10 Non Traditional Military Promotion Gifts

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10 Non Traditional Military Promotion Gifts

Promotion gifts are customary in the military.  When someone has dedicated enough time and effort to advance, it’s nice to show them that you’re proud of them.  However, it’s often difficult to think of things outside of the usual coin holder display. Here are a few ideas that may help you break out of the common gift mold.  



Did you know that you can send a patch into Tervis to have them put it into a mug?  I’ve used this not only as a gift for my husband, but also for others related to his command. Most recently, I had one made for my husband’s CO’s wife.  It was a thank you gift for the change of command for all she contributed to the community.  You can download the order form to include in the envelope with your patch here.   


One of my husband’s favorite gifts that I’ve given to him was actually a christmas gift.  I had his original SWO pin plated in real gold.  I got the idea from a friend whose parents gave him a solid gold SWO pin. While I loved the idea, I was not a huge fan of the price tag.  We were paying for a wedding, so I couldn’t justify several hundred dollars on one single item.  

However, one day when he was putting his uniform on, I asked him if he still wore his original SWO pin.  He responded yes, and a lightbulb went off. When he wasn’t home, I replaced his original pin with a new one and took the old one to the jeweler.  I had it plated in real gold, and engraved on the back. He still wears it proudly and boasts about what a thoughtful gift it was.


I know this doesn’t apply to all branches, but if your significant other is promoting to a rank in a service that requires a sword or saber, this is a great gift.  I gave my husband his and had it engraved with his name and commissioning date. He doesn’t use it often, but when he does, he always makes a point to thank me for it.


A friend did this a few years ago for her service member, and I totally stole the idea for my husband’s last promotion.  The concept is that you can go to their website, pay for a certain amount of cards and then invite people to upload a photo and message for free.  Once you close your order, they print the cards and ship them directly to the person in an adorable box.  I loved that, even though we were overseas, it was easy for friends and family to express their pride and gratitude for his service and hard work.  


Call us old fashioned, but we are big on actual thank you notes in our home.  There’s something about getting a handwritten note of appreciation that makes my heart flutter a bit. A few years ago, I gifted a set of personalized embossed stationery to my husband and he loved it.  I gave him a set with the Navy seal with his name underneath, and a SWO pin with his name underneath. Since then, he’s used them personally and professionally and received tons of compliments. PatrioticStampin is the shop on Etsy that I got them from. Extra bonus is that the shop is owned by a fellow mil spouse!  


A friend of mine hired a professional photographer to capture the moment that her service member got his new insignia pinned on by their two adorable children.  She then later had the photo framed. I love the idea that it captures not only the service member’s hard work and achievement, but also the family’s pride.


Nothing says “great job” like let’s get away.  If your service member isn’t necessarily into “stuff” try surprising them with a weekend away.  Not only will this show your appreciation for all their hard work, but also give you guys a chance to hang out and relax together.  


I recently went to a promotion party, where the wife gifted her husband a nice bottle of scotch that was aged the same amount of years he had been in the military.  If your service member isn’t a scotch or whiskey drinker, you could also get them a nice bottle of wine that was bottled the year they joined. I love this idea and totally plan on stealing it for my husband’s next promotion.  


Most service members are required to carry a pen with them.  A nice pen with their name (cough*to avoid someone stealing it*cough) is functional and also something that they will cherish.


This would be a great opportunity to get your service member some personalized coins.  Challenge coins are often exchanged as a sign of gratitude or recognition for a job well done.  


What are some of the gifts you’ve given to your service member for a milestone in their career?  I’m always up for good ideas, so if you’ve got one you want to share, leave it in the comments below!


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