Do you have a loved one currently on a mission trip? If so, do you have an idea of what type of gift to send them? If you don’t, push your worries aside: we have compiled a variety of different gift ideas for a missionary. These examples range from your missionary’s favorite snacks to sending them something special for a holiday they are missing back at home.
The Importance of a Gift
Giving a gift shows how much someone means to you. An action of showing to someone how important they are to you. Giving a gift is the willingness to use your hard-earned money to buy something and give it away not expecting anything in return.
It is more blessed to give than to receive.-Jesus (Acts 20:35)
When a missionary receives a gift from someone they love, they feel appreciated and are reminded that the sender didn’t forget about them. Being on the field and not seeing family and friends for an extended period of time can be hard for someone, much less being on the other side of the world. There are different time zones, food, clothing and so many other events and situations that can put a missionary through culture shock.
Choosing the Perfect Gift
First, before you go and buy different items, I would suggest answering these main questions:
- Where is your missionary?
- What does he/she like to do?
- Which items do they need?
- What do you know they will use?
Make The Gift Relatable
Pick your gift(s) that relate to your missionary’s personality. If your traveler is creative, send them a coloring book, if your person is into photography, send them a memory card for their camera. Keeping in mind what you know they would use and be excited about to receive, should be the first thing that you add to your special gift.
International Shipping Rules
Whether you are sending a picture frame or a box of comestible products, sending anything internationally is a hassle. There are so many different rules and regulations that you have to follow if you want your package to land safely in your missionary’s hands.
Researching Shipping Rules
First, go on to your courier’s website and looking up the shipping rules. This is highly recommended. Also, it’s important to be aware of what you can and can not send so they will not discard your gift. Flying luggage is ridiculously complicated. You have to check the bag’s weight, size, close up liquids in separate ziplock bags, etc. Shipping a package to your loved one is just as complicated. Here is a basic list of rules to help you figure out what you can and cannot place in your package to ship internationally.
It is important to check if either your courier or the recipient country has restrictions on the package that you wish to send. Information on restricted items can be found on each country’s customs website. These sites usually have detailed rules and regulations that you must follow for them to pursue your shipping item.
Rules on Sending Food
Next, food and drinks are often high on the list of gifts or even a ‘taste-of-home’ care package. Thankfully, the rules around shipping food abroad are simple to follow, if not a tad restricting. The golden rule of sending food abroad is don’t send anything classed as perishable. Perishable items are foodstuffs that can spoil during transit, which is everything that isn’t stored in a tin or jar, or dried goods.
If you do want to ship a particular food item, then here is a list of basic rules and regulations for shipping edible items. All food must be:
- In the original manufactured packaging
- Sealed, closed and not touched in any way,
- List all ingredients
- Not have an expiration date longer than 6 months from the date shipped.
- Classified as imperishable. (Perishable foods cannot be sent via courier, even if store-bought).
International Product Restrictions
Due to some items being flammable, your airport will not ship a package filled with these types of items.
- Aerosols (Spraycans)
- Fragile Items
- Medicine and Prescription Drugs
- Nail Polish
- Perishable Items
Here are a few crucial rules that you should look into before looking for these specific items for your missionary.
- Australia- A toy gun
- Bulgaria- Musical greeting cards
- China- Cameras
- Haiti- Jewelry
- Jamaica- Coffee
- Kenya- Pre-worn clothing
- Peru- Vitamins
- South Africa- Honey
- Thailand- Playing cards
- Turkey- Cosmetics
- Vietnam- Mosquito netting
Sizing and Weight Rules
Postcards must be rectangular to qualify for First-Class Mail prices.
Oversized postcards will be charged as letters or large envelopes.
- Height: 3 1/2″ min. / 4 1/4″ max.
- Length: 5 1/2″ min. / 6″ max.
- Thickness: 0.007″ min. / 0.016″ max.
Envelopes must be rectangular to qualify as a letter.
- Height: 3 1/2″ min. / 6 1/8″ max.
- Length: 5″ min. / 11 1/2″ max.
- Thickness: 0.007″ min. / 1/4″ max.
