So you sponsor a child. Perhaps you've communicated with your sponsored child through letters, but you want to send your child a little gift to show your love for him. What can you possibly stuff inside of a small envelope? You can't send a TV or a new outfit. Only a few things can fit flat into an envelope. Sure, you could go and stick random, useless items into an envelope that your child won't understand, like a Pokemon card or Barbie clothes. Or you could choose to send creative, useful things that your sponsored child will love. Let me give you a few ideas.
1. Photographs - This should be an obvious choice. Your sponsored child will long to see photographs of you and your family. She'll want to know what you look like, what your parents look like, what your little brother or your kids look like. Send pictures of your family, pets, weather, backyard, sky, grass, local birds, friends, neighbors, vacations, holidays. Avoid sending pictures of your home, bedroom, and material possessions. You don't want to make your sponsored child feel inadequate.
2. Stickers - All kids love stickers. Stick some stickers onto your actual letter, but send some sticker sheets to let your child use them on his own. Send stickers of things that a child growing up in a developing country will understand, like animals and flowers and hearts and not necessarily transformers and Disney princesses. If your child isn't white, you may not want to send a bunch of stickers of beautiful blonde-haired, blue-eyed fairies and princesses. It might make her dislike her appearance.
3. Silly Bands - I knew there had to be a use for these popular kids' bracelets. Silly Bands easily fit into an envelope. I used Silly Bands to spell out the letters of my sponsored child's name. How special!
4. Bookmarks - Send bookmarks that feature pictures of animals, holograms, or sweet Bible verses. This might even encourage your child to read more!
5. Postcards - When you're out on vacation, grab a postcard and send it to your child. What a great way to let him know that you're thinking of him all the time, even when you're traveling. He'll feel special that he has a postcard from somewhere new and exciting.
6. Hair Accessories - If your sponsored child is a girl, send colorful elastic hair bands, ribbons, and clips. Make sure that if your child lives in Africa, she doesn't have a shaved head or short-cropped hair.
7. Homemade Drawings - Draw pictures for your child. Draw your backyard, your pets, or even yourself. Draw the foods you like to eat. Draw your school. Draw your hobbies, sports, and the instruments you play. If you have kids, ask them to draw pictures to send to your sponsored child.
8. Paper Dolls - This is another good gift for little girls. You can send dolls and little paper outfits for your sponsored child to play with. You may want to laminate the doll itself, because it may become well-worn over time. If you can find a doll with your child's ethnicity, that would be a bonus.
9. Puzzles - Purchase a small puzzle and take it out of the box. You can tape the individual puzzle pieces to the back of your letter.
10. Origami - Make your child an origami creature and flatten it into the envelope. You could also send origami paper and instructions that are easy to follow. That would be a fun craft for your child to do.
11. Coloring Pages - All kids like to color. You could even send colored pencils along with the coloring page.
12. Socks - Socks, especially those for small children, can be flattened out and placed into an envelope. Most children will need socks. This is a great idea for Christmas and birthday gifts. Be sure to send a new pair of socks.
13. Colorful Ribbons - These will be pretty and eye-catching to your child. If your child is a girl, she might even be able to tie the ribbon into her hair or use it as a bracelet. If your child is a boy, he could use the ribbon as a bookmark.
14. Balloons - Obviously, you'll want to send the balloon flat, not aired-up.
15. Stick-On Tattoos - In some cultures, these might not be acceptable, especially for girls. Be sure to send instructions on how to put on the tattoo. Avoid sending tattoos that have inappropriate images. Send innocent images, like a cross, smiley face, or animal.
16. Poetry - Write your child a poem. Be sure to mention that you wrote it just for him! You might even want to include his name within the poem.
17. Band-Aids - You may want to explain what band-aids are for. Use colorful, eye-catching band-aids rather than those with images of popular American icons, like Transformers or Superheros that your sponsored child might not be able to understand.
18. Buttons - Buttons are useful, flat, and cute. Girls will especially love these.
19. Baseball/Soccer/Basketball/Etc Cards - Boys of all countries love sports. You might be surprised about their knowledge of popular athletes. They'll treasure sports cards.
20. Pressed Flowers/Leaves - You may want to laminate these so they won't crumble in the mail. Pressed flowers and leaves can hep your child see what kind of plants you have where you live.
21. Magazine/Newspaper Cut-Outs - You might see an encouraging article with a targeted audience to children. Clips from kids magazines are great things to send to your child, along with kid devotionals, Bible stories, and the little games you might find in the back of a newspaper.
22. Small Calendar Pages - A child might not ever have her own calendar. Print out small pages and circle dates with American holidays and your birthday. Be sure to send the calendar several months in advance in order for there to be time for your letter to be delivered.
23. Friendship Bracelets - Those little bracelets that are made out of colorful braids and string are small and pretty. Explain to your child what a friendship bracelet is. Perhaps you could wear an identical one to help you remember to pray for your child.
24. Print-Out Games - Go onto the internet and print out easy word puzzles, tic-tac-toe, and other easy games like that. Kids love games. Be sure to send some easy directions so they'll know what to do. If you send a game of Hangman, you may want to re-name it something less gruesome, like Puppet.
25. Charm Bracelet and Charms - I've used this idea on my sponsored child, Lavin. First send an empty charm bracelet. Be sure that the links aren't too thick so that you can easily tape the bracelet flat against the back of your letter. Throughout the next several letters, send different flat charms for your child to hang from her bracelet. On important holidays and when you travel on vacation, you can send special charms to your child.
I'll give you twenty-five more ideas of things to send to your sponsored child next week, along with a list of things that you definitely should not send to your child. I hope this list has given you some ideas.
What is the coolest thing you've ever sent to your sponsored child?