Looking for great places to donate Christmas presents? Many organizations host a toy drive to collect presents for children. Churches put up a Christmas Giving Tree and collect gift donations. Most grocery stores and restaurants have a box for gifts to the Marines’ Toys for Tots program. Samaritans Purse hosts Operation Christmas Child, a charitable giving event that ships shoebox gifts to domestic and foreign missions. So now you know where to give. But how about what to give? If you’re wondering about Christmas presents for a toy drive, Giving Tree, Toys for Tots or Operation Christmas Child shoebox gifts, here’s a list to help.
First, here’s what not to give. Avoid books with words: books are awesome gifts, but if your gift is going to an overseas mission, the children may not speak your language. Only give books if your Christmas presents will stay local or you find books in the language spoken. Picture books and emergent reader books make great Christmas presents. Don’t give liquid items that may spill or fragile items that may break. Don’t give toys with glass in them. Don’t give war games, toys guns, weapons (the children who receive your gift have often seen too much violence already). Don’t give perishable food items. Battery operated toys aren’t good gifts for a toy drive unless you add extra batteries in the correct size. Even then, toys with batteries have limited play value.
Give these Operation Christmas Child shoebox gifts to girls: comb and brush set, mirror, lip balm, personal care and hygiene items, toothbrush and toothpaste, wash cloth and towel. Girls always like hair toys, ribbons, pony tails, decorated hair combs and bobby pins and barrettes. Girls adore jewelry, rings, necklaces, bracelets and earrings. Toys for Tots recommends curling irons and flat irons as Christmas presents for teenage girls. Backpacks, purses, handbags and wallets are favorites too.
All kids would love portable sports equipment from the Giving Tree. Put a small ball or deflated soccer ball or playground ball (with portable air pump) in Operation Christmas Child shoebox gifts. Give a jump rope, Chinese jump rope ball and jacks or paddle ball. For Toys for Tots or Giving Tree gifts that don’t have to be packed, give a basketball, soccer ball, playground ball, baseball and glove, bat and ball, Nerf ball set, dart board, super soaker water shooter (this kind of gun is okay because it doesn’t resemble a real weapon). Give socks, slippers, shirt or hat (but don’t give all clothing).
Craft supplies make reasonably priced toy drive gifts for people on budgets. Donate markers, coloring books, activity books, crayons, pens, scissors, chalk, glue, tape, stapler and staples, pencils, notebook and drawing paper. Look for unique craft items like 10-color pens, sparkly or metallic crayons, neon or fluorescent markers, stamps and stamp pad, mini stampers, decoratively edged scissors and stickers. Play-Doh, modeling clay, craft sets, Crayola Model Magic, Moon Sand, Silly Putty, Wiki Stix make great Giving Tree gifts.
You can add a religious item to your shoebox gifts, but don’t fill the whole box with. Children want playthings at Christmas, not just Bibles, rosaries or crosses. Give stand-alone Christmas gifts to a toy drive. Buy toys that can be enjoyed without needing anything that the child may not have access to. Suggested Toys for Tots gifts include a Slinky, Etch a Sketch, puzzle, pocket-sized game, card games and LEGO building blocks set. Choose games that can be played alone and without adult supervision.
It’s okay to give dolls for a toy drive, but look for dolls that can be played with, not collectibles. Choose dolls with different skin tones and hair styles, not just the blond-haired, blue-eyed dolls. Look for dolls that are age-appropriate. Barbie dolls are acceptable, but Polly Pockets and Groovy Girls are more child-friendly. Boys would love toy vehicles, motorcycles, airplanes, boats, trains, trucks and cars like Matchbox and Hot Wheels