How to Pack an Operation Christmas Child Shoebox

operation christmas child

Happy Monday beauties! I hope you had a lovely weekend and got caught up on any sleep you missed during the week. I had the joy of listing a million things on eBay that I’m trying to get rid of before I move out of my parent’s house for good (see what I listed here).

Since Christmas is coming, I’d like to draw your attention to a wonderful tradition my family has taken part in every year since I can remember: packing Operation Christmas Child boxes. Samaritan’s Purse sponsors an initiative to spread the love of Jesus Christ at Christmas by having members of the community pack small shoe boxes with little trinkets and baubles to send to children in 3rd world countries. I love doing this every year! If you’d like to learn more about how the program works, visit their site. Read on to see what I put in my shoebox this year!

Packing an Operation Christmas Child Shoebox

shoebox packing

The first thing I do when packing a shoebox is choose an age group and gender I’d like to buy for. This year, I chose a girl ages 10-14. Typically, this age group is the hardest to buy for but also the most needed in terms of boxes donated.

After I’ve done this, I make a list of things to buy for the box. There are a lot of great things to put in the box, but I’ve found that certain things are best NOT to include even though they make sense to you and I. For example, Play-Doh, the stuff we used to play with as children, shouldn’t be put into a shoebox because children in some parts of the world don’t know what it is or what to do with it. Another example is putting stuffed animals in boxes. Some animals in other cultures symbolize certain things. In a blog post I read from someone who does the shoebox distribution, a little boy got a stuffed owl in his box and in his culture owls were considered a bad omen. Needless to say he was upset by it.

OCC shoebox

Here’s the contents of my box. Most of it I found at Walmart for decent prices. The entire box cost less than $30 and it will be the best gift the child receives all year. To children in first world countries like our own, this box wouldn’t be the least bit impressive to them. For kids who aren’t so lucky, this means a lot.

items for christmas child boxes

The items I usually start with are hygienic in nature. Tooth brush, tooth paste, combs, soap and soap container, and some chapstick. An important thing to include that you might not think of is a tooth brush holder. Some children have to walk to a clean source of water in their village and need a clean place to keep their tooth brush when they’re going to and from the well.

samaritan's purse christmas child

The next things I always include are school supplies. Pens, crayons, and a notebook are great for kids that are school-aged! A clean t-shirt is also a nice addition to any box. I’ve also read where adding a flash light and some batteries is like striking gold for some of these kids and their families if they live in a place without electricity.

Since I’m doing a box for a 10-14 girl, I included some pretty hair ties, a fun bracelet, and some cute socks. Over the summer, I found some deflated beach balls on sale at Michael’s Craft Store to include in my box. Soccer is a cheap sport to play because all you really need is some sort of a ball. Similar to the flashlight, kids love getting these!

I hope you consider doing one of these boxes! You can pick them up at many local churches and Chick fil a is a big sponsor of the program! National collection week is November 16-23. Wherever you picked up your box at, you can drop it off there too. The rest is taken care of by volunteers.

Let me know if you decide to do a box or have questions!

witty n pretty

Back to School Shopping for Under $300

It’s the first week of August and back to school shopping is starting. I’m not sure whether to rejoice for people who have kids and are ready for them to go back or say a silent prayer asking for summer to stay just a little longer. This past week, I made my decision and went shopping! I found out about a family in my church who needed help getting back to school clothes for their kids. My heart went out to them and I volunteered to get all 3 kids a new wardrobe- for under $300. Here’s how I did it!

Back to School for Less


I started by buzzing my way around all the local stores that were having back to school sales- and then making my way straight to the clearance racks. That’s right, I skipped the advertised “sale” racks. Rarely, in my opinion, are sales a good deal when you are really trying to save money. For example, I went to Kohl’s to get one of the kids some jeans. Sure, they had tons of jeans on sale (2 for $40) but typically I can find a better deal on the same jeans on clearance. I browsed the rack a bit and found two styles of jeans in the size I needed for $10 each! I tried the same method at American Eagle for the older kid and found a pair for $19.99.

school_clothes_for_lessMy next stop was at TJ Maxx where I found another pair of American Eagle jeans for $14.99! For the oldest son, I spent more money in stores like Hollister to get the teenager favorites, but I still shopped the clearance rack for tees ($7.99 each). I spent a lot of time in places like Marshall’s to get t-shirts and hoodies for all of the kids though. It’s my best kept secret for finding steals!

For the youngest little girl, I went to Target and Old Navy and found jeans for $10 and tees (long and short sleeve) for under $4 each. Once again, I shopped the clearance rack. I splurged a little and got her a pink tutu dress for $8. The most expensive part of my shopping was the shoes but I still got great deals. I found Sperrys on clearance for $34 and DC high tops for $24. Kids have to go back to school looking good, right?


When I was a kid (that was like 5 years ago), I remember how important it was to have the “right” brands and the latest trends. As much as I don’t want kids to give into peer pressure, sometimes little things like wearing a certain clothing brands isn’t a big deal in the grand scheme of things. If you can find a good deal on it, then have at it!

To sum everything up, I bought 6 pairs of jeans, 1 pair of shorts, 2 pairs of shoes, 2 backpacks, 3 dress shirts, 1 dress, 1 pair of leggings, 15 t-shirts, and 2 hoodies all for under $300! That is why shopping the clearance rack is so smart. Happy shopping!



Rainy Days at Starbucks

studying_at_starbucksYesterday was a rainy day in Maryland so the sister and I took some time in the afternoon to do homework at Starbucks. There’s something so nice about sitting in the coffee shop, listening to jazz music, doing work, and just watching the rain fall outside. Very peaceful. I just wanted to nap actually. When I got home, my furry gray cat, Tanzie, was sitting on my bed looking out the open window as it drizzled outside and the wind blew.

My sister was working most of the afternoon on her history and literature class. Poor kid coffee_at_starbuckshas so much reading to do! I worked on discussion posts for two of my classes. We both got frappucinos too. Hers was a vanilla bean frap with a pump of raspberry. It tasted like cotton candy, no joke. I got a pumpkin spice frap, which was amazing and way better than the hot drink! I was surprised I liked it but I certainly did and have a new favorite seasonal drink.

Pumpkin_spiceOf course, Rebecca and I did the obligatory photo of our drinks that we got because they were ‘totes’ cute. I should have Instagrammed it but I didn’t. Oops. The other day I was with my best friend and her younger cousin and I took a picture of the iced latte I got from Dunkin Donuts. Her cousin, who is about 13, looked at me and said “Careful, your white girl is showing!” I about died of laughter. Then she added “hashtag ‘white girl problems.” I thought I would never recover from that one! She’s a funny kid and just says whatever comes to mind.

All in all, it was a decent day. I’m praying for motivation today because I have 2 papers, 2 quizzes, and about 12 response posts to do by Saturday night. Here’s hoping I’m productive and focused although it’s unlikely! Wish me luck and leave me good concentration tips below!