Book Reviews

There’s Still Time to Pack a Shoebox!


This Saturday, November 12th, I’ll open my Virtual Packing Party!! Come by and post links to your posts on packing shoeboxes! Share great finds or ideas with other shoebox packers! No blog? No problem–just email me your photos and what you want the caption to say and I’ll add them to my sticky post of the Virtual Packing Party. It’ll top my blog until collection is done on November 21.



What NOT to pack.

The official list of what not to pack in an Operation Christmas Child Shoebox is simple:

“Used or damaged items; war-related items such as toy guns, knives, or military figures; chocolate or food; out-of-date candy; fruit rolls or other fruit snacks; drink mixes (powdered or liquid); liquids or lotions; medications or vitamins; breakable items such as snow globes or glass containers; aerosol cans.”

I don’t consider a never-worn or indistinguishable-from-new item to be “used.” If it has only hung in the closet, it isn’t “used.”

Here are things not to pack:

Kleenex Seriously?? Do you  think they don’t blow their noses on something? Kleenex just means trash.

Wet wipes. Same as Kleenex.

Dental Floss. I can’t even….

Deodorant (This is unknown in many cultures and its use is not sustainable–they cannot continue using it on their own income).

Toothpaste Next year you won’t be allowed to send it anyway. Plus, brushing with water is sustainable. The habit is most of the battle to save teeth.Make sure to include a toothbrush though!! Sharing a toothbrush even is better than not brushing, no matter how gross that is. But a new toothbrush is a must in each box in my opinion.

Soap  People all over the world bathe somehow! In Malawi there were brands of soap that villagers would night buy–they were “English” (that is, for whites) and they sometimes even feared they would lighten their skin. Sounds funny to us, but it wasn’t to them. Also shampoo often comes in different colors for different cultures. I’ve sent soap this year when I had room. Last year I forgot it! I can’t imagine any child, anywhere, missing it. It helps out the parents though. Hopefully they can buy a tiny bit more food one week if the child brings home a bar of acceptable soap.

Tampons (Not having enough to change them puts girls at risk of toxic shock syndrome; also many cultures do not allow them until marriage. Plus, would you want to open a Christmas gift and see THOSE on top?) [Same is true of donating to women’s shelters–donate pads, not tampons due to toxic shock threat]. Send re-useable cloth pads instaed (see below).

Seeds There are all kinds of laws on importing anything related to plants.

Toy Food….um isn’t that pretty TACKY??? Kids with insufficient food given PLASTIC food?

Anything from any election, fundraiser,  etc., except possibly a good quality notebook or water bottle, pens or pencils and maybe a good fleece winter hat or earband. No election t-shirts! Just tacky. (Make no-sew grocery bags out of those t-shirts).

Stick-on glow-in the dark stars. While some in Eastern Europe might understand and enjoy these, when you live in a one room or one-bedroom apartment where would you stick them?

Anything sexy: Clothing–especially underwear–that enhances the sexual appeal of a young child is not appropriate Stick to plain, classic styles. Nothing that looks more mature. In many, many places girls are at risk of being prostituted.

Bandaids?? I’m on the fence with these. How useful are they if they cover an unwashed wound? These are better donated to medical missionaries.

Stuffed or plastic snakes. Snakes are evil most places.

Anything with skull and crossbones. Like snakes–evil to many cultures.

Anything that aims at making a political statement.

Quick last minute ideas


Pack a box online–for $25 Operation Christmas Child will do a box for you. Click here to do this.

The greatest need is for the oldest boys and girls–especially the boys. A Theme Box can be quick and easy.


Boy’s Theme “Career” Box



  1. Inexpensive tool set–click the source link for the one pictured above
  2. Tool belt of nylon tool bag
  3. Small selection of paint brushes
  4. Work Gloves
  5. School supplies
  6. Carhartt t-shirt and hat (or similar)
  7. Underpants, socks, toothbrush, washcloth
  8. Diagrams of how to do simple replairs (just print them off)
  9. Waterbottle–pack little stuff in it to save space
  10. Hacky-sack or deck of cards or similar fun items (I found these in the party section at Dollar Tree and they hold up just fine).


Girl’s Stay-in-School Box


  1. 2-3 Reusable Menstrual Hygiene Pads  (dark colors) with a gallon Ziplock bag and a drawstring bag (dark colors) and 2 pairs dark underpants, dark wash cloths and soap. Be discreet!! Pack these in the bottom in the drawstring bag. You can buy these on Etsy and support a small business. Here’s one seller’s link.
  2. Drawstring backpack or tote bag for school–heavy nylon drawstring bags are easy to pack and are durable.
  3. Good selection of regular and colored pens and pencils (with small sharpener) in a nice pencil bag.
  4. Solar calculator suitable for high school.
  5. Geometry set.
  6. Inflatable globe
  7. Small flashlight & batteries for nighttime study
  8. Chalk for her teacher
  9. Small, pretty wall calendar
  10. Composition books (The kind with plastic covers are easier to pack than the traditional ones with cardboard covers).
  11. Craft supplies for fun or to make and sell. Examples: Two skeins of yarn and an appropriate crochet hook with picture instructions. Paracord, clasps and photo instructions. Beading supplies. Make sure you include picture instructions.
  12. A nice quality shirt and socks.
  13. Dollar Tree Sewing kit or similar
  14. Other small fun gifts–Chapstick, necklace, hair accessories, Dollar Tree grown up coloring book, tiny stuffed animal, inexpensive earrings etc.
  15. Bandana (I always “wrap” girl’s stuff in a bandana.
  16. Ttoothbrush, comb or hairbrush.
  17. If you can creatively pack a water bottle or cup with a tight lid is good. Stuff things inside it to create more room. Check Pinterst and Youtube for creative packing tutorials.



Have you packed any theme boxes this year? Leave me a comment and/or a link.




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