Disclosure: Links on Simply Shoeboxes may be affiliate partners or referrals.

I Finally Finished A Little Sewing for Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes

I haven't gotten a lot of Operation Christmas Child shoebox sewing done the last couple of weeks.  I have been moving my sewing room around and sorting my shoe box crafting supplies.  I also finished a pair of drapes (finally) for my daughter (we won't even mention when I started them).  Next up on my sewing table is a load of drawstring bags and a handful of bitty blanket loveys.  But first, here is what I did finish.

God Made Puppies Shoe Box

My attempt at designing a skirt with a drawstring/elastic waist combo.  This fabric

My Recent Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Stockpile Additions: Dolls, Cars & More

It's always like Christmas when my girls bring in bags from a shopping trip filled with Operation Christmas Child shoebox stuff.  One day they stopped in several stores and found nothing but hit the local Hospice thrift store and scored some fun stuff at great prices (our local thrift stores are usually priced high and not worth checking--but the Hospice store often has great prices).  I also am quite picky as to the items being very "like new" which can be hard to find.

Thrift Store Shoe Box Finds - $4.50 total (paid for with my birthday money from last year)

If you have been around long you know I love dolls.  When my daughter walked in carrying two grocery bags with dolls inside I was tickled.  A few need a little cleaning up and/or new outfits but some are as if they just came out of the box.  UPDATE:  I've been making blankets and Elizabeth has been making hats for the babies with matching hats for the girl.  You can check them out here:  Crafting Filler for Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes.

They also found these blocks which I'll make a drawstring bag for and this great game for a quarter (I'll also make a bag for it as it has small parts).

Just look at this expression....I would love to keep this little one she is so cute! I wish you could see her in person -- her eyes are amazing!   I can't wait to sew up some fun things for her and the little girl who will receive her.

And this little one is so very cuddly...what a comfort she will be.

Dollar Tree Shoe Box Finds - $3.00 (paid for with birthday money from last year)

I make a lot of drawstring bags and have been wanting to try shoe laces as the drawstrings so I told them if they were in the dollar stores at all to look for multi-packs.  These have eight pairs of varying sizes. They should be easy to use and super sturdy for the child.

Sarah also spotted these Jenga like mini games so she grabbed one for each of the 10 to 14 year old age groups.

My husband's cousin lives in the land of retail (which I do not) and she had bought 86 toy cars from the Dollar General buy one get two free sale a while back and delivered them to our shoe box stockpile this week.   She was also able to go to Joann's for their $3 a yard fleece sale.  She picked some up for us to make biti-blanket loveys with her birthday money from last year.

She was tempted by this piece of fleece even tho it wasn't on sale and she couldn't resist as she is in charge of our 2 to 4 year old boy boxes this year and she is including a few Match Box cars in each.  As you can see by the three I laid on the piece they fit perfectly.  I am not sure what size we will be cutting this to be sure there are enough race tracks for them to drive on.

Here are the other boy prints she got. I was so glad she was able to make a trip to my house so I didn't have to wait long to see all of these.

And here are the 2 to 4 year old girl prints she got for my 2 to 4 year old girl boxes.  I can't wait to get started!  I have a new idea as to how to finish the edge of some.

She also brought these two pieces of fabric her mother had sent her.  They were from my husband's mom's stash originally.  I decided this 1/2 yard heathered blue piece will be perfect for a skirt to go with this penguin shirt--the blue matches the snowflakes perfectly.  I'll use this green trim, also from hubby's mom, somehow on it.   The other piece is 3 yards and has some polyester in it I think so I will use it for tote bags or pencil cases.  I'll figure a way to add a pop of color or fun to jazz it up.

I hope you all got some great things for your shoe boxes this week.  I'd love to hear about them and if you are on Facebook you can share images with us at Simply Shoe Boxes' Facebook Page.  If you haven't stopped by and liked our Facebook page I'd love for you to join us there and like the page & follow along our Operation Christmas Child shoebox packing journey.

Game Testers for Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Gifts

I never lack for helpers on my shoe box packing adventure!  I shared how I was able to purchase $1200 worth of items from Kohl's with free gift cards I had won.  Well, when the games came several were put thru the fun meter by the in house game testers. They all passed!  Hopefully the kids who receive them in their Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes enjoy them, too.

Game Testers for Operation Christmas Child gifts

I will be making some drawstring bags for the ones with small pieces so they don't easily get lost.

Do you ever "test out" items you buy for Operation Christmas Child?

