Christmas Gift Ideas for Military Members & Veterans

Are you searching for the perfect gift for your favorite military veteran? Check out these ideas to honor and commemorate their military service, or help them on their next military assignment!
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Gift Ideas for Military Members and Veterans
Table of Contents
  1. Christmas Gift Ideas for Military Members & Veterans
  2. Gifts to Commemorate Military Service
  3. Great Gifts for Frequent Travelers & Deployments
  4. Electronics, Gadgets, & Toys
  5. Subscription Boxes That Ship to APO, FPO, DPO Military Addresses
    1. Food, Coffee and Cigar Subscription Box Gift Guide
    2. Books, Comics and DVD Subscription Box Gift Guide
    3. Outdoor, Tactical and Survival Subscription Box Gift Guide
    4. Personal Care Subscription Box Gift Guide
    5. A Subscription Box For Military Spouses
  6. Virtual Gift Guide for Deployed Military Members
    1. Digital Subscriptions
    2. Online Learning Programs – Skills, Languages, Music, and More
  7. Gifts that Remind Service Members of Home:
  8. Shop Around for the Best Prices

Christmas is an excellent time for families to let each other know how much they love each other, share in holiday traditions, and spend time enjoying each others’ company. But the holidays can be difficult for military members and their families when they are serving overseas or are deployed during the holidays (I know, I’ve done both!).

On that note, we put together this list of fun Christmas gift ideas for military members. Hopefully, some of these items will help spread the joy of the season and provide some downtime while deployed or traveling.

Here are the criteria we used for these gift ideas: the gifts must be functional, affordable, and practical for a military member or Veteran. Bonus points were given for added utility for items that could be taken on a deployment.

Note: With the addition of One Medical and Pharmacy services from Amazon, the benefits of having an Amazon Prime membership are even more valuable than ever. While the “Give the Gift of Prime” promotion is over, Amazon gift cards can still be used to purchase Prime as well as millions of other items on Amazon.

Christmas Gift Ideas for Military Members & Veterans

Here are a few categories of Christmas gifts for your special military member or veteran!

  • Christmas Gifts to Commemorate Military Service
  • Christmas Gifts for Frequent Travelers or Deployments
  • Electronics, Gadgets, and Toys (for the kid in all of us)!
  • Subscription Boxes
  • Virtual Gifts & Subscriptions
  • Gifts to Remind Servicemembers of Home


Gifts to Commemorate Military Service

Military Shadow Boxes and Presentation Cases

Shadowbox - Military Award Display Case

One of the most popular ways to commemorate a military career is with a military award display case, complete with details of the veteran’s service. Most shadow boxes include the veteran’s rank insignia, medals, awards and decorations, service badges, unit badges, an American flag, the member’s name, and rank, and similar memorabilia.

You can often find hand-crafted shadow boxes in and around military communities, or you can purchase them through military vendors, such as, where you can also purchase medals, ribbons, rank insignia, and other items to complete your gift.

Military Coin Rack

Military Coin Rack
Military Coin Rack

Military challenge coins have been a source of squadron and unit pride for decades. If you have been around the military for a few years, chances are good that you have a fair share of military coins in your collection. A great way to display them is in a case specifically designed for military coins. There are several variations available including desktop stands, wall-mounted display cases, glass-covered cases, etc. I have even seen some glass-topped coffee tables to display coins and other military memorabilia. This wall mount coin rack can be found at Amazon and will display 7 rows of coins, or around 50 coins.

Ceremonial Sword & Scabbard

USMC NCO Ceremonial Sword

Ceremonial military swords serve as iconic symbols of honor, tradition, and discipline within armed forces worldwide. Crafted with precision and adorned with intricate details, these swords play a central role in formal military events, parades, and ceremonies. Each military branch has its own ceremonial sword, with some military branches having different swords for officers and enlisted members. The ceremonial sword is the perfect gift to serve as a tangible link between past and present. You can often find these at the Military Exchanges, or at reputable military stores such as Marlow White.

Military Artwork and Lithographs

Most military members can relate their service to a particular base or weapon system. I spent 6 years as an aircraft mechanic on the F-15 and C-130 airframes. I think of the sights, sounds, and smells of the flight line each time I see or hear one of these birds. A great way to commemorate your service is by displaying a framed lithograph of your favorite base or special piece of equipment you are fond of. Military artwork can be found at many websites, but one of my favorites is, which has an extensive selection of military artwork.

Commemorative Dog Tags

Every servicemember is issued dog tags when they enter the military. It’s easy to lose them as time goes by, so a replacement set is a great way to remember your service once you are no longer in the military. They are a great gift for veterans and retirees, and can be used for a variety of purposes, including being displayed in a shadow box, gifted as a keepsake, or gifted to loved ones to remember a family member who served.

