How to Send the Perfect Candio (Candidate Officer) Box

Disclaimer: This post was written in 2017 when OCS was structured differently than it is presently.

Officer Candidate School (OCS) is a tough 12 weeks (or more if you’re unlucky). It’s tough on the candidates who are going through the training and it’s tough on the families back  home.

There are three phases to OCS for the candidates. First is the indoctrination phase, second is the Officer Candidate phase, and third is the Candidate Officer phase. Once the service member becomes a Candidate Officer they will be granted a little more freedom. This includes enjoying some treats from home known as Candio boxes.

When my husband was going through OCS, I spent so much time stressing about what to send, how to send it, and most importantly, making his box perfect. It was a big topic of discussion in the family and friends Facebook page, as everyone wanted to show their loved ones how much they were missed, how proud they were, and hopefully grant a small break after all their hard work of training. Hopefully the following information will help ease some of your worry and explain how to send the perfect candio box to your service member.

Pin the images for quick reference guides in the future! These guides will also be helpful for deployments and future trainings. Perfect Candio Box-3.png

Candio boxes are opened on Candio Christmas, the Wednesday of week 9. They have to be opened in front of a Drill Instructor or Class Officer, so be mindful of that! **”No tobacco, alcohol, weapons, medications, gambling paraphernalia, or live animals”** You can send any size box, however the large flat rate shipping box from USPS is most popular because they are easy to decorate, a good size to send any and all items you may want to include, and are budget friendly for shipping.

How to send your box:Candio box tips and hacks.png

What to include:Perfect Candio Box-4.png My Candio Box

I spent so much time (and $$$) putting together these candio boxes for my husband. I went with a rustic Americana theme and personalized with photographs from our 6 years together, his civilian pilot training, and of course our adorable cats.


I filled the box with yummy homemade cookies (packed in decorated pringles cans), jerky, chocolate, chocolate covered blueberries, nuts, popcorn, a head scratcher, magazines, a book, emergen-c, starburst, a talking pen (it says No a bunch of different ways), gum, and a special gift (a customized bobblehead of my husband in a flight suit).

Additional Examples:

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All of these amazing candio boxes were sealed and mailed out, ready to go, and arrived with plenty of time for candio Christmas. IMG_6539

Helpful links:

I hope this was helpful for you as you prepare your special care package for your service member. OCS is a complicated time for families, but if you’re preparing that candio box, you are in the homestretch now! Just a couple more weeks and you will be traveling to Newport, RI to reunite and congratulate your soon to be commissioned Ensign! Congratulations! You all made it through! 

Be sure to read how we’re doing after OCS!! We’re now trying to survive flight school!

Flight School Survival for the Military Spouse

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14 thoughts on “How to Send the Perfect Candio (Candidate Officer) Box

    1. It is possible they receive their boxes week 8 now. It is my understanding that OCS is no longer 12 weeks(like it was in 2016 when my husband attended), so they may have changed the timeline for certain events.


  1. This is entirely inaccurate. I am a Class Officer at OCS and this has not been accurate for at least the last several years. NO FOOD IS ALLOWED. Please stop using this bad information and do not send your loved ones any food items. They will be immediately thrown out or sent back to you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I respectfully disagree. When I sent these candio boxes in the summer of 2016, they were probably 85% food and it was not returned and nothing was thrown out. My husband was able to keep and enjoy everything I sent to him.


      1. My LO is currently in 04-18 and will be a candio in November 2017. We are being told NOT to send food when the time comes, and from what I’ve heard, friends and family of 03-18 are being told the same thing. It sounds like things changed just this year, and I’d err on the side of not having half the box’s contents thrown out.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. As of mid-2017 OCS no longer authorizes food or beverage items to be received in packages to students. My daughter was in the first class affected by the rule change. No food or beverages!


    2. Is this a change for the 18-** classes? When my husband recently attended OCS I mailed him a large amount of British sweets from home and he had no problem receiving them and eating/sharing them with his friends.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I had absolutely no problem sending my boyfriend food items, protein bars, and Mio Energy drops for his water. I even send him candy and he was able to enjoy it all.. he graduated OCS just over a year ago so unless they e changed it just. this year this blog post is accurate!!!!!

        Liked by 1 person

    3. My husband attended OCS within the last year and a half and half of his box had food items in it. We were told not to send too many sweets, so I had a little candy, granola bars, nuts, and chocolate covered espresso beans. He had no problems with it and got to eat all of it as did most of the people he knew.


  2. My boyfriend graduated from OCS almost exactly a year ago, and I was able to send him his favorite candy (sent way too much, he shared and had lots leftover when he graduated) and several other treats. He said some of his favorite stuff was the healthy food his parents sent like trail mix! I know anything caffeinated isn’t allowed, but other than that, he was allowed to keep food items, even the homemade cake truffles I sent him!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I read on www. that LT Graig Withrow a class officer of Newport Officer Training Command in RI stated that OCS no longer authorizes food or beverage items to be received in packages or candio boxes starting February 2017. He also stated in a forum on there that you don’t have to wait until candio phase anymore since food is no longer allowed. We are allowed to send packages anytime now. Just don’t send food (including candy) alcohol, or tobacco.

    Liked by 1 person

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