Written by Rachel, Contributing Writer
For the past few years, I have loved being able to participate in packing shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child with my kids. I usually let each of them choose the items at the dollar store, we decorate a card and pack the boxes all while listening to Christmas music and drinking hot beverages. It's been a tradition of trying to teach them to care about others around the world that might not have as much as they do.
And this year won't be any different but after I met Alex at a conference I attended a few weeks ago and learned about this ministry of Samaritan's Purse more in depth, I knew I wanted to help out more and get even more people involved.
And that's when I learned about "Packing Parties". There are several ways to go about a packing party, you could have a play date where the kids help pack, a homeschool group could get together, really the options are endless so today I'm going to share with you how to host a packing party and these ideas will be centered around a Mom's Night Out Packing Party.
How to Host a Packing Party:
First, find out who you want to be involved with the party whether it's kids, families, school groups or others. Since I have a heart for Mom's I went with a Mom's Night Out. We just had our packing party this past weekend and had a wonderful time. The party started at 7pm and we didn't even get to the boxes until 9. I feel like this was a way to show Christ's love to moms, we get to share our struggles and victories of motherhood with one another and get to encourage each other and laugh A LOT! And we did all that while helping out Operation Christmas Child.
Plan a Date
With 11 days left to turn in Operation Christmas Child Shoe-boxes, it really isn't too late to host a packing party, you'll just have to hurry scheduling it. There are 2 weekends left and most people would like to help with such a great cause even on weekdays.
Get your Supplies
If you schedule your party within a couple days you can order a supplies, however they aren't necessary to have a packing party.
Here's what you do need:
- shoe boxes- You can get the OOC boxes at local churches but they don't have to be the pretty green and red boxes, they can be regular ole shoe boxes you have in your closet or even plastic tubs.
- colored paper and markers to make cards
- stuff to fill the boxes (I'll explain how to tell people what to bring below in the invitation)
Send out Invitations
You can get printable invitations you can customize here if you like the hard copy kind. I personally like to use evite, a free online tool to share invitations and keep track of the RSVP's easily. Feel free to borrow the wording I used:
Demonstrate God's LOVE in a tangible way to needy children around the world through a simple gift.
Join in a Mom's Night Out of fun while helping Operation Christmas Child, a ministry who delivers gifts and shares the Good News of Jesus to 130 countries around the world.
If you normally participate, you know this is a wonderful ministry. And that you normally would spend around $10 to pack just one box.
My thoughts are that if we get a group together, for instance, we have 10 ladies and we all bring 20 items, we could fill 20+ boxes together. So 20 tooth brushes or 20 coloring books, please don't feel pressure to bring 20 things, 10 would be fine too, I'll make sure we have enough things if some people can't bring 20 things. To save money and get more you can get things that have 2 or 3 in them for $1, look at the Target $1 section for clearance stuff, buy bulk packs so ends up cheaper, etc.
Feel free to bring an appetizer or dessert! I'll have hot chocolate and a sweet treat to share. Can't wait to see you there!
What about the Food?
As I mentioned in the invitation, make food an optional choice. Some people can get overwhelmed with the idea of getting 20 items for this event plus a food dish, however, by making it optional, I feel like more people end up bringing something. You could do a potluck, snacks, appetizers or even desserts. If you don't want to hassle with people bringing food, just make some cookies and hot chocolate to share with your guests.
Here are some healthy recipes for potlucks.
Getting Things Organized before the Party
- Set up a table where all the filler items for the boxes go. You can even organize by gender, so it's easier to fill the boxes if you have more than one table. Then have your guests help put the items on the table in an assembly line form for filling the boxes.
- Have a designated area for all of the food, if you are going to be eating.
- Put out the OCC supplies out for your guests if you had enough time to order them.
- Have a table to make cards for the children who will receive the boxes. This shows Christ's love and makes them feel special. Some wording we used: "Jesus Loves You," "You are a Child of God" and a couple different Bible verses.
When Guests Arrive
When your guests arrive, thank them for coming. Show them where to drop off their items and food. Let everyone grab a bite to eat and tell them a little bit about Operation Christmas Child. This is a little bit of what I shared:
"I didn't realize what went on behind the scenes of OCC. I thought we packed our boxes, brought it to church, the church mailed in to OCC and then they gave them to kids around the world. Which is great! And although that is the gist of it, there is so much more that goes on.
The children who receive the boxes get much more than just a shoebox full of gifts; they get a chance to learn about Jesus. But before the boxes ever reach a child, they are sent to a packing facility to make sure the contents of the boxes are acceptable and filled adequately. Then, every single box is prayed over. OCC works with the local churches where the children will receive the boxes. This helps the church build a relationship. The children can then attend several classes to learn about Jesus."
You can learn more about the journey of a shoebox here.
Make Time for Fellowship
Packing the boxes is the main reason why you have gathered together, but don't forget to share Jesus' love to each other and build relationships.
For instance, during the Mom's Night Out Packing Party I had last week, if we just got together to pack boxes I would never had learned more insight about cloth diapering, or how we're not the only family who doesn't use a microwave or how another mom's kids have been helped by chiropractic care.
While we were laughing a lot and getting to know each other more, we made the most of our time by decorating cards to put in all the boxes.
Packing the Boxes
After you've had plenty of time to laugh and decorate cards for the recipients, gather your shoeboxes and start filling them with the items. Make sure you fill the boxes with age appropriate items and use the labels marked boy and girl, and check off the correct age group. You can get labels to print out here.
Once you are finished, take a picture together to capture the special memories.
Pray Over the Boxes
Once you are done packing all of the boxes, pray over them. These aren't just shoeboxes; each one represents a boy or girl in one of the 130 countries where children will receivethe a box and get a chance to learn about the love of Jesus.
Pray over the guests who came to the party as well.
These are the ideas I used to host a packing party. There are millions of ways to get even more creative!
If you just do not have the time to host a packing party, you can pack a box online, which is also a great way to tell others about this great opportunity.
Bring the boxes to a drop off location between November 18- the 25.