Tuesday, 14 November 2017

How To Pack a Christmas Shoebox

Hi lovelies! If you've followed me for a long time now, you will know that every year around this time since 2015, I've taken part in a Christmas charity initiative. Have you ever heard of Christmas shoeboxes? the shoebox appeal? Well if not, it's an absolutely wonderful 'project' that takes place each year, encouraging people to put together shoeboxes for children worldwide, who may not receive presents for Christmas! 

My primary school didn't do it but when I've spoken to others, they remember packing Christmas shoeboxes for children across the world when they were in school. Did you put together shoeboxes when you were a kid? If so, then you might have been sending them with the help of the Christian charity, Samaritan's Purse. Even though I'm not a Christian myself, I think that the Shoebox Appeal aka Operation Christmas Child is a fantastic thing and the charity also run so many other wonderful projects, such as 'International Disaster Relief' and 'Woman at Risk' (If you're interested there's lots of info about what they do on their website). Today's post is of course going to all about the Shoebox Appeal. I've blogged a few times now about the initiative, that I've been taking part around Christmas for the last three years, but in previous posts I've mostly just shown what I've packed into my boxes. So, this time I thought I'd focus more on what you actually need to pack into them. Keep reading to find out how to pack your own Christmas shoebox :) 

Shoebox Appeal - How to pack a shoebox

So first of all, you'll need to get yourself an empty standard-sized shoebox (preferably the kind with a seperate lid) and wrap it with adorable Christmas paper! You also need to decide who you want to send your shoebox to and print off a category label to attach to the top of your box. You can either put together a shoebox for a boy or a girl, then there are three age group categories once you'd decided on this: 2-4 year old, 5-9 year old and 10-14 year old. It's a shame because overall less boxes are packed for the 10-14 year old children, and since I found this out I've made sure that I always do a Christmas box for this age group. Once you're settled on who your box is going to, it's time to fill it. But what do you include? 

Shoebox Appeal - How to pack a shoebox

(1) Hygiene Products 

On the Samaritan's Purse website, there is a whole section dedicated to telling you what to include in your shoeboxes, however I thought I'd share this post anyway to let people know about this awesome project but also because I know that I personally prefer reading photographic guides where I can actually for myself see what someone has included. Before I pack my boxes, I watch a lot of youtube videos showing what people have put inside their own shoeboxes for inspiration, so I hope that my post can help give others some ideas too! 

The first items that I start to buy (a couple of months before the drop off deadline) are hygience ones because I can get them when I'm shopping for my own stuff. You can include a variety of hygiene essentials, so long as they are not in liquid-form since that's one of the things that are not allowed to be added! So here's what essentials I get: toothpaste, a toothbrush, soap (they have to wrapped according to the charity's rules so I buy a multi-pack with several individually packaged soaps inside), a flannel/wash cloth and little pack of tissues (great bargain because you can buy massive multi-packs of these!). For the older children, I always include a wash bag too, the one in the photograph is for my 10-14 year old box, and I usually get them at Superdrug/Savers for around a £1.

Shoebox Appeal - How to pack a shoebox

(2) School Supplies/Stationery

In many poverty-stricken countries where educational resources are very limited, a lot of children cannot go to school due to many reasons, with one of those reasons being that they cannot afford to get the supplies they need for their lessons. School supplies are thus a very important element to packing your Christmas shoebox, and everytime I try to squish in as much of it as I can! The photograph above just shows some examples of the stationery items that I gather for my shoeboxes, however I get so much more than this. I just haven't finished shopping yet!

I normally include: a colouring book and crayons. stickers, a pencil case or pouch and supplies to go inside of it such as a ruler, a rubber/eraser, a sharpener and a pencil. It's great when I come across stationery sets when I'm shopping for supplies because you get all these things in one! I found the Finding Dory ones last week at Card Factory for just 99p :) Stores like Wilkos, B&M Bargains and Quality Save are fantastic for getting individual rubbers, sharpeners, etc., for really great prices so they are my go-to. Notebooks and exercise books are fantastic to add into your Christmas shoeboxes too. It may look like a colouring book won't fit, but just a tip: you put them in last on top of all of your other items and tuck the sides down (if that makes sense) and Voila! it fits!. Some other products that the charity recommend are calculators, but always make sure they are solar-powered though as the children probably won't be able to get more batteries.

