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Here are a few Christmas gift ideas for the deployed or active duty, guard, or reserve military servicemember in your life. The holiday season can be especially hard on military families. Make it a little easier for your military boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife, spouse, brother, sister, mom, or dad.
Loved ones can be deployed overseas, in a combat zone, or on a short notice TDY to respond to any kind of crisis.
Overseas bases try to get into the holiday spirit with decorations, Thanksgiving dinner, a special Christmas dinner, and as much festivities as the location will allow. Still, it’s hard on the deployed servicemember.
One way to show your sailor, soldier, airman, or marine you love them is sending them a practical gift that they can use overseas, stateside, and on future deployments. Here are some great Christmas gift ideas for military boyfriends, girlfriends, husbands, wives, or partners.
I've personally tested all of these gifts in combat zones and let me tell you they are worth the money. Some of these gifts are great for passing the many hours of boredom troops experience while deployed, while some of the gifts are excellent tools for getting their jobs done.
The Best Christmas Gift for a Military Member: SILENCE
- very loud bus, MRAP, and other military vehicle motors
- aircraft engines in excess of 120 decibels
- aircraft interiors that are three times as loud as a commercial flight
- commercial air travel, which is pretty much constant noise
- sleeping accommodations under fighter jet flight paths
Ear plugs are great but when I want to listen to music, watch a movie, or just protect my ears from the constant noise assault, I turn to my Bose QuietComfort 35 (Series II) Wireless Headphones with Noise Cancelling.
If you have ever tried these at the BX/PX or a Bose store, you know they are nothing short of magical. Their ability to block out sound is unrivaled. When you read the Amazon reviews for these headphones you’ll see that they blow the competition out of the water.
I recently took a 30 hour flight from the States to Qatar in a C-17 for my most recent deployment. Along the way I enjoyed movies, music, and just the silence that comes from wearing these extremely comfortable and light headphones. It was my first time using them and they paid for themselves in the first hour of use. I love my pair of QC35s!
My wife has the Bose QuietComfort 20 Acoustic Noise Cancelling Earbuds
which work as well or even better than the QC35s. It all depends on how you want to listen to your sound, whether over the ear or earbud style. I highly recommend either pair.
Another great headphone gift is a solid but inexpensive pair of Bluetooth headphones for the gym, running, and any other workouts. These go for under $30 but I think provide thousands of dollars of value. They really changed my ability to workout hard and listen to music at the same time.
Working out on deployment is one of the few pleasures most servicemembers have day to day. Upgrading from wired, cord headphones that get easily tangled is a massive improvement and really changes your workout for the better! I wear these Senso Bluetooth Headphones cycling, rowing, doing CrossFit like exercises, and lifting. I liked them so
Electronic Gifts for Military Personnel
Another one of my favorite toys to take on TDYs or deployments is a waterproof and tiny Bluetooth speaker. These little guys packs a tremendous amount of sound into a solidly built tiny package.
In my experience a fully charged battery lasts for 8+ hours and it recharges within an hour or 2. This little speaker can get LOUD and sounds great. I use it at home to listen to music and when I throw parties.
When I’m on the road and have a few hours to relax, this speaker makes it easy to create a mobile fun environment for me and my friends. It's great if you're just sitting around waiting for the next thing, like the aircraft to arrive or a convoy to depart. It’s also great on picnics, road trips, beach days, camping, or anywhere else where you want to play your tunes!
I can’t overstate how solidly constructed this device is. If you’ve never played with one it’s hard to describe how solid this speaker is built. I really love mine and recommend picking one up if you love music.
A small tablet is an amazing entertainment and communication device. The small size, long battery life, and light weight make any tablet a perfect travel companion for the busy soldier.
I use my Fire HD 10 Tablet to watch Game of Thrones, The Wire, and many other awesome shows. You can even download movies and TV shows in advance before you fly so you have them ready to go and you don't need WiFi. The Fire 7 tablet is under $50, making it an easy stocking stuffer!
While a laptop is great for getting homework done, writing emails back home, or playing video games, a tablet is the perfect entertainment device to pass the long hours of “hurry up and wait” that all military personnel experience. The Apple iPad or Fire HD make great gifts for soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines.
The Kindle Paperwhite is great if your soldier is an avid book reader. There’s nothing quite as nice as grabbing a new book over the air while you're waiting for your next flight.
Practical Gift Ideas for Military Troops
Being deployed means you get a lot of stuff handed to you. There’s usually unlimited water bottles, food at the chow hall, and free books at the library. However, there’s always some cool home gifts that you can’t get enough of.
One of the best gifts you can give a military servicemembers stationed overseas is Amazon Prime. Amazon ships rapidly to APO/FPO addresses, usually within less than 2 weeks. I currently receive Amazon packages exactly 10 days after I order them to my APO address. Amazon Prime also comes with Amazon Video, which provides hours of entertainment on those boring deployments when you're just kiling time.
Hand sanitizer is one of those items that you’ll always want more of when you’re deployed. The hot, dusty, sandy, dirty, and unsanitary conditions that you often work in means that clean hands are essential to healthiness and happiness. Send your soldier, sailor, airmen, or marine a bottle of Purell and I guarantee they won’t be upset.
When you work outside all day in the hot Middle Eastern or African sun, you need sunglasses. Obviously you’ll want to talk to your military service member about what style they want, but Oakley has a great program on to sell discount sunglasses to military personnel. Ray-Bans are also popular.
A good pen is hard to find down range. You’re always signing for things and writing things down whether you're on or off duty. If your service member doesn’t have reliable access to a BX, they might just want a pen in their stocking this year. I'm a big fan of the Pilot G2 pens.
A sturdy backpack is a must have on any TDY or deployment. No one is going to carry your bags for you! Having one less bag in hand and one on your back is a definite plus. I like Osprey Packs for their durability, light weight, and size.
The war never stops, especially when the sun goes down. A good flashlight is essential to continuing operations and support. A flashlight that doesn't take lithium ion batteries and just takes regular AAA or AA batteries is a plus, as the LiON batteries can be hard to find and expensive. This flashlight is sturdy, bright, and under $15.
No matter whether you are a special operations snake eater or a finance officer, you’ll be thankful you have a Gerber Multi-Tool at least once a week. I love mine and use it almost every other day.
A memory foam travel pillow can be the difference from enjoying that long flight from Germany to the East Coast or not sleeping at all. I recommend never leaving for a deployment without one!
Any other great gift ideas for deployed military troops? Share them in the comments so I can update the list for everyone!