If you've never heard of Operation Christmas Child, I encourage you to read here about these little shoeboxes filled with love. Last year Samaritan's Purse delivered the 100,000,000th box! Collection week is usually the third week in November, and you can find your closest collection location here.
Today I thought I'd share a few tips and tricks we use to put together our shoe boxes for OCC. Since we know we will be putting these together in late October/early November every year, we purchase and collect things all year long rather than waiting until the week they are due. Everything goes on sale sometime, and if you plan ahead you can pay half the price or less for the same stuff, which means you could fill twice as many boxes! : ) Here's how we gather things all year long in preparation.
Right after Christmas, stores are filled with all kind of plastic storage solutions, including shoebox size boxes with lids. We pick these up for $0.99 and save them for the next year's boxes.
Going on a vacation in the Summer? If you stay in a hotel save the little individually packaged soaps, they are perfect for shoeboxes.
When back-to-school rolls around school supplies and art supplies are super cheap. Crayons don't expire and I'd so much rather pay 25-50 cents a box than 1-2 dollars a box. We stock up on crayons, watercolor paints, markers, colored pencils and pencil sharpeners.
The day after Halloween is the perfect time to pick up some half price (or less) candy. Remember to only pack hard candies, nothing that will melt (no chocolate) or go stale. Suckers and Smarties are our fav to send, and we stuff all remaining cracks in the box with candy.
Since we plan everything above, it only leaves a few things to buy right before we pack up the boxes. We stop by the dollar store and pick up some small toys and toiletries.
We found these little dolls at the dollar store, which were the perfect size. I thought a couple of outfits and a blanket would be a fun addition, since half the fun of having a doll is changing her and putting her to bed. : ) I just traced her body onto some scrap paper to make a quick pattern for a dress and skirt.
This one ended up getting two elastic waist skirts and a shawl.
Our last stop was a trip to Walmart for socks and hats. This year I also included some bags from the Target dollar spot, since they always have some kind of kid bag in there and I thought that would be a great place to keep all their new treasures.
Our boxes are done and ready to drop off. Hope some of these ideas are helpful. Happy shoebox packing!