Tuesday, November 1, 2011

How to Inexpensively Pack a Shoe Box for Operation Christmas Child

A common consensus about packing a shoe box for Operation Christmas Child is that it can be costly.  Although that can be true, I'm going to show you how to pack a shoebox for about $5 a box, much less then the typical $10-$15 many people spend. 

First, you need a shoebox. These can be free from shoe departments and shoe stores.  You could possibly have an extra one hiding in the back of your closet.  If you plan to pack in bulk, it might be worth your time and money to get them HERE for a nominal fee. 

It's your preference, if you are trying to pack the box as inexpensively as possible go with a cardboard box.  Plastic shoe boxes are more expensive, at about $1 a box, but are much more durable and can be reused and repurposed.  Here is a plastic box I had already.

 Running total $0.00

So far, if you use a cardboard shoebox your running total is $0.00.
I purchased several packs of these wash clothes at JCPenney.  They were marked down to $5 and I used a $10 off $10 purchase coupon.  Got 2 packs for FREE! 
 Running total is $0.00.

These combs were purchased at Walgreens.  Although these could easily be purchased with the overage we sometimes get from coupons and register rewards, I purchased these with neither.  There are 20 in a pack and they cost $2, making each comb worth $0.10.
 Running total $0.10

 Next, we have some hair ties.  As you can see they came from the dollar section at Target.  There are 12 in a pack, making each hair tie worth $0.08.  I'm putting two in each girls box.

 Running total $0.26

The next item we love to put in the shoe boxes are...well...SHOES=)  Although flip flops are perfectly fine and take up minimal space, I prefer to give tennis shoes.  I used to give flip flops and sandals, but I decided to concentrate on finding tennis shoes and my budget is $3 a pair.  Sometimes I will go a little over, but I pretty much stick to that price point.  I like the concept of tennis shoes because they won't break like flip flops do, they last longer, and they are better made for walking the distance (and these children can walk many miles a day).  The cute pair of Dora the Explorer shoes below have a price tag of $12, but they were marked 75% off at Dollar General, making them $3 a pair.  Right on budget=)
 Running total $3.26

If you are a couponer you probably remember the $0.50 Ivory Soap coupon a couple months back.  They were priced at $1 for a 3 pack at Kroger, and since the coupon doubled it made for FREE soap.  Perfect for the shoe boxes!  The toothpaste was a free sample from Wal-Mart, but again if you coupon when was the last time you actually paid for toothpaste?  The Reach toothbrush was FREE once again at Kroger because it was $1 and I had a $1 coupon.

 Running total $3.26

I hear that the children REALLY LOVE stuffed animals.  This is normally not something we pack, but decided to this year.  I bought this cute little bunny after Easter this year.  She was marked down to $0.75.  There weren't too many left, but I was able to get a few.  Cheaper then the Dollar Store.  

Running total $4.01

The next picture came from Halloween markdowns.  We've never put a bowl in a shoe box, but these were originally 2/$1 but they were half price after Halloween making them $0.25 each.  The paddle ball and kaleidoscope were left over goodies from last year's post Halloween shopping, and cost $0.05 each.  The big bat (and yes I know, this box is for a girl, but the bat glows in the dark, which is kinda cool) was $0.08 and the ring was $0.02 after post Halloween markdowns.

Running total $4.46

 This picture is of those draw string bags (not sure the actual name for them).  But we often get these for free.  We've received free ones while at the mall one day and it was advertising The Arts for the city.  My husband brought 2 of these home race weekend and again, they were FREE=)  I thought they would be perfect for the shoe boxes.  The children can carry their goodies in them.  It can make travel a bit more convenient too!

 Running total $4.46

Does your child have a massive...uhum....small collection of McDonald's toys?  Why not put one in a shoe box?  Again, FREE=)
 Running total $4.46

School supplies are wonderful items to help fill a shoe box.  Remember that many of these are going to third world countries and an education is really the only hope of escape.  These children cherish school supplies.  August/Back-to-School is the perfect time to get some great deals.  I purchased the notebook for $0.05. the pencils were $0.05 each (if you get the basic yellow ones they are actually cheaper), and the ink pens were $0.05 for two.  Again if you area a couponer, you may remember some great coupons that made for free ink pens.  The crayons were $0.20.  

 Running total $4.86

Lastly, just as a filler I bought this bag of suckers.  They were $0.98, which equals out to a little over $0.01 each, $0.013 to be exact.  Throw 10 suckers in.  Cost is 0.13.

  Running total $4.99

So there you have it....a packed shoe box for under $5!  With a little bit of preparation and thought, you can pack a great shoe box "on the cheap!"  Don't forget to incorporate these ideas anytime in your community too!  Some places/people who could use items similar to this are:

-students in need

-the homeless

-battered women's shelter

-foster homes

-local children's hospitals

Please refer to Samaritans Purse for guidelines of what are acceptable items to pack.  Thanks for reading and please leave you comments below and share any other ideas.  I'd love to hear them ALL=)


  1. According to the Samaritans Purse site, the candy needs to be double bagged, and soap needs to be in a plastic bag as well.

  2. Great tips! I have two boxes to fill and always wonder what's the best items to put in them.

  3. Awesome ideas! Thanks for sharing -- this is great advice. I love to pack the Operation Christmas Child boxes with my children and your suggestions make it possible to do a few more on a shoestring budget!

  4. thank you for the great ideas! I've forwarded this to my MOPS group :)

  5. I bought TONS if marked down Christmas toys last year for 75% off for our boxes. I have never done operation Christmas child. .. so I am looking forward to it

  6. I want to see a pic of how you got all of that to fit in the box!! Great job!

  7. I went on their website, and it says that you have to include a donation of $7 for each box you donate.

  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

  9. Thanks for the tip @Patrick, I haven't reviewed the guidelines lately.

    @Mandy, the $7 is a suggested donation that helps cover shipping costs. If you can contribute that's great...but if not, that's okay too=)

    1. if you are only doing one box that is fine. but if you more then one box you really need to help with shipping cause someone has to pay it.

  10. That is so awesome! We (hubby & I) are planning on doing this with our girls this year. They are so super excited to do this! :) Thanks for sharing! :)

  11. How fantastic! Thank you for sharing!

  12. Jeremy and Kara - You would be surprised how much you can fit into a shoe box. Last year I put a t-shirt in the boy's box and shirt and pair of pants in the girl's. I used one of the clear plastic boxes. I would close the lid then look for unused space where I might be able to stick a little something extra in. By doing this I was able to send several of the small toys that she's mentioned here. I think I also sent full sized toothpaste and soap. There's lots of room in those boxes. It's fun to see just how much you can fit into them.

  13. Just found your post... and will be linking on my OCC blog. I have been amazed at the wonderful deals available if we search.. I had TOTALLY forgotten about the $10 off $10 or more purchase coupons! Awesome deal! Even without them, multipacks of washclothes will generally let you buy them for around 25 cents each. :)

  14. you have to add a stuffed toy! watch the videos they all look for the softies to love!