Updated February 27, 2020

One of the nicest things about spending time as a volunteer abroad is giving gifts to the people you meet along the way, particularly the children. It’s only natural to want to shower these kids with items we take for granted that they may rarely see.

It’s important to remember that while it might seem like a great and generous thing to do, gift-giving in certain countries, especially in communities where resources are scarce, can easily overwhelm or create feelings that you weren’t expecting. 

To avoid the possibility of over-giving or bringing inappropriate gifts to share, here’s a list of items that are affordable, practical and fun to give:


1.   Toothbrush and toothpaste

2.   Small flashlight

3.   A picture of your family. Those are always special. The background in your photo shouldn’t have fancy material items that we take for granted such as toys, cars, or houses. A scenic background or a park setting is ideal.

4.   T-shirts

5.   Socks

6.   Barrettes and hair clips

7.   Fruit candy

8.   Coloring books and small packages of crayons

9.   Stickers and blank journals

10.   A bible or bible storybook in their language


Keep in mind that you are visiting a foreign country where it’s only natural that you won’t know local customs, language dialects, or your way around. By re-thinking gifts, you remove the possibility of anyone developing a sense of expectation. If you have planned to pack clothes, toys, or toiletry items to give away, check in with your group leader before you do. They may advise against it or help you narrow your gifts to the essentials.

The people you visit as a missionary will be curious about you and what you have to offer. With healthy boundaries and thoughtful gift-giving, you may come away from your mission trip with a better understanding of what true gifts look like. Your time volunteering abroad or joining a domestic mission trip will be a life-changing experience. Mission Discovery can help you prepare in practical ways, to make your mission trip memorable.