Missionary Gifts, Mailing & Shipping

The Top 10 Best Christmas Gifts for Missionaries

Gift Idea#1. Keep it Personal

Hands down, keeping it personal is key!  Missionaries appreciate the small things from home.  Whether it is updated pictures of the family or a collection of letters from friends and ward members, hearing from loved ones is as good as it gets!

LDS Daily suggests turning to social media to gather heartwarming notes!  Post a status on your Missionary's Facebook page asking for a quick hello or letter.  Copy and paste the statuses into an email for your Missionary or, better yet, print them out and send them in the mail.

Personal Idea #1: Make your own small Family Scrapbook.  We made one using a Bo Bunny Misc. Me 3-ring binder in their 'Elf Magic' series.  Since it was a Christmas binder - it was already partially decorated.  Size: Approx. 8"X9".  Cost $7.00-$9.00.  Add in your own thoughts, quotes, scriptures, family photos, photos of their companions or of their mission, then have family members sign Christmas notes to them throughout the book.  You could do the same thing using any small book of your choice. Simple Stories is another company that has two chipboard books (6X8") in their Snap design series in either Striped Holiday or Merry Holiday. 

Personal Idea #2:  Create a Mini Book Album using the We R Memory Keepers Envelope Punch Board.  You don't necessarily need the Envelope Maker - but it is super slick and easy to create this mini album if you have one.  The cost is approx. $14.  Using any scrapbook paper of your choice you just punch and score - the directions are even printed right on the punch board!  The 2-way envelope punch creates fold tabs and round corners.  It is easy to create envelopes in dozens of sizes in which you can then turn them into a mini book album.  The book we made was approx. 4"X6" in size when finished.  Here is a YouTube Video showing how easy it is to create one of these little cuties! The overall cost would depend on which paper you choose, ribbon, and the stickers you add. 

 Personal Idea #3:  Create a themed Christmas Care Package.

Here are several ideas:

A 'Christ Centered Christmas' Care Package that includes a Missionary Nativity Activity and also a 12-Days of Keeping Christ in Christmas Music, Scripture, and Story Activity. 

A '12-Days of Christmas Countdown' Care Package that includes small gifts, thoughts, and scriptures for your Missionary to open for the 12 days leading up to Christmas. 

A '12 Days of Christmas' Care Package that includes fun, practical, and uplifting messages along with small gifts for your Missionary to open up on the 12 days leading up to Christmas.  (This could also be sent in a 2 Gallon Ziploc bag if you are using a courier or you could modify it for shipping in a padded envelope.) 

You can find 25 More Themed Care Package Kits Here!

Gift Idea #2. Food

It's no surprise that food gifts made it high on our list of the best missionary gifts for Christmas.  Not only is it sure to bring a smile, but your missionary also won't have to worry about carrying it around transfer after transfer.  Send your Missionary their favorite candies and non-perishable food items.  This is a great idea for Missionaries serving in foreign countries who do not have access to beloved cereals, spreads, and more.
(Just make sure to check the banned items list for your Missionary's country before you pack your box.  Some countries don't allow homemade food items or food items like Beef Jerky, Cheese Products, and some like Bolivia will not allow Candy.)  

Gift Idea #3. Music

Save your missionary from six months of the same CD by refreshing their music collection.  Multiple LDS artists have produced albums specifically with missionaries in mind plus a few that are always uplifting: 
  • Set Apart by BYU Men's Chorus
  • Sisters of Zion: Sister Missionary Collection
  • The Missionary Collection: Mormon Tabernacle Choir
  • The Work: A Nashville Tribute to Missionaries
  • O Holy Night - Nathan Pacheco
  • Merry - A Nashville Tribute to Christmas 
  • Sing Thy Grace - Eclipse
  • I Still Believe - Joshua Creek
  • Sweet Redeemer - City of Enoch
  • Hallelujah - Mormon Tabernacle Choir
When purchasing a new CD for your Missionary, always keep in mind the direction given in the Missionary Handbook:

Listen only to music that is consistent with the sacred spirit of your calling.  Music should invite the Spirit, help you focus on the work, and direct your thoughts and feelings to the Savior.  Do not listen to music that pulls your thoughts away from your work, merely entertains, has romantic lyrics or overtones, or dulls your spiritual sensitivity by its tempo, beat, loudness, lyrics, or intensity.  Listening to music must never interfere with your personal preparation or proselyting. 

