How to Host a Christmas Shoebox Event at Your Church

Hosting a Christmas Shoebox Event at your church can be a very merry event for your congregation. It opens the doors to reaching lives outside of your church. Here's how you can create your own Children’s Christmas Shoebox Collection for local children in need:

Host Your Own Christmas Shoebox Collection

1. Determine To Whom You Are Donating 

Contact local missions, schools, hospitals, community centers, or places that help low-income families in your area. Ask permission to do a shoebox collection of items for the children at Christmas time. 

Once you have found a non-profit or local organization willing to work with you, set up a time that works for them as a delivery date. Ideally, you will want to deliver sometime in December, close to the holidays! Find out any important details such as how many boys and girls they have. This way you can plan accordingly and have the proper number of gifts. We recommend that you always have a few extra just in case!

2. Tell Your Church

Announce the upcoming Children’s Christmas Shoebox Event to your church in early October. Set the collection dates for November and the delivery date in December. Ask church members to start donating shoeboxes and wrapping paper ahead of time and bring them to church in the month of October. Create a large box or barrel for people to drop off these donations. Then begin a month-long collection time in November, where church members can take a box to fill and return it to the church. 

3. Assemble Your Volunteers

Organize a group of volunteers willing to help with the collection, wrapping, and delivery of the shoeboxes. Provide an information center with pamphlets explaining what people can include in their boxes and what items are not allowed. Include instructions on labeling for a boy/girl as well as when the due date is. (The last Sunday of November is probably the ideal due date.) Ask donors NOT to wrap boxes.

Recommended Items To Include in Shoeboxes:

Toys, stuffed animals, small block sets, puzzles, toothbrushes, toothpaste, soaps, socks, hat, hair accessories, a small flashlight, a small compass, sunglasses, silicone bracelets, stickers, school supplies, fidgets, crafts, beach balls, bubbles, and more

Recommended Items NOT to Include in Shoeboxes:

Fire/weapon-related items, slime, gum, balloons, sharp items, fragile items, medicines, aerosol cans, cheap or easily broken toys, and food. 

4. Wrap It Up!

Next, remind the congregation of the upcoming due date for all shoeboxes to be in by. Once the due date has arrived, organize volunteers for a day of wrapping shoe boxes. The reason you don’t want prewrapped shoeboxes is so you can double-check that there aren’t any inappropriate items packed. Provide volunteers with your list of items not allowed and go through all boxes to make sure everything is in order. Wrap boxes and use sticker labels to clearly label for a girl or boy and “Merry Christmas”! 

5. Iron Out the Details

Reach out to the location where you will be donating Christmas gift shoeboxes to finalize details. Decide on the date and time. Determine with the organization whether volunteers will be allowed to hand deliver to the children. You can ask if there will be a gift opening event in a large event space or if the presents will be delivered to individual rooms, etc. 

It's important to follow the organization's guidelines and procedures accordingly. Be sure to respect their decision and remember that this service is for them! 

6. Deliver the Gifts

Once the delivery day arrives, organize volunteers to transport boxes to your donation location. If allowed, have fun with it and go all out with cookies, caroling, and more as you deliver these packages! If the organization will not allow you to have direct contact with the kids, drop boxes off as instructed. 

7. Follow Up & Report Back

Follow up with the organization a few weeks later to ask for their feedback and inquire about the possibility of being invited back. Ask if there are any changes they would recommend for the future, such as how things are donated, packed, delivered, etc. 

Report back to the church with how the donation went. Include a slideshow with any pictures you may have. Thank your congregation for getting involved in this Children’s Christmas Shoebox Collection!

Celebrate the Gift of Jesus

The best part about a Children’s Christmas Shoebox Collection is that your church gets the opportunity to help those who are less fortunate. During Christmas time, we celebrate the gift of Jesus. We also traditionally celebrate by giving gifts to one another. The Shoe Box Collection is a beautiful way to give gifts to children who might otherwise not receive a Christmas present that year. 

This outreach is also a unique opportunity to involve the children in your kids' ministry. They can sign up to purchase items for a shoe box with their parents, help with box wrapping, or even help hand deliver boxes to children in need. The more involved kids are in the project, the better chance they will have to experience the joy of giving!

Partner with an Established Non-Profit

There are also several established non-profits whom you can partner with. These organizations do the heavy lifting of organizing and finding people to bless while you and your church can focus on the fun parts: Christmas shopping and giving gifts. 

Operation Christmas Child

Samaritan’s Purse offers a project called Operation Christmas Child that allows families the opportunity to gather items for children in their local community and present them as gifts to children who may not get any Christmas gifts otherwise during the holiday season. 

If you choose to go with Operation Christmas Child, you can order free materials on their website. They also have helpful step-by-step instructions for church members to follow when packing shoe boxes. Your congregation will even have the ability to track their packages

If you would like to provide boxes for your congregation to use, you can order them or save used shoe boxes! National collection dates are the week of November 13-20, 2023. 

Additional Christmas Donation Programs

Other non-profit organizations have other opportunities for churches. Be sure to check out Prison Fellowship Angel Tree, Salvation Angel Tree, and Toys for Tots

Slow Down to Remember the Reason for the Season

The Christmas Season is a wonderful time to slow down, remember the gift of Jesus, and love others the way Jesus does. As you prepare for this season, check out our new children’s Christmas curriculum called Lights of Christmas- Hope Shines Bright. It explores how Jesus brightens our world with peace, joy, and love which we can share with the entire world! 

We have the chance to invite kids into service projects, missions, donating, and other ways of helping the community around them. It’s a beautiful thing to see the hands and feet of Jesus being lived out by the children in our church. As we encourage these acts of service, like a Children’s Christmas Shoebox Event, we are giving students an opportunity to truly live out their faith.  

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Children's Ministry Curriculum