We do recommend reading our article on replacement dog tags for more details about which information to include, as you want to avoid adding things like Social Security numbers. You can find them on many military installations, military surplus stores, or at dozens of online stores, including

Great Gifts for Frequent Travelers & Deployments

Every deployment is different. Some deployed locations have a decent Base Exchange, while others may have a small store, or nothing at all. The following gifts would be useful for almost any deployment, and most are small enough to fit into a care package for your deployed servicemember.

The Ultimate Tactical Gift Guide from 5.11 Tactical

From surviving family gatherings, going on an outdoor adventure, or pleasing everyone on your gift list, 5.11 Tactical has you covered on the toughest missions this time of year. If you’re looking for stocking stuffers, the under $25 gift guide has what you need. Another great gift idea for the tactically minded one in your life is a tactical backpack. The RUSH24™ 2.0 Backpack is a fantastic entry point into tactical backpacks, providing ample space, storage compartments, and areas to store electronics, CCW, or other self defence equipments. Tactical backpacks are perfect for the Outdoor Enthusiast and the Range Master in your life.

Vortex Diamondback Binoculars

Vortex Diamondback Binoculars – 10x42mm

For anyone who is frequently looking at objects in the distance, it’s hard to overstate the value of having a good pair of binoculars. The sleek, ergonomically designed Vortex® Diamondback Binoculars are fast to get on target, and comfortable to hold for extended periods of glassing. Featuring multiple anti-reflective coatings on all air-to-glass surfaces and multi-layer prism coatings for enhanced light transmission and bright, clear, color-accurate images, so you can pick out game from brush, and extend glassing time at dawn and dusk. An ultra-wide field of view lets you cover maximum ground quickly and efficiently.

Hands Free LED Lamp

LED headlamp
LED headlamp

These are great for deployments, working on your car or in the garage, or any other time you need need to use both hands for a job. LEDs are preferred over standard lights because they are bright, don’t create much heat, and don’t eat batteries as quickly as normal incandescent lamps. In fact, these lights can often burn for hundreds of hours before the batteries need to be replaced. These lights often came in handy on the flight line while I was an aircraft mechanic in the USAF, and I still use them around the home. You can find them at Amazon and many hardware stores. They often cost in the $10-$15 range.

Shower Caddy

Shower Caddy
Shower Caddy

Slogging through the sand and rocks to the shower tent is no fun – and neither is putting your soap and other toiletries on a community shower bench. Shower caddies are a great way to stay organized and keep your shower things clean and fresh.

These are also useful for regular traveling – I keep one locked and loaded for last-minute traveling. Just grab it and throw it in your bag. You can find these at most department stores, or online at Amazon and other locations. Styles and prices vary, but you should be able to find a nice one for around $15 or so.

Utility Tool

Gerber multitool

Every military member can use a utility tool – or two or three. I went through several of these during my years in the military. They are great for deployments, use during the line of duty, or for keeping in the glove box of your car. You never know when you will need a knife, screwdriver, or another tool! My utility tool of choice is Gerber, but you can’t go wrong with a Leatherman or some of the other brands. You can find these at varying prices, at Amazon, Wal-Mart, and other locations, usually starting around $25 and up.

Emergency Hand Crank Radio

Emergency Hand Crank Radio
Emergency Radio

This emergency radio features AM/FM/NOAA Weather bands, a Flashlight, Solar Power and Cell Phone Charger. Simply pull out the handle on the side of the radio and start cranking, or put the radio in sunlight to charge the batteries. A USB port allows you to charge your cell phone or another small electronic device. The flashlight also comes in handy when night rolls around. This is a great gift for taking on a deployment, keeping in your emergency kit at home, or placing in your car. You can buy these at Amazon, outdoors stores, and other locations, often for around $20.

Additional gift ideas for frequent travelers:

Military members who travel or deploy frequently can use a few other gift ideas to make their travels a little easier. Some great gift ideas include:

Electronics, Gadgets, & Toys

Amazon Kindle

The Amazon Kindle is the most popular eReaders on the market, and for good reason. It is inexpensive, lightweight, easy to use, and can store over 1,000 digital books. You can also download the Kindle app for the iPad/iPhone, Mac, PC, and other tablets. The software automatically syncs with your Kindle and any other device you use to read books. This means you will never have to worry about losing your place in your book again! The Kindle is a great deployment companion.

There are several versions of the Amazon Kindle available:

Smart Home

From lights and plugs to thermostats, TVs and cameras, smart home products are certified to help make your home a little more livable – and a lot more automated. These days, there’s a smart version of pretty much every home device you can think of. The holiday season is the best time to score great deals on smart lighting, security cameras, plugs and outlets, voice assistants, and more.