Gift Idea #4. Basic Necessities

Missionaries are always in need of some basic necessities.  Most are easy to ship, cost-effective, and will be used consistently.  One thing Missionaries in Brazil always request is Deoderant!  Missionaries in Spain liked toothpaste from home.  Ask your missionary for his or her requests - but here are some ideas:
  • Soaps and other bathroom supplies
  • Sticky Notes
  • A Teflon pan with a non-stick spatula
  • Gift Cards or Money put into their Missionary bank account
  • Razors and Shaving Supplies
  • Socks, Tights, Shoe Polish Kits
  • Sewing Kits
  • New Pillow Case
  • Missionary Minky Blanket
Minky can make a personalized blanket by adding the name of the mission or you could also make it in the colors of the flag of the country in which they serve. 

You could also do a fun personalized pillow case - check out these adorable personalized reindeer pillow cases from MamaSewsBest12.

One mother recommends laundry supplies: "I think that an iron and a white cotton cloth is perfect, so that they can keep creases on their pants, tell your missionary to put the white cotton cloth over the pants that they are going to crease, that way their pants don't get shiny as they iron them."

Gift Idea #5. Clothing

Elders and Sisters, no matter where they serve, experience lots of wear on their clothes.  Send them a new tie, a new blouse, or a fun t-shirt for P-Day. 

Many websites sell fun t-shirts that you could include for either a Sister or an Elder.  Here are a few examples:

4. Some Missions Offer Mission Shirts or make your own.
5. Missionary Aprons

Gift Idea #6. Festive Decorations

Missionaries don't have much time to think about decorations, so send a bit of festive cheer!  Make your own 7 foot Missionary Paper Christmas Tree out of butcher paper and green hand messages, photo ornaments, and mini tree lights!  These paper trees completely fold up into small squares that fit nicely in either a Priority Mail Envelope or Box - Shown below:

Tree Directions Here!  You can also hit up the Dollar Tree Store in their Christmas section.  The musical light-up Christmas ties are always a fun hit along with reindeer antlers headbands or Santa hats.  Bonus: these make for fun photos emailed home!

 Or try a Missionary Christmas Tree Poster which comes in two designs - Traditional or Nativity style.  (Printed on a 24X36 sheet of high-quality and durable paper, each poster is big and bright!)  Cost $15.99 from LDS Bookstore.  These posters are a great and affordable way to make sure your Missionary has a Christmas tree.  Made of sturdy paper and featuring a bright, large design, your missionaries can place their gifts underneath it without any stress or fuss. 

Gift Idea #7. Teaching Supplies

Gift Idea #8. Missionary Stockings

One of a Missionary's most favorite Christmas gifts just may be the traditional Christmas morning stocking!  Remember that some companions may not receive anything at all during the Christmas season - so it's better to include two!  If you are a little bit crafty and have some time - you could make your own or Deseret Book offers two sizes in both Elder and Sister versions in multiple languages. 

Gift Idea #9. Reading Material & Stationary

Depending on the rules of your Missionary's individual Mission they may be allowed to have some extra reading material as long as it is of a spiritual nature and approved by the Mission President. 

Missionaries email home most of their letters - but it's always fun to have some cute stationery to write home letters and thank you notes.  Personalized stationery is also a fun option. Check out these on Etsy from PartiesR4fun.

Gift Idea #10. Missionary Support

Perhaps nothing means more to a Missionary than knowing that they are supported in hastening the work.  Christmas is a perfect opportunity to give a Book of Mormon as a gift, to have friends in your home while the missionaries are there, and to share the gift of the gospel.  There are many ways to do so - that suit your situation and comfort level.  You could even invite the Missionaries over on Christmas day to let them use your computer to Skype call home! 

For your Missionary out in the field, send them stories of how you've been trying to share the gospel back home. 


Mailing and Shipping

There are probably a Ba-Zillion ways to send and mail packages - so which way is the best to mail packages and envelopes to your Missionary???  Here are a few ideas:

1. Know the Postal Office and Shipping System of Where you are mailing to.

Mailing envelopes and boxes to your Missionary inside the U.S. is fast and efficient - but there are many ways to package your items to save money and make your packages more interesting and fun to open.  More on that below...

If your Missionary is serving outside the U.S. it is important to Research the postal offices and shipping methods of the country they are serving in.  

The Best resource for mailing items to each country can be for your Missionary to ask their Trainer/Zone Leader/Companion's advice on the ways they have found to be the most efficient way for you to mail packages to their Mission.  Surely someone in their area has has received, or sadly not received, packages for some reason - so they can offer sound advice.  