- Max. Weight: 3.5 oz.
Envelopes must be rectangular, flexible, and uniformly thick to qualify for flat pricing.
Large envelopes that exceed size requirements will be charged the applicable First-Class Package International Service (small packet) price.
- Height: 12″ max.
- Length: 15″ max.
- Thickness: 3/4″ max.
- Max. Weight: 15.994 oz
Packages must be in regular cardboard boxes without present paper or stickers. (It is recommended to decorate the inside flaps of the box)
Total girth (the distance around the thickest part) of your package is up to 108″.
Measuring Package Girth:
The total weight of your package may not exceed 70 lbs, though, the destination that your missionary’s country may have a lower weight limit protocol.
Each item must be listed with its individual weight.
15 Types of Gifts For Your Missionary and Examples
Sending a gift or care package to a missionary is exciting! You get to choose what goes inside your present, how it looks, and how creative you want to be. There are so many different types of items and useful products that can be placed in your gift.
From practical gifts of scarves and bug spray to a photo album signed by their loved ones. This package you are sending internationally is all up to you. Here are four different categories of gifts that your missionary would love to receive where ever they are.
Smaller gifts are easily compact and can be put in a box to ship internationally. If you are having trouble figuring out what to purchase here is a list of five items that could help you out.
1. Sunscreen or Bugspray
Depending on the climate that your loved one is in, sunscreen and bug spray are great options to help them on the mission field. Make sure that these are not in a spray can and are in a manual bottle they have to pump themselves. You will not be able to ship any type of aerosol.
2. Peanut Butter
The majority of missionaries who return back from the field say that they missed peanut butter. It’s a type of product that is not manufactured or made in countries such as Africa or Russia. This delicacy is dearly missed on the other side of the world, so adding this item to your care package would be highly recommended.
3. Cooking Spices
Seasoning packages are on top of the list because they’re cheap, lightweight, and non-perishable. These seasoning packets allow your missionary to whip up something comforting and familiar. Popular requests include chili, taco, and ranch dip packets.
4. Favorite Snacks
Your missionary most likely has beloved salty or sweet snacks that they cannot purchase on the field. Consider including a favorite snack for him/her to enjoy. Durable goods like protein bars, hard candies and coffee travel best.
Candy is loved universally. It’s small, compacted, individually wrapped and easy to find in a store. Try to locate your missionary’s favorite sweets and add them to your box. (Remember, all imperishable foods need to be in their own individual packaging and sealed shut.)
A gift that can not be forgotten is the best gift to send someone. Personally, unique, and creative items show someone who much they matter. Here are five ways you can show encouragement and support to your loved one.
Personalized Map Frame: Click here
6. Open When Letters
These individual letters are encouraging for your missionary because there is a letter that covers every topic they are going through away from home. You can write an Open When letter for special holidays, their birthday, emotions they are feeling, etc. Make sure you date them so your loved one knows which ones to open first.
Sending a card is so personable. Whether you create one, yourself or purchase one, mailing a letter to someone you miss shows that you care. Shipping a card expresses emotions, joy, thanks, sympathy, humor, love, and admiration. If your loved one is missing you or feeling homesick, send them a card and add a photo of their house in it. You could also attach stickers, and don’t forget to decorate inside the envelope.
8. A Photo Album
If you create a scrapbook or photo album, it is the perfect homemade and personable gift. Adorable pictures remind your missionary about all of the blessings and good times that they had during their childhood. It’s also comforting to have such a cherished item they can flip through when he/she is feeling homesick.
9. A Memorable Item
Is there a specific blanket or stuffed animal that your missionary loved when they were little? Adding a childhood memory to your care package can give them a sense of comfort. When they will receive that little reminder, they will gain a sense of love and support for leaving home to pursue the Great Commission.
Stackable Measuring Cups: Click here
10. Measuring Cups and Spoons
If your missionary is from the United States of America, then they would probably be interested in measuring spoon/cups. The metric system is completely different than any other country in the world. Sending them these items would not only give them less stress to cook, but the outcome will be them more edible meals.