How To Find and Enter Blog Giveaways for Packing More Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes

This year I am depending on Blog Giveaway Wins as part of my "Packing OCC Shoeboxes For Free Experiment."  I will be seeing how many of my Operation Christmas Child shoebox gifts I can pack for free.  Many readers have shown an interest in learning more about entering blog giveaways.  I will share my knowledge and personal experiences here.

How to find and enter blog giveaways to help fill Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes.

Can you really win blog giveaways?  YES!!  Blog giveaways have much better odds of winning than giveaways from large companies.  But it is usually a large company sponsoring and fulfilling the prize, but less people enter on blogs.  I have entered giveaways with as little 35 entries and as many as 35,000.  My average odds are 1 in 100 chances of winning.  Check out some of my wins this past year below--they

Unlikely & Surprise Source for Cash Donation for Shoe Box Packing

I am always amazed at the unusual ways we receive donations for our Operation Christmas Child shoe box gifts.  Complete strangers from around the country have given to our shoebox packing efforts.  When we were having our Spur of the Moment Packing Party for the kids at church a Simply Shoeboxes reader from TN mailed us a box filled with these goodies:

Well, last week another stranger, and reader of my daughter's blog Simply CVS, emailed Sarah and told her she knew we packed shoeboxes and she would like to donate to our packing. She said Sarah's blog posts had saved her so much money while shopping at CVS that she wanted to donate her first payment from her SavingStar account to our Paypal account so we could use it towards packing more

My Latest Giveawy Wins: Dress Pattern & Fabric to Make for Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes

I have mentioned several times that I am entering blog giveaways to be able to pack more boxes for Operation Christmas Child in 2015.  Several of the giveaways are for fabric and I recently won a gift card from Lady Belle Fabric.  I invited my daughters to join me in choosing fabric.

The three pieces on the left Elizabeth and I choose for dresses.  The three on the right Sarah choose for making things for her 10 to 14 year old girls boxes.  The frog and snail fabric, by Windham Fabrics, are adorable in person -- and the softness of the fabric is amazing!

The owner also included this free tiny, charm pack.  You can see how tiny the squares are by the size of the kiss.  I think there are 30 pieces of fabric. When Sarah saw it she said it would be perfect to include with one of the large sewing kits

Hello Kitty Themed Operation Christmas Child Shoebox

My Hello Kitty themed Operation Christmas Child shoebox began with free band-aids from a CVS deal and a free toothbrush from a coupon.  The fun thing is I have only paid for the shirt ($1) and the socks (20 cents) so far.  I will be adding a few more things, but the total should still be only a few dollars.

Hello Kitty Themed Operation Christmas Child Shoe Box Gift

My husband had found these shirts for $1 last fall and I decided I'd make skirts to match them.  The flower fabric was donated by Red Thread Stitches and the trim and gingham fabric came from my mother-in-law's stash.  I chose this fabric

Kohl's Shoe Box Fillers Shopping Spree ~ $1200+ for $0 Out of Budget

Winning blog giveaways is a great way to fill shoe boxes.  What fun I have had shopping at Kohl's online the past couple of months (I do not have a local Kohl's store).  I have been wanting to add high quality items to my Operation Christmas Child shoe box gifts and now I can.  The best thing about it? It didn't cost me anything but time.  I want to share how I was able to do it in case anyone else is interested in entering giveaways to pack shoe boxes.

Filling Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes with blog giveaway wins

On November 10 I received a $250 Kohl's Gift Card from a blog giveaway win.  I also won a $15 Kohl's Gift Card and I cashed in some of my SwagBucks for a $10 Kohl's Gift Card.  I have been able to stretch those to buy $1200+ worth of clothing and toys at Kohl's full prices with $0 out of my personal budget.  Plus I have

DIY Travel Checkers Game with Drawstring Bag

I made this Travel Checkers Game a year or so ago and it got tucked away in the wrong place so it never got packed in an Operation Christmas Child shoe box gift. When my daughter found it I decided I'd share the instructions of how I made it in case anyone wanted to make one. I used felt for mine and I like how the felt pieces cling to the felt board; but you could just as easily make this a scrap buster project and sew strips to weave and little circles for the checker tokens.  This is a really quick project.

When researching checkers my daughter found that it is a game played around the

Inspiration to Keep Sewing Dresses & Skirts for Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Girls ~ A Moment to Reflect

I came across these images from Dress A Girl Around the World again recently and just had to share them with you.  They are my inspiration for sewing sweet dresses and skirts for little girls around the world and pack in Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes.  Look at her sweet face -- she feels like a princess in her new dress!