It's been said that in some countries there is a fee for Missionaries to claim their packages depending on the weight.  Customs fees can exceed the cost of the items themselves, if the items are new - so it's best to ask.

Usually the Mission President or his wife will inform the Missionaries as they arrive what the best practice is for that mission and if packages should be sent directly to the Missionary's apartment or to the Mission Home.  They are also a good source on what items will require a customs fee when mailed.  

You could also check to see if your Missionary's mission has a Mission Blog or Website in place that might offer more specific detailed information for their area. 

One of our MBM's had the unfortunate experience of sending her son a box to Mexico that included his high school backpack inside.  She listed a 'used' backpack on the customs form since it wasn't a new backpack - and later was informed that the box had been incinerated because Mexico does not accept used items to be shipped.  So, check for do's and don'ts of their adopted home country when filling out customs forms too!

Some countries have Amazon Prime or an equivalent - so you can order items and have them shipped right to your Missionary or their Mission Home without a shipping fee!  Alternately using Amazon Prime inside the U.S. will save you from paying the shipping prices too - the only downside being you can't wrap the item yourself or decorate the box.  Amazon will wrap each item for a small charge.  

Lastly, we recommend shipping packages far, far in advance.  For most countries mail will arrive within 2-3 weeks but it may take a few months for some packages to arrive to missionaries, depending on the country and the transportation method.  Here are some examples:

  • Russia: Do send packages a few months in advance, because it will take time for the packages to arrive to the missionaries.
  • Canada: Use FedEx or the U.S.P.S to send packages.
  • Argentina: Don't send packages or envelopes with an International Decorative Stamp.  Argentina's postal workers are stamp collectors, and they will steal the stamps and throw the envelope away. 
  • Thailand: Do ship packages by boat because it's cheaper.  But, it can take 2-3 months to arrive in Thailand so plan ahead.  Not only is there a fee to send things, but there is also a fee for Missionaries to receive their packages. 
  • Ghana: Don't send big boxes or packages.  It costs too much and the Missionaries also have to pay to receive their packages. 
  • Philippines: Do plan in advance.  You can send packages on a boat or through a Filipino company. 
For more information visit USPS, UPS, and FedEx.  

Alternatively, you can use courier services like LDSXpress to send parcels to Missionaries serving in Peru, Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia and Mexico.

Or you can use companies like My Missionary Shipping which provides discounted rates on DHL shipping.  The best part is your Missionary will receive their package in 2-3 days!  I used this service to send my son packages in Spain when his Birthday/Christmas presents were stopped by customs and returned.  I felt a little bit panicked thinking he would have nothing from home during this time and it was a wonderful feeling seeing his signature on the acceptance form!  

2. Packaging Your Items

1. U.S.P.S. Standard Priority Mail Flat Rate Envelope: (Size 9.5"X12.5") This flexible paperboard envelope is available free at most U.S. Post Office locations.  They are designed to hold 8.5X11" documents.  Shipping Cost: $6.65 withing the U.S. and $33.95 Internationally.  When shipping these within the U.S. there is no weight limit but, when you ship them internationally they can weigh no more than 4lbs.  When shipping domestically your package will arrive at it's intended destination within 1-3 days and usually 7 days when shipped internationally.  

2. U.S.P.S. Padded Priority Mail Flat Rate Envelope: (Size 9.5"X12.5")  The poly plastic envelope has a bubble lining and is perfect for shipping those smaller items that need a little extra padding.  These are free at most U.S. Post Office locations.  Shipping Cost: $7.20 within the U.S. and $33.95 Internationally.  When shipping domestically your package will arrive at it's intended destination within 1-3 days and usually 7 days when shipped internationally.  

3. U.S.P.S. Legal Size Priority Mail Flat Rate
Envelope: (Size 9.5"X15")  This flexible paperboard envelope features a predetermined flat rate regardless of the weight or destination zone of this package.  These envelopes can be ordered free from the U.S.P.S. Shipping Cost: $6.95 domestically and $33.95 Internationally. When shipping domestically your package will arrive at it's intended destination within 1-3 days. 

*Hint: If you print and pay for the mailing labels online at USPS.com you will get free tracking and a small discount over the price you pay at the counter in your local Post Office.  If you are shipping to an address outside of the U.S. you will be directed through filling out the customs form online as well.  

You will be pretty flabbergasted at just how much you can actually fit inside one of these envelopes!  If you just channel your inner Tetris player skills you will surprise yourself!  Just remember not to go over 4lbs. if you are shipping internationally.

