18 small gift ideas to send in your Christmas card

September 12, 2012 at 8:00 am 50 comments

By Veronica Batton, CFCA writer/editorVeronica Batton

Around the holiday season, a lot of sponsors call and ask what they can send to their friend for Christmas.

Sending small items that fit in a regular envelope are the best gifts to send to your sponsored friend.

Packages must be no larger than 9 x 12 inches, weigh less than a pound and be under an inch thick. Larger packages result in high customs fees and run the risk of theft.

What can fit in an envelope that small, you ask?

Well, a lot! Here are 18 small but awesome gift ideas for your sponsored friend!

1. Make a friendship bracelet. My niece makes friendship bracelets out of embroidery floss, which you can get at any fabric store and usually cost less than a dollar. (Check out the D.I.Y. tutorial!)

Friendship bracelet

My nieces Hanna, left; Emerson, middle; and me (Veronica). Hanna made these great friendship bracelets for Emerson and me!

2. Include a bookmark in your Christmas card.

3. Send a photo of yourself. When I visited a sponsored child’s home in India on a mission awareness trip, I noticed the family hung the sponsor’s photos all around the home. Sponsored friends love to receive photos from their sponsors!

4. Stationery. Who doesn’t like fancy paper?

5. Baseball cards. Do you and your friend bond over baseball? Send a card of your favorite player or team.

6. Paper dolls are a great idea for any young child. I loved playing with paper dolls when I was a child and I found a great website with templates for dolls, clothes and accessories. Simply cut, color and send!

7. Send your friend some stickers.

8. Postcards from your state or places you have visited.

9. Make a paper frame out of cardstock or heavy paper. Don’t forget to include your photo!

10. Finger puppets: When my nephew was born, I made him a set of finger puppets out of felt. I cut out animal shapes and sewed them together. You can also use fabric glue or a hot-glue gun, just don’t forget to leave a spot open for those little fingers!

Anderson and his finger puppet

My nephew, Anderson, with the bat finger puppet I made for him.

11. Try painting a picture or sketching something for your friend.

12. Silly bands are tiny rubber band bracelets in different shapes. Kids love them, and you can usually get a package for just a few dollars.

13. Send miniature party favors such as a pinball maze or other flat games.

14. Miniature memory games are great for little kids. You can even make your own with cardstock or heavy paper.

15. Miniature coloring book (no crayons please — they often melt).

16. For older students try school supplies they might not be able to access. For example, when I was in college I used post-it page flags all the time! You can also send fancy folders, post-it notes or index cards. (Just make sure your envelope is less than an inch thick.)

17. Send your friend a pocket-sized journal with a pretty cover. (I found one for a friend of mine at World Market for only $3.)

18. Wooly Willy mini games are great to send to your friend. Wooly Willy is a toy that uses a magnetic wand to draw hair, a beard and eyebrows onto a cartoon face.

Wooly Willy

Wooly Willy has a “magnetic personality.”

Any ideas spark your interest? If you decide to send your friend an item from the list, post a comment and let us know what you think! Happy Christmas!

Related links

Entry filed under: Around the World with CFCA, Ask Sponsor Services, cfca, child, christian foundation for children and aging. Tags: , , , , .

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50 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Rosanna  |  September 12, 2012 at 8:45 am

    Great ideas for children. I sponsor elderly persons and would like some ideas on what to send them with my cards and letters. Thanks to any one who can help.

    Reply
    • 2. Rose Hutchinson  |  September 12, 2012 at 4:09 pm

      one aged woman loved her silk scarf and hair bands

      Reply
      • 3. Jean Daeges  |  September 13, 2012 at 10:33 am

        Rose, Thank you for the suggestions. My husband and I are now sponsoring an elderly woman after sponsoring youths.

        Reply
      • 4. Veronica  |  September 13, 2012 at 12:05 pm

        Thanks for your idea, Rose! I love the idea of sending your friend a nice scarf; it’s so useful! – Veronica

        Reply
    • 5. Veronica  |  September 13, 2012 at 12:04 pm

      Thanks for your comment, Rosanna! I love the ideas that Rose and Cheri have suggested. Another item that might be useful to an aging friend is a credit card-size magnifier. Sometimes they even have magnifiers that come with an LED light. Pocket-size calendars are a good idea too. Good luck! – Veronica

      Reply
      • 6. Cheri  |  September 13, 2012 at 2:44 pm

        Credit card size magnifier is an excellent idea!

        Reply
    • 7. Lenore DeMarco  |  September 19, 2012 at 11:29 am

      I sent a map to our little guy in El Salvador. I drew an arrow to where he lives and to where we live. He had met our grandaughter so I marked her home as well. I got the nicest letter in return. He pinned it to the wall and he really loved getting it.

