Holiday wish list

By Senior Airman Michelle Patten
Air Force Public Affairs Agency

Whether your Airman is stationed stateside or deployed to a remote location, the holidays are a special time of year. For many Airmen, the gift they really wish for is to spend time with family and friends. If this isn’t possible, or if you just want to make the holidays extra special, here are some ideas about what may be on your Airman’s holiday wish list.

A large holiday card is displayed with squadron decorations
The 31st Maintenance Squadron holiday card is displayed at Aviano Air Base, Italy, Dec. 6, 2011. Members of the 31st MXS placed first in the annual holiday card contest, which was hosted by the base community center. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Evelyn Chavez/Released)

Is your Airman a triathlete or likes to play pick-up basketball on base? In this case, a fitness gift may shape up to be the perfect present. Even if your Airman isn’t a star athlete, increasing fitness or scoring higher on a physical training test might be on his or her New Year’s resolution list. Race enthusiasts might also enjoy a race bib and medal holder to display the fruits of all their hard work. If you’re crafty, you could even try your hand at making one from scratch.

An Airman runs at dawn
Senior Airman Angela Duff, 62nd Aerial Port Squadron, runs on a pathway along Heritage Hill on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., as part of her daily routine April 19, 2010. Duff, an aspiring fitness competitor, attributes her physical fitness to eating healthy and regular free weight workouts at the base gym. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Abner Guzman/Released)

Some ideas for gym buffs are gym bags that meet Air Force regulations or even seeing if the local base offers personal training gift certificates. For dorm dwellers, compact fitness equipment like yoga mats and kettlebells always make great gifts. Sorry, we can’t help with figuring out how to wrap that kettlebell though!

An Airman performs a kettlebell swing
Senior Airman Joshua Massas-Borges, 7th Equipment Maintenance Squadron, performs a kettlebell swing Jan. 24, 2014, at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas. Borges participated in the Warrior Challenge, where he had to complete different exercises such as deadlifting 205 pounds, 15 pyramid push-ups, 25 box jumps and more. He finished in third place with a time of 24:46. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Shannon Hall/Released)

If your Airman is deployed for the holidays, it can be especially challenging for the whole family. One way to make the time away from home easier for your Airman is to spread some holiday spirit through a care package. Liven up morale of his or her whole unit by sending small and simple holiday decorations. Another fun idea is coming up with a theme for your care package, and decorate the inside of the box with wrapping paper. You may even extend the theme to what you put in the box like a “12 Days of Christmas” box with 12 small presents with each tied to a line from the song.

Members of a unit wrap holiday decorations to send to deployed Airmen
Members of the Air Force District of Washington wrap fragile items during the unit’s holiday care package packing event at Joint Base Andrews, Md., Nov. 19, 2013. The group filled boxes for Airmen deployed from the unit with donations ranging from gingerbread houses to canned snow. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Tammie Moore/Released)

For the contents of a care package, consider sending what isn’t readily available to Airmen at their deployed location. Things like their favorite brand of shampoo or snack may seem small until you can’t get it for months at a time. If you’re able to send enough to share with other Airmen in the unit, you’ll spread holiday cheer even further!

Airmen are excited to receive care packages
Members of the 188th Fighter Wing, based in Fort Smith, Ark., and the 175th Fighter Wing, based in Baltimore, Md., open care packages at Kandahar Airfield in Afghanistan Feb. 27, 2010. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Shawn Thorne/Released)

The military provides Airmen with great opportunities to be stationed all over the world. An assignment to a faraway land can also make going home for the holidays expensive. If your Airman’s Air Force adventure takes him or her across the country or around the world, think about sending a heart-felt reminder of family and home. Whether it’s Mom’s special shortbread cookies that have been carefully packaged or Vermont maple syrup from their hometown, send Airmen a taste of home that they can’t find in local stores.

An Airman displays holiday cookies
The Aviano Cookie Drive, sponsored by the Aviano Officers and Civilians Spouses’ Club, are collecting cookies for Airmen living in the dorms. Last year, more than 100 volunteers baked and collected 9,000 cookies for more than 700 dorm Airmen. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Deana Heitzman/Released)

Another idea for a globetrotter is to gift something that will let them enjoy their new surroundings; anything from a guide on Italian art history to a Japanese cookbook could work nicely.

Dancers perform a traditional Japanese dance during a festival
Yokota Air Base’s Tanabata Dancers perform a dance in a traditional Japanese Yukata outfit during the Fussa Sakura Festival in Fussa City, Japan, Apr. 6, 2014. The dancers perform at local festivals in order to promote goodwill and cultural exchange between the U.S. and Japan. (U.S. Air Force photo by Capt. Raymond Geoffroy/Released)

Ultimately, the old adage that it’s not what you give, but the thought that counts, is true. Even a phone call, video chat or letter reminds our loved ones that we are thinking of them during the holidays.

An Airman video chats with her daugther
Master Sgt. Emily Smith, New Horizons legal operations superintendent, at Belize Defence Force Price Barracks in Ladyville, Belize, smiles as her 3-year-old daughter, Renee, receives her first pair of hearing aids May 9, 2014. Smith, deployed in support of New Horizons Belize 2014, was able to watch from Belize via video chat. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Kali L. Gradishar/Released)

Note: For Airmen at basic military training during the holidays, it’s definitely better to hold off on sending anything besides cards or letters unless you want your Airman to spend lots of time perfecting their push-ups!

What are some of the best gifts you’ve given or received?