How to Pack Operation Christmas Child Shoe Boxes

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Tips for packing Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes. What to put inside and how to pack it!

Tips for packing Operation Christmas Child Shoe Boxes for boys and girls. Ideas for what to put in the boxes, how to fit everything, and more.

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This post was originally published in November 2015, but was updated December 2019.

I’ve been pretty excited because my MOPS group is collecting shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child. I have never done this before and it was just such a fun opportunity to do something for kids in need. I had a GREAT time packing the shoe boxes. The boys helped a little, but I did most of the work because I didn’t want them running off with my supplies.

I did find myself leaning strongly towards items that are useful. Maybe it’s a complete mom thing, but I wanted to make sure the kids had hygiene and safety items first.

How to Pack an Operation Christmas Child Shoe Box

Items to Pack for Operation Christmas Child Shoe Boxes

You can get shoe boxes directly from the Operation Christmas Child program, either in plastic or paper. The shoe boxes from OCC come in sets of 12 or 25 so you may want to split them with a group if you’re not planning to donate that many. In fact, you may find it beneficial to buy supplies in bulk as a group so you can save money while also increasing how much you’re able to donate.

I found a set of plastic boxes at 5 for $4.66 on clearance at Target, but one person mentioned in the comments that these plastic boxes can break; it may be a good idea to use the ones provided by OCC.

Gender Neutral Ideas

Ideas for Girls

Along with a sewing kit, I was able to fit Dominoes, hair ties, a shirt, a slinky, UNO cards, and other items in a box for a 10-14 year old girl.
Along with a sewing kit, I was able to fit Dominoes, hair ties, a shirt, toothbrush, folding cups, a slinky, UNO cards, and other items in a box for a 10-14 year old girl.
  • Girl: Sewing kit (I added cuts of fabric to sew, making sure to stick with neutral type prints)
  • Hair elastics
  • Jump rope
  • Embroidery thread
  • Hair brush
I put together a sewing kit to include this year. There's safety pins, pins, hand sewing needles, scissors, a seam ripper, measuring tape, thread, and a pin cushion!
I put together a sewing kit to include this year. There’s safety pins, pins, hand sewing needles, scissors, a seam ripper, measuring tape, thread, and a pin cushion!

Ideas for Boys

My son picked out some colored pencils, a drawing kit, and a sketchbook as art supplies to go in a box for a boy, 5-9 years old.

Packing Tips for the Operation Christmas Child Boxes

I actually came across this advice on what to put in the shoe boxes and found it super helpful. Make sure you read it because there are a lot of things that I just wouldn’t have thought of.

Obviously most of this “work” involves stuffing all of the stuff into a shoe box! Not too complicated, but I wanted to address a couple of ideas and suggestions.

  • It would be helpful to have the shoe boxes available on your shopping trip to make sure everything will fit. You can fill them as you go, then empty them for cashier to scan when you get to register.
  • To save money, you can buy some things in bulk or use items you have at home due to buying in bulk. For example, I had lots of extra bars of soap that were in their original box, seeing we buy soap in bulk.
  • Instead of using a cardboard shoe box, I opted to use a plastic one. They were on clearance at Target for $4.66 for a set of 5! I was so excited. My understanding is that they can be useful for the kids to haul water in.
    • A note from Kari-Anne in the comments section: “My friend is a part of the Samaritan’s Purse organization. She told me when the boxes are delivered the plastic containers are most often broken, and sometimes punctures other items. So please an try alternative to the plastic. A cloth makeup bag, school supply case or even a pillow case, that could be reused for many practical purposes.”
  • To pack more inside each box, I did remove some items from their original packaging. I decided what to keep in packaging based on what I’d want someone to do if they gifted me a box. For example, I removed the pencil sharpeners and soap boxes from their original packaging, but kept the soap in the original packaging (a box).
  • I used Ziplock bags on items I was concerned could melt- ie. the soap, the glue stick.

When I’m done packing all of the main items, I lay new socks in the gaps and on top. I hope this helps give a little cushion to the box so as to protect the contents.

Socks in top of shoe box.

Follow Your Box Labels

You can purchase ‘follow your box labels’ from Operation Christmas Child, then get notifications of where your box went. We did this one year, but you don’t get lots of information.

If I recall, we found out what country our box was sent to and I ended up showing the kids where it was on the map.   If you want to really keep in touch and help out a child in another country, consider a program like Unbound. We sponsor a child through their program and we get letters, information on their area, and more.

Filled Boxes By Age

Here’s the boxes that I packed. Share photos of your boxes in the comments section!

Boy, 5-9

Shoe box for boy, 5-9
 

Girl, 5-9

Operation Christmas Child Shoe Box for 5-9 year old.
 

Boy, 10-14

OCC box for a teenage boy.
 

Girl, 10-14

Operation Christmas Child Shoe Box for Girls, 10-14 years old

Other Service Project Ideas

Sew Angel Gowns to Donate to the Hospital: Learn how to convert wedding gowns and/or bridesmaid gowns into burial gowns for babies who pass at birth or soon after.
 
Charitable Christmas Gifts: Charities you can donate to in a friend or family member’s name for Christmas.
 
Making Care Packages for the Homeless: Ideas for making care packages for the homeless.

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What to pack in an Operation Christmas Child box, how to pack it, and more!

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5 thoughts on “How to Pack Operation Christmas Child Shoe Boxes”

  1. Very nice, Danielle. I suggest also removing excess packing from other items, as it is only garbage for them and may become litter in their streets. Besides, it's easier for you to remove it, since you probably have scissors handy, and no doubt a recycling bin. Take the cardboard labels off 1st-aid kit, from inside the toothbrush case, off the socks and hair elastics, and the soap box, for example. It all takes a bit more prep but on the other end it's easier for the child.

  2. My friend is a part of the Samaritan’s Purse organization. She told me when the boxes are delivered the plastic containers are most often broken, and sometimes punctures other items. So please an try alternative to the plastic. A cloth makeup bag, school supply case or even a pillow case, that could be reused for many practical purposes. I like your gift ideas and the removing wrapping part. Ball caps are great for most ages, and plain t-shirts. I find Micheal’s has the best quality for price and great colour selection. Keep up the great work!

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