I had most of this post written Thursday, but failed utterly in polishing and posting it. Laundry has not been bad, but kids are not sleeping, which means mama is not sleeping, so getting through simple tasks take much longer and it’s harder to focus!
The Official Operation Christmas Child Site has a great page on shoebox packing, but here is the lowdown and some tips and tricks I have learned.
Ask God to guide you through the process, picking an age and gender, as well as guiding gift-giving thoughts and wisdom for what your child will need.
Choose a gender/age range.
The age groups are:
2-4 years old
5-9 years old
10-14 years old
Get your shoebox
Plastic boxes are nice because they are more durable and a child can us it to store special things in it, but most shoe boxes would work.
Samaritan’s Purse has special shoe boxes you can order if you like, you can get info on that here (they come in cartons of 100 for a small donation-production and shipping costs, to have them sent to my zip it would be $35). This is great if you are having an event (more on that tomorrow) or you are doing it as a group project.
If you wish to wrap you box, please wrap the lid and bottom separately.
Official instructions and labels (labels are required) can be printed from this page.
Do’s and Don’ts of Box Filling
- War related items ( toy guns, swords, knives, grenades, military figures, etc)
- Damaged Items
- Chocolate, food, medications, or vitamins
- Breakable items, glass containers or snow globes
- Liquids. Liquid Soap, Lotion or Bubbles (I know, it’s a bummer, but do not do it!).
- Aerosol Containers
Think about what a child of that age would need/enjoy you wouldn’t give a baby a toy with small parts or an older child a rattle, or give a 14 year old baby sized socks.
Shop and/or craft
Suggested Items (Do Include):
- Toys (Dolls, deflated balls with a pump and needle to inflate them, cars, small balls, slinkies, baby rattles or toys, stacking cups or blocks, Frisbees, marbles, jacks, the list could go on and on!)
- School Supplies (crayons for the younger ones with note pads, pencil, paper erasers, notebooks, stickers, rulers, solar calculators, coloring books (my note: less wordy books are better since you never know what language your child will speak), pens, stencils, again the list could go on)
- Hygiene Items (I believe each box needs to have a bar of soap, wash cloth, tooth paste and a tooth brush, other items you could include: combs, hair ties, headbands barrettes, deodorant, etc, just no liquids)
- Accessories (socks, hats, shoes, flip flops, scarves, tshirts, sunglasses, backpack (think more the draw-string kind than something big and bulky) or reusable bag, flashlight and batteries, etc)
- A personal note and photo of your family. If you include your address (or your church’s address if this is an event) the child who receives your box may be able to write to you.
- $7 per box to cover shipping your box (The flyer notes: “Donate your $7 online and discover the destination of your shoebox. We’ll email you a special FollowYour-Box label to print and use. Later, you’ll receive a notification about the destination of your shoebox gift.” Also, if you are making multiple boxes, combine your donation into one payment)
Some other great ideas:
- Instruments (or at least toy versions-whistles, toy recorders (you know, the ones you blow into-but do not use it yourself-and mind your kids carefully), maracas, tambourine, etc)
- Craft Items for older girls (sewing kit, fabric squares, etc)
- Jewelry for older girls
- Small fishing kits for older boys
- Small tools for older boys
- Blankets for younger kids
- Hand puppet or finger puppets for younger kids
Shop. Or craft
I will be sharing some awesome ideas soon on some cool things you can put together yourself for shoe boxes.
Pack your boxes
Wrap up soap in baggie (if you get wash cloths, fold in half and wrap around soap before bagging.
Open packages there are some you might not want to open, but by and large packaging takes a lot of space plus if you get a package of say, six cars, you can break that up into a couple of boxes.
Once everything is in your box, rubber band it (a rubber band at each end is great and works out best) and put your label on one end of the LID.
You can get your printable labels on the Operation Christmas Child Site.
You can take your shoe box to a local drop off point, or mail it. Find out more about locations on the Official OCC Site here.
I love Dollar stores for this, but here are a few things I’ve found
- The cars are not great, splurge on them at Walmart (they aren’t terribly expensive, I’ve seen them at $.98 even)
- Buying a package of washcloths is cheaper at say walmart
You can coupon items like toothpaste (though Dollar Tree takes coupons now though, so…)
Thing I love getting at dollar stores
- Tooth brushes (five pack with travel covers is a great deal and you can put them towards 5 boxes-if you are only packing one, why not let people know and offer to share packages of multiple items?)
- Fleece blanket
- Socks (again, keep ages in mind as far as sizing goes)
- Hair pretties
- Reusable bags
- Fun towels (you know, the ones you put in water and it grows)
- Flash lights
- Erasers, school supplies
Having a basic idea of price in your area is a good idea. Getting the most for your money means being able to share with more kids. Walmart had a recent sale on notebooks, for $.17 each-so for $1.70 you could get 10 (they are usually $.88), while at a dollar store you can get them for $1 each. This kind of sale is best if you are doing it in a group or as a church (more on that in the next post), but if you do pick up extras, take them when you take your shoe boxes because they can be added to other boxes.
I am not promising to have it up tomorrow (if I can get it up today I will), but I am working on a post about how to get your whole church involved.