* Check out these Tricks on Different ways of using Flat Rate Envelopes!

4. Priority Mail Small Flat Rate Box: (Size Outside approx. 9X6")  The Priority Mail Small Flat Rate Box is about the same size and shape as three stacked DVD cases.   These are free at most U.S. Post Office locations.  Shipping Cost: $7.20 within the U.S. and $33.95 Internationally. 

5. Priority Mail Medium Flat Rate Box: (2 Sizes - a Top Loading Box approx. 11X9X6" or a Side Loading Box approx. 14X12X3.5")  The Priority Mail Medium Flat Rate Box features predetermined rates regardless of weight (domestically) or destination similar to the Flat Rate Envelope. A 20lb weight limit applies when shipping outside the U.S.  Shipping Cost: $13.60 within the U.S. and $45.95 and up. 

6. Priority Mail Large Flat Rate Box: (Size 12X12X6") The Priority Mail Large Flat Rate Box features predetermined rates regardless of weight (domestically) or destination, similar to other Flat Rate products.  Shipping Cost: $18.85 domestically and $59.95 and up.

2. How to Package Missionary Gifts

 The best way to wrap packages can vary depending on the country you are shipping to.  We suggest the incoming missionaries ask their companions or mission presidents if there is a special way packages should be wrapped.  In some countries packages may be broken into or stolen if they don't have stickers or pictures wrapped around the package.  Thus, Missionaries sometimes won't receive their packages. 

  • Mexico and Nicaragua: Use pictures of Guadalupe and stick them onto the packages. 
  • Armenia: Don't write "Elder" or anything similar on the box.  Do put little stickers or pictures of Christ or Mary on the outside.
  • Guatemala: Use stickers of the Virgin Mary and Jesus for the outside of the box.
  • South Africa: Do tape pictures of Jesus all over the box and claim "religious supplies" for the customs declaration. 
  • Chile and Madagascar: Use pictures of Christ when wrapping the packages. 
  • Russia: Don't send packages with pictures of Christ or anything church-related on the outside.  Do write "Dear Elder" on the packages, even for Sister Missionaries. 
  • Samoa: Use lots of clear tape when wrapping gifts to protect them from the rain.  Packages sometimes sit outside in Hawaii before arriving in Samoa. 
  • Italy: Do bubble wrap the outside of packages (seriously) and put stickers of Mother Mary on the outside. 
  • Philippines: Use clear tape to wrap the whole package to prevent it from getting ruined.
  • Ghana: Do wrap the envelopes in a lot of tape or rodents could chew through them especially if there is food inside. 

3. What Kind of Packages You Can Send

To Keep boxes from being tampered with, be creative with the packages.  Most people send boxes and envelopes to their missionaries.  Here are some creative packaging ideas:

  • Brazil: Do use tube packages (Pringles cans or poster tubes).  Postal workers often don't open tubes because they usually carry papers and are not worth stealing. 
  • Italy & Spain: Do ship packages that weigh 3 pounds or less.  The customs office pays less attention to small, lightweight packages.  Or send non-traditional size boxes like a cube, shoe box size, or long Priority mail side loading boxes.  The unusual shapes usually make it through. 
  • Argentina: Some Argentine missions restrict sending boxes but envelopes and padded envelopes are ok. 
  • Ghana: It costs money to receive packages in Ghana but Flat Rate Envelopes seem to be fine. 

4. Where to Send Packages

Often, missions will request that parents send their missionaries' packages to the mission office.  Sending packages to the mission office is often a safer way to get the packages to the missionaries since there is often someone available to receive it when it arrives.  Some missions have a pouch service from the U.S. so it's good to check. 

Sometimes it pays to be creative.  One Elder who served in Brazil shared that his parents shipped one shoe to the mission office and the other shoe to his apartment.  When postal workers opened the packages, they saw only one shoe, closed the packages and continued the shipment.  Nobody wants just one shoe!  A BYU sweatshirt was stolen from one of the packages at the post office and the missionary later saw someone wearing the shirt.  You just never know. 

Occasionally, you might encounter people who are willing to "mule" packages for you.  Expats who come back to the states frequently or those who happen to be traveling to the same country sometimes use Facebook pages in order to connect with people wanting to send packages to their missionaries.  

5. Countries You Can Send Gifts To Normally 

Wrapping gifts creatively won't be necessary in certain countries.  Here are a few countries where you can use normal wrapping and shipping without concerns:

  • Taiwan
  • Hong Kong
  • Scandinavia
  • Australia & New Zealand
  • Canada


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