OCC The Prudent Homemaker

I am excited to participate in filling shoeboxes this year for Operation Christmas Child! These gifts go to needy children all over the world.

I spent some time recently reading stories of those who had received shoeboxes as children, as well as those who have helped distribute shoeboxes. I took note of what gifts were most useful and meaningful to so many.

You can choose to make boxes for a boy or a girl,  in the age categories of 2-4, 5-7, and 10-14. Operation Christmas Child receives the fewest boxes for boys ages 10-14, so we choose that age. I also have two boys in that age group who gave me lots of feedback on gifts.

School supplies and hygiene supplies are especially needed.

Using fabric, zippers, and ribbon that I had been gifted (much came from my grandmother’s collection, some from my mother-in-law’s, and some from others), I made bags to hold our gifts that will be useful gifts in and of themselves.

OCC Pencil Bags The Prudent Homemaker

I made a lined pencil case. I chose a dark patterned fabric for the inside, so that any marks from the pencils won’t be noticeable on the inside. Inside we placed 10 pencils (tied with a ribbon), 13 colored pencils (also tied with a ribbon), a black pen, a red pen, two pencil sharpeners, and an eraser.

I also sewed a little book with blank computer paper. I cut several sheets of paper in half, and enclosed it in a half sheet of cardstock. I sewed it closed down the middle. I embossed a tree on the front cover (picture of the front further down the page).

OCC Toiletry Bag The Prudent Homemaker 

I made a larger bag in the same manner for a toiletry bag. Inside I placed 2 combs, a pair of nail clippers, 2 nail files, a washcloth, 2 toothbrushes, toothpaste, lip balm, solid lotion (like lip balm), and 2 handkerchiefs that I made from the same fabric I used to line the bag. It is a soft cotton.

OCC Marble Bag The Prudent Homemaker

I made a drawstring bag to hold marbles.

OCC Matchbook Sewing Kit 1 The Prudent Homemaker

I made a small matchbook sized sewing kit with cardstock, thin cardboard, thread, a piece of felt, 2 needles, and 3 safety pins. On one of the safety pins I included 2 shirt buttons. I stamped a design on the front and stapled the cardboard holding the thread and felt holding the pins and needles into the bottom.

OCC Matchbook Sewing Kit 2 The Prudent Homemaker


OCC Matchbook Sewing Kit The Prudent Homemaker

We also included a 2-subject notebook with lined pages. The notebook is divded in the middle with a blank page with pockets on either side. I put the blank book into one side and envelopes into the other. I think finding them there will be a fun surprise.

OCC Other Items The Prudent Homemaker

We packed a small ball and a paracord bracelet. 

We packed a t-shirt.

OCC Box The Prudent Homemaker

We included 2 bars of soap. One of these would fit in the toiletry bag, but two would not, so I packed them outside the bag. I double bagged the soap.

The toothpaste, lip balm, and bar lotion were all packed inside a ziplock bag inside the toiletry bag. (Note: These items are prohibited to ship from Canada but not from the U.S.)

OCC Box 2 The Prudent Homemaker

We also included a bag of hard candy and gum (these are also prohibited to ship from Canada but not from the U.S.) I also, per their recommendation, double-bagged the candy.



Balls (in a three pack)–Dollar Tree

Washcloths (in a three pack)–Dollar Tree

Toothbrushes (in a four pack)–Dollar Tree (They also sell a three-pack that includes toothbrush covers)

Combs (in a multi-pack)–Dollar Tree

Paracord bracelets –Dollar Tree (We were going to make these, but one of my children wanted to buy them for the boxes)

2-subject notebook–Dollar Tree

Pencil sharpeners (in a twelve pack)–Dollar Tree

Marbles with shooter–$2.99 at Hobby Lobby

T-shirt–$2.97 at Hobby Lobby. Joann’s and Michael’s also sell inexpensive blank t-shirts, and they hold up well.

Toothpaste–$1 on sale at Smith’s

Eraser, pencils, colored pencils, pens, blank paper–Back to school sales

Envelopes–Bought in bulk years ago from an office supply store

Lip balm and bar lotion–Samples. You can find a homemade bar lotion recipe here; pack it into a closeable container, such as a tin.

Soap–Given to me from someone who was moving, but Ivory soap can often be purchased for $0.50 a bar or less with coupons.

Fabric, zippers, ribbon, needles, thread, felt, pins, buttons–Hand-me-downs

Candy–Winco’s bulk bins, bought on sale before Halloween

Ziploc Freezer bags–Sam’s Club, bought on sale ($0.04 each).


It’s not too late to pack a shoebox! Drop-off locations are open this week! Check here for a drop-off location and times near you.

Rubberband your box closed at each end and include the boy or girl tag with the age marked that you can print here. Boxes will be taped closed around the middle at the packing location. 

It costs $7 to cover the shipping cost of your box. You can pay with cash at the drop-off location, or you can pay online and attach the tracking label to your box from here. If you choose this option, you will know to which country your box goes.

Don’t forget to include a note to the child! You can also include a family photo if you like.



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  1. This is wonderful! Thank you so much for posting this and for including so much detailed information. I’m looking forward to doing this with my children tomorrow.

  2. Thank you for sharing what you placed in your box. We just finished ours and I will drop them off tomorrow. We have a bag that we use to collect little items throughout the year so it is not so overwhelming to fill a box in November. Since I have two little girls we have always done “girls” boxes. You have given me food for thought that next year we should also include a “boys” box. Thank you for continuing to inspire us to be a blessing to others.