Subscription Boxes That Ship to APO, FPO, DPO Military Addresses

If your service member still has several months to go, give them a gift that keeps on giving by helping them count down the months with a fun surprise. Here are some subscription boxes that ship to APO and FPO overseas addresses.

Food, Coffee and Cigar Subscription Box Gift Guide

  • Black Rifle Coffee Club I pulled a few shifts in the mail room during my last deployment, and I remember Black Rifle Coffee boxes being second only to Amazon. You can choose whole bean coffee, grounds, or k-cup style coffee pods in various blends and flavors. (Our shop loved the Choc!)
  • Cigar of the Month Club I’m not typically a smoker, but cigars were a social activity on my last deployment. A few officers received monthly cigar shipments from this company and shared them with the unit after work. Those periodic cigar breaks were a fun chance to chat with coworkers outside of the military office environment.
  • Harry & David Harry & David has been sending Moose Munch bars to troops since 2010. Now you can send your troop a monthly box of Moose Munch popcorn, cookies, or other classic Harry & David treats while they’re deployed!
  • Love With Food boxes are exactly what they sound like – a way to show love with food! Each box comes packed with snacks for your service member. (They even have a gluten free option!)
  • Southern Cigar Company If your loved one is the type to enjoy an occasional cigar, Southern Cigar Company will send them a four – guaranteed to be delivered fresh with a humidity pack. Each shipment comes with an informational pamphlet, a butane lighter and a cigar cutter.
  • Victory Coffee Victory Coffee makes estimating how much coffee your service member needs easy. When you order, just tell them how many cups per day they’re drinking and they’ll send a custom sized box each month!

Books, Comics and DVD Subscription Box Gift Guide

  • Literati is a book club in a box. For $25 per month, Literati will send your service member a new, bestselling book of their choice. It also comes with an app where readers can discuss their books each month.
  • Loved Again Media DVD If your service member is deployed in an area without good wifi, DVDs are probably traded like currency. Send a box of affordable, gently used DVDs to make the time go faster.
  • The Comic Garage For the comic book lover! Your service member can select their favorite comic book characters and each month, The Comic Garage will send them 10 to 24 new comics!

Outdoor, Tactical and Survival Subscription Box Gift Guide

  • Cairn delivers full-sized products geared toward outdoor enthusiasts, but some of the snacks and other items may also come in handy on long patrols and field exercises.
  • ClubTac delivers a monthly bundle of outdoor and tactical gear tested by Marines and survival specialists.

Personal Care Subscription Box Gift Guide

  • Dollar Shave Club makes keeping within regs cheap and easy with monthly deliveries of razor blades, shaving cream and more.
  • Fabletics delivers workout clothes like sports bras, leggings and tank tops.
  • Duke Cannon Supply Drop Good smells are hard to come by in most operating environments. Duke Cannon’s Supply Drop boxes are full of soap, deodorant and other items to help your service member wash the day off.

A Subscription Box For Military Spouses

Brave Crate is a monthly subscription box for military spouses featuring products, challenge cards and exclusive access to webinars and other community materials to help you count down the days until your loved one comes home.


Virtual Gift Guide for Deployed Military Members

Keep in mind that whatever you send to your service member, they will have to figure out what to do with it when they come home. If duffel bag real estate is in short supply, consider giving a virtual gift, like a digital subscription, virtual learning plan or some virtual fitness coaching.

Digital Subscriptions

Many streaming services, cable and satellite TV providers offer military discounts to service members, veterans and their families. Be sure to check out our full guide of the best streaming services for military service members and veterans.

Give the gift of Amazon Prime

Consider paying for your service member’s Amazon Prime membership. With a prime account, service members can access thousands of entertainment options, including movies, television shows and music, plus free shipping on many Amazon prime purchases.

Audible Membership

Another great option from Amazon is an Audible membership. Audiobooks are a great way to fill the silence while working out, cleaning weapons or preparing for inspection.


Netflix offers unlimited access to thousands of movie and TV titles that can keep a service member entertained. Or, if your service member already has Netflix, you can get them a gift card to use to upgrade or renew their subscription.


Hulu is another great streaming option, but it’s different than Amazon or Netflix in that it offers several awesome add-ons, including Disney plus, ESPN, Showtime, Starz, Cinemax and HBO. You can also pick ad-free and live TV options.

Spotify Premium

If your service member is somewhere with reliable cell service or wi-fi, Spotify Premium would make a great gift. Spotify premium gives service members unlimited access to ad-free music and podcasts on demand. All they have to do is search for what they want to hear.