These statements from the DAG website also keep my sewing machine humming:

“...girls who live in a society where they have no value—where they are used as slaves—where they are abused and preyed upon and no one considers this to be

Save By Buying in Bulk ~ 480 Colored Pencils Added to My Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Stockpile

Buying items in bulk and splitting them between shoeboxes is a great way to save while packing shoeboxes.  We want to include colored pencils in all of our 10 to 14 year olds Operation Christmas Child Shoebox gifts.  Crayola is our brand of choice but we have had trouble finding them at an affordable price.  Last week Clip With Purpose shared a deal on Amazon for Crayola 240 packs for $15.47 each.  I had some gift cards I had earned on Swagbucks so I knew this was a deal I could not pass up.

Save money by buying in bulk for Operation Christmas Child shoe box gifts

A bonus is that each included 12 pencil sharpeners.  I usually pay $1/12 of those so I figure the pencils were $14.47/240 or $.72 per 12-- a much better deal than I have gotten in years.  And of course getting them free with gift cards was perfect!  Now to get busy on sewing some pencil pouches.

Update 2017:  We have tested other brands of colored pencils. If you are interested you can see our results here:  Colored Pencil Brands Comparison Test for Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Packing.

Operation Christmas Child Skirt Kit of the Month Club Designing

Since I received a skirt kit of the month club membership for Christmas I have decided to have fun and to design a different skirt each month. I will make the skirt in a size 8 from my fabric stash and then write up the instructions and "order" supplies for a size four.  I'll make it following my own instructions -- if they are clear enough I will share them with you all so you can make them for Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes.

I thought you might enjoy seeing my sketch book.  I design the skirt and then do the figuring of fabric pieces that need cut using the Girls Skirt Sizing Chart as a guide for the size it needs to be when finished.  Then I figure how much fabric and trims need to be purchased to make one.  My daughter will take my mom to the local discount craft store and she will choose the fabrics and trims and buy them for my Christmas gift.  It's a wonderful arrangement as she gets to have the fun of choosing the fabric and spend time with my daughter and I get to design the skirts and add them to my shoe box gifts.

I'm thinking I should call them the "Twelve Skirts of Christmas."

Here is the finished skirt from the sketch above.

Flower fabric skirt for Hello Kitty Themed Shoebox

Do you have a sketch notebook you keep crafting ideas in for your Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes?

Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Packing Party Memories

In the early part of November 2013 I shared how our Children's Pastor had drafted my daughter to host an Operation Christmas Child shoebox packing party for the kids at church.  She had 12 days to plan, shop (with a very limited budget) and organize the packing of 100 shoe boxes by the kids in our AWANA program (grades K thru 5).  I shared our journey as it unfolded and I have decided to share links to all of the posts here so anyone interested in hosting a packing party can find them easily and hopefully find some ideas and inspiration for their own party.

AWANA Operation Christmas Child shoebox packing party.

Here is a link that will take you to the blog page that you can scroll down thru all the posts tagged with the packing party -- if you would like to find them that way:  Spur of the Moment Operation Christmas Child Shoe Box Packing Party.

Little girl with Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes at packing party.

Happy Packing!

26 Cent CVS Shopping Trip and Lots of 25 Cent Clearance Items for Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Packing

From January, 2015

My daughter did some CVS shopping this week and found LOTS of their dollar items perfect for Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes on clearance at 75% off.  She stopped at a second CVS and then decided to hit a third finding different things at all three.  I am amazed at the quality of the items.

CVS Trip #1:

Her first trip included a bottle of Gas-X type product.  This obviously is NOT for my shoeboxes but I had to buy it to make the deal work.  I had received a $5 off $15 total order CVS coupon in my email.  The Gas-X product was $9.99 get $9.99 back in extra bucks--perfect to add $5.00 or so in clearance and use the $5 coupon to pay for it.  She saw this 37 cent gift bag she knew her grandmother would love so got it, too, and with the candy canes and little boats (all 75% off) my total was 26 cents after the $5 coupon and a $10 extra buck from last week; and she got a $9.99 extra buck back.

**NOTE, as of 2017, candy can no longer be sent from the USA.

Total = $ .26 paid for with a gift card I earned online from Swagbucks.

Gas Relief & gift bag not for shoe boxes -- see details above of how buying them
made it possible to get the boats and candy canes free.