11. Blank Cards
This sounds silly, but blank cards are the perfect gift to add to your list. Your missionary will be able to customize these blank canvases for any occasion. Whether someone had a birthday, a holiday celebration, or even if they want to encourage a friend. Blank cards are the best way to bless your missionary bless someone else.
Custom Gold Bar Necklace: Click here
Personalized Missionary Ornament: Click here
12. Holiday Themed Decor
Next, holidays can be a sore reminder of distant relationships and traditions. This is amplified if your missionary is living in a context where a favorited holiday is not celebrated at all. A holiday-themed care package can help spread festive cheer. Include small items like decorative kitchen towels, packaged tinsel, unbreakable ornaments, and so on.
If you are looking for more a smaller gift (to send in an envelope) keychains are a way to go. You can engrave a keychain on etsy.com and ship it to yourself. From there, you could add a card or photo. Keychains are light-weight, cheap, and also personable. These metal gifts when received can be symbolic to the recipient to remind them that they are loved, supported, and not forgotten.
If your missionary likes to wear some type of accessory (i.e rings, bracelets, necklaces, etc.) then your beloved would be so excited to receive jewelry. Try to find something that is from their home state or the one where their mission field is located. Cross necklaces (if not prohibited) would be a perfect token for them to wear. This reminds them of why they are there in the first place.
15. Custom Journal
A custom journal is another highly recommended gift from other missionaries. Someone could turn the journal from a diary to a prayer journal. They could also convert the notebook into a language learning guide. Either way, a custom journal is always productive, much less on the mission field. Journals can be used universally and for both genders. You could even add an inspirational verse to the front or tape a photo in the inside of the journal.
Depending on their context, your missionary might not have easy access to books written in their language. Ask your missionary if there are any titles on their wish list you can send. If you’re sending a package to a family with kids, ask if there are children’s books you can include. Either ship the books yourself or research if you can send your gift through AmazonGlobal.
7 Common Mistakes for International Shipping
1. Label Properly
There have been several mistakes with labeling this shipping box. Make sure to double-check the sender’s address and the recipient’s one as well. Also, it’s highly recommended to avoid using a sharpy or any type of thick writing utensil for the post office to read what you inscribed. Take your time and don’t rush this process because you don’t want your gift being sent to someone else.
2. Shipping Date
Depending on where your loved one is, it depends on how long it will take the mail to get there. A common mistake that people make is sending their packages internationally during the same month. The issue with this is because of international mail taking a while to get to the designated destination. Ship your package beforehand and if it’s early, have your missionary wait till it’s time to open it.
3. Separate Chemicals from Foods
Put your chemical-based items in an individual ziplock bag so that it will not smell up your gift. Strong-scented products that you put next to the food is a major risk. Either the chemical could potentially explode, (once reaching maximum air pressure) or the food can smell like that toxin. Ziplock bags prevent the smell from coursing over your package. (If you add dryer sheets to your box, make sure to seal those up!)
4. Heaviest Items on the Bottom
If you are sending more that one item to your missionary, make sure that you organize the box by density. Categorize which items are heavier and place those on the bottom layer and then add the lighter gifts to the top. You don’t want to accidentally crush a treat or something your loved one wants to receive.
5. Double and Tripled Bag
It is highly recommended to not send any type of liquid. When the container reaches high-pressure in the air, it is more likely that the contents will explode. With that in mind, if it is a necessity to send your missionary a liquid, place the item in multiple bags and securely seal them. (You may even want to tape them down as well.) Not only can the liquids ruin every gift, but it can also potentially smell up the entire gift. Double bag scented items to prevent the smell from taking over.
6. Duct Tape
Another tip recommended is using either duct tape (or any strong type) to seal your box properly. Masking, painter, and packing tape is pretty weak and also not waterproof. You never know what your box will be going through, it may be tossed or thrown several times. So, make sure that your care package is tightly sealed shut so that you don’t have any worries.
7. Holiday Shipping
Make sure that when you are sending your care package to your loved one that you check the shipping schedule. Holiday shipping is a stressful time for all air carriers due to everyone sending Christmas gifts to their friends and families. Again, make sure that you are sending your Christmas gift in late September- mid-October. You don’t want to be late for such an important day of the year!
