Wednesday, October 31

Shoebox Gifts: How + Why

Guys, did you know it's Shoebox Season??? Every year Operation Christmas Child delivers gifts around the world, and you can be a part of it! Drop-off week is November 12-19 this year, so let's get packing!

We look forward to this every year because - not only is it tons of fun - it's a great way to get your kids to think about giving in a season that's usually all about getting. Don't have kids to do it with? It's still super fun and an amazing opportunity to give!

All you do is take the kids (or yourself) to the store and fill a shoebox with all the gifts you can pack in. Then Samaritan's Purse International Relief will deliver the boxes around the world to impoverished little boys and girls who wouldn't get a single Christmas gift without you.

Here's all you need:
  • a shoebox (we like to buy plastic shoeboxes that can be also be used as buckets if needed)
  • age appropriate toys (you can see the age categories and suggested gifts here, plus a list of things you can NOT include like toy weapons, candy, or liquid soaps.)
  • a letter or drawing to the child
  • OCC printed label for your box (plus $9 to help cover shipping and other expenses)
  • A large rubber band to secure the lid

That's it! We love letting each boy pack a box for a boy his own age. Here are some of our favorite gifts each year:

  • deflated soccer ball and a manual pump (this takes up a lot of space so we can't fit quite as many other goodies. but it's a great gift!)
  • stuffed animals (we are using these puppies this year. or dolls are great for a little girl!)
  • small cars
  • small balls (these ones are great for little guys because they are durable rubber and won't deflate)
  • small lego sets
  • notebook (try to plan ahead and get the school supply items during the back-to-school sales!)
  • colored pencils
  • pencil sharpener
  • pencils/pens
  • crayons
  • scissors
  • washcloths
  • toothbrush
  • plastic cup
  • flashlight with extra batteries
These won't all fit in one box, but these have been our tried and true favorites so we usually end up with a variety from this list. It helps to take the shoebox with you around the store and see what will fit! We start with the largest "wow item" (usually a soccer ball or larger stuffed animal depending on the age group) then fill in as much as we can fit around that. Here's what all our boxes looked like last year:

Two 5-9 year old boxes and one 2-4 year old box

Here are the 5-9 year old boxes (we deflated the soccer balls to fit them in):

And the 2-4 year old box:

Once your boxes are packed, you need to add the label to show the gender and age your gift is intended for. You can print a tracking label here and pay the $9 fee online, or print the basic label here and include a $9 check in the box. we like to do the tracking label because it prints with a barcode they scan at delivery, then they will send you an email and tell you where your box was sent!

Use a couple rubber bands to secure the lid, then drop your boxes at a drop-off location.

Drop off week this year is November 12-19. You can find a drop-off location here, along with info about which days and times you can drop off.

Last year we made three boxes and spent under $100 total:

$9 shipping per box
$16 teddy bear box
$26 each soccer ball box

It's a great price to give a child an entire Christmas!

If you don't have time to make a box this year, you can build a box online and they will put it together for you!

Don't forget drop-off week is November 12-19! We can't wait!

Have you packed a box for Operation Christmas Child before? We'd love to hear your favorite items to pack!


  1. Giving . . . a great way to celebrate the heart of Christmas.

    1. That's what we're hoping to teach our boys! :)

  2. We pack shoeboxes every year and a great way to do it inexpensively is to shop school supply sales in August-places like office supply stores have penny deals that time of year, or notebooks for 10 cents, crayons for 25 cents, etc. We also pack multiple boxes and buy packs of stuffed animals, toys, sunglasses, etc. from Oriental Trading. You can search for items based on reviews and read reviews to make sure the items are good quality.

    1. Great tips! We've done the school supply sales but I never thought to check Oriental Trading. Thanks!