For the last two years I’ve thrown Operation Christmas Child box packing parties.
In 2010, we packed 89 boxes.
In 2011, we packed 110 boxes.
The 2012 party is coming up, and we are in full prep mode for this year’s fun!
We’re making lists and doing some online ordering and getting the word out about the party.
As I prepare for the big day, I wanted to share the Top Ten things I’ve learned about throwing an OCC Party.
1. Determine what type of party you want to have. Are you having a birthday party for one of your kids and letting friends pack boxes? Or, are you having a birthday party for yourself (like I do)? Then, you’re going to want a birthday party theme, with party balloons and cupcakes. Are you just having a OCC party? Then, you’ll want a Christmas theme. I always have Christmas music playing, apple cider in the crock pot, and red and green balloons.
2. Be clear on your instructions for what guests are supposed to bring. If you’ve already got the boxes, then they don’t need to bring them! You can order party supplies easily through Samaritans Purse. If you are providing some of the things to go in the boxes, let them know. I try to get some things donated by friends and family each year. They’re my birthday presents. I let my friends know that they don’t need to bring certain items, because I already have 100 of them.
3. Provide a way for your guests to pay for the shipping. It costs $7 per box to ship an Operation Christmas Child box. That $7 either needs to be in the box or you need to pay online and print a label. I provide envelopes and cash for my guests. Then, they can write me a check for $21 and we can put $7 in each box. Or, they can go on my computer (or theirs if they plan ahead) and pay the shipping online. They print out a label to put on their box that allows them to know where it is delivered. How fun is that?
4. Know where you are going to drop off the boxes. Once you’ve packed all the boxes, you’ll need to get them to Samaritan’s Purse. There are drop-off locations all over the country, just visit their website to find one near you.
5. Collect things for boxes all year around. As soon as my Operation Christmas Child party is over, I start collecting for the next one. I now have two big tubs in the garage full of things we’ll use for this years party. Shop clearance sales after holidays. Hit the Dollar Spots at Target and Walmart.
7. Have a note writing station. Can you imagine being able to talk to someone half-way around the world and telling them that God loves them? You can, through a shoebox. Be sure to have a place where your guests can write personal notes to put in each box. And, don’t worry about translation. Somebody on the other side of the world will help with that.
8. Make sure the box is REALLY full. It should be about to burst. In fact, you’ll want some rubber bands available to hold boxes closed. Make sure you box doesn’t have extra packaging in it. Take those matchbox cars and Barbies out of their boxes! You will find that some people are exceptionally good at packing a box. It’s like a big puzzle. Those people that are good at it… keep them around for the whole party.
8. Have a basket of supplies. You’ll need baggies for soap, rubber bands to hold boxes closed, tape to adhere the girl and boy labels, scissors for opening packages, pens and more. Think through everything your guests might need and make sure it is available to them. You’re also going to need more trash bags than you can imagine.
9. Food! Make sure you’ve have munchies for your guests. I usually go with Christmas party favorites like sausage balls, meatballs, veggies and some Christmas cookies. If you are going to have little people, be sure to have some Goldfish and pretzels. And, don’t forget the drinks.
10. Have fun! It’s a party! Make sure everyone is having a great time.
My Operation Christmas Child party has become one of my favorite days of the year. I look forward to it all year around. I smile from ear to ear the entire day. There is nothing better than sending Christmas to a child to experience it for the very first time.
Update: I started an Operation Christmas Child Pinboard to help you get other ideas. And, there is an Operation Christmas Child Virtual Box Packing Party going on!
Have you ever packed a shoebox?