100 Shoebox Ideas for Girls: OCC Gifts

Collection Week for Operation Christmas Child is coming up soon (November 12-19), but there is still plenty of time to pack a box! Since we know it’s sometimes difficult to come up with ideas, Amy and I have come up with big ol’ lists to get you going. I’m sharing 100 shoebox ideas for a girl and Amy is sharing 100 shoebox ideas for a boy!

OCC Shoebox Items for a Girl

100 Operation Christmas Child Gift Ideas for a Girl.

Keep in mind that with many of these items, even the more practical ones, you can get as creative as you’d like. You could decorate a store-bought gift, like ordinary flip-flops. Or you could make some of the items yourself, like a doll or an apron, for instance. Just don’t get stressed about what to put in your boxes; pack with love, and know that this shoebox will be huge blessing for a child who may have never even received a gift!

A few tips to keep in mind:

  • It’s okay to take things out of the packages they came in. This makes room for more gifts in the box, and it’s more economical because you can split items up between boxes, or team up with friends who are also packing boxes.
  • It doesn’t matter if you choose cardboard boxes or plastic storage boxes. Any shoebox will do.
  • Please don’t send liquids of any kind, as they could leak. Also, no war-related items (weapons, soldier toys, etc), expired food/candy, or fragile items.
  • Keep ages in mind when packing your boxes, especially in regards to safety for the littlest ones!

One more important tip, added thanks to Becky’s input in the comments on this post!

  • Please double-check the “Don’t Send” list for your own country, as customs regulations vary. The items I’ve listed should all be ok to send from the U.S., but not necessarily from all other countries. (For instance, toothpaste is NOT okay to send from Canada.)

School and Craft Supplies:

1. pencils
2. pens
3. crayons
4. colored pencils
5. pencil sharpener
6. notebooks or journals
7. picture books, even for older girls
8. glue sticks
9. scissors
10. highlighters or markers
11. chalk
12. coloring books
13. Duct tape (in a pretty pattern!)
14. sticky notes
15. stickers
16. stamps and ink pads
17. scotch tape
18. pencil case
19. glitter
20. sewing kit
21. fabric quarters
22. watercolor paint sets
23. pom poms
24. stick-on rhinestone jewels
25. mini craft kits
26. masks to decorate

Toiletries and Hair Pretties:

27. travel-size tissue packs
28. nice-smelling soap
29. colorful washcloths
30. manicure set (no nail polish)
31. toothbrush
32. toothpaste
33. hair bows or barrettes
34. comb/brush
35. solid deodorant
36. lip balm/gloss
37. pretty headbands
38. hair ribbons
39. band-aids
40. safety pins


41. stuffed animals
42. yo-yo
43. jacks
44. matchbox cars (girls like them too!)
45. boxed puzzle
46. card games (like UNO)
47. play-doh (make sure it’s sealed well so it doesn’t dry out)
48. jump rope
49. marbles
50. finger puppets
51. doll
52. bouncy ball (or tennis ball)
53. kaleidoscope
54. princess wand
55. wooden Jacob’s ladder toy
56. accordian-style folding fan
57. non-breakable tea set
58. toy animal figures
59. travel-size games (like checkers)
60. balloons (update: looks like the 2014 brochure says not to include balloons)
61. spinning top
62. mini etch-a-sketch
63. silly putty
64. slinky
65. sponge pills that expand when put in water
66. kids’ meal toys


67. harmonica
68. small tambourine
69. wooden whistle
70. kazoo
71. maracas
72. bells
73. music box
74. wind chimes


75. gloves
76. flip-flops
77. fun socks
78. colorful plastic bead necklaces
79. fold-able sunhat
80. sunglasses
81. apron
82. pillowcase dress
83. scarf
84. drawstring backpack
85. friendship bracelets (and extra string to make more)
86. wrist watch
87. ballet slippers
88. bandana
89. t-shirt
90. purse
91. tiara
92. clip-on earrings


93. lollipops
94. bubble gum
95. hard candy
96. collapsible water bottle
97. curly straw
98. small reusable containers
99. plastic cup

One more very special item:

100. personal note written on pretty paper, and a photo of your family!

