-baked goods with a heavy-duty "seal-a-meal" system will help retain freshness. Cookies and brownies are about the only thing that travel well; banana bread may get moldy before it arrives. Nestle USA's baking products has a section on their web site that provides great tips for making and sending homemade treats, as well as "desert safe recipes". Visit their web site at www.verybestbaking.com.