Friday, November 14, 2014

Operation Christmas Child Packing Tips and Ideas's almost the week before Thanksgiving so that means it's Operation Christmas Child National Collection Week!! I get questions all the time about what to pack in a shoebox.  You can check out the OCC website here to get some ideas but I thought I'd show you what we packed into one of our boxes this year.

The only things missing are a toothbrush and toothpaste - not sure how I missed those in my shopping trips but we'll pick those up tomorrow.  I shop all year round and keep a rubbermaid bin in my crawl space to corral everything.  I find that by shopping the clearance racks and back to school sales all year round I can put a nice box together without having to take out a 2nd mortgage!  I also find the dollar store to be a great place for stuffed animals, hair pretties, and small toys.  (However, you have to be careful because they don't always have the best price on hygiene type items and their school supplies are really overpriced.)  Oh, and Peanut wanted me to relay that I'm on his naughty list since I didn't bring one of those stuffed animals home for him.  He actually gave me the most pitiful looks the whole time I was removing all the tags on the fluffy creatures.  I told him I'd post a pic of him here to make up for my failings - not sure he is finding that much solace though.  Maybe if he's good Santa will bring him some fluffy lovies all his own and if he's really, really good they might even have squeakers!

Oh...that reminds me of something else.  For the most part I remove all the packaging.  I leave the packaging on the crayons and colored pencils because that is the best way for the kids to store them.  But the rest of the packaging gets removed and thrown away.  Most of these places the boxes are traveling to do not really have efficient trash removal methods and it also allows me to get more items in my boxes.  Have you ever realized how much trash is involved in the items we buy?  It will astound you when you really take the time to look at it all.

We use the plastic shoe boxes from Walmart (please don't buy those cheap ones from the dollar store - they end up breaking before they ever leave the country - spend an extra 50 cents and get one of the ones from Walmart or Target).  Also...I do not wrap the boxes.  I line the inside with a bright bandana or piece of fabric instead.  I have several reasons for that.  First is that I like to make everything in my box useable and the kids will get much more use out of fabric than they would the paper.  While Christmas wrapping paper is pretty it really won't last long and has a tendency to get messed up in the shipping process anyway.  Second is that I really suck at wrapping and it frustrates me to no end trying to wrap the lid and box separate.  If you choose to wrap your gift, please make sure you wrap the lid and box separate.  The boxes need to be openable (is that really a word?).  All boxes are opened at the sorting center to make sure there isn't anything problematic in the box (such as liquids, medicinal items, meltable or breakable treasures, or other such prohibited items.)

After you have everything in your box place your suggested $7.00 per box donation on the top of your items, rubber band the lid on, and attach your label on the end of the box like shown in the picture above.  I personally use the online donation option.  That way I can also track what country my box goes to via the barcoded label you can print out.  I also include a letter to the child with a couple pictures.  I place that letter in an envelope that is clearly marked "Letter for Child - No Money Enclosed" and I tape it to the inside of the lid so it doesn't get lost.

I hope these tips help you out with your boxes this year and if you've never packed a box before, I hope I've encouraged you to make a difference in a child's life.  We have been packing boxes for 13 years now and it's become a family tradition that we all really enjoy.

For more information on Operation Christmas Child or to find your closest donation location please visit the website I linked up above or leave me a comment here and I'll do my best to answer.