From the Super Mario Wiki
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In Super Mario 3D Land, hitting a Gift Box gives the player a random power-up. Players can also receive better Gift Boxes through StreetPass Gifts, which give the player more power-ups depending on how many times the same person is StreetPassed.
In Super Mario 3D World, each Toad House contains two Gift Boxes: a small one and a large one. Hitting one of the boxes will give the player either one Super Mushroom or an assortment of four power-ups; what each box contains is determined at random.