      Reply
  • 8. Cheri  |  September 12, 2012 at 2:08 pm

    Veronica you rock! So glad to meet you in January. And I see by your last name that you had a very successful wedding – I hope!
    As for other suggestions off the top of my head. For older children and for the aging you may want to send them Sudoko puzzles. They make books that have the instructions in english and spanish.
    You maybe able to send thread on a flat spool. I know in Africa they love to have sewing types of things. Will try to think of more later!

    Reply
    • 9. Veronica  |  September 13, 2012 at 12:06 pm

      No, Cheri, you rock! It was great to meet you on the mission awareness trip to India in January, and yes, I’ve been happily married now for nearly five months. :)

      I never thought of Sudoku puzzles or thread; what a great item to send to your sponsored aging friend!

      Thanks again, Cheri! – Veronica

      Reply
  • 10. Ted Dauphin  |  September 13, 2012 at 6:01 pm

    Well, I can suggest a few things that I have sent and the children have received. Prayer cards, rosaries, dental floss, special flavor toothpaste, toothbrushes, colored pencils, pens, calculators, stickers and decals, small coloring books, combs, brushes, hair ribbons and bands, fruit flavored gum, socks, colored markers….and most important many letters giving encouragement, love and prayers. Sponsors don’t forget to write the ones you are sponsoring they treasure your letters. God bless!

    Reply
    • 11. JUDY fINNEY  |  September 18, 2012 at 2:55 pm

      HOW WERE YOU AB;E TO GET ALL THOSE THINGS IN A 9X12 ENVELOPE.I DONT’IND PAYING THE FEES TO MAIL THINGS, BUT WILL THE CHILDREN GET THEM.
      PLEASE LET ME KNOW AS I WOULD LOVE TO MAIL ALL OF THESE THINGS.

      Reply
      • 12. Nelson  |  September 20, 2012 at 9:02 am

        Judy, the best thing to do to ensure delivery is keep the package within the guidelines. There are so many great ideas posted here. Maybe try sending no more than 1-2 small things at a time to keep the envelope thin and lightweight. Good luck!

        Reply
  • 13. Lynne Good  |  September 14, 2012 at 8:12 am

    For an elderly person: band aids, flat samples of any toiletries, alcohol wipes,
    translated news stories about their country,possibly with color photos from the internet, a thin pair of socks.

    Reply
  • 14. Kathy Mader  |  September 14, 2012 at 5:26 pm

    There are some great ideas, things I did not think of when my child was younger. Other things could be all occasion cards – I do some stamping of cards and send them or make stationery with something stamped on it. I like the idea of stories translated!

    Reply
  • 15. Jamie Jefferson  |  September 16, 2012 at 6:44 am

    Love these ideas, especially the personalized ideas, like photos or drawings. You can find inexpensive little journals and other items in the dollar section of Target, as well. World Market has some great finds, too, as you mention.

    Reply
  • 16. Pat Thompson  |  September 19, 2012 at 11:14 am

    I send my little ‘kids’ stickers–they seem to love them. Just got some that are the alphabet, which will be a bit more educational. I receive many wildlife calendars so send those-more for the animals represented than the calendar. harder to select for is the teenage girl I sponsor. Any ideas?

    Reply
  • 17. Beverly  |  September 19, 2012 at 1:24 pm

    Me too, our child is 17 now, running out of gift ideas to send her…sudoku, thanks, great idea, any others?

    Reply
    • 18. Veronica  |  September 20, 2012 at 9:36 am

      Thanks for your questions, Pat and Beverly! Here are some ideas for teenage girls: hair bands, pocket mirror, small make-up bag and stationery. You can never go wrong with a journal! Good luck!
      - Veronica

      Reply
  • 19. Jim and Elizabeth Moncher  |  September 19, 2012 at 2:41 pm

    I have also sent holiday decoration. We also have a college age girl and I also have pretty much run out of ideas. I do also send candy (not chocolate) tooties rolls, hard candy, etc. I also try to send a small token gift for her younger sister(high school) younger brother (grade school)

    Reply
    • 20. JUDY FiNNEY  |  September 19, 2012 at 5:46 pm

      How do you get those things in a 9×12 envelope that can only be 1″ thick?

      Reply
      • 21. Veronica  |  September 20, 2012 at 9:43 am

        Judy, thanks so much for your question! I would recommend mailing the items separately. That way your package won’t go outside the recommended guidelines. Good luck! – Veronica

        Reply
  • 22. Ruth  |  September 19, 2012 at 3:11 pm

    Pat, as one of my sponsored friends was becoming a teenager, I noticed from her photos that she had pierced ears, so sent inexpensive earrings or bracelets or a girly visor. A boy or girl might like a baseball cap.