OCC blogger
As a member of iHomeschool Network’s Samaritan’s Purse Blogger Team, I write about the ministry on a volunteer basis. All posts are my own thoughts and do not necessarily reflect the views of Samaritan’s Purse. I am not an employee, agent, or contractor of Samaritan’s Purse.


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  1. Becky says

    I don’t know about the US, but in Canada, we’re not allowed to send any toothpaste or lip balm or soft candy(even gum) because of customs regulations. You might want to double check that.

    • says

      I had not checked the OCC Canada page until I read your comment, but you are correct. However, in the U.S, toothpaste is specifically suggested. It would be a good idea, as you said, to double check as far as customs regulations for your specific country. Thanks for pointing that out, Becky.

      • Karen Junior says

        At a recent OCCC meeting tey told us to no longer send toothpaste. The kids simply don’t know what to do with it. They have tried to show them but it smells so wonderful they want to eat it! Also, a reusable plastic bowl is sooo important! I have been to makeshift homes in Haitian refugee camps in 2012 and many families of 5 or 6 had one plate and one bowl. Thank you for your list! awesome

        • says

          Hi Karen Junior – Toothpaste from the US is still allowed to be sent. There was some confusion at first because it was no longer listed in the “send” part of the brochure. However OCC does still state (often on their fb page, and I have called them as well) that you are allowed to send toothpaste – however you MUST make sure that the expiration dates are FAR into the future (so if collection week is Nov 2014, the toothpaste should be good at least through spring of the following year).

  2. Kayleen Hilyer says

    I prefer to use the plastic shoeboxes. That way if their box were to get wet after they receive their presents, it wouldn’t get ruined and they would always have it to sore their treasures in or carry water, etc.

  3. chyltown says

    It was recommended to us that when sending soap, send Ivory soap because it will float when dropped in the river and they can find it whereas other brands tend to sink and then their soap is gone.

    • Angela Vance says

      Double zippie bag the soap AND also double bag any candy because the smell of the soap contaminates the candy

      • Mary Kate says

        This is not to be criticism only advice. I triple freezer or storage ziploc baggies my ivory soap. Same for the hardtack candies. On my first packing I only double packed and 1 shoebox was left behind. Only after one week the candies were opened and were contaminated by the soap smell. I just read the other day that 2 containers, that I imagine were thousands of shoeboxes were still held up at customs in 1 country and not released after 9 months! If you choose not to just don’t pack candies. I go so far as to put the triple packaged soaps into the large plastic drinking cups or zippered little makeup bags that I put nail clippers, nail files, tweezers… in. Walmart has their brand “Great Value”perfect portion sized ziploc bags. Snack sized ziplocs are nice to put things in too.I have found plastic travel soap containers reduced, (new ones)at resale stores, garage sales…I buy better washcloths on sale for $1 because some have to share with many orphans. You get what you pay for. If you spend $1 for a toy why not spend $1 for a better quality washcloth? I have found $5 ones on sale-what a wonderful feeling! I iron on appliques on each, sew a strip of ribbon on some or lace. Because sometimes I have a bunch the same color and if they go to the same orphanage…Also look so cute with little animal,smiley faces,soccer balls appliques on them. Scented soaps can contaminate other boxes as they sit in heat sometimes for months. Hope this has helped! :)

  4. anon says

    in the US you can’t add “nice smelling” soap because it smells up the box when it sits in the heat. we’re supposed to use mild regular bar soap double bagged :)

    • Lori says

      I always buy Ivory because it is a good, inexpensive, pure soap. It is very strong smelling and I always leave it in its packaging and double bag it. I also double bag candy and try to put it on the other side of the box from the soap.

  5. says

    Your suggestions list is fantastic and I hope you don’t mind that I posted a link to your site, rather than reivent the wheel. Isn’t it great to participate in something bigger than ourselves?

  6. Marilee says

    If you send a plastic box, it takes up more room in the shipping containers, hence, fewer boxes fit. I have heard that Samaritan’s Purse prefers that you send a regular shoe box. I like the idea of sending a plastic box because it is waterproof and can be reused, but I don’t want to create problems for Samaritan’s Purse. I have used plastic boxes in the past, but was told the above, so I am now sending the shoeboxes that they make. They cost 21 cents to make, so I will give them a donation for the boxes. They don’t require this, but since I can afford it, I will pay for the ones that I use. Thank you for posting the item suggestions.

