Sending a loved one off to the military or on their deployment is a beautiful time to show them how much you care. Put together a meaningful gift that will fill their heart, mind or stomach for the journey ahead. From DIY gift ideas to patriotic artwork, our collection of 28 military going away gift ideas will offer you plenty of inspiration. Whether you’re looking for a homemade anniversary gift or just a sweet treat, you’ll find unique military gifts to fit every personality.
1. 52 Things I Love About You
Turn a deck of cards into a gift they won’t want to let go of. Write 52 reasons you love your military guy or gal on each card, then fasten the cards together with binder rings.
2. Photo Shirt
Customized photo gifts allow military loved ones to feel connected with family, friends and significant others while they’re away. Embed a favorite image onto a t-shirt that they can wear underneath their uniform.
3. Homemade Brownies
Whip up a batch of their favorite dessert, like brownies or cookies, to sweeten their departure. Pack them in an airtight container so they stay fresh as long as possible.
4. ‘Open When’ Envelopes
Fill envelopes with love notes, stories and little surprises. Leave instructions on when to open each one. For example, label envelopes for upcoming holidays, their birthday and just because.
5. Recycled Uniform Pillow
Repurpose an old uniform—whether it’s theirs or grandpa’s—to commemorate their service. Sew a pillow with the fabric and be sure to include the patch with their name and branch.
6. Energy-packed Mason Jar
We all know the military is incredibly tough work. Pack a mason jar full of energizing foods like protein bars, chocolate and sports drink mix.
7. Rice Hand Warmers
Is your loved one heading to a chilly locale? Fashion mini hand warmers out of rice and fabric to keep them toasty both day and night. They’ll appreciate feeling the true warmth of your love.
8. DIY Stationary
Make it easy for him or her to send notes back home. Sprinkle blank greeting cards and envelopes with black dots to form a dalmatian pattern.
9. A Lifesize Hug
Wrap love around your military guy or gal with a giant hug. Draw arms and hands on a large piece of paper using you or your child’s actual outline. They can pull this out of their luggage every time they’re in need of a squeeze.
10. Personalized Pillow Case
Is mom or dad heading off on deployment? Pull out the fabric markers and have the kids create the design—anything from the family house to the beloved pet.
11. Wooden Ammo Box
Build a trusty wooden box for their ammo or tools. Even if they can’t take this gift with them, they’ll appreciate the sentiment and ability to store keepsakes while they’re gone.
12. Patriotic Pallet Sign
Paint a patriotic design across a wooden pallet for a stunning piece of DIY wall art. Outline the United States using a stencil, or opt for a USA flag. No matter what you choose, incorporate red, white and blue.
13. Heart Photo Locket
Looking for gift ideas for your military boyfriend? Choose a photo of yourself or one with the two of you together. Cut the photo in a heart shape, then attach it to an equal-sized jewelry heart.
14. Hot Apple Cider Mix
For a little pick-me-up on those hard days, flavored apple cider will make for a special treat. Blend together a large batch, then place your mix into small jars for easy storage. This mason jar idea will last for months to come.
15. DIY Photo Pendant
Secure special memories—like the birth of a child or a first date—to a blank pendant and chain. Seal your photos with a protective layer to guard them against wear, tear and water.
16. Beaded Jewelry
Consider the style of the person you’re gifting. If they wear neutral colors, fashion jewelry out of those tones. If they’re more eclectic, bead a bracelet with bright colors.
17. Crochet Hacky Sack
Military gifts don’t have to be sentimental to be appreciated. Create a hacky sack out of crocheted yarn and poly-pellets. This fun gift will be great for downtime and chatting with friends.
18. Wood Burned Frame
Create a DIY picture frame by accenting a wood frame a burnt design. Etch small designs into the frame, like dots and horizontal lines. Pop in a photo from a recent family vacation or anniversary getaway.
19. Homemade Protein Bars
Healthy, hearty snacks are always appreciated by the military, especially when they’re made with love. Oats, peanut butter and chocolate are the main ingredients to this super easy protein bar recipe.
20. Flag Art
Cover a canvas or wooden board with a United States flag design. Whether it’s a historic version or one with 50 stars, follow a pattern to ensure it looks professional.
21. Delicious Energy Balls
When he or she needs a boost, they can reach for one of these delicious energy balls. Made with peanut butter, chia seeds and protein powder, these tasty treats will be gone in a matter of days.
22. 7 Days of Love
Transform a pill container into a week of mini surprises. Fill each day with candy, gum or a secret love note.
23. Marbled Clay Pendant
Give a gift that’ll be tucked close to the heart. Design a personalized pendant with oven bake clay and a necklace chain. Choose their favorite colors for the clay or ones that represent their military branch.
24. Notecards and Envelopes
Staying connected while serving in the military is essential. Slip a package of notecards into their backpack or luggage for a simple way to keep in touch.
25. Caramel Corn
Stir up specialty popcorn as a parting treat for the one you love. Cover your popped kernels in caramel, chocolate or a mix of both.
26. Healthy Trail Mix
Blend together favorite items like nuts, chocolate and dried cranberries. Package your homemade trail mix in sealed gift bags for streamlined travel.
27. Patriotic Bracelet
Show your support and pride for the United States of America and those who serve our nation. Fashion a patriotic bracelet out of waxed linen and festive red, white and blue jewelry beads.
28. Painted Keepsake Box
Decorate mini gift boxes with dots, hearts or stripes using acrylic paints. Your loved one can store their photos, jewelry or other keepsakes in these specialty boxes.
When choosing military gifts, it’s important that the idea comes from the heart. For a gift that’s small enough to pack but a constant reminder of your love, customize a photo keychain.