A heart with imprints of a child's feet

Celebrating the Deployed Daddy

I have a love/hate relationship with holidays while my husband is deployed. Aside from the emotional toll they take, I struggle with how to make him feel included in special occasions from so far away. Some holidays are harder than others to bring him into the fold, but Father’s Day is the toughest – a whole day centered on him when he’s not physically here with us. So, how do we celebrate daddy while he’s deployed?

I’ve learned from experience that planning ahead is necessary. Some care packages take four to eight weeks to arrive because of his remote location. Therefore, I shy away from sending anything perishable and ship far in advance. I’ve come up with a variety of ways to celebrate our soldier on this holiday with a little help from my kids. Here’s what my Father’s Day care package contains this year:

Scribble Paintings

My son has recently started learning how to write, but my daughter can barely babble a few words. The perfect solution for both of these scenarios? Scribble painting. I gave them a few paints and small canvases that I picked-up at the craft store and let them go nuts. After it dried, I added vinyl letters and let them paint over everything again. Once the vinyl letters were peeled off, the word “daddy” was left among their artwork. The total cost for the project was under $10.

Clay Hand & Footprints

Salt dough is super easy and my kids love it. I’ve outlined the recipe and instructions that I use below. After your dough is ready to go, press your children’s hands or feet into the dough, then bake at 200 degrees for three hours or so. After it cools, your kids can paint to their heart’s desire. Total cost for this project was less than one dollar.

Salt Dough Recipe

  • 1 cup of flour
  • 1 cup of salt
  • ½ cup warm water

Mix together and knead well. Allow to rest in shallow pan or bowl. Flip upside down to display the smooth side. Recipe renders one large or two small clay pieces.


Online photo websites almost always have a coupon or discount available. I recently created an eight-by-eight book with photos and quotes from my kids. I asked them questions like, “What are the top three reasons why we love daddy?” and “When daddy gets home what’s the first thing we will do together?” Total cost for this project after taxes, shipping and discounts was less than $15.

Homemade Cards

One of the simplest things you can do is let your kids draw pictures and make cards for daddy. My son likes to draw pictures and then write a story – it’s not always legible, but the recipient is pretty forgiving.

Whatever you send, it will be well received, so don’t stress – enjoy it, be creative and have fun. Happy Father’s Day to soldier dads everywhere!


Lee-Anne Castro
Written By Lee-Anne Castro
Army National Guard Spouse

Lee-Anne is an Army National Guard spouse of 13 years. She works full time, has two kids and thinks she is much funnier than she really is.

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