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Packing Three OCC Shoeboxes for Under $30 from Dollar Tree

How to pack three Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes for under $30.If you read this blog, you know that I like to shop year-round for Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes; picking up things as I find deals on them/they catch my eye. For an example of more of our normal boxes here are the ones we packed last year for: Girl 2-4 yearsBoy 2-4 yearsGirl 10-14 years, & Boy 10-14 years.    

But, not everyone is interested or able to do it that way, so I wanted to see what one could do if one just went to a dollar store, I picked Dollar Tree as they seem to be located pretty much everywhere in the USA.  I came up with a plan to fill 3 OCC shoeboxes for $29 from Dollar Tree.  I decided to test that plan and did some shopping at Dollar Tree.  

Here's what I got to fill 3 boxes, one for each age group of girls:
UPDATE:  This list now contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on them.
1-3 pack of combs   (1 per box)                                                                 $1
1-3 pack of toothbrushes with cases    (1 per box)                                      $1
1-3 pack of mild soap   (1 per box)                                                             $1
1-3 pack of washcloths    (1 per box)                                                          $1
1-12 pack of pencils  (4 per box)                                                                $1
1-4 pack of pens       (2 per older girl box)                                                  $1
1-36 count box of crayons (split into 3 sets of 12 by color)                          $1
2-2 packs of "2-in-1 pencil Sharpers & Erasers"  (1 per box)                        $2
2-pads plain paper                                                                                      $2
1- coloring book                                                                                          $1
3-lined notebooks/composition books                                                          $3
3-dolls  (rag and baby)                                                                                       $3
3-games/toys  (wood puzzle, marbles, puzzle)                                            $3
1-3 pack of balls   (1 per box)                                                                     $1
1-3 pack snack containers (1 per box as soap dishes)                                 $1
3-special items (tote bag, water bottle, board book)                                    $3
3-multi-packs of items (stencils, kaleidoscopes, hair bows)                          $3
TOTAL:                                                                                                   $29

 Here's how the boxes turned out:

What went in the box for the 2-4 year old girl:

2 to 4 year old girl Operation Christmas Child shoebox from Dollar Tree.

And how I packed it in:

How to pack an OCC shoebox -- the bottom layer.
I put the small items in the bottom, and the coloring book along the back, you can see their share of the crayons fit in the soap dish with the soap.  I didn't give them any pens for fear they would draw on something with them.

Second layer of packing an OCC shoebox.
Then in went the doll.

Third layer of packing an OCC shoebox.
I put the composition book in at an angle, it could bend, but I thought it'd arrive in better condiditon, then I laid the puzzle and board book on it, the washcloth fit around the toothbrush & case.

How to add a full size coloring book to an Operation Christmas Child shoebox.
The coloring book bent over the top.

What went in the box for the 5-9 year old girl:

5 to 9 year old girl box example for Operation Christmas Child.
And how I packed it in:

Bottom layer of an OCC shoebox.
Paper flat on button, comb & washcloth in the hole behind, soap & marbles to the side.

Toys and school supplies added to an OCC shoebox.
Then in went the doll, ball, and water bottle with some items inside.

Nesting school supplies into water bottle in an OCC shoebox.

What went in the box for the 10-14 year old girl:

Example of a 10 to 14 year old girl box for Operation Christmas Child.  Dollar Tree shopping.

And how I packed it in:

Bottom layer of an OCC shoebox gift for a girl.
You can see a trend of flat items on the sides and bottom!  Also, I left the straps above, to nest around the other items,

Flat items put in bottom of OCC shoebox.
I put the stencils and crayons in the pocket in the notebook.

Packing an OCC shoebox by nesting items.
The sharpener fit well by the puzzle, stencils next, another sharpener, then the soap case with soap, as you can see, no wasted space between them!

Toys added to an OCC shoebox gift.
It was nice and full!

...you'll notice I packed the crayons in plastic containers, that's because some can ooze grease at extreme temperatures (see crayon heat test post), so I thought this would help protect other items in the boxes.  That's also why I got Playskool in hopes of better quality than just the off brand, and I was pretty happy with it, not great, but not bad-you can see the coloring tests results here

The boxes didn't end up quite as full as I'd hoped, especially the 2-4 one, it makes a lot of difference the size/type of toys & bonus items one picks how full it is.  As I mentioned in my original post, if you had something new to "re-gift" a scarf that's not your color, a promotional baseball hat, etc, that would help fill it up, or you could spend another dollar or two on more items.  This is just to give an idea/starting point.

Next year you might want to consider watching for items all year, here's what I was able to do one year for three boxes for the same groups, for $7:

Why I shop year round for my Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes.

We have started a new series you may be interested in on How to Fit More in An Operation Christmas Child Shoebox.

Disclaimer:  unlike our yearly boxes I share, these are sample boxes to see for myself and show what could be done in a blog post, these exact boxes were not sent intact.  UPDATE: This post now contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links, that is how I afford the time to write the blog and keep up this page.

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