The holidays are the season for giving! Operation Christmas Child is a great way to get your kids involved with gift giving to kids in other countries. Each year, families can pack a shoebox of gifts for kids ages 2 to 14 and deliver them to Operation Christmas Child drop off locations. My kids always have fun picking out gifts for other children and packing their gift shoebox. Not sure what to put in your shoebox? Here’s a list of top gift ideas recommended for Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes.
Operation Christmas Child National Collection Week is
November 13 – 20!
Gift Ideas for a Operation Christmas Child Shoebox
Your family can pack a shoe box for a boy or girl recipient, ages 2-14. Age divisions include the following. To label your shoebox, simply attach the provided tag to the box and check the age range you purchased gifts for.
Boy / Girl Recipient
Gift Ideas for Girls & Boys
Many girls love pretty things! For Operation Christmas Child I try to buy cute gift items that aren’t too “American” or Disney-focused. Generic coloring books of animals or flowers are great. Hair bows with a pretty pattern or sparkly bracelets can be universal to any culture.
Boys will love toy dinosaurs, cars, small shovels to dig, balls and slinkys. Don’t include toy weapons or military-related figurines in your shoebox.
You don’t know which culture your shoebox will go to, so I’d recommend staying away from gifts decorated with licensed brands and characters that may be meaningless in another culture. All kids will be able to use school supplies and hygiene essentials. You can find full details about how to pack a shoebox here.
Include any of these gift ideas for kids in your Operation Christmas Child shoebox!
- hair accessories
- hair brush / comb
- solid colored t-shirts
- classic clothing designs
- manual pencil sharpener
- colored pencils
- coloring books with generic illustrations
- solid glue stick
- adhesive tape
- watercolor set
- toothbrush (no toothpaste)
- bar soap
- colorful adhesive bandages
- small purse
- picture book
- finger puppets
- plastic toys
You can also include a note to the child and a photo of yourself or your family! If you include your name and an address, the child may be able to write back.
Restricted Gifts Not Allowed By Customs
- used or damaged items
- toy weapons or military figures
- chocolate or food
- fruit rolls or other fruit snacks
- drink mixes (powdered or liquid)
- liquids or lotions
- medications or vitamins
- breakable items such as snow globes
- glass containers
- aerosol cans
- nail polish
Not Recommended Shoebox Gifts
I’d add the following not recommended gift items to the restricted gift list.
- play dough – can easily dry out and kids in 3rd world countries may not know what to do with it.
- stickers – kids in underprivileged countries don’t have things to put stickers on.
- stuffed pets – cats / dogs can be negative icons in some cultures.
- delicate accessories – my daughter wanted to buy a fragile-looking crown, which I could imagine getting broken in minutes.
- graphic t-shirts – logos, Disney princesses and pop-culture characters can be meaningless in other countries.
Operation Christmas Child Holiday Traditions
Make packing your gift shoe boxes a family event and annual holiday tradition! Explain to your kids why you are buying gifts for other kids, where the shoeboxes will go, and talk about how your family can help others during the holidays. Kids can even include a note or drawing in your Operation Christmas Child shoebox. Don’t forget to take your kids along to drop off your shoebox during National Collection Week, Nov. 13-20, 2017!
You can find full details about this fun holiday program and the ministry behind it at samaritanspurse.org.
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Katie is a writer and influencer based in beautiful Coeur d’Alane, Idaho. She enjoys DIY projects, photography, decorating and going on family adventures. She feels blessed to be a wife, a stay-at-home mom to three kids and a Pacific Northwest lifestyle blogger.