What to Pack/Not to Pack In a Halfway Box

A halfway box is a care package that you put together for your sailor prior to their departure on deployment. This box will be delivered to the boat (typically in coordination with your FRG) before the boat leaves. Your sailor will get to open it during halfway night festivities on the boat. This celebration marks the halfway point of deployment and gives sailors a chance to kick back and enjoy some small comforts from home.

How Big Can The Box Be?

It is important to confirm box size with your FRG before you go to drop it off. The boat will have limited space to store these, so you’ll want to ensure your box is in accordance with size parameters. In my experience, it’s been a medium size flat rate box. 

What to Pack:

  • Favorite snacks & candy – I make it a point to ask my husband to make a list of snacks that he likes to have underway so that I can be sure to buy the items he wants most. By halfway night he’s often running low on his favorite treats, so the halfway box is the perfect opportunity to boost his stash. Snacks that have been a hit in the past include tuna packets, oatmeal packets, trail mix, gum, protein powder, granola bars, candy, multi-vitamins, beef jerky, peanut butter, etc.

  • Photos from home – Print out photos of family and pets to include! It can get lonely all those months away. Opening a box to the smiling faces of their kids, spouse, pets, etc. can be a great pick-me-up to kick off the last half of deployment. I like to write little notes or memories on the back of the pictures I send.

  • “Open When” letters – These are letters you write to your spouse to open during particular times during deployment. I personally like to send these with my sailor separately from their halfway box so that they have access to them throughout the entire deployment (examples include: Holidays, Birthday, “Open when you need a good laugh”, “Open when you’re having a bad day”, “Open when you’re missing home”, etc.).

  • Small games/brain teasers – I’m talking about something small and simple, like a travel-size deck of cards, crosswords, sudokus, riddles, maybe a new Nintendo switch game if your spouse is a gamer.

  • Book(s) – Is your spouse an avid reader underway? Maybe include a book that you can read together from afar. While communication is often “dark” it can be fun to maintain a sense of connection by reading the same book.

  • Pack of pens – If your sailor is anything like mine, they have a particular brand of pen that is their favorite…A submariner can never have too many pens hidden in their pockets…my washer machine can attest!

  • A fresh pair of socks/boxers – because it’s always nice to have a new pair!

  • Chapstick, hand lotion.

What to Avoid:

  • Perishable items – No one wants to open a box to find spoiled food.

  • Home-baked goods – I would avoid baked goods because these boxes will likely be sitting for a few months before getting opened.

  • Prohibited items – If you have questions on what items are prohibited onboard you can always reach out to your FRG or Ombudsman for guidance. (ie: alcohol, cigarettes, etc.)  When in doubt, just leave it out…or ask!

  • Fragile/breakable items – Just be careful here. These boxes could be tossed around.

Keep in mind, the halfway box is likely your only opportunity to prepare a care package for your sailor as mail drops during deployment are rare (if any). So, it’s important to make the most of it.

For those looking to get creative, some spouses like to decorate the inside of the box as well! A quick search on Pinterest will offer up a ton of great ideas! Have fun with it!

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