    Reply
  • 23. Ruth  |  September 19, 2012 at 3:13 pm

    I now sponsor an elderly woman whose grandsons write letters for her. Does anyone ever send gifts for an elderly person’s children or grandchildren?

    Reply
    • 24. Veronica  |  September 20, 2012 at 9:36 am

      Thanks for your question, Ruth! You most certainly can send items to your sponsored aging friend’s grandson. Just make sure to specify that the item is for the grandson. Thanks! – Veronica

      Reply
  • 25. Lisa Marie  |  September 19, 2012 at 3:27 pm

    How can one be certain that items are being received? We have sent small coloring books and stickers but have not heard whether or not they were received. We get letters from our sponsored child’s mother — because the child is only 4yrs — and she sends pictures that our child has colored for us, but no mention of receiving items sent. I would like to continue to send more personal items, but I worry that they aren’t being received.

    Reply
    • 26. Kerry  |  September 19, 2012 at 4:47 pm

      I have the same concern as to whether the children actually receive the gifts. One one occasion I had indicated a gift was enclosed and a follow-up letter from him said he never received it. I do frequently get letters indicating the gifts have been received but not always. My sponsored children are teenagers now and I sent them a Spanish-American dictionery that they enjoyed. I have also sent bags, barrettes, t-shirts, and coloring pencils. I would reiterate that most of all they enjoy letters!

      Reply
    • 27. Veronica  |  September 20, 2012 at 9:43 am

      Thanks so much for your question, Lisa Marie. I know many other sponsors feel the same way. I suggest including a note with your letter that reads, “Please let me know if you received the coloring book and colored pencils I sent along with this letter.”

      I also suggest placing the item in a small Ziploc bag, and attach a label to the outside of the bag. The label should include your friend’s Child ID number and your CFCA ID number.

      Check out our post on Monday, Sept. 24, for more mailing tips! – Veronica

      Reply
  • 28. Cindy Clifton  |  September 19, 2012 at 5:25 pm

    My elderly person lives in Venezuela. I sent a Spanish prayer book – pocket size – but never heard if it was received either. Are laws in Venezuela more strict than in other countries? Shall I just forget sending her anything – just the birthday/Christmas extra contribution through the program?

    Reply
  • 29. CJ  |  September 19, 2012 at 8:37 pm

    We sponsor a college age boy. Would a college t-shirt be an acceptable gift?

    Reply
    • 30. Veronica  |  September 20, 2012 at 9:37 am

      A college T-shirt is a great idea! Thanks, CJ! – Veronica

      Reply
  • 31. June Leicht  |  September 19, 2012 at 8:51 pm

    We have sent various items through the years, such as; match box cars, small lotions and lip balm, emery boards, small artist kit with paints, kitchen towels, wash clothes, balloons, small packages of candy or gum, pencils and sharpeners, small books, playing cards or small travel games, tote bags that can fold up, we also pick up trinkets and post cards from our travels. We have sent rosaries and prayer books and cards as well. We have our eyes open all year long for birthdays and Christmas, so we don’t go in panic mode looking for stuff to send in November. It is so much fun when we spot something cool to send, we get six of the same thing sometimes because we sponsor four children and two aging. Some gifts are ageless.

    Reply
  • 32. Toni Guidice  |  September 19, 2012 at 11:26 pm

    My kids love pop-up cards. Barnes &
    Noble has beautiful ones each year. I’ve even slide a small candy cane in there. Flat chocolate bars work, too. Nothing says love like chocolate!

    Reply
    • 33. Veronica  |  September 20, 2012 at 9:42 am

      I wouldn’t recommend sending any type of edible item through the mail, especially candies and chocolates, because these can melt during delivery. Some of our projects are located in very warm, tropical areas and any liquid, gels or edible items will most likely be melted or unusable once they arrive to your child. Check out this post about the three best (and worst) gifts to send to your sponsored friend! Thanks again! – Veronica

      Reply
  • 34. Rebecca O'Keefe  |  October 15, 2012 at 9:14 am

    My family and I have been mailing packages to our kids in the Philippines for many years, so I thought I would comment on this. I purchase a 8.5 in x 11.25 in Scotch plastic bubble mailer envelope. It rains a lot in the Philippines, so I think the plastic is best. I have recently purchased a mail scale at my post office, but for many years I did not have a scale. I would purchase small items (candy, toys, pictures, letters, etc) and place them in the envelopes. (The best place to look for small gifts is the party section of a department store – lots of fun things there). I would go to the post office BEFORE I wanted to mail the packages and ask for several customs forms for the Philippines so I could fill them out at home. I would write a letter and put the CFCA sticker at the top and place it in the package. When I would take the packages back to the post office, I would leave them open and have the post office weigh each one, explaining that they cannot weigh more than 1 lb. If a package was over a lb, I would remove something until it was a lb. (go when the post office is not busy, it takes a little time). Having the customs forms filled out ahead of time is a good idea. After the package is a lb, I seal it up and go to the next one. 1 lb costs somewhere between $9 and $11 to the Philippines from St. Louis MO. I have always received a letter confirming that our kids received the packages. They LOVE them. It is so much fun to hear back from the kids after they have received a package from us. I hope this helps anyone mailing packages to their sponsored friends!

