What to put in a Christmas Shoe Box for 11-14 Year Old Kid?

I love Operation Christmas Child because I get to fill up a shoe box with presents for a needy kid and then OCC will deliver the present to them. OCC receives the least amount of presents for the 11-14 year olds, so I’ve created a list of things that they might like. If you are a backpacker, use your packing skills to asses for the lightest/most compact version of an item, like a paperback notebook versus a hardback notebook, when filling up a shoe box.

Presents for 11-14 year old kids:


  • Stuffed aminals
  • Legos
  • Magna Tiles
  • Marbles
  • balsa wood airplanes
  • balloons
  • slinkies
  • mini chess/checkers set
  • Frisbee
  • bouncy ball and jacks
  • soccer ball (deflated) and include a hand pump with a needle
  • Glow in the Dark Stars
  • Glow sticks
  • face paint sticks (do not send liquid face paint)
  • stickers
  • playing cards
  • Look up “Altoid tin crafts” for ideas for compact toy/art kits.


  • reusable menstrual pads (in a ziplock for easy soaking/cleaning)
  • headbands/necklaces/bracelets/hair clips
  • face cloth (can double as a towel)
  • bar soap (put this in a ziplock so the rest of the shoe box doesn’t smell like soap and it’s a good carrying device)
  • bar shampoo (also in a ziplock)
  • toothbrush and holder
  • brush/comb
  • stick deodorant
  • hair elastics for boys and girls
  • nail cutters
  • compact mirrors (these are breakable but they are allowed because if they shatter the glass will be contained within the case)
  • nonbreakable mirrors/signal mirrors


  • shoes: flip flops or The Shoe That Grows five sizes, lasts five years and costs $15 a pair!
  • dress (a lot of women/girls don’t have access to clothes, so a dress could help protect them from rape)
  • underwear to go with the reusable menstrual pads
  • adjustable bra (xPanda)
  • brightly colored bandana (good for signalling help)
  • socks
  • boxers
  • drawstring pants
  • drawstring shorts
  • long sleeve
  • tshirt
  • emergency “space blanket” that is the shape of a poncho (that doubles as a blanket and as a rain poncho)

Life Skills:

  • Sewing Kit: scissors, needles, pins, quality thread, velcro, snaps, hooks, zippers, cord, thumb pin cushion, and elastic
  • Fishing Kit: scissors, fishing line, lures, bobbers, lead sinkers, hooks in a tic tac container
  • Art Supplies: dry watercolors, pallet, brushes, water brushes, exercise wrist band for cleaning off the brushes, watercolor paper, colored pencils, pencil sharpener, drawing paper, glue stick, scotch tape, pastels, crayons, markers, origami paper, fabric, needle, thread, pom poms, sew-on googly eyes, sequins, beads, string/elastic for beading, hooks and clasps and a cloth tote for the art supplies.
  • School Supplies: pencil, pencil sharpener, pens, paper, highlighter, solar powered calculator, and a tote bag or a pencil holder for the supplies.
  • Musical Instruments: flute, harmonica, thumb piano, hacky sac, ocarina, bongo, and drum sticks


  • whistle (good for calling for help)
  • Gallon sized ziplocks (good for carrying water)
  • Watch (for getting to school on time. Solar powered or provide extra batteries with a mini screwdriver.)
  • Hand crank and solar powered flashlight/radio/usb charger (and the usb cable, which may or may not be of use)
  • Utensils and utensil pouch (knives are not allowed)
  • Collapsible mug or a metal mug for cooking/drinking
  • note/photo of you saying that you thinking about the child and that you care about them
Time to Start Packing!

Will all of these things fit in one box? Nope. The fun part is personalizing each box. I like to always include some hygiene and school supplies and then maybe focus on one other area like art supplies. Go with your heart and pack what you think is important.

National Collection Week for OCC shoe boxes is November 13-20, 2017. Go to the Operation Christmas Child’s website to find a drop-off location near you.

How does the 10 Essentials for Wilderness Survival apply to packing a Christmas shoe box? Read more about that here.

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