A Christmas list with difference, not things I want but things I would love to give away.
This is not all my own work but has been collated over the last 9 years of my shoebox obsession. My sources are SPI/OCC – websites and FB pages, fellow volunteers, and also the many boxes that I have checked with joy. It is really such a privilege to share the joy of these boxes filled with love and to know that each one will make a difference to a child who may have never received a gift or even love.
Enjoy and happy shoeboxing.
What should go in a shoe-box?
Something to write on and with
Something to wear
Something to eat
Something to clean up with after eating
Something to play with
Something to love Something to play with
Something to Love
A photo, a card and lots and lots of Love
Something to write on ….
All children love to draw & write. Make sure you put in a note book or 2 (reporters notebooks are great). For little ones you can include a small colouring book or some colouring sheets taken from a big A4 book or printed from the net. Sheets of coloured paper are great for all ages. Roll up the A4 sheets & keep them together with an elastic band or hair bobble, or fold them in half. Include pens, pencils, sharpeners, rubbers, crayons, felt-tips (as appropriate for the age group). For the older children your writing equipment may mean that the child can go to school! In some countries the children must take their own equipment or they are not allowed into the school. Your gift could = education, could = life improving opportunities. Wow – that is a fantastic opportunity for all of us to change a child’s life.
Something to eat ……..
Children love sweets! All children (not matter how old). The children who receive our boxes may never had have sweets or only very rarely – so give them a sweet treat!
Make sure the sweets are age appropriate (no lollies for 2-4 yr boxes).
Put in a selection rather than one big bag of the same sweets. Mini-bags of Haribo, small packets of other brands. Get together with friends and all buy different multipacks and then share then out – or make up a few boxes yourself.
Make sure that the “BBF” date is after March next year – some boxes may not be given out until the new year. No chocolate – it will melt in hot countries and many European countries still have a ban on dairy products due to BSE.
Hide packets in different places – remember you are making a “Christmas Stocking in a box”!
Something to clean up with after eating …….
Many of the children have limited access to even the most basic things that we take for granted including basic hygiene. So add a flannel, soap (wrapped please so it doesn’t make everything in the box smell soapy), toothbrush, and toothpaste. None of these have to be expensive, but do put in a small age-appropriate toothbrush – 2-4 yr olds can’t use an adult sized brush! Also for the little ones please put in toothpaste that is OK for their age (most toothpaste has too much fluoride for them).
For the 5+ group the cheap toothpaste from ASDA, Tesco etc is fine.
If you get toothpaste in a box, try to leave it in the box – remember how creative children are, that box could become a musical instrument, a space rocket ……
However if you are having problems squeezing everything in then take it out of the box!
Please don’t put in large bottles of shampoo, body wash etc. We have to remove these as they may break in transit ruining everything else – and of course they take up too much space. Tiny bottles (hotel size; <50ml) are OK – make sure the top is on tight and wrap them in the flannel just to be on the safe side.
BTW anything that we have to remove is either shipped separately to one of our partner countries or donated to a local charity.
Something to play with ……..
Children love toys. All children, all ages (go on admit it – you know you love playing with the kids toys)
Balls are great for all ages. Soft and easily handled are best for the 2-4 year olds. Tennis balls for all other ages.
2-4 yr olds
A chunky plastic toy – car, doll etc; chunky wooden or cardboard puzzle – if the box is bulky carefully cut out the picture and put it with the puzzle in a strong zip-lock bag (or make a draw-string bag if you’re handy with sewing, or a plastic take-away meal container); building blocks…… Don’t worry too much about the “not suitable” for under 3 labels – use your common sense and remember that they will have a grown up with them. Nothing with really small parts.
5-9 yr olds
Probably the easiest group to buy for! Cars, dolls, McDonald’s toys, small kites and other out-door toys (Frisbees etc), craft kits e.g. simple knitting and sewing sets (with big plastic needles), building blocks, puppets (hand or finger – check out the patterns on the OCC web-site), puzzles – jigsaw and other types, wind-up torches…..
10-14 yr olds
Thought to be the difficult group – they aren’t!
These children are still children – they don’t have computers, mobile phones, TVs etc and so are much easier to please than our “sophisticated” kids!
Cars (yes they will play with them), Barbie dolls (or Kens – no action men unless they are in “civvies”), marbles, kites and other out-door toys, puzzles, travel games, sewing kits, craft sets, mini-construction kits, wind-up torches…..
Just think “Christmas Stocking” – lots of small and unexpected gifts!
For the girls you can also add hair decorations and make-up for the older ones (very small nail varnish and other liquid items are OK). Bags always go down well – we love our bags don’t we girls!
A small fold-up rucksack will be great for girls or boys.
Please add anything else you can think of!
Homemade gifts are great – just no stuffed ones please (we have to remove these because of customs regulations in some countries).
Something to love ………
Everybody loves something cuddly toy (go on admit it – how many of you still have a teddy bear?)
Please put a SMALL cuddly toy in your box (slightly bigger ones are ideal for the 2-4 boxes)
Try to make it age and gender appropriate – for the older boys think in terms of a mascot.
MacDonald’s toys are an ideal size for the older children – if you have children, you will have unused, unloved, ignored cuddlies, ripped out of the bag and cast aside. That cuddly needs a home! There is a child somewhere who will love it and give it a home.
These do not need to be expensive just new (or as good as).
If you or your friends have children you will have cuddlies which have never been loved – now is their chance!
Give a toy a home and a child a best friend for life.
Before you close your box ……..
Add a photo of yourself and /or your child(ren) so that the child can see who sent it.
Add a card saying who you are, so that the child knows who sent it. Don’t worry about language, there are always translators there. Home made cards are great – DD makes ours every year.
And finally …… fill the box with love! Say a prayer for the child who receives the box and ask God to use the gift to show that someone cares, and that God loves them.
Be generous – fill the box!!
You can download this list as a PDF here: What should go in a shoebox
For more information please go to the main OCC website: http://www.samaritans-purse.org.uk/what-we-do/operation-christmas-child/about-operation-christmas-child/