Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Ideas November 3, 2017 – Posted in: charity, shoeboxes

My kids love packing boxes for Operation Christmas Child! They love shopping to choose items for the child who will receive the box and always try to pack as much in the box as possible. I let them each choose the gender and age they want to pack a box for and we go from there.

We haven’t packed shoeboxes every year. When my oldest children were little we tried it, but it caused some confusion. Some couldn’t quite grasp the concept of shopping for others vs. themselves. We still played along with Santa back then (but have since given that up) so they didn’t understand why Santa just didn’t bring them presents, justifying that they must have been bad and didn’t deserve them. Sometimes we just didn’t remember to get them ready in time. I also went through a few super crazy years selling ornaments on etsy so the whole season was a bit of a blur. I am glad that we brought back this tradition, though!

 

 

I am surprised by how many people haven’t heard of this special project! There are also a lot of people who just don’t know what to pack. I have been following a few facebook pages and blogs dedicated to packing shoeboxes so I try to incorporate a lot of those tips. There is always one blog post in particular that goes viral each year, but it only gives feedback on one specific village’s experience. People like me tend to overthink and worry that we are doing something wrong. I guess the answer is just to try your best and pray that the box will bless the recipient. There are many stories of unusual items packed that turned out to be exactly what that child needed.

Today I am just going to share what we do and maybe give some ideas of what to put into that shoebox! It is pretty amazing to see how much you can fit inside a regular shoebox with some strategic packing!

 

2-4yo boy shoebox

Here is what we included in the 2-4yo boy box:

  • pencils
  • pencil sharpener
  • coloring book
  • crayons
  • puzzle
  • t-shirt
  • 2 washcloths
  • toothbrush
  • toothpaste (no longer allowed!)
  • comb
  • soap
  • soapdish
  • mini recorder
  • cup
  • water bottle
  • candy (no longer allowed)
  • balloons
  • flashlight
  • batteries
  • stuffed puppy
  • stuffed caterpillar
  • matchbox car
  • sunglasses

See? It all fits! Packing items inside of cups and water bottles saves a lot of space. Also, removing puzzles from their boxes condenses it quite a bit.

how to fill a shoebox

My daughter usually asks me to sew a dress for her shoebox. You can see my tutorial HERE and also see another 2-4yo girl box we packed HERE.

Inside the 2-4yo girl box we included:

  • dress
  • 2 pair underwear
  • toothpase (no longer allowed)
  • toothbrush
  • 2 washcloths
  • soap
  • soap dish
  • comb
  • cup
  • water bottle
  • candy (no longer allowed)
  • balloons
  • pencils
  • pencil sharpener
  • crayons
  • coloring book
  • mini recorder
  • puzzle
  • sunglasses
  • stuffed cat
  • stuffed horse
  • 3 necklaces

 

We like to do 10-14yo boy boxes because they don’t usually have as many of those boxes donated. It is kind of a challenge to know what to put into those. We are a girl-dominated house and when my son was that age I didn’t know what to get for him, either! It is more of a challenge, but we packed a lot of both fun and useful things in the boxes.

We got a lot of these items at the Dollar Tree. This box included…

  • t-shirt
  • sunglasses
  • fleece blanket
  • playing cards
  • colored pencils
  • mini notebook
  • pencil case
  • toothbrush
  • toothpaste (no longer allowed)
  • soap
  • soap dish
  • comb
  • 2 washcloths
  • pencils
  • pencil sharpener
  • ruler
  • pens
  • flashlight
  • batteries
  • bouncy ball
  • 2 matchbox cars
  • water bottle
  • candy (no longer allowed)
  • balloons
  • cup
  • toy dinosaur (We had to rubber band his tail down to make him fit!)
  • stuffed dog
  • mini recorder
  • rubber bands
  • sunglasses
  • screwdriver set
  • bungee cord
  • rope
  • electrical tape

That was a lot of stuff! It was the hardest to strategically arrange inside the box. I really didn’t think that blanket was going to fit, but my daughter really wanted to include it. I hope the camo pattern was not a problem. Does anyone know the answer to that?

My oldest daughter loves soccer, so she definitely wanted to include a soccer ball in her box. If you deflate it and include a pump, it makes a great “wow” item for the box.

10-14yo boy shoebox

This one was packed really full, too! It included:

  • soccer ball
  • pump
  • soap dish
  • soap
  • 2 washcloths
  • comb
  • toothpaste (no longer allowed)
  • toothbrush
  • comb
  • playing cards
  • notebook
  • pencils
  • pens
  • ruler
  • pencil sharpener
  • colored pencils
  • 2 matchbox cars
  • sunglasses
  • flashlight
  • batteries
  • rope
  • bungee cords
  • rubber bands
  • bouncy ball
  • screwdriver set
  • wrench set
  • electrical tape
  • jump rope
  • mini recorder
  • stuffed dog
  • pencil case

Since we had extra room in some of the boxes, we also made magnetic playsets out of altoid tins. (Click on the picture for a full tutorial!)

Altoid Tin Magnet Playsets- perfect to tuck into the purse or diaper bag!

Packing everything into the box without breaking anything can be a challenge. We read that sunglasses are a big hit, so we put them in each box last year. To safely pack them, we wrapped them up with the washcloths.

how to pack sunglasses in a shoebox

Some other things that helped us to pack the boxes full:

  • Store smaller items inside water bottles or pencil bags.
  • Remove bulky packaging. (Some places may not have sanitation services to remove garbage).
  • Store the soap in a plastic bag to keep everything from smelling “ivory fresh”!
  • Use rubber bands to hold together items that need to be folded in order to fit in the box.
  • Shop for items on clearance throughout the year! I keep a tote to collect bargains – a large pack of underwear for $1 at Walmart, toothbrushes at the Target Dollar spot clearance for 30 cents, a bag of new happy meal stuffed animals from the thrift store, etc.

Last, but not least, don’t forget to include a letter in your shoebox. My kids each write their own and then we include a picture- sometimes an extra Christmas card picture from the year before. We have also traced their hands on the lid of the box and prayed for the child who would receive the gift.

You can see more shoebox ideas here:

2-4yo Ladybug Themed Shoebox

Altoid Tin Magnetic Playset Tutorial

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