Online Learning Programs – Skills, Languages, Music, and More

Many service members begin deployment by setting a goal they can work toward during their spare time. If your service member is trying to learn a new skill, language or musical instrument, help them out with some virtual classes.

If your service member is trying to pick up a musical instrument or learn to sing, BNB virtual music lessons can give them a leg up. BNB courses cover voice, guitar and piano music on platforms your loved one may already use, like Skype and Google Hangouts.

Coding, programming and computer science is a burgeoning field with a growing number of well-paid civilian and military contracting opportunities. More than one person I met on my last deployment was trying to pick up coding in their downtime. If that sounds like your service member, consider supporting their goals with a Code Academy Pro plan.

Duet remote music instructors teach voice, guitar, drum, brass, woodwind, piano and string instruments. Classes are live and streamed in high definition on multiple cameras with professional sound equipment, to give your service member the closest experience to an in-person class as possible.

Masterclass is an online learning experience featuring classes by the world’s top experts (even celebrities!) in food, design, arts, music, entertainment, business, writing, science, government and more. With a Masterclass subscription, your service member can learn about cooking from Gordan Ramsey one night and take a storytelling class with Neil Gaiman the next.

With a Pimsleur e-gift certificate, your service member can start learning one of more than 50 languages online through the “The Pimsleur Method.” This language learning approach has been helping people learn languages through independent study since the 1960s.

Skillshare features online classes focusing on the creative arts. Classes cover subjects like illustration, design, photography, video, freelancing and more.

With a Rosetta Stone online activation code, your service member can access language learning resources for 24 languages. Three months of access costs just $36 on Amazon!

Wondoirum is another online learning environment, but it features more classes on STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and math), though it also includes classes for art, music and more.

Gifts that Remind Service Members of Home:

Don’t forget a personal touch!

Speaking as a recently deployed service member, what your loved one misses most about home isn’t an object, a Christmas tree or even a holiday tradition – it’s you.

Here are some things to include to add a personal touch to your Christmas gifts this year.

  • Pictures of family
  • Handmade cards, letters, and drawings from children
  • Local or regional food items (non-perishable only, please!)
  • Hats, jerseys, and gear for their favorite sports team
  • Handmade items such as scarves, quilts, and helmet liners.

Shop Around for the Best Prices

Many of the links in this article point to because that is one of the best places to do some quick comparison shopping. Amazon is also attractive because they ship to APO/FPO addresses and often feature free shipping if you are an Amazon Prime member, or when you spend a minimal amount (usually $35, but it may vary). You should always shop around for the best deals.

Do you have any other Christmas gift ideas for military members?

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  1. Alexis @ Fitnancials says

    I believe the Amazon Kindle is the perfect gift. Reading can be quite stress relieving and the Kindle saves a lot of room as well, instead of sending books all the time.

  2. Jaime says

    A nice list you have gathered here. Considering getting a Gerber multitool for a friend in the Army. Thanks Ryan!

  3. Wenchypoo says

    Before I include this in the next Frugal Feast, I’d like to see something about mailing restrictions: civilians will be wanting to mail stuff to troops overseas, and things like the multi-tool will be x-rayed and not shipped. With the recent cargo plane incidents, all cargo coming and going will now be scanned, so knowing the current overseas mailing restrictions will greatly help. Many of these items in the story won’t be usable to troops in the sandbox, because dust is a major issue with electronics. Batteries are another–they cannot be shipped overseas.

    Wenchypoo–former Navy wife

    • Ryan Guina says

      Hi Wenchypoo, Thanks for your comment – and great points. I deployed to the sandbox several times and never had a problem with any of the electronics I brought with me (a laptop, digital camera, and portable DVD player were the items I took with me, but I also knew people who brought iPods, Gameboys and other handheld gaming systems, video cameras, and other electronics). It’s important to keep the items securely stored when not in use and clean them when they get dirty, but other than that, they should be fine. Batteries can be shipped as long as they are declared. Here is more information about battery restrictions.

      Regarding knives and multi-tools – The USPS has a list of hazardous materials, which includes knives and other sharp instruments. These items may be shipped with a waiver from the local postmaster (the intent of the rule is to protect postal workers). These multitools are sold in a rigid plastic package that will prevent anyone from being hurt while handling a box containing an unopened multi-tool. You can use form 215.3 to apply for a waiver to ship restricted matter.

      Also see: USPS Mailing Restrictions for Military Members Overseas.

      Here is more information about USPS Publication 52 – Hazardous, Restricted, and Perishable Mail, and additional USPS – Military Mailing Restrictions (mostly items which are prohibited in the Middle East and other areas where our deployed military members serve). I hope this information helps!

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