Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Ideas

Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Ideas


Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Ideas

Update: I just finished packing our Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes for 2018 and found a few more fun items at the Dollar Tree and Hobby Lobby ~ I would love if you'd join me and pack a box for a child in need this year too! Learn more HERE. 

I'm so excited because I'm partnering again this year with Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes, and they have a few new fantastic Operation Christmas Child Shoebox ideas & resources including pre-printed plastic shoeboxes ~ I just ordered ours to start filling this year!



If you haven't heard of Operation Christmas Child Shoebox before, they're a ministry of Samaritan's Purse that provides shoeboxes to children worldwide who might not receive a Christmas gift at all without people like you and me packing boxes to send. 



You can get free materials, recommendations, and more right now by visiting the Samaritan's Purse Resource & Idea Hub right over HERE. National Collection Week is November 13th-20th this year ~ find a location to drop off your boxes right HERE.



Here are 7  more resources to get you started: 

Print Operation Christmas Child Labels HERE

Get Operation Christmas Child Drop Off Locations HERE

Learn about Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Tracking HERE

Watch more Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Videos HERE

Find Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Deadlines for Packing HERE

See more Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Pictures HERE

Read more about Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Stories HERE


I also highly recommend sharing the video above with your children, family and friends as you pack your Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes. This is one of our favorite ways to give each year, and I love that my kids get to see the other side of where our simple boxes end up.


Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Ideas

Curious what to pack in an Operation Christmas Child Shoebox for  younger kids? Here you go . . .

  1. crayons
  2. coloring books
  3. flip flops
  4. t-shirts
  5. ball
  6. bar soap
  7. bracelet
  8. bandana
  9. pencils & pens
  10. pencil sharpener
  11. duct tape
  12. travel size games – checkers
  13. deck of cards
  14. hacky sack
  15. harmonica
  16. yo yo
  17. hat
  18. glue sticks
  19. scissors
  20. small stuffed animal
  21. pom poms
  22. glitter
  23. small crafting kit
  24. post it notes
  25. highlighters
  26. small notebook
  27. chalk
  28. watercolor paint sets
  29. play doh
  30. small etch a sketch
  31. socks
  32. back pack
  33. plastic cup
  34. straws
  35. scarf
  36. jump rope
  37. glowsticks
  38. batteries
  39. matchbox cars
  40. finger puppets
  41. silly putty
  42. balloons
  43. toothbrush
  44. washcloth
  45. wet wipe
  46. travel pack of tissues
  47. chapstick
  48. hair ties
  49. band aids
  50. hair brush

Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Ideas

For Older Boys:

  • Tools – hammer, screwdriver, wrench or pliers, duct tape, measuring tape
  • Fishing supplies – add in a small fishing kit, fishing line, hooks
  • Binoculars
  • Kaleidoscope
  • Plastic Magnifying Glass
  • Watch
  • Handkerchief
  • Collapsible water bottle
  • Harmonica

Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Ideas

For Older Girls:

  • Small sewing kit
  • Clip on earrings
  • Bracelets
  • Barettes
  • Coin purse
  • Sticky notes
  • Watercolor paint set
  • Yarn
  • Colored Sharpies, highlighters or markers
  • A friendship bracelet with extra string so they can make more
  • Ink pad and stamp set

Also, here are a few ideas that Operation Christmas Child shared on their site as far as suggestions for all ages (as well as some items not to include):

  • TOYS: Include items that children will immediately embrace such as dolls, toy cars, stuffed animals, kazoos, harmonicas, yo-yos, jump ropes, balls, toys that light up and make noise (with extra batteries), etc.
  • SCHOOL SUPPLIES: pens, pencils and sharpeners, crayons, markers, notebooks, paper, solar calculators, coloring and picture books, etc.
  • NON-LIQUID HYGIENE ITEMS: toothbrushes, bar soap, combs, washcloths, etc.
  • ACCESSORIES: t-shirts, socks, hats, sunglasses, hair clips, jewelry, watches, flashlights (with extra batteries), etc.
  • A PERSONAL NOTE: You may enclose a note to the child and a photo of yourself or your family. If you include your name and address, the child may be able to write back.
  • DO NOT INCLUDE: Used or damaged items; war-related items such as toy guns, knives or military figures; chocolate or food; candy; liquids or lotions; medications or vitamins; breakable items such as snow globes or glass containers; aerosol cans.


