This is all 52 shoeboxes - some were the pre-printed ones from Operation Christmas Child and some were from our local shoestore that we then wrapped in Christmas paper. We found the wrapping paper at the local Best For Less store, extra wide and $2 a roll (3m rolls). We chose cartoon penguins, cartoon Santa "Ho Ho Ho", holly and berries, and white with red designs. Then we wrapped each lid in a different paper to the shoebox.
Each age group 2-4 years, 5-9 years and 10-14 years Boys and Girls were covered. We try to make more of the 10-14 year group because I read somewhere that that was the least received category. Small tool kits, sewing kits, jandals (flip flops), tshirts, hats, socks and undies, skipping ropes, craft kits, 2 exercise books, pencil case (coloured pencils, pens, regular pencils, eraser, sharpener, scissors), washcloth, soap, toothbrush with cover, comb, small soft toy, bouncy ball/tennis ball/small ball.
I find the 5-9 year old girls the easiest to fill. Below left: A doll, a soft toy, pencil case, accessories for the doll (guitar, hair brush, purse, flower mirror), yoyo, soap, facecloth, toothbrush with cover, tennis ball, pad of paper, pencils, colour pencils, eraser, sharpener, t-shirt, purse with hair ties, bracelet and stickers inside.
Another 5-9 Girls box: This one contained a blue t-shirt, two pairs of socks, a doll and bottle, ball, saxophone whistle, soap, facecloth, bracelet, exercise book, balloons, hairties, spinning top, pencilcase (with pencils, eraser, sharpener, coloured pencils, pens), comb, toothbrush (inside the exercise book).
2-4 year old boxes, boys and girls, are quite easy to fill too. This one below has a soft toy (such a cute leopard too!), doll, jandals (flip flops), t-shirt, crayons, colouring book, stickers, hair ties and clips, balloons, facecloth, soap, toothbrush and cover, photo of us with a note on the back, toy guitar.
I read somewhere that the 10-14 year old boys shoeboxes were the ones least received so we try, each year, to fill more of those than other boxes. In more recent years we've been putting two exercise books into all our 10-14 year boxes, rolled up and secured with rubber bands. That's because I read that kids often erase their previous years' work so they can reuse their exercise books!! Not on our watch!!
Here's two of our boxes for 10-14 year old boys. On the left we have: a shoe shaped pencil case, frisbee, balloon helicopter (with spare balloons), skipping rope, notebook, yoyo, socks, undies, t-shirt, small bear, hand drum, facecloth, soap, toothbrush with cover, finger skateboard, lego set, dinosaur badge, flute.
On the right: model airplane kit, temporary tattoos, soap, undies, socks, balloons, silicon bracelet, pencil case, pencils, eraser, sharpener, coloured pencils, matchbox cars, tennis ball, ball bearing maze, baseball cap with flames, notepad, notebook, lego set, soft toy dog (he was so soft and so cute!).
Finally, a 5-9 year Boy shoebox. A teddy bear, model airplane, frisbee, toothbrush and cover, jandals (flip flops), notebook, colouring book, craft kit, crayons in the shapes of cars, balloons, soap, facecloth, pencil case (with pencils, sharpener, erasers), t-shirt, and a photo of us!
Sometimes we get unwanted shoeboxes from the local shoe store, other times we use the pre-printed boxes from Operation Christmas Child. I personally love using the boxes we wrap because I think it makes it even more exciting for a child, to receive a box that's a little bit unique from others' boxes. Plus, this year we wrapped the lids in a different paper than the box so they're even more unique!!
It's such a fun thing to do. You can find out more information about shoeboxes, what to include, what not to include, where to take them, etc. from the link above. Most churches participate and it doesn't have to be expensive either!! If you make stuff or shop around during the sales, shoeboxes can be cheap to fill.