Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes: What I LOVE to Pack For Big Boys


Years ago, my son received some sort of a Christmas shoebox gift in Ukraine. We do not know if it was from Samaritan’s Purse as there are other groups who do this sort of thing all over the world.  Anyway, that is why I love doing shoeboxes. That and the fact that it is one-on-one help to a child.


This box (above) has a backpack, small water bottle, pencil bag with full school supplies, notebook, coloring book, soap (not shown) in soapbox, wallet, watch, backpack “sushi” stuffie that clips on, ball, Hot Wheels (not shown), shorts, shirt, underwear, big washcloth, and more.

If you’ve read my shoebox posts in the past, you know that Toddler and Big Kid boxes are the ones most in need. Often I hear people wonder what to send big boys like it is a huge mystery! Since I raised a guy who loves to draw and loves art (and he loves the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts, too!) Keeping in mind that a soccer ball isn’t the be-all-end-all for every boy or girl on the planet, (though I send many because they are fun!) here are some of my favorite things to send:

Tool Box: One popular idea in the shoebox community is to collect all the Harbor Freight freebies and start a toolbox for a boy. Add in a calculator, geometry set, work gloves, assortment of nails/screws/etc, nail apron and school supplies. You can even pack it in a Dollar Tree plastic toolbox if you like–they are accepted! I include a  “vice-grip” style wrench, too. I understand Menard’s does freebies like this too. While I OPPOSE sending kitchen stuff to girls, I agree with sending boys tools–both as boys’ “craft kits” or as a help in starting a career or because guys need stuff like this.

[I disagree with kitchen stuff because girls are forced into marriage too often–they don’t need to be ready to set up housekeeping to help their parents make that decision. Plus girls are already doing the cooking, cleaning, and childcare. Too many don’t get to “play house” or dream of a romantic life with a man they love in most cultures.]

Scientific Calculator and Geometry Set: I started sending these this year to 4 boys and 4 girls and will expand each year until every big kid box gets them. I want to see girls educated to reach their potential, but it is much more likely for a boy to be sent on to secondary school. Having the right tools lets him go farther. We all hope that a better-  educated man is a more generous and decent man to his future wife and children. [Sorry, I do not have a photo of a boy box with these included.]

Art supplies: Watercolors, colored pencils, notebook or sketch pad, geometry set, grown-up coloring books, how-to-draw books.

Sudoku books. The diagrams show how to play–no English needed.

Wallets and credit card-sized inspirational “cards”–such as The Lord’s Prayer or non-religious, but uplifting sentiments.

High-quality travel games with picture directions. Dominoes, checkers, chess, etc. This year I found very nice quality domino sets in a vinyl storage case at my independent dollar store. Mini Etch-e-sketch is good, too as are regular old decks of cards (I do not send “Casino” branded ones).

Big, heavy washcloth. Those cheap packs you buy everywhere do not clean real dirt from hard, physical labor. Also, in many African countries, young men may go away to work and live in a laborer’s hostel. They need things that last. I watch clearance at TJ Maxx, Marshall’s and others for these.

Underwear. I put underwear in every box. It is about dignity.

Flip flops or “slides” or sneakers. Under men’s size 8.

High-quality water bottles. Skip the ones at Dollar Tree. [Dollar Tree has lots of EXCELLENT products, too, but the water bottles are poor quality].

Envelopes: I put one or two envelopes in the notebook. Some places you still write an actual letter to apply for a job.  Paper of all types can be very expensive.

Soccer Ball and pump and extra needle. I look for the ones that have a small hose-like attachment for the pump that can then do bike tires, too. That alone can make a few cents here and there for the boy in rural areas, especially.

Shorts and Shirt or Light Jacket.  Keep to boys sizes or, at most, a man’s small. Puberty tends to hit around 14 in less-developed nations.


Mini Skateboards: These keep my son occupied for hours! Dollar Tree has them, but I skip those with skulls as decorations. You can change the wheels and some have stickers to use in “customizing” them.

Sports Trading Cards Especially for soccer, but any sport is fun.

Hot Wheels or Matchbox cars Always popular.


Backpack: Either very lightweight, folding/travel type or a “sting” backpack–all are useful.

Watch: A decent kids watch. Something durable but that looks grown-up.


Small stuffie: A found a lot of Shopkins-like tacos this year (see the photo at the top of the post). I sent a few of those in big boy boxes. Things like that can be fun and not as embarrassing as a Teddy might be. Some small stuffies start life as Christmas tree ornaments. I clip off the “hanger”. “Yukon Cornelius” from the Rudolph t.v. special was a fun choice for one box (see below) and a Bengal’s football stuffie made a nice addition to a themed box (below).

Don’t be afraid to add things YOUR son or grandson likes–yes, they like stuff other than video games! Do a box like the one above for a favorite team–I put a photo of the team on the inside of the lid and told in my note that it was a local team.


4 thoughts on “Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes: What I LOVE to Pack For Big Boys

  1. I always get good ideas reading your posts. I would not have thought of envelopes, and the mini skateboards are fun! I admit I’ve shied away from older boy boxes because of being unsure what to include. Thanks for some great ideas.


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