What’s in an OCC Shoebox?

So, yesterday I challenged you to get a shoebox to pack for Operation Christmas Child. Well, today I’m going to show you a few suggestions of what to pack in your box. We ended up packing four boxes this year and I let Luke have pretty much full control over what went in the boxes. I love that he is old enough now to understand what we can and can’t pack in the boxes, what will fit and what won’t,and what children NEED in the boxes. It is precious to see his little heart react when he understands that some children have literally nothing. Prior to our shopping trip this year, I went over the list below so he could learn what he needed to look for in the store. He helped me make a list and of course, I added some items to the list as well. Packing the boxes is always a great reminder for me of how quickly we take for granted the things that some people have waited their whole lives to receive… a baby doll, a pair of flip flops, a toothbrush.

Packing a shoebox doesn’t have to be expensive. We got most all of our items at the Dollar Tree and supplemented with a few things from Walmart and Hobby Lobby. Our boxes averaged around $15 to fill.

gift_ideasThe first box we packed was for a 10-14 year old boy. This category traditionally has the fewest boxes packed, so we always try to pack at least one box for this age range. Below you can see the items we packed. Full disclosure: we didn’t pack the items in the box shown below. Luke was adamant that we get a big hammer, and it was 1 inch too long to fit in the standard OCC boxes. Thankfully, we live with a guy with some pretty large shoeboxes, which fit the hammer perfectly! We always include tools in the older boy boxes. The sad reality is that most of these boys work to make money for their families and they need tools to be able to do so.

OCC10-14Boy1. Toothbrush with case and toothpaste – be sure to include a case! These children don’t have a toothbrush holder sitting on their counter… because they usually don’t even have a sink.
2. Notebook, pencils, pencil sharpener and pens – in order to go to school, these items are necessities.
3. Durable waterproof bag – We made ours by covering a ziploc bag with duct tape. This keeps their soap and washcloth clean and takes up less space in the box than a soap dish.
4. Washcloth and bar soap
5. Work gloves
6. Nails and screws
7. Handheld air pump with ball needle
8. Screwdriver
9. Soccer ball – Basically, every boy around the world desires to have a soccer ball. We found ours at Walmart for $5.46 and deflated it and wrapped it with a rubber band so it would fit in a box. This is the most expensive item in our box, but dozens of children will get to enjoy it! Well worth it in my opinion!
10. Scissors
11. Fork and Spoon
12. Rope
13. Cup – It broke my heart when I heard that a relief organization brought food into a village and some children were only fed a spoonful because they didn’t have anything to put their food in to take back to their homes. I always pack a cup or bowl in our boxes for this very reason.
14. Socks
15. Flashlight and batteries. I found this flashlight at Walmart for $1.
16. T-shirt. This shirt came from Hobby Lobby and after a 40% off coupon was only $1.50.
17. Candy Canes.

The items below were packed for a 10-14 year old girl.


1. Manicure set
2. Notebook and pens
3. Scissors
4. Washcloth and soap
5. Durable waterproof bag
6. Flip flops
7. 1 1/2 yards of fabric. Girls can use this fabric to make or patch clothing.
8. Toothbrush with case and toothpaste
9. Sewing kit.
10. Bowl. Luke insisted we get a bowl with a straw so they can drink their milk after they eat their cereal. I would NOT recommend packing these. They were a pain to fit in the boxes, but I’m sure the sweet babies that receive them will love the straw bowls!
11. Fork and spoon
12. Elastic headbands – because all girls in every country love glitter!
13. Jump rope
14. Wet wipes
15. Cup
16. Rope and clothespins – to make a clothes line
17. Socks
18. Flashlight with extra batteries
19. Suckers

These items were packed for a 2-4 year old girl.

OCC2-4Girl1. Crayons
2. Notebook
3. Fun washcloth and bar of soap
4. Durable waterproof bag
5. Toothbrush with case and toothpaste
6. Bowl and spoons
7. Wet wipes
8. Toy – Luke picked out a rattle and even though its probably too juvenile for a toddler, we packed it in the box. Hopefully, it will be given to a younger sibling who didn’t receive a box.
9. Watering can – again, Luke said that Lyla loves to play with hers, so he thought this little girl would love it too!
10. Socks
11. T-shirt.12. Sippy Cup
13. Doll. I read online to not send blonde haired, blue eyed dolls. Most girls around the globe want a doll that looks like them, not a blonde haired, blue eyed one. We found this cute doll at the Dollar Tree.
14. Candy

The last box we packed was for a 5-9 year old boy, but I failed to get a picture of the items. In every shoebox, we make sure to send the child a letter and some people even send a self addressed stamped envelope so the child can write back if possible. We’ve never done this, but I want to next year! Here is the letter we sent in our boxes. If you want to include this letter too, you can download yours here.

IMG_1596I’ve gotten a lot of questions about how we fit everything into the box. It’s a challenge for me to make it all fit. I use every square inch and pack and re-pack until we find a way to make it all fit! My biggest tip is to put all of the hard, flat items in the bottoms and anything that can “squish” washcloths, stuffed animals, tshirts, etc. on top. Also, be sure to stuff the cups and bowls full of items too!

I hope this gave you some great ideas for what to pack in your box! If you’ve already packed your boxes, what items did you include? We are always looking for new ideas!


  1. Jamie Thomas Bright says:

    Allison, I’m saving this to use for next year, you had AWESOME ideas! Love ya and miss ya lots! <3 <3

  2. Lindsay Reeves says:

    This is such a wonderful idea!! There wasn’t a drop off location close to me but I was able to build a box completely online through the website you provided on the previous post. My mamma always encouraged my brother and I to do something generous each holiday season and this was the perfect thing to do this year! Thanks for sharing and Happy Holidays!!