December 29, 2016

Why I Shop Year-round for Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes or 3 Boxes for Under $7

If you read this blog, you know I like to shop year-round for my Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes.  You might wonder why I work so hard to do that, so I decided I'd make 3 sample boxes with the deals I found throughout the year in 2016, and show the boxes one could make with that.  You can see I figured you could fill with the basics Three OCC Shoeboxes for $29 from Dollar Tree, and here's an example of a shopping trip I did from that list.  And that's a great option for those with limited budget who only want to shop at packing time.  However with shopping year-round one can save a lot of money and pack even nicer boxes!  I spent less than $7 to fill these three shoeboxes with items that would retail at over $100.


Here's a breakdown of how everything that went in, how much it was worth retail (some are best guess/I can remember, forgot to write everything down), and how much it cost:


$  1.00 .........1-3 pack of combs.......................................$0.00 (Dollar General Q)
$27.04 ..
..... 3-2 pack of toothbrushes+3 toothpastes.....$0.00 (CVS Q&ECB)

$ 3.98 .........2-3 packs of mild soap.................................$0.00 (CVS Q/ECB overage)
$ 9.99.........1-6 pack of washcloths................................ $0.00 (Kohl's Q w/purchase)
$ 3.49.........1-18 pack of pencils.....................................$0.00 (CVS clearance/Q overage)
$ 2.00.........2-10 pack of pens ..........................................$0.02 (Office Depot)
$ 6.00 ..........3-packs crayons or markers...........................$0.75 (Office Depot)
$ 3.00 .........3-enclosed sharpeners....................................$0.03 (Office Depot)
$ 1.00 .........1-3 pack erasers.............................................$0.01 (Office Depot)
$ 6.00 .........4 bonus school items.....................................$0.04 (Office Depot)
$ 3.00 .........3-pads plain paper/coloring books...............$0.30 (Clearance/Q overage)
$ 5.00 .........3-lined paper................................................. $0.03 (Office Depot)
$ 9.00 .........3-stuffed animals........................................ $0.09 (Family Dollar Clearance)
$ 8.00 .........3-games/toys................................................$2.99 (Thrift & local discount store)
$ 4.99.........1-6 pack of balls   ........................................ $0.49 (CVS clearance)
$ 6.00.........1-bag hard candy or gum...............................$0.00(CVS Q&ECB)
$7.98 .........3-special items...............................................$1.09 (clearance & re-gift)
+$5.98 .......3-multi-packs of items................................+$0.99 (local discount store & CVS clearance)
$113.45 .....TOTAL VALUE-------TOTAL COST........$6.80


NOTE:  2016 was the last year to send candy & toothpaste in the USA!!!

How I got these prices:
  • CVS: I got various deals.  ECBs, coupons, and sometimes those two combined was more than the cost of items, so I had funds to go towards the other items, often things on sale or clearance themselves.  If you want to know more about shopping deals at CVS, check out my other blog: Simply CVS
  • Seasonal clearance: This is always a great way to get a deal on items that might be seasonal.
  • Back to school deals: There are numerous sales at various stores, most of these were at Office Depot, they have some limited quantities deals-for $0.25 and some for $0.01 with $5 purchase, but I often found other items I needed on sale
  • Thrift stores: I found an old, beat up tin at a local charity thrift shop that held travel games with a $2 label.  I decided to pop it open to see what, if anything was inside.  Low and behold it held seven games-one like new with all parts, and six still in original bags!!!  These were like games I've seen at Dollar Tree, but nicer quality, for less money!
  • Coupons: This both goes back to the CVS deals, and also other deals.  For instance, I got a $1 off a purchase of $1.01 or more at Dollar General for signing up for digital coupons, there was something I wanted to get personally on clearance so I picked up combs.  The $1 coupon I applied toward the combs that were $1 for a package, making them free!
  • Free items: I got a free pencil with purchase; my sister got a gift in a small box, that she then gave to be packed in an OCC shoebox; my aunt had a Happy Meal toy.

Now for the fun stuff-what went in each box:

2-4 Year Old Girl shoebox

2 to 4 year old girl Operation Christmas Child shoebox.

How to fit gifts into an Operation Christmas Child shoebox.

5-9 Year Old Girl shoebox


Operation Christmas Child shoebox gift for a 5 to 9 year old girl.
Fitting a lot into an OCC shoebox.


10-14 Year Old Girl shoebox


Example of a 10 to 14 year old girl Operation Christmas Child shoebox.
How to pack an Operation Christmas Child shoebox.

Here is how I nested some items, to get more to fit:


Nesting items to fit more in an Operation Christmas Child shoebox.


I had some leftover items, as you can see, that wouldn't fit in the boxes:



Filler items for an OCC shoebox.

One could save them for next year or send them as fillers (more info on fillers, here)


If you are unable to pack all year round but still want to pack multiple boxes inexpensively check out this other post:  How to Pack Three OCC Shoeboxes for Under $30 at Dollar Tree.

How to pack three Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes for $30.

You may also be interested to learn Why We Include a Stuffed Animal Our Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes.

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.

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