A couple of years ago I wrote a blog post about what not to write to soldiers in letters. The post took off and is still my most viewed blog post to date. I had no idea this blog post would be such a help to others. I still receive comments on it and emails from others who want to write letters to soldiers. Everyone’s story is different, but we all have a similar goal, to support our troops.
Even though I provided a short list of topic ideas within that blog post, people have asked for more suggestions. What do you write to someone who already knows just about everything about you? How do you keep letters interesting and upbeat after you’ve written several and you feel you don’t have anything left to say? All valid questions and sometimes finding inspiration can be difficult.
This post is a response to that difficulty.
I do recognize a letter to a soldier who is a family member or friend will look a little different than a letter to a soldier you’ve never met, so I’m going to write two different posts. One for family and friends, the other for those who want to write to soldiers they don’t know personally, or an “adopted soldier”. This post, as I’m guessing you’ve gathered from the title, is for friends and family.
Soldier Letter Ideas from Friends and Family
- Favorite Sports Teams. Give them the updates, a little banter, and opinions during the appropriate sports season. Soldiers may be deployed, but they still love to keep up with their teams and if you have rival teams it’s fun to engage in a bit of fun banter. Add in pictures of their favorite teams, if you’re artistic draw them some pictures, or send some sports themed pictures from kids.
- Use Photographs to Tell a Story. Sometimes an image can say more in a smaller space then we ever could write. Get creative and tell a story, true or not, using just pictures. You can number them, write on the back, add words within your pictures (think writing things on notebooks or in the background using building blocks) Get creative. Sometimes its fun to do the creating which will be a great way for you to take things off your mind, and your soldier will appreciate the effort and creativity you offered. Don’t worry if you don’t feel like getting extra creative. Send your soldier a pack of pictures from someone’s birthday party, and everyone can hold up signs saying we miss you. It will be a great way to let the soldier know you’re including them.
- Circle Journal. Not every soldier is in a position to write back. Not every soldier has a personality for writing letters. If your soldier is in a place where s/he can write and you know they like to connect through words too, you can try a circle journal. It’s easy, just get a notebook and write down something you want to journal. How your day went, what’s on your mind, a favorite recipe, anything. Look at it as a journal instead of a letter. Then, send it off to your soldier. When they get it, they’ll do the same. Write about whatever is on their mind. They’ll send it back and you’ll just continue the cycle until they come home. This is a great way to have a collection of thoughts you both were going through during the deployment.
- Holiday Planning. I don’t just mean the Christmas holidays either. There are a lot of holidays that happen throughout the year. If you look it up, you can even find something to celebrate every day of the year. Take some time to write about how you want to celebrate this holiday with them when they’re home next. Maybe it’s a traditional holiday like The Fourth of July, or maybe it’s something different like National Blueberry Day. Have fun creating some holiday celebrations.
- Write a novel. You don’t have to be a professional novelist to write a novel for fun. Create some characters, maybe they are based on your family and your soldier. Set the scene and give them some conflict. As you finish each chapter, send it on to your soldier. I’m sure s/he’ll love what they’re reading and be ready for you to transport them to another place for awhile.
- Create some new recipes. I know this sounds a bit odd to send to a soldier, but hear me out. Think about your soldiers favorite food, interests, hobbies, personality, etc. Now start getting creative. Make up a sandwich in their honor, maybe something for the grill if they love a good BBQ. Who wouldn’t want a menu item or 1o created in their honor. You can send them pictures of the dishes along with a menu describing each dish. Let them know you’ll treat them to these recipes when they get home.
- Lists. Lists are always fun. You can do anything from 100 reasons I love you to 10 things I promise not to change while you’re away. Go shopping and start a list of things (and take pictures) of things in the store you know you’d both either joke about together or use to build a dream home. Get creative with your lists and have fun creating them. I’m sure your soldier will have fun reading them as well!
- Try something new. Each week try something new. A new food. A new hobby. A new exercise. A new outdoor activity. No matter what you try, document it from start to finish with pictures, your reactions, did you love it, hate it? Would you like to try this again with your soldier when they get back? Are you going to be adding this to your summer routine?
- Photographic recreations. That’s right. Get some friends and some funny pictures from the internet and start recreating them. It can be scenes from famous movies or just generally funny pictures you’ve found on Google Images. Recreate these pictures or scenes then make sure to document it with the camera. Send the originals and the recreations to your soldier with a challenge for them to get some buddies together on their off time and do some recreations of their own.
- Be yourself. That’s right, my final fun, inspirational tip is to just be yourself. Even if your soldier knows you like the back of their hand, it doesn’t mean they don’t want to read it again. Let your words bring them home, even for a brief moment. Talk about your interests, your hobbies, your favorites. Tell them about the awesome new ice cream you just discovered. Let your soldier know how much you love them and miss them. There are a lot of fun, creative, up beat things you can write about, but don’t forget to keep it real. Show off your true colors and let your soldier know how much they mean to you. They’ll appreciate it, even if it sounds redundant to you.
What creative letter writing tips do you have for people writing to friends and family who are deployed? Share your ideas in the comments below.