How to pack a Shoebox


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Don’t forget, National Collection Week for Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes ix November 12-19, 2012! This is a short video I made showing how I packed my shoeboxes this year, followed by a photograph of my shoebox contents. It’s so easy to pack a shoebox! Please watch this video and read below for more helpful information to get you started.




1. Personal Hygiene Items – I’ve included a toothbrush and toothpaste that I got for $1 for the set at Dollar Tree. Hotel soaps from my friends who travel, a washcloth that came in a package of 18, and a brush and comb (also from Dollar Tree).

2. School Supplies – I’ve included a set of colored pencils (Dollar Tree), two #2 Pencils, a pencil sharpener, a small notebook (came in a package of three for $2.00), and a small ruler (free from our state tourism board).

3. Fun gifts just for the child: Scarf (Mama made these from fleece yardage she got on sale, no sewing needed), Polly Pocket doll in car (Clearance this past summer for $2.00), tiny teddy bear (Clearance for fifty cents), hard candy (Double bagged in quart sized freezer bags, even these bags are useful so I always tuck a few more down into the bottom), two plastic cups and a spoon.

4. Plastic Shoebox – please note that this is NOT necessary, it is just an added bonus. A cardboard shoebox will do just fine. However, if you can afford to get a plastic one (I got mine at Dollar General for $1 each), the kids really do enjoy them. Plastic shoeboxes can be used to carry water, hold food, or as a special keepsake box for children’s personal treasures. Marlene brought up a genuine concern in the comments about shoeboxes cracking. I’m sure this does happen from time to time but we gave out over 1000 on our trip to Ecuador and I never personally saw a cracked one. So fortunately, this is rare.

This is all it takes to pack a full shoebox but these items are just what I chose. The options for your shoebox are limitless. No matter how you pack it, be sure to add in a photograph of your family and a personal note to the child!

I’m often asked “Why doesn’t OCC give shoeboxes to children in our country?” The answer is that they absolutely do! Operation Christmas Child doesn’t put qualifiers on helping children and we shouldn’t either. If you feel called to help a child and you are able, never put a qualifier on it: They don’t live in my country, they don’t talk like I do, they don’t look like I do, they aren’t educated like I am, they don’t have the same faith I do, etc. You know what? Jesus didn’t talk like we do, look like we do, live in the same country we do. He didn’t look like us and he wasn’t educated like we are – and He could have said the same thing of us but He chose to give freely instead. If you can help a child and feel led to, don’t put qualifiers on it, just do it.

Some shoeboxes already packed by Southern Plate Family members this year:

Paige used Operation Christmas Child as an opportunity to teach her children about the spirit of giving and helping others. So many parents do this and you’re giving lifelong gifts to both your children and the children who receive the boxes! 

Meredith also got her precious daughter involved in packing their shoebox! 

and Margie packed a wonderful shoebox for a little boy! 


For full guidelines on how to pack a shoebox, please visit Operation Christmas Child by clicking here.


My friend, Kelly, did an excellent post on 101 ideas to pack a shoebox,

please click here to visit her post and get even more inspiration. 



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  1. Anita says

    Christy, This is a wonderful project! My church sends about 1500 of these boxes every year. When my girls were growing up I always picked one for each of us in the family and they loved filling them. My girls are grown and dont attend the same church that we do, but still ask if I will bring them a box. They love watching for things during the year to fill the boxes with. I cant imagine the joy of actually seeing the kids open them. You are very blessed to be able to do that. Good job!

  2. Indira says

    Hi, Christy, I`m so glad you`re coming here (Dominican Republic). I live here and we have a lot of kids that will appreciate all the work you are making. It`ll be a pleasure if I could help you. And of course, meet you :)

  3. says

    Christy, I have done this before with another group and it is very rewarding to feel that you can do something so small that could bring so much joy to a precious child. I have a suggestion. I get different stickers in the mail occasionally as advertisements. These would be great to save for this purpose. They wouldn’t take any extra room in the shoe box, many are just thrown away (which I always feel guilty about) and all kids love stickers. Good luck with this program. .

  4. Jets says

    I’ve participated in OCC through my church and other organizations for years and think that it is a truly wonderful program. My mother and I have the best time ever selecting items and packing the boxes. You can’t help but realize how blessed you are when you contemplate that the recipient have so very little and that opening one of these shoe boxes is equal to our fantasy treasure chest. I applaud you for promoting this worthy cause.

  5. Lauren says

    Hi Christy,
    I love your disclaimer about not using qualifiers! Like you said, Jesus certainly didn’t when He gave His life for every one of us! We definitely need to show His love to children all around the world. OCC has changed so many lives over the years, and it is wonderful to participate in this awesome program every year! :)

  6. Melinda says

    Hey Christie, We’ve been on the receiving end of the Christmas boxes – twice now! They are tons of fun to give out, and many many blessings and thankyous are sent back to the folks that pack ’em. One tip, I like to add.. since it takes awhile for some boxes to get where they are going.. if you are going to pack candy, don’t pack soap! While soap is great, the smell & taste permeates all edibles! Thanks ya”ll! keep packing those boxes!

  7. Nikki says


    I’ve followed your blog for quite some time now, so I feel like we’re great friends! I was thrilled this morning, while driving to work, when I heard you on the John Boy and Billy show. Thanks so much for sharing your story about Operation Christmas Child. I’ve always packed a shoebox, but this year, with a new baby, I felt like I was “too busy.” Hearing you talk about your experience made me realize that sometimes the ol’ devil convinces us we’re too busy just to keep us from doing good. I came to work, talked about the Shoebox drive, and tomorrow for lunch the group I work with are all going out to buy things to pack our boxes together. Thanks so much for dedicating your time to this cause and inspiring others!


  8. Suzan says

    So glad you are able to do this, Christy! I always take my grandaughter to help me shop & pack & she always looks forward to it. Our church sent out 125 this yr. As I saw your contents, I thought it might be a great idea to buy all yr. long as I find clearance items.

  9. Fran says

    One of the local churches in Northern Delaware is packing shoeboxes. On the inside of the lid, the person (or child) traces their handprint with a Sharpie. In the middle of the handprint is written “Put your hand on mine and we can pray together.” I thought this was a lovely touch. (from another SP fan who posted the picture on FB, Lisa C.) =^..^=

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