CVS Trip #2:

I had won a $50 prepaid Visa gift card in a blog giveaway so used that to purchase the following on clearance 75%:  total = $11.25, free with gift card.

2 to 4 Year Old Girls

I love these sweet little bowls and silverware.  

2 to 4 Year Old Boys

Girl's Skirt Sizing Chart Sizes 2 to 14

I have been wanting to design some skirts for my Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes but had no idea what sizes to make them.  I went searching the web and after checking dozens of sources, from blogs to pattern companies, I compiled what I think is an average sizing chart for making girl's skirts.  I am sharing it in

Football and Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes: Crafting While Cheering on The Buckeyes

My husband and I grew up in NE Ohio and if you grow up in NE Ohio you can't help but be fans of THE Ohio State University Buckeyes!  Well, the Bucks have made their way into the National Championship Game on Monday January 12, 2015.  So you can guess what we will be doing at 8:30 on that day.  And I am sure you can guess what I will be doing....crafting for Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes.

The Ohio State Buckeyes Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Crafting Supplies
To make the dress a little more girly I am adding some white lace trim.

Just like I make themed shoeboxes while packing I also make themes in my crafting according to life happenings.  Since we will be watching the game I chose Buckeye colors scarlet and grey supplies to craft with.  I will make a pillowcase dress and a hat.  Well, I will work on them -- not sure they will be done.  The cool

CVS Clearance Shopping for Operation Christmas Child

My daughter does my shopping for me and at CVS this morning she found some dollar section items on clearance for 75% off.  She found:
  • Toy Boats -- sets of three regularly $2 for $.50 each.
  • Hair Bands -- regularly $1 for $.25 each (have some craft ideas in my mind for these, too)
  • Sandwich Bags -- regularly $1 for $.25 each [will use for soap and washcloth packing]
  • Snack Bags -- regularly $1 for $.25 each [will use for bagging candy] Update 2017: no candy is allowed
CVS dollar items on clearance purchased for Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes.

They had to be manually keyed in because they are apparently not in the system but are a local clearance so a couple came up wrong--higher than they should.  But the total for all of this was just $5.00 and she used some CVS gift cards I had earned from  Swagbucks.  So it cost nothing from my personal budget.  So far my $0 Out of Pocket Shoe Box Packing Experiment is going well.

I'd like to invite you to visit my daughter's blog where she shares the best CVS deals each week:  Simply CVS.  We buy a lot thru the year for our Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes at CVS.

Each Saturday Sarah shares our additions to our stockpile for the week right here at Simply Shoeboxes.  You can see them all here:  Shoebox Stockpile Saturday ~ Adding to Our Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Stockpile.

Ten Women Who Have Inspired My Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Packing

When it comes to Operation Christmas Child shoebox packing I don't think anyone is an island.  I think we all have others who have crossed our paths and have inspired us to "Keep Calm & Pack On."  I'd like to introduce you to several women I have never met yet they have been an inspiration to me and their examples have helped "design" my shoe box packing style.

These are listed in no special order.

Mary  ~ Have A Passion for Packing

DIY Travel Tic-Tac-Toe Game Tutorial (or Noughts & Crosses) ~ Great for Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes

Traveling Tic-Tac-Toe game with drawstring pattern and tutorial.

Finding reasonably priced quality toys for my Operation Christmas Child shoe box gifts is becoming harder and harder each year.  I am on a quest to craft my own. This Travel Tic-Tac-Toe Game is the first I have designed.  On the "how to play" instruction sheet I am calling it Three In A Row.  It may make more sense to children in other countries -- either with limited English or when translated.   I put

Behind the Scenes: A Peak at My Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Messes

It is fun blogging about my Operation Christmas Child shoebox packing!  I get to bring you lovely images of finished items and neat shoebox stockpile organization.  All beautiful and organized.  It's like I enter a shoebox dreamland whenever I am blogging.  But then I always return to reality.

I walked into my Operation Christmas Child shoe box stockpile hallway the other day and thought, "if they could see me now!"  I could hardly walk thru it at all!  I have been ordering a lot of items thru Kohl's and Toys R Us because of large gift cards I won on blog giveaways.  My daughter has carried them all downstairs for me -- after I dug thru them all to look them over.  So those and a few other local purchases fill the aisle!

Then I entered my laundry/sewing room...well, let me take you on a tour.

Disclosure: Links on Simply Shoeboxes may be affiliate partners or referrals.