Veterans deserve recognition and respect all year long, but thankfully, an entire day is exclusively dedicated to this purpose. On Veterans Day, we recognize the valiant men and women who sacrificed so much through the years. This should not be confused with Memorial Day, which primarily focuses on those we’ve lost, or even the 4th of July, which honors our status as a nation — Veterans Day is all about those who’ve lived to tell the tale of their heroic deeds and continue to make a difference as civilians.

At minimum, we owe these brave individuals a great deal of gratitude for all they’ve accomplished as part of the Army, Air Force, Marine Corps, or Navy. It all begins with simply saying thank you to a veteran. This message of thankfulness goes a lot further, however, if it involves tangible gifts or special events.

Struggling to find appreciation gifts for veterans? Below, we’ve highlighted several great gift ideas that will make any veteran feel appreciated. Many of these double as Father’s Day gifts or retirement gifts but with a patriotic slant.

Personalized Military Memorabilia

Pay homage to veterans’ military sacrifices with memorabilia that touches at the heart of life in the armed forces. Dog tags are always a reliable option. While recipients will no longer need to identify themselves in combat, they’ll enjoy showing off dog tags that reveal their new purposes in life — perhaps adorned with titles such as Dad or Grandpa. A simple patriotic dog tag that says ‘USA’ (or features patriotic colors) should also work.

Another option? A high-quality photo of the veteran in question wearing uniforms or regalia. Search for a thematic frame with red, white, and blue details — or with appreciative language denoting the veteran’s status as a true hero. This fame can then be engraved with the veteran’s name or a special message. 

Dog tags sitting by the American flag on a military outfit.

“atheist dog tags” by darwin.wins is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Care Packages

Thoughtful care packages or gift baskets are always appreciated, even if your beloved veteran no longer lives thousands of miles away. There is no one right way to put together a care package; think about what the recipient truly loves or uses on a regular basis. Favorite snacks are a must, along with water bottles or tumblers for favorite beverages. Feel free to add self-care items like lotions or soaps — and most important of all, a note from the gift-giver.

Handwritten Letters and Cards

Many items and experiences promise to delight veterans, but nothing matches the personal meaning of a handwritten letter. This is your chance to share why you are so thankful for the veteran in your life and how you believe this person has made a difference. Don’t be afraid to get personal. You’ll say it best with a simple letter on simple stationery, but your message can also get a boost if you select a Veterans Day card.

Art and Craft Projects

Show your artistic side with a handmade keepsake. This is the perfect gift idea for incorporating children, who will enjoy participating in many types of craft projects. Veterans Day options include:

  • American flag DIY photo frame
  • Red, white, and blue wreath
  • DIY Veterans Day tote bag
  • Decorated coasters
  • Patriot color tie-dye T-shirt
US Navy Sailors making arts and crafts with children in Manila.

“Sailors make arts and crafts with children in Manila.” by Official U.S. Navy Imagery is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Dine In or Out

If your favorite veteran loves fine dining, few gifts will live up to the appeal of a great meal out. Plan a date at a favorite restaurant or provide a gift card to pay for a future dining experience.

Eating in can be just as enjoyable, so gift cards to favorite carry-out locations will definitely be appreciated. If you know a veteran who happens to love cooking, provide a gift card to a top butcher shop or a high-end grocery store. 

Veterans’ Charity Donations

Some veterans are more interested in doing good than in receiving tangible items. They are most touched by donations that have a discernible impact on the wider community. While a variety of organizations can benefit from these donations, charities dedicated to veterans are especially worth supporting on this important day. Top options include:

To let your favorite veteran know you’ve donated, print the receipt or the confirmation email and place it within a meaningful card.

Veterans Day Books and Literature

Veterans love sharing their stories with one another, as this is a powerful way of feeling less alone in the civilian world. It’s easy to see why so many resonate with books featuring veterans as main characters. Nonfiction books can also be enjoyable, especially if they touch on topics your beloved veteran finds fascinating. Favorites include:

  • Billy Lynn’s Long Half-Time Walk
  • Jarhead: A Marine’s Chronicle of the Gulf War and Other Battles
  • Redeployment
  • Thank You For Your Service

Don’t forget to incorporate personalized touches. Add a thematic bookmark so readers can easily find their place — or a special note on the title page or inside the book cover.

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Outdoor Adventure and Recreation

The thrill of adventure does not necessarily leave once service members are finished with active duty. Now, however, veterans get to pursue exciting experiences on their own terms. Encourage them to do exactly that by providing gift cards or certificates related to recreational activities or other active experiences. Anything that involves the great outdoors should be a solid fit. With winter approaching, for example, active veterans might enjoy hitting up their local ski or snowboarding destination for an exciting day out.

Subscription Services

Give the gift of convenience with a subscription box. This multiplies the gift-giving fun, as recipients will look forward to seeing new subscription boxes every month. From pet lovers to beer enthusiasts and everything in between, there is truly something for everyone. When in doubt, however, subscriptions from veteran-owned businesses are preferable.

Cardboard Cutout Gift Idea

On the hunt for truly unique Veterans Day gifts or decorations? Cardboard cutouts are sure to please. These can feature famous veterans, or, of course, pay homage to the specific veteran you want to honor.

Life-sized cutouts featuring veterans in uniform will make an impression and can be used as memorable party decor. If veterans cannot visit in person on their big day, loved ones can take photos with cutouts and send them as a surprise. Get creative and show you care with a cutout like no other.

Cardboard standee of a military solider standing with his two young children.Honor Those Who’ve Served This Veterans Day

Veterans have selflessly given it all for the sake of their nation, and there is no way that we can truly repay this debt. We can, however, show that we care. The right gifts for Veterans really do make a difference. We’ve highlighted several excellent Veterans Day gift ideas, but now, it’s your turn to get the message across: veterans matter, and they need to hear it!

To learn how our team at Cardboard Cutout Standees can support you in this important effort, reach out. You’ll find it easy to upload photos and order cutouts, so don’t hesitate to get started.


  • Jason Frank

    Jason Frank is the Co-Founder and Vice President at Cardboard Cutout Standees. After 25 years of selling factory automation he started the company with one of his college roommates. The company has grown to one of the largest providers of large format custom printed products in the United States. Along with the namesake cardboard cutout standees, they also provide BigHeads, Point of Purchase Displays, Wall Murals, and Wall Decals to a diverse client base across the US and Canada. When not focused on the business, you usually find Jason either on the road biking or our in the woods and fields of western Wisconsin.

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