Friday, November 15, 2013

Operation Christmas Child Boxes on a Budget

My family loves packing Operation Christmas Child Boxes, as it gives my kids a tangible example of giving and generosity. After Junior's surgery and my surgery earlier this year, however, our Christmas budget is a little tighter than normal. But, using a little creativity and savvy shopping, we were able to fill five boxes this year.

1. Start Early
-This won't help you much this year, as OCC Boxes are due in the next couple weeks, but it's never too early to start picking up items for next year's boxes! I get a small plastic storage bin and keep my items in there, adding to them throughout the year.

-After Christmas, I like to pick up clearanced "Stocking Stuffer" items, and small toys. Target and Michaels are good bets.

-School supply season is the best time to shop for your boxes. This year, by combining coupons and sales, I was able to pick up free crayons, markers, colored pencils, and watercolors. Since several of our boxes are for school aged children (ages 5-9), these school supplies are a great addition.

-Keep an eye on clearance throughout the year. Earlier this year, Target had a coupon for $4 off any two children's apparel items. Using two coupons, I was able to pick up 4 long-sleeve shirts (regularly $10, but because it was Summer, they were clearanced to $3 each), for only $1 each!

2. Watch For Coupons
-We always add a toothbrush and toothpaste into our boxes, and by using coupons paired with a sale, these items are almost always free at some point. Bar soap is another great box item that can be found inexpensively with a coupon.Target coupons can be combined with manufacturer's coupons for even more savings! Michael's 40% coupons are also wonderful for picking up school or art supplies at any time throughout the year.

-Another tip...print your coupons off Swagbucks, and receive 10 Swagbucks for each coupon redeemed. Those add up! Only 450 Swagbucks will get you a $5 gift card...that can be used towards additional OCC items.

3. Go Through Your House 
-Even though you should only add all-new, unused items to your Christmas Child Boxes, chances are you have some unopened, usable things lying around the house. My children were given a lot of Play-Doh instead of candy for Halloween, and since we already have plenty of Play-Doh, I took the unopened cans and put them directly into the boxes. We also had travel sized packs of tissue, unopened pens and pencils, and even some small toys and books I had purchased a while back that were still sitting in our "Gifts to Give" box.

4. Pray for Your Box
-This may sound silly, but it's probably the most important tip in shopping for an OCC box. God knows what each of these children need, and no matter what you add, or don't add to your box, it will go to the child that He knows will be blessed most by it.

Here are some of the items in our boxes, and where they were purchased:
-$1 Toothbrush/Toothpaste Kit (Target Travel Section)
-$1 Long Sleeved Shirt (Target using coupon and clearance)
-$0 Play-Doh (received at Halloween from neighbors)
-$0 Crayons/Markers/Colored Pencils (during school supply season at Target using coupons)
-$1 Stuffed Animals or Plush Balls (Dollar Store)
-$0.97 Hot Wheels Car (Target, regular price)
-$2 Flashlight and Extra Batteries (Dollar Store)
-$0.50 Socks (Target, clearance)
-$0 Wind up Toy (in Gifts to Give box, purchased a while ago)
-$0.60 Plain Notebook (used 40% coupon at Michaels, in their Dollar Bin)
-$1 Toy Flute (Target Dollar Spot)
-$1 Hair Ties (Dollar Store)
-$1 Hairbrush (Dollar Store)

Do you pack Operation Christmas Child Boxes? What do you add to yours?

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