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Thanksgiving Blessing Bags

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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.

autumn leaves and lantern on brown table with "give thanks" in black ink with title text reading Thanksgiving Homeless Care Packages

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.

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!).

stack of small rectangular plastic containers with red and green lids

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.

large bottle of hand lotion and small containers

We included soap and hand sanitizer.

package of bars of soap, packages of sanitizing hand wipes and package of 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.

bar of soap in small zippered bag

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.

pile of different lip balms

I purchased a large bag of disposable razors. This allowed me to place one in Thanksgiving blessing bag.

large package of disposable razors

We added nail clippers in each care kit. An emory board is also helpful.

several packages of nail clippers

Throughout the year, I collected samples and hotel-sized items. These are a great size and a nice treat.

small sample size personal care products

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.

pile of gum, candy and drink mix packets

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.

personal care items and candy in small plastic container

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.

children's hands holding decorated boxes

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.

collage of colorful Thanksgiving themed pages
Get the 74-page Thanksgiving Planner Bundle with everything you need to plan, organize and decorate for the holiday!

Check out all my charitable giving tips and ideas and my other blessing bag and homeless care package ideas.

For all my favorite purposeful acts of kindness ideas check out the table below. You can scroll though the table and look for ideas or search for specific ideas with the magnifying glass in the upper right-hand corner (on desktop). Click on the topic and then click through the specific article.

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    1. Mary, what a wonderful idea! A long, long time ago I volunteered at a homeless shelter for teens. You could tailor the care kits more specifically for the kids you’re working with. Bless you for putting your caring in action.

  1. I love this idea, and love that you’re teaching your children to bless others! Thanks for sharing this fantastic idea this week on Saturday Show & Tell on Cheerios and Lattes! We love having you! šŸ™‚ Have a great week! Mackenzie šŸ™‚

  2. What a wonderful tradition, and it’s fabulous to get the kids involved! Thanks for sharing at The Fun In Functional!

  3. What a neat idea!! You are so thoughtful.Thanks so much for linking up at Artsy Corner! Hope to see you again this week šŸ™‚

  4. Wonderful idea! We will either be doing this during our Thanksgiving or Advent Countdown this year. Thanks for providing such great ideas for the contents of the kits. I know this will be a meaningful project for my daughters and me.

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