Mail day in the mission is one of the best days and one of the saddest, in my opinion. Imagine a group of missionaries gathering around a vehicle, giddy to see if they have received a package from home! They live far from the city so this is not a one week occurrence, and it is even more special than getting a regular email. Some missionaries hear their name multiple times and walk away with more packages than they can carry! How exciting! Everyone wants to see what knick knacks and food they got from home. Now, humor me and look at the bigger picture. Step back and look beyond the people crowded around the car. There are missionaries who don't even approach the car because they know their is NOTHING inside it for them. This leads me to my first tip of sending packages to your missionaries.
Tip #1: Don't forget their companion. You hear about your child's companion on a weekly basis. You more than likely know their name and maybe even a little about them So, why not send a little something just for them? I'm not saying go crazy but wouldn't it be exciting if within that care package for your son/daughter you included a little something wrapped and marked specifically for their companion.
Tip #2: Don't go too crazy. I know this might make me sound like a "party pooper" but missionaries move around a lot and besides; they are missionaries and will be happy with whatever you send them. Some missionaries with large LDS families tend to get a lot of packages so try not to send too many things that they feel obligated to cart around. If it is something they need, great! If it is something fun, practical, etc just make sure they understand you won't be offended if they give it away to a kid or needy family before they leave.
Tip #3: Never send. There are things that definitely should NEVER, and I mean never, be sent through the mail/pouch. Cash should never be sent via mail.
Tip #4: Avoid Sending. I don't recommend sending perishable items. If you are sending these items out of the country they can may be lost, or lost and then found. Food will spoil before it even arrives.
Items may also be mismanaged so let's also include breakable items onto the "no no" list. But there are still those crazy stories of mom's wrapping their son's favorite glass bottled soda in bubble wrap and sending it to Argentina AND making it safe and sound. ( Yes Mom, I still remember you doing this!).
Also avoid sending things that are heavy, like books, see tip #2 to know why. They also have plenty copies of The Book of Mormon -- don't send them more unless they request them.
Keep in mind that every mission has different rules. Be sure to ask what mission rules are before sending music of any kind - some missions won't even allow EFY music.
Tip #5: To disguise or not to disguise. Some families I've talked to are dedicated to "camoflauging" their missionary packages with one or two religious stickers. They think this will keep dishonest postal workers from trying to steal anything because they will think it is mission/ religious supplies. Either that or maybe they are expecting that a sticker of Jesus on the front will keep them honest...? I'm pretty sure that postal workers have figured this out by now, but it is still worth a shot. I've always heard that these packages arrive so feel free to give it a try.
Tip #6: Things To Send. Depending on where your son/ daughter is serving there are certain things that are not available. For example Latin Americans dislike peanut butter and root beer. This fact makes it hard if not impossible to find these items. Unless your missionary lives in a big city, has access to a commissary (on base, military ID required, grocery store), or knows of specialty stores. As for sister missionaries some cultures avoid tampons -- thinking it takes away a woman's virginity. Whatever the thing may be that your missionary misses send it! They will be relieved/excited.
P.S. While I mentioned in Tip #4 not to send perishable items, things like cake mixes are a great way to celebrate your son's/daughter's birthday even if you can't prepare it yourself. Ideas like this are all over the internet so if you have any sites you want to recommend feel free to leave the links in a comment below.
Tip #7: The Things You Say: This tip can also apply to what you write in letters. Talking constantly about what they are missing at home, or having a girlfriend that is constantly sending love letters/ packages saying how much she misses him and wants him home, is not conducive to a productive missionary lifestyle. These things can make them lazy, homesick, and dare I say rebellious/ resentful (if perhaps leaving for their mission was not entirely their idea). Remember to send uplifting thoughts, missionary moments of your own, and gratitude for their willingness to serve. Saying you love and miss them is great, and encouraged! When in doubt read their emails/letters and try to see life through their eyes. This will make your messages more uplifting and quite possibly encourage you to become a better member missionary.
Tip #8: Things You Post: Have you ever Googled missionary blogs? I have and I've found A TON! Keep in mind that some things that your missionary would like shared on the blog/ facebook group may end up be seen by an "unopen" heart. Check privacy settings. Consider: omitting parts of emails, making your blog private, asking for permission to share photos and stories, and/or changing names.
Remember that not only are pictures of your child up online for the world to see, and read about, but so are the pictures and stories of new members, investigators, and other people who have a right to their own privacy.
Any other tips? Share them with us in a comment below.