National Collection Week for Shoeboxes this year is November 13-20, and if you’re not sure where to drop off a box in your area you can go HERE to find a local collection site. They do ask that you also give a donation of $9 per box to cover the cost of shipping – learn more about that over HERE and donate online as well.


Additional tips that may help:

  • Pack soap in a plastic bag to keep the scent from taking over the whole box and so that nothing leaks.
  • Remove packaging from your items so that you allow for more room in your box and so that they don't have much trash to throw away.
  • Don't send anything that has directions/writing in English (i.e. toys with instructions, games that require kids to read English.) Since these boxes go to non-English speaking country it's worth only including things that are understood internationally.
  • Read more great tips and suggestions from a missionary in the field over HERE.
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  1. Ellie Templin says

    Hi, I’m grateful for the suggestions on what to put in the boxes! I’m just wondering, do you manage to put all 50 items in one? Or do you just pick and choose what to put in??

    • Hi Ellie! Just pick a few items! I love the idea of picking one “wow” item (an item that may be a little more pricey but something just fun and special) and then filling up the rest of the box with smaller items (school supplies, toiletries, coloring books, etc.) Hope that helps!

  2. I think the toothbrush should be in its wrapper. I plan to buy a toothbrush holder for mine. Also a plastic container for the bar of soap.

    • Thanks for sharing Jackie! I think I may get a toothbrush holder to put it in – that way they don’t have the waste to throw away, but they do have something to put the toothbrush in. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Also we were told, No toothpaste.

  4. Just noticed that candy is on the “do not send” list. I have always sent hard candy, because it is Christmas. Not sure why it has become a “no.”

  5. There is no way i can send $9 a box for shipping!!!

    • Hi Robynn! I know $9 adds up quickly – maybe if you join in with a friend to put together a box you can split it up (getting the boxes shipped to remote countries is just expensive!)

    • Hey Robyn – I’ve learned over the last few years to either shop early in the year for the contents and use my money at delivery to pay for shipping — OR — ask a few folks to go in on boxes with you, there is usually one person that says “can I just give money?” because they don’t have time to shop.

  6. I noticed in one of the pictures there’s toothpaste which is on the Do-Not-Send list. Toothpaste and candy were added as “no go” items due to customs regulations on things with expiration dates. I figure it just gives me a little more room for something else.

    And for those who ask, no need to put all 50 items in one box. Poor kid would be overwhelmed. Just fill the box with an assortment of fun things and practical things and it will be good. 😀

    We’re using bottle return money to pay for shipping. But we live in Oregon and deposits are .10 now, so you’re mileage may vary.

  7. I did not see anything about make up? like mascara or lipsticks or lip gloss for older kids?

  8. A WOW gift for boys of all ages is a soccer ball that can be deflated. Then enclose a Pump and needles to blow it up when the child receives the box.

  9. I know the list changes every year, and maybe I overlooked it, but at one point playing cards were on the do not send list. Has this changed for 2017?

  10. You said somewhere on your video no glue. A glue stick would be OK, though, because it’s not liquid (just like the lip balm). With all the things to draw and write with (pens, markers, crayons…), I always also add something to mark or write on (notebook, writing pad, coloring book…). It would be sad for them to get those cool markers and crayons and have nothing appropriate to use them on.

  11. I put a deflated soccer ball and pump in the older boys boxes. Fill the boxes full if you can. Anything the child can’t use will be passed on to others! This will be my families 3rd year going to Boone headquarters to help in the wear house. Such a blessing to hear the past recipients speak and pray over a full truck loaded and leaving!!

  12. pina wathen says

    hi can we us the shoe boxes for school so we can give the kid something to open because we are a low income school we would give the kids the box to fill so they can give it to one of the kids at the school

  13. I would like to recieve a box for my kids! I am currently job less and can’t affort to buy gifts for my kids

    • Tatyana, I suggest you ask the social worker at your children’s school(s) what resources are available to help you provide Christmas gifts for your children. Another option is the Salvation Army. If you attend a house of worship, they may be able to help also. I hope you are able to secure employment soon.

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