Christmas is a wonderful time of year. A time when people are in the full spirit of giving (and a bit of receiving too). Personally, I love to give to others. When we do start to make more of an income, giving large amounts is high on the list of things to do. Last year, we did the Christmas shoe box collected by Samaritan’s Purse and delivered all over the world to developing nations. The idea comes from a good place, but what to pack in these boxes that go all over the world? That is a challenge. Here I will give you 5 ideas of what to pack in shoe boxes and 5 items to not pack. I hope this gives you a bit of inspiration that you may need this giving season.
Items to give
Giving a gift is a big task, right? We want the receiver to love what they received and be able to use it for years to come (or close anyway). Be sure that the items that you give are durable and will stand the heavy playing of the aged child that you pick.
2. Practical toys
Trendy toys are great, for kids that know what they are. Try to look at the toy with fresh eyes and see the toy from a child’s perspective, especially a child from another country. Does the item look scary? Does the item look comforting? Is the item appropriate for many different nations? Also, does the item talk? That may not be very good in the case of a non-english speaking child. Furthermore, English written words may be confusing so try getting toys without lettering.
3. Practical sets
If you are giving any item in a shoe box this year, think to yourself if that particular item needs another item in order to function. This may be true for a pack of colored pencils which need a sharpener, a ball which needs a pump, or a pack of crayons which needs a coloring book. Don’t assume that the recipient will have any of these items.
4. Handmade items
I love a good handmade gift. If you are a crafty person with talent, don’t be ashamed to make gifts to send to little children. Be sure that they are appropriate for kids all over the world. A knitted doll may be nice, but a handmade superman cape may leave them confused.
5. Everyday items
The idea that some kids in the US may not want school supplies for Christmas shouldn’t hold you back from giving them in shoe boxes. Remember that many children’s parents cannot afford to send them to school or maybe cannot afford supplies. Matter of fact, in 2003 “113 million children worldwide were not enrolled in school” (International Monetary Fund ). School supplies may be a luxury item for these children. Just be sure that they have practical items (mechanical pencils are out with this one) and any item that they may need in conjunction with that.
Items to not give
Anything that requires batteries
For one, this is just not a good idea as they are a hazardous material. For two, if they need batteries to operate the toy, then they will be so sad when the batteries die. Don’t send more batteries, just pick a different toy.
2. Cheap junk
If you are going to fill up the box with dollar store toys, you are probably just doing more harm than good. I am not trying to be hard or saying that your heart isn’t in the right place, but what happens when that junk toy breaks in a day? You may have a very sad kid. Instead, pick one or two quality items. More is not always better.
3. Food items
There are many reasons why this is a bad idea. Just trust me. Don’t do it.
Let me add that books with writing on them can be tricky. In a lot of these countries that the boxes are shipped to, the children do not speak English. Best avoid books with writing all together. If you want to send a book, send a picture book or a coloring book.
5. Character items
It is tough to imagine not knowing what Disney’s Frozen is, right? Well, in a lot of places, they don’t even have electricity. Instead of sending off a character laden shirt or toy, think about how the recipient may see this item. Instead, go for a more neutral toy or clothing item. Items can still be perfectly lovely without the branding.
All in all, it is best to just take time to really consider who may receive your gift. I know that this may be difficult to imagine someone we will never meet, but give it a go. Really consider if you are giving a good gift or if you are just filling a box. I am not saying that your heart is not in the right place if you are filling a box and sending it across the world. Instead, think of the #lessismore concept and buy one or two really awesome gifts.
Sometimes I feel like we get consumed in our own emotions about items or about gifts. This is the time of year to really consider others outside of ourselves. This is what purposeful gift -giving is all about, isn’t it?
How about you? Do you love to give? How do you like to give this time of year?