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
- Soap and soap boxes (the linked set has 6 boxes)
- First Aid Kit
- Notepad (this barely fit)
- Glue stick
- Pencil sharpener
- Toothbrush and toothpaste kit with container. Here’s a set of 20 bamboo toothbrushes. Check the price on Amazon.
- Eraser (Bought a set of two, removed packaging and put one in each shoe box)
- Melamine bowl (found at Target)
- Flash Light (bought a set of four and split between the boxes), but here’s a set of 20 with batteries installed.
- Batteries (AAA for flash light)
- Stuffed toy
- Slinky (the metal ones)
- Art supplies
Ideas for Girls
- 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
Ideas for Boys
- Tape Measure
- Foam football (or get a deflated ball and a small hand pump)
- Combs (here’s a set of 6 combs)
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.
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!
Other Service Project Ideas
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Danielle Pientka is the sewing and DIY blogger behind DIYDanielle.com. She taught herself to sew in 2011 when she wanted to make cloth diapers for her first son. She’s been sewing everything from ecofriendly items to kids products to clothing since, as it has become a passion. She loves learning how to do new things and teaching others in the process. She hopes to inspire other moms to take time for themselves to find their own creative passion.
Danielle lives in Maryland with her three young sons and her husband, Brandon. In her spare time, she gardens, reads, horseback rides, and has a small homestead with goats and ducks. Visit her shop to buy patterns or her sewing eBooks. Subscribe to her newsletter to get blog updates, free patterns and other printables by clicking here.