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

Or just click on the military tab at the top!

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Military Spouse Beginner-Five Things I Did Not Expect During OCS

It was May 2016, and this is a story all about how my life got flipped- turned upside down. (Anyone else rap that inside their head? Fresh Prince anyone? No? Just me? Ok..)

Fresh Carlie of Delaware


My husband was leaving for Newport, Rhode Island for what would turn into fifteen weeks to embark on his dream of becoming a Naval Aviator for the United States Navy. Think Maverick from Top Gun. Oh, Officer Candidate School (OCS), our first experience as a military family. We prepared for this for weeks. We made sure he had the right t-shirts, the right socks, he could run 1.5 miles in a certain amount of time and do X amount of pushups and curl ups as well. We were prepared with stamps and paper so he could write. He had a watch for when he could have one again, and we prepared snacks and food for his drive. He was prepared, but I wasn’t prepared for the goodbye.

We woke up early, loaded his truck, and double checked we didn’t miss anything on the list. I was fine. I thought to myself, this isn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be. And then he turned and looked at me. And I wasn’t fine. I was excited for him, and I was excited for me, but I couldn’t help but cry because this would be the last time I got to see and touch his face in person. We hugged each other tighter than we ever have before and I followed him outside to the truck. We hugged and kissed a dozen more times before I watched him back down the driveway, onto the street, he made a right onto the next street and another right on the street after that. As he drove away and the corn fields were between us, the tears stopped and I began counting down to when we would be reunited.

Ready to hit the highway.


Let’s recap the five things I did not expect during Officer Candidate School, but they happened to me.

  1. Quiet- I wasn’t ready for the goodbye, and I wasn’t ready for how quiet the house would be when I stepped back inside. It was eerily quiet. It’s not like I had never been in the house alone before, but suddenly everything is still and silent and empty.0fc36a8ea439561fa5d834f1d815248f892e0028753bfaaab3e5c2c1186814e1
  2. Mailman Friendships- I got to a first name basis with my mailman. Not the one who delivers the mail to my home, the one at the post office. I became a frequent offender there for a number of reasons. I had to buy stamps frequently as letters became our main source of communication in the beginning-and even after he got  email and cell phone access, I still mailed letters daily. Mailing Candi-O boxes was an experience too (more on those in a later post). Oh and having to overnight our marriage license to him the first week. Tip: Make sure you have a certified marriage license from your county clerk’s office and not just the document your officiant signs. Maybe it’s just a Delaware thing, but we only had our copy our officiant signed and I had to go to get a more official document. 
  3. When 12 weeks turns into 15 weeks or longer- Officer Candidate School is only 12 weeks right? Not always. There are various reasons why a candidate can “roll” which means they are put into a holding class and will rejoin another class. Typically this happens if they fail a test or for medical reasons. I was very surprised when I got a phone call late one Thursday evening from a Rhode Island phone number. My husband had only been gone for a little over two weeks and there is no communication during this phase. Unfortunately he got pink eye and would be quarantined to his room for the day, which was also an inspection day. This meant he would not be able to continue with his current class and would be “rolling” to the next class. So while 12 weeks is ideal, be prepared for there to be more. Want to hear a funny joke? Make plans when in the Navy. 4bd35ca970677125a92c873c1b7bdef0
  4. Social Media- Social Media can be your friend! Not everyone uses social media, but if you do- there are some really great support groups and pages out there. Do a search for your area and ‘military spouse’. There is even a Facebook page run by the Navy called, ‘Officer Training Command Newport’. They regularly post photos and updates of the classes while they are there. While my husband was at OCS I was lucky to find a page for friends and family of his OCS class. The girlfriends and wives then formed a spinoff group and we messaged each other every single day. Being able to share your experience with others going through the same cannot be substituted. No matter how supportive your local friends and family are, it simply is not the same. I still talk to these wonderful women to this day.
  5. Bad-assery- I’m pretty badass, and you are too. Your partner is embarking on this amazing opportunity to further their career and accomplish goals they’ve set to enrich their life and yours. This does not mean you are simply along for the ride. While my husband was away I made multiple lifestyle changes towards a healthier lifestyle and lost 40 lbs! You can read about how I did it here. You can further your education, or work on your health, your career, your passion. There will be times when you will be alone, and lonely, these are the times when you rely on yourself, and your strength to get you through. Reach out to a friend, in person or virtually (Again, those Facebook groups are great!) You have the power to make or break yourself.

    Do you have any questions on what to expect during OCS as a spouse?

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