    • Kimberly Jackson says

      My church is a Relay Center for the Shoebox. I am the Relay Coordinator. Our job is to put shoeboxes into shipping crates and send them on to one of the main Collection Centers. Samaritan’s Purse does not require you to just do Regular Shoe Boxes. I have always done plastic containers and We recommend it to others. The only thing they have suggested to use is use a standard ladies size shoebox or make sure your container is the same size as a standard ladies size shoebox. You can get the same amount of each in a shipping crate. Its when people use different size shoeboxes or containers that makes it shipping crate have less shoeboxes. Some people send kids size, boot size or men size shoeboxes and they are not what is recommended. Also when using containers make sure you do not use Sterilite brand containers. The plastic can not withstand and will explode in the cargo areas of the planes and ships. The plastic containers is good to use. They can use them to store things in and families use it to get water from the rivers and to hold the water. Either way you choose cardboard or containers that box will still touch so many lives. Thank you for your committee to the wonderful ministry.

      • Marilee says

        OH, NO! After reading your reply, I went to look and see what kind of plastic containers I bought and they are STERILITE! Do ALL of the Sterilite boxes explode or does it happen only sometimes? Thank you so much for your reply. It’s nice to hear from someone who is actually involved hands-on.

        • Debbie G says

          I have read many suggestions about what to pack in, if you choose to pack in a plastic box just be sure it is a sturdy one! I bought cheap ones last year and then reading that the cheap ones get cracked and broken I opted for a sturdier one which I found on sale for around $4 at Michaels. I know it adds to the expense of the boxes but I really like the idea of sending a plastic box! I can picture that child using it for so many purposes! Oh and the boxes I found had neat designs on them!

        • Keller says

          Is it all sterlite boxes or just the cheap ones with the thin white lids ? Cuz i googled it and there are so many different styles of sterlite ! Mine are sterlite but they are 2 dollars a Piece and have a latching lid.

      • Judy says

        I heard of a lady on a mission trip in Guatamala. She saw a boy carrying an empty plastic shoebox. When asked about it, the lady was told he’d gotten it in Operation Christmas Child. The boy said the family used it to carry water in because they didn’t have anything else big enough.

      • Angela Vance says

        I never knew that about steriliite boxes! I admit I buy the cheap ones… the last few years though I have bought the nice cardboard photo boxes from Michael’s when on sale. I do wrap them but where the tape won’t tear the outside. I include a note to unwrap it for an extra gift.

      • April says

        Do you know what size plastic boxes are better to send? I saw some at Target with a locking lid where one size was 6 quarts, and I believe the other was 16 quarts(looked kind of big…) . I guess it should be somewhere in the middle of those sizes? This is my second year doing the boxes so I was wondering because I’m kind of new… Thanks for the help!!

        • says

          It’s theoretically the approximate size of a regular ol’ shoebox, but you can go a bit bigger than that. Not sure how many quarts that equates to, though.

  7. Lila says

    If you write a letter to the child you are sending the shoebox to, can it be in english or does it have to be in a different language?!

    • says

      They do have translators for children who are sponsored through other programs so my understanding is they would find someone to translate. The times we’ve written letters, we’ve tried to keep it short and send a photo so even if there’s a language barrier, it’s not as big a deal.

  8. Sue Bange says

    I was thinking to find a USA map or inflatable globe and put an X on where I live. This well also help them learn how far away we are from them, any thoughts on this

    • Christine Cranmore says

      OCC has a form letter you can fill out. It has a map on it, and you color in your country and state, and i put an X on it, because our state is big. It gives you a place to attach a picture, and write about you, or your family. It is a couple of pages — I just use the first page. I hand draw a picture of myself. It’s better than nothing….. and you can put your email or address. Sometimes contributors get mail back. At first, I only sent one boy box, and one girl, now I shop a bit each month, and then in November, I pack. I let others help, too. It is my favorite project each year! We send as many as we possibly can…..

      • says

        Sometimes I see them in stores like Target but you can also find them online, on Amazon or Oriental Trading Co and other sites.

