September 6, 2016

Guest Blog Post - How to Pack More into Less

One of my greatest "trials" in packing shoeboxes is fitting in everything I want to send-lol!  So, I'm always trying to figure out how to get one more thing in.  I love to hear other's ideas on the subject, and as there doesn't seem to be much out there on fitting more in shoeboxes, I decided to start a series of posts on it.  I have a couple in draft, but first here's a guest post I asked Amy Lukens to write!

How to Pack More into Less
You Really Can Fit a Lot into the Preprinted Boxes.
By Amy Lukens

Just as any of you reading this, packing shoeboxes is my passion. I am an Operation Christmas Child Area Coordinator in the Upper Midwest Region and have been packing shoeboxes for over 15 years. Lots of practice and natural spatial awareness have helped me to figure out ways to pack a lot in a little shoebox.

Before I go any further, I want to point out that this is how I pack my boxes. It is not the “right” way to pack. God has placed certain items on my heart to pack or not pack. He may have placed different items on your heart and that is perfect. The shoeboxes go to a variety of children with different needs and wants. Also I do pack mostly in OCC’s Preprinted boxes, but I will also pack a slightly larger box if needed. Certain items like teenage boy’s tennis shoes will not fit into the Preprinted boxes no matter how much you try. I will pack a little larger box such as a 6qt plastic box if necessary.
Here is how I pack my shoeboxes:

1. Remove packaging!

As soon as I bring my items home from the store, I remove every last bit of unnecessary packaging. My rule of thumb is: if the packaging is not useful after the item is opened, remove it. Items like crayons are in a box that will be used later to store the crayons so they stay. Items like puzzles, I take out of the box, cut out the picture and put in a ziplock bag. Others will open the box and add more items inside. Both save space.

It surprises many to see how much space packaging truly takes up. My awesome video editing brother, Andrew Lukens, and I made this video to help our church understand the importance of removing packaging. We even surprised ourselves!

2. Organize well.
This will look different depending on how many boxes you pack and how much space you have. I pack 30ish boxes and have limited storage, so I organize my items into the following categories:
  • Paper (notebooks, coloring books and loose paper)
  • Stickers (all my boxes get stickers – they take up no space)
  • School Supplies
  • Stuffed Animal (every box gets one)
  • Clothing
  • Hygiene Items
  • Larger Toys
  • Smaller Toys
  • Useful Items
  • Accessories

3. Choose items carefully.
First, I pick out my wow item (for most this is the stuffed animal, but I may add a second as well). Then I fill in with my other categories, starting with items I want in every box such as all the school supplies and the hygiene items before moving on to the other categories. This is when I start having to get choosy. If I chose a large stuffed animal or a soccer ball and pump to pack the rest of the items I choose will need to be smaller. I might need to choose flip flops over tennis shoes, a few small toys over another larger one, or a small flashlight over a hammer.

4. Pack smaller items inside of larger hollow items
Here is my favorite example from the bottom layer of a one of my 10-14-year-old girl boxes this year.

 This is a water bottle full of underwear inside a shoe. The shoe also has some things tucked into the toe and around the water bottle.

5. Stuffed animals are full of air
I don’t even use ziplock bags to press the air out of my stuffed animals I just close the lid. The boxes don’t always stay completely shut with just a rubber band, but they will once taped closed without any budging.

Here are a couple examples of large stuffed animals.

This bear does not look like it will fit, but that lid did shut all the way and there are still a variety of other items.

1. Take your time
Try fitting things one way and if it doesn’t work. Try another way or switch items. Packing a shoebox is like a jigsaw puzzle. It takes patience and time.

Since Pictures speak a thousand words, I’m going to close by showing several examples of what can fit if you take your time and treat each box like its own individual puzzle.

Here is an example of a Boy 2-4 box and how each item fit inside:


This box did close without any bulging

Examples of what can fit:


Jennie C. said...

This is awesome! We are a lot alike in the way we approach shoebox items and packing. Loved the video too!!!

Ruth said...

Very helpful. Your boxes are really complete. Do you put a note or picture in?

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