Originally published November 11, 2012 and updated on October 30, 2020.
Our family established a tradition of creating Thanksgiving Blessing Bags many years ago when my children were young. It a wonderful way to create a family tradition for that lag time on Thanksgiving day.
The tradition of making care kits for the homeless at Thanksgiving started 8 years ago when my brother and his family came to visit for Thanksgiving.
There were 6 children under the age of 8 in our house for 3 days. And this was in New Jersey so the children could only play outside in the yard for so long.
One of the activities I came up for them to do was to make Thanksgiving blessing bags.
I had breakfast items and granola bars. We gave each child several large zippered plastic bags. We had the children “trick or treat” from adult to adult and fill bags with items.
The children then made cards to include in each bag. The children had a wonderful time making the homeless care packages and it was a wonderful way to talk about Thanksgiving and caring for those who are less fortunate.
From that humble beginning, our family continued the tradition for many years.
We usually make the blessing bags on Thanksgiving day during some “down” time. It’s a wonderful activity for a large family gathering when the kids are getting restless.
Thanksgiving Blessing Bags
Thanksgiving Homeless Care Package Ideas
Start with a large zippered plastic bag or a cloth tote bag.
- Breakfast care package
- Can of orange juice, container of oatmeal, granola bar and raisins
- Snack care package
- Dried fruit, granola bar, individual drink mix packets, individually packages cheese and crackers, mints
- Foot Care Blessing Bag
- Cold Weather Blessing Bag
- Personal Care
- Lotion, lip balm, razor, wash cloth, candy, samples of perfume and make up
It’s always helpful to include a gift card to a coffee shop or fast food restaurant. This allows people experiencing homelessness to select a hot drink or meal of their choice, get out of the weather and be able to use the restrooms.
One year we made personal care Thanksgiving blessing bags, but we used empty lunch meat containers (you know how I adore repurposing containers!).
I collect the containers throughout the year. Friends and family collect them for me, too. I’m always looking for ways to repurpose the containers.
At the time, many years ago, I used condiment containers to hold hand lotion from an economy sized bottled. I did that to save money so I could make more care kits. However, I recommend against that.
Instead, choose travel size personal care items. This insures the best hygiene and everyone appreciates receiving a brand new item as a gift.
Lotion is always appreciated, especially in severely cold weather.
We included soap and hand sanitizer.
We put each bar of soap into a snack-sized plastic bag. One reason is so that it doesn’t make the gum and candy taste like soap. And the other reason is that the person may need a way to carry the bar of soap with them after they’ve opened the package, so providing the plastic bag seems helpful.
I purchased lip balm on sale and using coupons for several months ahead of Thanksgiving. Just like with hand lotion, lip balm is greatly appreciated, in all seasons of the year.
I purchased a large bag of disposable razors. This allowed me to place one in Thanksgiving blessing bag.
We added nail clippers in each care kit. An emory board is also helpful.
Throughout the year, I collected samples and hotel-sized items. These are a great size and a nice treat.
We also added individual drink mix packets, gum and candy.
Be sure to avoid sticky candy. But this is a great opportunity to share extra Halloween candy you may have.
The items fit neatly into the plastic container. But you can use a zippered plastic bag if you prefer or if you are making a homeless care kit with more items.
We always add a note to blessing bags. It’s a kind way to let the recipient know that we care.
I cut a piece of card stock paper to fit the top of the lids. We had the children decorate the paper. Each child packed and decorated the Thanksgiving care kit that they made.
This created a beautiful collection of colorful messages from the heart.
Usually we donate the Thanksgiving blessing bags to agencies that work with the homeless.
You may also choose to deliver the blessing bags in person. If you have never worked with people experiencing homelessness, I recommend you work with an experienced agency or church group.
It can be a powerful experience for your family to hand out the homeless care packages. It’s will be a wonderful way for your children to see their blessing bag to its destination, match a face and name to their care kit and be able to keep that face and name in their thoughts and prayers.
I encourage you to make your own Thanksgiving Blessing Bags to give out this year. And be sure to pin so that you can always find these ideas when you’re ready to make Thanksgiving care kits.