Christmas Shoe Boxes: How I do it


I love giving a box filled with hope! Children world-wide receive a shoe box packed with surprises and get a chance to learn about hope thru Christ through Operation Christmas Child.

Let’s be clear: No child is taught to hate any other group of people.

This is a child-appropriate program on God’s love and Salvation.

That’s it. A message of hope. A box of hope. A life given hope and changed forever.

How I Do This

Some years, while my children were growing up, I did one or two boxes and that was truly sacrificial giving. Today I can do more and am happy to do so. How do I pack 30 or so boxes? First of all, this is a calling–a labor of love. While I do not track at all what I spend, I do have “price points” I watch for and try not to exceed for most items. Over the years, after adopting my kids, I learned to to stretch money as only a single mother can. I learned to hunt like a truffle-sniffing animal the clearance isles and tiny pockets of clearance goods in all sorts of stores. But I always ask:

Would my child wear this?

I don’t mean “following a horrendous event like a hurricane while shivering naked, would my child be willing to put this on to be warm?” But would they be willing to wear it in real life?



37 pairs of girls’ cuffed socks for $7.00. Boys underpants for 50 cents per pair. A nice fanny pack for $2.00 to pair with a $1 girl’s red polo shirt. 25 cent bandanas? All tings my kids would have accepted (well, maybe not the bandanas–I line girl boxes with them).  I find the “deals” and grab them year-round. After back to school, solid color tees and polos are a big bargain. Walmart had stacks for $1 each. I prefer the polos because they hold up better to washing without a washer and dryer. Tees get so stretched. Why underwear? It’s about dignity. And, for girls, it’s another layer of protection. Sadly, girls are not valued in most of the world. Ad I write this the NYT ran a story this morning on child marriage. Enough said.


How I Keep Track of What is Still Needed



I use my bullet journal to keep track my shoe box inventory. The photos above show my set-up for last year of ALL that is needed so I can shop for bargains and the new page for this year’s item-specific inventory. I do boxes for both boys and girls and all ages, but try to do more older child boxes as the need is greatest there–especially for boys.

How Do I Sort and Store all of it

Sunday afternoon I reorganized to start the “hoarding” for the 2018 collection. I have a set of bookshelves and, thanks to the blogger I’m An Organizing Junkie, I learned “containerizing” to keep things organized.  A label maker and whatever baskets and empty shoe boxes I could spare were all I needed.



On the left is the entire IKEA bookcase. I still use the bottom two shelves for family scrapbooks and photos and misc (like that orange backpack that needs a home). The top shelf has hygiene, a pair of shoes for some future box, pens/pencils and pencil bags. In a later post I will share more on these.

The second shelf from the top is the boy’s shelf, below it the girl’s. There are baskets for shirts, underwear, and socks. Within the baskets–you can see this with socks–I have little children’s sizes and big children’s sizes in separate, labeled, Ziplock bags.

The final shelf [for now] has food/water items, toys, a box of sturdy shopping bags that I sometimes add to big girl boxes, and hair/jewelry items. As the year goes on, the scrapbooks will have to find a new home so I can add baskets for more stuffed animals, dolls and soccer balls.

I sort the items into baskets and keep things like stuffed animals or clothing dust free in grocery bags. As I build boxes I bag them as well. A nice aqua polo for a girl gets paired with an aqua or other coordinating bandana, a few pairs of underpants, socks and some fun things like jewelry. I don’t overdue the hair things because most of the girls in Africa shave their heads for school. But headbands work well with any hair style. Bracelets and earrings, too.



Picture: Water bottles are a great item to pack. And you can put little stuff in them for easier packing.

It’s not too late to pack a shoe box! There is still one month until collection day. Remember, this year neither toothpaste nor candy is allowed due to customs’ regulations in many countries. And, please? Don’t pack deodorant, Kleenex, tampons, wet wipes, q-tips and DO remove all the packaging. The big Rumpke truck doesn’t go to these places. That Barbie box will blow around forever (and Barbie may be maimed or destroyed when someone unfamiliar with draconian American toy packaging tries to rip her from the  box).



6 thoughts on “Christmas Shoe Boxes: How I do it

  1. What a fun read! I love seeing your methods and reading them described. I think I’m doing about 5 boxes this year. I have my goodies all spread across the bedroom and sometimes treat myself to 30 minutes “working” on them 🙂 It’s relaxing and enjoyable — truly one of the best parts of the Christmas season.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Such a great read! I really need to have a look at boxes and collection points near me this year! I love the trackers, so simple yet effective! I love wrapping the boxes and making them look great, sorting which stuff goes in which box!

    Liked by 1 person

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