Sunday, November 13, 2011


Only one week left to go before collection week (Nov. 21-27) here in Canada for the shoe boxes collected by Operation Christmas Child!  What a lot of fun it has been to shop and pack those boxes.  Generally, we make one box per child but this year the grandparents in our church were challenged to make one for each of their grandchildren so I am making 10 this year, 5 of our own and 5 at the request of the grandparents.  At the very end of October, we took the kids out for a night of shopping - SO MUCH FUN!  We hit up the dollar store and Walmart and then went out for supper to cap it off!

I thought I would share with you what we put into our boxes and a bit on my philosophy behind why we choose what we do and where we buy our things. 

First of all, I like to buy plastic shoe boxes but not from the dollar store.  I buy ones from Walmart or London Drugs - something that is a bit less likely to break super easy.  I own the dollar store ones for my shoes and so long as you don't use them much, they work fine.  The lids also don't tend to close well but for shoes that is just fine.  I also own the ones we bought this year for shoe boxes and I love them.  No, they are not indestructible but I find them to seal better and handle use better.  My theory is that a plastic shoebox will last much longer than the cardboard ones and can be used by the mom as a food storage container or something of the sort.  We may have Tupperware here in spades but you can guarantee that the recipients of these boxes don't.

Besides your commonly bought things like toothbrushes and soap (in a plastic bag) and washcloths, combs, hair accessories, and school supplies like markers, crayons (in a plastic bag), pencils, sharpeners, erasers, notepads, coloring book, etc., I also like to put in some clothing.  We always check out the clearance racks in Walmart or Superstore and you can find really cute shirts for about $3; less if you are watching really carefully.  I would never put a shirt in the box that I wouldn't put on my own child so I check out the style or color or message of the shirt carefully.  I don't do, "Oh, that is good enough!"  I want to honor them with great choices, not just good enough!

I love to make little bandana skirts for the girls.  Super simple to make and a new article of clothing for them.  You just take two bandanas (dollar store ones are fine), one for the front and one for the back, sew them together at the sides, make a casing for elastic, insert the elastic and you are done!  No hemming or finishing of the seams is required since you are working with bandanas that are finished on all edges.  These are fairly thin skirts but perfect for the warm weather where the recipients live.

Sunglasses are a must and the dollar store is perfect for these!

I made sure to include purses in each of the girl's boxes.  If I can't find purses, I put in cosmetic bags.  Every little girl likes to have a purse, right?  The dollar store is fine once again - I personally have a cosmetic bag from the dollar store and it has served its purpose well.  In the purses we put all the hair accessories or jewelry (the girls made beaded bracelets for them).

Some things the boys like to include in their boxes (if we can find them) are slingshots, harmonicas, marbles, hats, toy cars, a game of some sort like jacks, magnifying glass, etc.  We don't usually include socks since they are likely to wear sandals instead of shoes and socks would get really dirty if they are used at all.

This year I included some fun band aids in each box - cannot go wrong with that!  I was also able to find a really cute pair of flip flops for $1.  In the future, I will be shopping year round and watching out for sales so I can include shoes in each box.  I have already picked up extra school supplies for next year from a bargain store that was going out of business.

We also put in a little bit of hard candy for the kids.  I bought individually wrapped Jolly Ranchers and some candy necklaces and put some in each box, in a plastic bag, of course.

I do not include any Barbie-like dolls.  I find them to be expensive and I don't buy them for my own girls to play with.  I think there are better dolls out there or better alternatives like Strawberry Shortcake or My Little Pony.  That is just a personal opinion.  I do think every little boy should have a stuffed animal and every little girl needs a teddy or some sort of doll.  I will be making a couple of rag dolls this week so that my 5-9 year old girl's boxes each have a doll.

We have just about finished shopping and packing the boxes though a couple things remain like pencil sharpeners.  These I refuse to buy at the dollar store since I always find they either don't work or break easily.  I need to make a trip to an office supply store and buy a multi-pack - those seem to last longer.

Later on this week, once I have everything we need, I will be sure to show you some of the boxes and talk a bit about the letters we write and how we pray for the kids getting these boxes.

Are you participating in Operation Christmas Child this year?  What special sorts of gifts are you sure to include in the boxes to make it special?  I invite you to join in - you have one week left to do some shopping so if you haven't started, better get a move on! 


  1. What a wonderful Mom you are and setting such a great example for your children to mirror and follow as they grow! I love the idea of the "fun" band aids and never even thought of that. I so agree with if you would not put it on your child why buy it for the recipients of these gift boxes? Do you print off all of the labels for Operation Christmas Child before delivering to the drop off center or just take them there with the gifts in them and they address the labels? I wasn't sure about that. thanks, Debbie.

  2. Hi Debbie, You can find labels in the How to Pack a Shoe Box brochures or on this web page:
    If you can't access the labels either way, just write in the "label space" on the shoe box whether it's for a boy or girl and ages 2-4, 5-9, or 10-14, and a label will be attached when the box is at the processing center. Happy shoe box packing! -- Carla @ Samaritan's Purse

  3. So many good ideas here; I'll have to make note of a few for next year! Love the idea of tucking in an article of clothing, and having the kids make something to go in as well (like the beaded bracelet). Where did you get your shoebox t-shirt :)?


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