How To Create A Care Package
The most exciting part of creating care packages is the fact that you get to do whatever your heart desires. The reminder of being loved from across the ocean is a huge encouragement. From the colors, quotes, stickers, anything that you want your missionary to see as soon as they open the box, it is all entirely up to you.
Here is a guide on how to set up a perfect care package.
1. Think Like a Missionary
First, think of what a missionary would want or need in the country they are in. If they are in Kenya, do they really need those fluffy socks? Or, instead, would they like a mosquito net? Some items are good to send such as little toys, playing cards, or a small slinky. However, make sure that your items are going to be used and not just a waste of space. So yes, think like a missionary when you start thinking about sending a package. Think about what it will take to get it through customs and also think of the joy it brings.
2. Size Matters
The second step is, that the small-size is generally better. We like to say the shoebox-size is perfect. Partly because shipping is less and partly because it is less likely to cause a stir in customs. It also makes it easier to arrive at its destination and not get stuck in some warehouse somewhere
3. Price Matters
Third, when you ship something overseas with different customs processes and laws, be careful how expensive the things are inside the package. Take tags and price stickers off all items. Don’t be afraid to take them out of the packaging and think used when listing prices for items. Remember, just because you put it in the box does not mean it will stay in the box. Refer back to the customs search above
4. Get Creative in Packaging
Fourth, pack everything inside ziplock bags or big Hefty trash bags. Use notes from the kids at church rather than packing peanuts, or use plastic Easter eggs and green plastic grass for filler. A Christmas table cloth to cover the top of the box. Birthday decorations… Fill all space inside cups or bottles with American candy or spices. Don’t leave any space empty! If you need something light to fill space, there are many fun options! Line the box with printed activity pages or newspapers or empty gift bags.
5. Shipping Takes Time
The last step is, to ship early. So if you want to send a missionary something for Christmas, start planning in May or June. It can take a long time to gather everything, mail it, and then you are at the mercy of the shipping time which could be days to weeks to months. A birthday? Again, send it in plenty of time. Shipping a package earlier is way better than stressing over your box not making it in time.
How Long Does International Shipping Take?
These are the following estimates for international shipping.
International Shipping Time Period
- 1-3 business days: Choose the Global Express Guaranteed option, and you’ll get a money-back guarantee in over 190 countries.
- 3-5 business days: Choose Priority Mail Express International. Same money-back guarantee, plus you’ll get free shipping supplies.
- 6-10 business days: Choose Priority Mail International. You’ll get free shipping supplies.
(Do keep in mind that this is excluding the time period going through customs and delivery to your missionary’s place.)
It may take up from one month to six. So, stay prepared and ready to send that box in advance for them to receive your gift safely in their hands and on time.
A Testimony From A Missionary
Here is a beautiful story about a young missionary from back in Kenya, receiving a care package from a family member back home.
My mom sent me a care package supplied with peanut butter and individual wrapped candies. It was my eighteenth birthday and I loved getting a card that was signed by my family, friends, and church supporters. I felt so loved and motivated. This reminds me why I am on the field in the first place, to give the feeling I have to others around me.— Anonymous
Lastly, one idea for your care package is ordering one online. If you are too busy to shop for items individually this website (mymissionarypackagesarg.com) compiles several different (practical) items in a bag for you. All you have to do is add your missionary’s location address and confirm the order. However, this new site only has Argentina and Brazil at the moment.
My Missionary Care Packages was created by Karina Diez, a mother who had a son that went on a mission trip in Argentina. When Diez’s son came back from the field, they both came up with the idea to set up a business that helps provide care packages to others internationally.
Care packages and gifts are the perfect ways to show your missionary that you are supporting them and by their side. No matter the distance, you want to let your loved one know that they are not forgotten and you are proud of them.
Lastly, I will leave this verse right here.
Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.Acts 20:28
Remember, even though it is hard to see your family member, friend, or significant other be on the other side of the world, read this verse. The Lord commends your loved one for following after Him, and He commends you for loving and supporting them.