Shoebox Appeal - How to pack a shoebox

(3) Toys

Toys are something that makes the shoeboxes so special for the children to receive! Many parents in countries across the globe cannot afford to buy Christmas presents and so these shoeboxes are the only presents that many children will get, sometimes all year round! Christmas isn't all about presents, but you can just imagine their delight at opening a box filled with goodies! There are actually tons of videos online of the children opening their boxes and they make me cry everytime I watch them, because of the look of pure joy on all of their faces! Seeing one of these videos is what brought this initiative to my attention in the first place and I couldn't not put one together after watching it. You can read about my first shoebox here

So, what toys are recommended? A cuddly plush toy is the first toy I think about for my shoeboxes! You can include any toy as long as they are CE labelled, showing that they are safely manufactured for children. Remember not to include any battery-powered toys. As an alternative, I always look for wind-up ones and each year I find some little wind up animals, cars and these super cute robots from Quality Save and also poundshops. I get a lot of the items I include from poundshops! This year I decided that slinkies would make a cool addition to the boxes, as I loved them when I was young. Some other toy ideas: jigsaws, skipping ropes, yo-yos, balls and other sporty toys, dress-up jewellery sets, etc. I watched a video of a 10-14 year old boy from Africa earlier this year and when asked what his favourite item was, he said it was the harmonica he received and so I searched for a harmonica this year. I usually always look for recorders and xylophones for the youngest age category too. I recommend looking for surprise eggs (not chocolate ones) because they are small so you can squish them in easily. 

Shoebox Appeal - How to pack a shoebox

Shoebox Appeal - How to pack a shoebox

(4) Miscellaneous

Finally, there are quite a few other items that you can add to your shoeboxes. Sweets are an essential to my shoeboxes; you're not allowed to add chocolate and you need to make sure that your sweets last 'until at least March of the following year'. I typically opt for bags of Haribo, and you can lay them flat so they are great to fit inside the small space. I should have added my harmonica and recorder into the toy section photograph but nevermind, haha! Also the comb would probably be more fitting in the hygiene category too. The charity's website states the following items as recommendations: hats, gloves, scarves, sunglasses and sweets, but I've also seen other people include socks, books, t-shirts and water bottles. 

These hats and gloves sets are from my local poundstore, the socks aswell. You are not allowed to add any home-made/knitted items in your shoebox. I put in playdough last year for the younger children :) I always stock up on things slowly thoughout the year, if I see little items that would be perfect in sales or if I receive items in my subscription boxes that I won't use myself, I'll save them to go into the box. There was recently a flash sale on the Blippo website, the same company who created the Kawaii Box that I used to subscribe to, so I picked up quite a few items to go in my shoeboxes from there :) 

Shoebox Appeal - How to pack a shoebox

So, here's an example of one of the boxes I will be sending this year! It's not completed yet, there's still a few little bits & bobs that I need to pick up, but I wanted to show you anyway. This box will be going to a 10-14 year old boy. Last year, I spent boxes to three girls, one for each age category and one boy, so this time around I'm doing the opposite. I'll be sending three boys boxes, one for a 2-4 year old, one for a 5-9 year old and of course, the older age category. Then, I'm also packing a box for a 10-14 year girl. I know that I send a lot of boxes, but you could just pack one!

Shoebox Appeal - How to pack a shoebox

For gathering all of the supplies to pack inside your box, you will need to spend around £15-£20, although some people manage to get everything for a tenner by using charity shops and sale items. Then you need to pay £5 for the shipping donation, it used to be just £3 but they've increased it for 2017. You can add a cheque into the box or you can pay online, which is the way I do it. You print off your code and pop it on top inside your shoebox. Using this method also means that you can use their charities 'track your box' service. If you request it, you will be sent an email in the New Year telling you roughly where your shoebox has been sent to!

You or your loved ones may have some empty shoeboxes laying around your house to use but if not, you can go to ShoeZone who will be happy to help since most of their stores volunteer as an Operation Christmas Child drop-off point. My local store does, so I will put taking mine there this week. So, I've ended up sharing this post a little later than I wanted to so there's only actually a few days left to pack your shoeboxes. The deadline for you to take them to your local drop-off point is the 18th November (you can find nearby drop-off points on the Samaritan's Purse website). You could certainly put one together after a day of shopping for supplies, however if you don't fancy that, the charity offer a online version. You can pay £20 (£15 worth of supplies, plus your shipping fee) and select some items that you'd like to add via their website. Here's a video clip that shows you how and such. If you can't join in this year, there's always next year! Remember to utilise those After Christmas sales to grab some bargain items :)

Shoebox Appeal - How to pack a shoebox

So on Thursday, I'll have wrapped all of my boxes with Christmas paper and secured the print-off lapels onto top of them, displaying who the box is intended for. I'll have paid my shipping fees and added the codes inside the boxes, and then it's off to the local shopping centre. Before handing in my shoeboxes at ShoeZone, I need to pick up a few last-minute items to pop inside. I will then put an elastic band around each box to make sure it's not going to burst open or whatever, and drop them off in store. I hope that my post today has been helpful and interesting, and that it has also encouraged you to take part yourself. Let me know if you do, and feel free to tag me in any photos of your shoeboxes too because I'd love to see. Christmas is the season of giving, and it's such a special gift to give to a child to brighten up their day :)

Thankyou for reading!


Do you get involved in any charity events?

1 comment

  1. This is a great guide! I used to do this every year when I was living in the UK. Even after I left school I always made sure to donate at least one box at Christmas time to them as it's such a fun thing to do to spread the joy and I'm glad lots of other people are still doing it to xoxo


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