Our giving guide to pack your Operation Christmas Child shoebox with gifts that matter

Make your gifts go further this year when you participate in Operation Christmas Child. Though single-use items can be fun presents to send, open-ended toys and quality items make a more meaningful impact.

The cost of some items below might be more than you can spend, so just skip those and do what feels right for you. These are quality items so just one of them could make a good focal point for a shoebox.

This year when you fill your shoebox, consider these!

“Wow” item: Tegu Magnetic Blocks

Simple blocks with magnetic attaching abilities allow young children to explore and build in many creative ways! Buying a child a set of blocks invites their friends or family to engage in deep play together. These blocks let you give a gift that is adaptable and educational, for ages 1+.

Personal care item: Hannahpad Mini Starter Set

Menstrual health is a big deal. If you are sending a shoebox to a pre-teen or teen, consider adding a set of menstrual pads. They’ll take up the same space a box of disposable pads will in the shoebox, but they can be washed and reused over and over. Reusable pads not only eliminate waste, but they empower girls to continue their daily life during their cycle. A set of reusable pads is a gift that will continue to benefit the person who receives them.

Clothing item: The Shoe That Grows

The Shoe That Grows expands five sizes, lasting for years to prevent children in poverty from getting soil-transmitted diseases. They are easy to clean, easy to use, and come in several sizes and colors. Putting a pair of The Shoe That Grows in your shoebox will help a child not only this Christmas, but many Christmases to come.

Education item: LuminAID Solar Lantern

More hours of light means more hours of learning. LuminAID lanterns are inflatable, water-proof, solar-charged lanterns that provide bright light without electricity. These lanterns are adorable cubes of light, and they are also built to last. Sending this bright gift in your shoebox allows kids to read more hours of the day or work on other activities, expanding their daily learning and play time. They are easy to recharge and have a battery indicator as well as a USB port.

“Wow” item: Organic Finger Puppets

Puppets are a great way for kids to play, storytell, and communicate. Choose from many different animals to tuck in your shoebox! Suitable for ages 1+, finger puppets are a compact but meaningful addition to your shoebox.

Personal care item: Ethique Shampoo Bar

The Oaty Delicious Ethique Shampoo Bar lasts up to six times longer than bottled shampoo. This bar is gentle on kids and can be used for hair and body. Though the bar won’t last for years, sending a shampoo bar is a gift that can support a child at any age.

Whether it’s on a local or global scale, it’s useful to think about who and HOW you are helping. Here are a few pointers for giving throughout the year to help make the most meaningful and lasting impact:

  • Find nonprofits in your local area in addition to global organizations—they could probably use your help even more than larger groups.

  • Stay engaged in conversations in your community. Follow up on things that you feel passionate about.

  • As always, if you’re not sure how to be most helpful, just ask!

ImpactLinnea Hanson