  9. Lori says

    Put your name and address on your letter and you may get a letter back! My nephew received a letter from a boy in Burkina Faso and my daughter received a letter from a girl in India! That is so exciting!

    • says

      As far as I know, they are allowed. I’d be sure to do the wood or plastic kind, not metal. I suppose they aren’t listed specifically because they’d be included in “school supplies.”

      • Debbie says

        One thing to consider when including a ruler is the size. Most 12″ rulers don’t fit in the GO boxes so try to find 6″ or flexible ones.

  10. colleen smith says

    we, in our district, have been told for the last couple of years, we are not allowed to put in toothpaste any more. some went to a country about 3 yrs ago and the country refused the boxes, saying the toothpaste was past the due date. not sure if it was or not or was it a ploy to just keep the boxes out of childrens hands.

  11. Angela L. Boyscout says

    Where can I find a place, or who can i contact to get shoe box gifts? its hard to get items for my village…everything is expensive and hard to get fundings to help families that have no jobs, and some families cannot afford to provide gifts for their children due to extreme cold weather in winter.

  12. Lois says

    I get my plastic shoeboxes at The Container Store. They are supposed to be better quality. I buy the carton of 20 for the discount price.

  13. Heather says

    Im new to this and will be doing it this year! Is there a certain amout of items you try to put into the box before sending?

  14. Jennifer says

    Do the boxes have to be able to be opened before the children get them? I tried to pack as much as I can in each box. They would have more support if wrapped and/or have ribbon around the sides and ends.

  15. Bethany says

    Hey! Thanks so much for this list! I’m packing one for a 5-9 girl this year and it’s so much fun. The 2014 brochure from OCC is saying no balloons, so I thought that might be helpful to note in case anyone else comes across this on Pinterest just like I did! Again, thanks for the great ideas!

  16. Amy says

    The website says not to include anything that could melt or freeze, so I have never included crayons…we send pencil crayons and a sharpener instead. And the website specifically says NO toothpaste due to customs regulations. In Canada you can’t even bring toothpaste on a domestic flight these days. Here is a link to the list on their website: http://www.samaritanspurse.ca/rss/operation-christmas-child/get-involved/operation-christmas-child-packing-your-shoe-boxes.aspx

    • Beth says

      About crayons melting, I am not sure they melt like they used to when I was a kid. We go through lots of crayons with my kids at home here, and one time, I tried to melt broken bits to make rainbow type crayons. I heated and heated, then microwaved and NOTHING melted except faintly on the edges. I have no idea what they are made of. I always thought they were wax.

  17. Sonya says

    For the past few years we have made a box or two for OCC and for another organization for orphans. A few months ago, my granddaughter was listening to the musical Annie in the car with her dad. When the part comes up that no one cares about orphans my sweetpea yelled out “My Nana cares about orphans!” That has become a special project for me. Now this year I asked her to help me pick out the special gifts for the shoe boxes. She is very excited and we will have to share by facetime to wrap and pray over the boxes this year. Because this nana loves the orphans.

  18. Marietta says

    Thank you so much for posting this list! I have been participating for the past four years with a friend. Sort of running out of time, so this helps!

  19. Violet says

    I have some questions :) (I`m from Eastern Europe and the gifts go to children from this country)
    1) I have a bunch of “Sabrina`s secrets” Magazines (about 20 issues) and I was thinking to add them to one of the boxes this year besides the hygene products, candies, toys and school supplies. Is it appropriate to add them to the box? (the make-up that came with the magazine was expired and had to be thrown away)
    2) I have one of those big doll heads with long untangled hair that you can style, almost new and in the box. Does it have to be a shoebox, or could any other kind of box be used? I know it sounds stupid since the program is called “shoebox”, but taking the toy out of the box could ruin it.

  20. Corina Gartman says

    I was wondering if you could send a hammer since nails were included in the 100 items a boy can have? Please let me know so I can bless a boy with a hammer and nails if I can.

    • says

      Tools are a wonderful idea, but I’m really not sure if I’d try sending a hammer because of weight and because they could be consider it a weapon? If I find out for sure one way or another, I’ll let you know.

  21. Gloria Kerry says

    My four-year-old niece has a birthday next week and I want to pack her present in an incredible way! Thank you for the ideas in this blog!


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