    Reply
    • 35. Veronica  |  October 15, 2012 at 11:08 am

      Thanks so much for all of your tips, Rebecca! I’m sure this will help out a few sponsors.
      - Veronica

      Reply
  • 36. Mary Heinsz  |  October 15, 2012 at 10:59 am

    Are you allowed to send seeds? I have done this in the past, thinking it was a way of being self sufficent, helping with food, but now I wonder if it is allowed. I have also sent small sewing kits, they are flat, with thread, needles, buttons. Combs, stretchy headbands, simple knit shirts. Being wary of food, I have sent individual packets of flavored drink mixes that could just be added to water as a treat, this wouldn’t melt. Whenever we travel I look for Holy Cards and booklets in Spanish. One time a set of 4 booklets were of lives of the saints, although I don’t know spanish, I could pick out my favorite saints in each book and send a note mentioning that.

    Reply
    • 37. Veronica  |  October 15, 2012 at 3:58 pm

      Great question, Mary! Sending seeds through the mail can be a bit tricky. Each country has different rules when it comes to seeds and agriculture.

      I suggest visiting the U.S. postal office website to check the list of items you can mail to your friend’s country.

      If you are interested in helping families become self-sufficient, you can also donate to the CFCA livelihood programs. These programs help teach new skills to parents and grandparents of sponsored children. The parents and grandparents learn these new trades to earn income for their family. Click here to check out the CFCA livelihood programs.

      Thanks so much,

      ~ Veronica

      Reply
  • 38. Mary Heinsz  |  October 15, 2012 at 11:35 am

    I use TYVEK envelopes. They are very, very thin and lightweight, but durable and waterproof. They are great for international mailing…then your money doesn’t all go to shipping fees, and you have more “weight” to send, not waste on the packaging!!

    Reply
  • 39. Joseph Jones  |  October 16, 2012 at 7:02 am

    I buy Spanish language childrens’ books at my library systems’ sale that they have periodically where they sell off their surplus, old or unpopular books. My child is young and small and I have no problem sending pants, shirts and other clothing items in a 9 x 12 manilla envelope.

    Reply
    • 40. Veronica  |  October 16, 2012 at 8:19 am

      Great idea, Joseph! I love the idea of sending your friend books in Spanish.
      ~ Veronica

      Reply
  • 41. Sue  |  October 16, 2012 at 3:58 pm

    I like to send a T shirt of our home town baseball team.It will fit in the envelope.

    Reply
    • 42. Veronica  |  October 22, 2012 at 11:13 am

      I love baseball. What a great idea! Thanks, Sue!

      Reply
  • 43. Kathleen King  |  October 20, 2012 at 1:15 am

    great ideas for sponsored children. I have also sent stickers, pix of my grandchildren and fancy pencils.

    Reply
    • 44. Veronica  |  October 22, 2012 at 11:14 am

      Thanks for your comment, Kathleen! These are wonderful ideas!
      - Veronica

      Reply
  • 45. Anna Thelen  |  November 25, 2012 at 3:51 pm

    Thanks for all the wonderful ideas. This is my first year doing this, and I appreciate the help. I visited our local religious articles store and found a beautiful card in Spanish and a small book in Spanish about our Lady of Guadalupe. Also sending stickers and a notepad.

    Reply
  • 46. Ana Garcia  |  December 10, 2012 at 8:49 pm

    Thank you Veronica for the great ideas to send my sponsor child!

    Reply
  • 47. Sally  |  December 10, 2012 at 9:03 pm

    I love the idea of sending postcards! What a fun way to share and say hello. And Wooly Willy? What a simple way to send a smile.

    Reply
    • 48. Veronica  |  December 11, 2012 at 9:22 am

      Thanks for your comment, Sally! The best part about Wooly Willy is you can send a smile and a beard!
      ~Veronica

      Reply
  • 49. Ann Hammond  |  March 20, 2013 at 12:30 pm

    Our sponsored girl is in Kenya and is learning English. I pick up young adult paperbacks and send them -one at a time. She loves them. and,she says, that they help with her grammar.

    Reply

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