How to Start Shoeboxing for Operation Christmas Child

How to Start Shoeboxing

So … how does one get started shoeboxing for Operation Christmas Child? There are so many ways to go about beginning, don’t let yourself get caught in the How Do I Start Maze that doesn’t have an ending – or a beginning.

Shoeboxing Is like Making 5-Minute-a-Day Bread

As long as you have the right ingredients – and avoid the wrong ones – even if you put them together in the wrong order, it really can’t go wrong.

Operation Christmas Child Ingredient List

Here’s the ingredient list, so to speak, for putting together a shoebox for Operation Christmas Child.

You will need:

  • A box, shoebox size
  • A label
  • Gifts
  • Ziploc bags for candy and soap
  • $7
  • A large rubberband (optional, but helpful)
  • Directions to your local collection center

Start With What You Have

If you don’t have the box yet, that’s ok.


Maybe you have the large rubberband? Put it in an envelope and tack it on your bulletin board! You’ve begun!

Or maybe you have an extra $7 in your purse or wallet for the suggested shipping donation. Put it in the envelope and you’ve begun!

No rubberband? No cash?  Print out your label and put it in your envelope. You’ve begun!

Do I Choose a Gender/Age First or Shop First?

It’s really up to you!

The beauty of shoeboxing is being able to jump in whenever, however you can.

The Rational for Choosing Before Shopping

You may want to make your gender and age range decision before you go shopping. That way you can:

  • Check out Pinterest boards for ideas.
  • Look over a few blog posts.
  • Make a shopping list.

The Rational for Choosing After (or While) Shopping

You can choose after or while perusing your favorite store to see what age/gender pops into your heart, imagination, and budget.

This year, fleece jumped out to us at Joann’s, so we took that as a cue to focus on 2-4 year old boxes, while staying open to boxes for the other ages.

I’m learning not to limit God in this adventure.  Smile

What are My Choices?

Whether you choose before shopping, while shopping, or after an exploratory browse, you will to settle on answers to these questions:

  • Do you want to pack for a boy or for a girl?
  • Which age range?

* 2-4 year old

* 5-9 year old

* 10-14 year old

Boy Girl Labels


You’ll need that info for your label. If you already printed your label, check off the appropriate boxes on it, and pop it back in your envelope. You’ll be another step ahead for packing day!

Many Directional Heart Tugging

You may find that your heart is tugged in a couple (or a few or many) different directions.

Maybe that is God calling you to put together more than one box? It’s perfectly lovely to start small, and just as lovely to start medium or even big.

The shoebox is your oyster. Fill it with pearls.

Choosing Gifts for Operation Christmas Child

Speaking of shoebox pearls, if you are looking for a list of what to include in your shoebox, as Sulu would say, “Oh my!”

Need ideas? The shoebox world has ideas! I’ll add a few places to peruse at the bottom of this post.

Rule of Three

Basically, when you buy – or make – a gift for your shoebox ask yourself these three questions (you know how I like Rule of Three!):

  1. Could I use this if I had no water?
  2. Could I use this if my home, playground and classroom were dirt-covered, or just plain dirt?
  3. If I were a child in poverty, in difficult circumstances, would this make me feel better or worse?

The Do Not List

Speaking of feeling worse, be sure to take a concentrated look at the short list of what not to include.

Samaritan’s Purse really has great, practical reasons for their do-nots, so just take their word for it and leave out the no-nos. There are plenty of yes-yeses!

If you really have to know why not to include certain items, they’ll be happy to answer your questions on their Facebook page.

The Can Do Lists

Here are a few – of many – places to look for shoebox gift ideas:


OCC Blogs

Tips, Insights, Lists and More

It’s Your Turn

  • Are you planning on packing for Operation Christmas Child this year?
  • Where is your favorite place to get ideas for your shoeboxes?



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