Put the ho-ho-ho into the holiday season for your deployed service member with this fun project: Send an artificial Christmas tree, then ask all of your friends and family to each send one ornament to decorate the tree. My family and friends did just that for my brother Mark during his deployment to Iraq. None of the ornaments were expensive (sending pricey ornaments to a war zone doesn’t make much sense), but they all brought some holiday cheer abroad.
To do this project yourself, keep these things in mind:
- Ship the tree and ornaments soon. Military mail deadlines for guaranteed Christmas delivery are fast approaching. Priority Mail packages must be sent by early December in order to arrive overseas by December 25th.
- It’s OK to be a cheapskate. Don’t send a valuable, hand-blown glass ornament — or one that is a family heirloom — into a war zone. You can find interesting, special ornaments for just a few dollars at all sorts of stores this time of year.
- Buy a four-foot (or shorter) artificial tree. Pick one that has branches and trunk that pull apart for easy, compact packing. The mailing box for a tree will be oversize no matter how efficiently its packed, so be prepared to spend extra on postage.
- Ask each sender to mail just one ornament. Part of the fun of this project is that the recipient gets lots (and lots) of little packages spread out over a few weeks. If packed in a small box, one ornament can be sent for about $5 through the US Postal Service.
We also did this project for my husband, Kyle, during his first tour in Iraq. It is a special way to say “Happy Holidays” to someone away from home.