  3. Very nice gifts. Any boy would be tickled with these gifts. I am glad you shared your ideas. You had some ideas that I had not thought of. My husband travels for his job a bit. When he does he brings home the soap, shampoos, and lotions from the hotels. (he does not use them because of allergies and takes his own from home) These I save to give to the local TX Baptist Children’s Home. They have a home there too for women who are fleeing a bad situation often with children.
    Our church also gives boxes to children in Africa. Our church, Celebration Church, has an orphan home in Africa. We sent gift boxes to those children through out the year. When school supplies are cheap in August I often buy crayons, pens, etc. to send over there.

  4. Those are wonderful ideas! Last year, when we did this, I sewed little skirts to put in out of pieces of fabric I already had leftover from other projects with lace on the bottom from my stash. We also put in hygiene supplies, but never thought of a little sewing kit. What a great idea. I’ll keep it in mind for the future.

  5. Brandy, this is awesome. I love your ideas and I am sure the boy receiving it will be so thankful. Another idea I got from the joy bag list at our church for a boy is a flashlight and sunglasses. May God Bless you and your family today. From beautiful sunny NW PA!

  6. Brandy, Thank you for sharing. I always have a hard time deciding what to put in the boxes.
    My husband’s cousin and his wife have been packing boxes for a number of years. She is a really thrifty shopper and has gotten some fantastic deals for the shoeboxes. They did 160 boxes this year. They don’t do this alone but with their church. They are an inspiration.

  7. What a box full of love, such beautiful gifts to bless some boys with. I marvel at your thoughtfulness, especially given your injury of late. Bless you!

  8. Beautiful. My 12 year old daughter and I have done a boy and a girl box every year since we were blessed to adopt her, when she was 4. We have filled the boxes to match her age. That way she picked out what made her happy to share with another. We always send a vinyl backpack that can be filed down to a very small size for the child to carry there boxes in. The reason I do this I had read that some of the children don’t want to let go of there boxes and this way they can keep it with them and still have free hands to do what they need. I look all year for these backpacks and when I find the for a dollar I buy them.
    Thank you brandy for a wonderful blog. I look forward to all your posting. Hope you feel better very soon.

  9. What a wonderful box you made. I did a box for a girl this year and put in some handmade items (hair ribbons, stuffed toy, necklace) but you have provided so many wonderful ideas I will keep in mind for next year. And I’m going to make one of those sewing kits for a friend of mine. We always exchange a very small gift that can be included in a Christmas card — flower seeds, tea bags, bookmarks, etc. I think this sewing kit will be perfect.

  10. This is wonderful, Brandy! Please thank your sons for their input for me. I was wondering what to put in the box for the boys. I have a soft spot for boys being a mother of only boys (4). You did a great job packing your shoebox! There’s a lot of things in there!

  11. We packed eight OCC boxes for boys 10-14 this year. Like other readers, I buy items on sale all year round. I found backpacks on clearance at Walgreens, rolled them up and into the boxes they went! Also found on sale: sunglasses, boy flip flops, small foam airplanes, and school supplies.

    I bet the bags you sewed will be treasured for a long time.

  12. I’ve thought about doing this. Time gets away with me. The drop off locations won’t load on my phone. I only have internet on my cell. My schedule hasn’t let me stop by the library. 🙁

  13. What a great idea for putting in a t-shirt, Brandy! I wanted to put in flip flops but couldn’t find any around this time of year. Next year, I will definitely include an extra shirt. Thank you for all the ideas and for your generosity, it’ll be a lucky child who receives the box! May I ask how many boxes you gave? I gave two and since I included a soccer ball/pump in one (for a boy 10-14), it was a bit on the pricey side but I was glad to give it. 🙂

  14. We did two, and when my husband went to drop them off, they told him they were so happy to get some for boys that age! So here they didn’t get many boxes for boys 10-14, either. I’m glad we chose that age.

    I think with some planning ahead, I could include flip flops, too. They are often available for $1 a pair in the summer. Michael’s has the t-shirts for a little less on sale, too, if I was planning ahead.

  15. Wow! That was the most thought-full shoe box gift I have ever seen. You really did a nice job. I am so inspired to sew something for our shoe boxes next year. With 8 children of my own we could never afford to do shoe boxes if my children didn’t do it through our Awanas Bible club. They give us a suggestion list then pile all the gifts on tables according to ages. Each child fills one box.
    Happy Thanksgiving

  16. Old Navy always has basic type flip-flops for 1.00 in the summer, in just about every color. They are sturdy ones, too.

  17. Wow this is a very special box! I am trying to make our boxes full of love by sewing for them also. We will be doing one box in this age group so love seeing your ideas. I love that it’s special and useful with no “cheap” plastic toys. Thanks for sharing!

  18. Brilliant collection of items! I am going to pin this, talk to my kids, and perhaps I’ll get started on a box now. I am always so short of cash at Christmas time. It’s so hard to even provide a small Christmas for my kids. But if I start now….

    Should the box be wrapped?

    Blessings from Harvest Lane Cottage,
    Mrs. Laura Lane

    1. The processing center tapes the boxes shut and adds shipping labels, so it makes more sense to me to decorate the inside of the box.

  19. Very nice! I am packing my first OCC box this year, and chose the boy 10-14. The paracord bracelet is an especially good idea. I will have to find one. Thanks for the suggestion about the backpack. We have several of the inexpensive kind from various events and will make sure to add one to the box.

  20. Hi, I would like just to add one note about “prohibited to ship from Canada but not from the U.S.” the prohibitions for candy and toothpaste are not because our countries, but because theirs. Anything that has expiration date should not be included, because customs regulation upon arrival there. Thanks.

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