We are hoping to pack around 50 shoeboxes this year (it's not about the numbers, but the children, which is why I don't often share our number, but for this post I thought it would be helpful). And we tend to pack similar things in all our boxes-they're not identical, but have basically the same-same hygiene supplies and categories of school supplies, but different colors, games, toys, coloring books, etc. So, to start organizing this year (this is kind of my first year organizing the stash) the first thing I did was make the lists from what my family has told me they wanted to pack. I also took an inventory of what we had left over from packing last year and hadn't sent as fillers or have gotten since we packed. Then I made a budget spreadsheet and assigned a price to each item based on how much I thought we'd spend on it. Then I put in how many we needed based on the list, and how many we had in stock to be sure our budget would cover it. It looked good. So we decided to go ahead with the goal of 50. And shared the list with everyone, so we know what we're shopping for.
We happen to have a spare room in our house that isn't used often, so we decided we could lay out the bankers boxes and tubs of supplies in there, and when someone comes, just pop the lids on the boxes and stack in a corner of the basement or garage we can do without while they're here.
Some tubs/boxes hold items for all age boxes together-stuffed animals, hygiene items, etc.
Some are separated: clothes, toys, etc (there's a list at the bottom of this post of the ones we currently have if that's of interest/help to anyone.) Plus one tub to put our new items in.
So, when we get home from the store, or finish a craft, we just pop them in that tub (after taking a photo to share with my blog readers), then when we have time, we take it out tally it (more details on that later) and put it in the appropriate box/tub.
Last year we tried Google Sheets to have an excel sheet of all items so everyone could see/record in real time, but...it didn't work on the smart phones as well as we'd hoped, sometimes we tallied when we bought, sometime when we put in the boxes, it got confusing. So, this year we just made tally sheets which record up to 50 items in a line, that way it's easy to see how many you have of an item, even if it's hundreds (like pencils) as every two lines is a hundred. We can easily see what we need more of.
I'm trying to every few months check the stock lists against the shopping list and send out an update email of the shopping list noting "Already have" or "getting close", so we all know what to look for. And family members will text me with questions of what we still need. Also a couple
Each age/gender group we pack for has it's own page, as well as joint pages for things like hygiene & school. Here's an image of the sheet we use, as well as an examples of a partially filled in page.
We put a check mark at the end of the column when we get enough of an item.
To be tallied/put away
Containers (bags, pencil cases, etc)
2-4 Girl clothes, etc.
2-4 Boy clothes, etc.
10-14 Girl clothes, etc.
10-14 Girl sewing kits, ect.
10-14 Boy clothes, etc.
Themed boxes in progress
Stationary, Photos, stickers, envelopes, etc
2-4 Girl toys
2-4 Girl dishes, etc.
2-4 Boy toys & bonus items
2-4 small fillers
10-14 Boy toys & bonus items
10-14 Girl's solitary toys & crafts
10-14 Girl's social toys and games
10-14 Girl's Misc
10-14 small filler items (tops, mini card games, etc.)
Sound/Music items (whistles, flutes, etc)
Hot wheel cars
My theme box to do
Mom's theme box to do
Flashlights & batteries
2-4 School supplies
10-14 School supplies
Misc School supplies
I hope this helps someone, if you're planning a packing party, check out our posts about the packing party we did with children at our church a few years ago. I'll try to do a post later this year about how we prep for our family packing party (as that's quite different with a few responsible adults than a lot of young kids). If you have any questions, please just ask!
Happy Organizing & Packing!