It’s the most wonderful time of the year! At least according to the classic holiday song that streams through department store speakers from November to January. (You’re singing it in your head right now, aren’t you?) There really is something special about Christmastime, but consumerism has slowly begun to take over the season’s true meaning as shoppers zoom past the nativity scene and head for the mall.
Break the norm this holiday season. Instead of scratching your head about what to buy family members or friends who already have everything, consider packing a shoe box for a needy child in their honor through Operation Christmas Child. Millions of children around the world are waiting to hear the good news of God’s love, and simple gift-filled shoeboxes are breaking down barriers in places where the gospel has previously been blocked. Do something a little different this Christmas—go shopping for shoe boxes and change a child’s life for eternity.
Or how about throwing a party? I know what you’re thinking—shopping and parties—we’re speaking your love language here! Shoe box packing parties are a great way to kick off this time of year with the right mindset, and a great holiday project for your small group, Bible study, or family.
Here are some ideas for how to throw your own shoebox packing party for Operation Christmas Child:
- Designate certain people to bring specific “filler” items for the shoeboxes. For example, one person can bring a box of small stuffed animals, and someone else can bring several bags of hard candy. Set a goal for the number of shoeboxes you want to pack and be sure to buy enough items to fill that many boxes. Also consider having a fundraiser or asking your church to donate money for these items.
- Have your guests bring their own shoeboxes or ask local shoe stores for empty boxes. You can also collect money beforehand and buy plastic boxes.
- Set up tables at your party and place the gift items together by category (candy, hygiene items, school supplies, etc.). Form an assembly line to make sure each box has a variety of items. Also consider separating the tables by gender and having another table as the wrapping station.
- Visit Operation Christmas Child’s Web site at www.samaritanspurse.org/occ to print out boy/girl labels for your shoe boxes and for more information like gift ideas, shipping donations, and drop-off locations.
- Take a group photo and place a copy in each shoe box. Have every guest write a letter to each child who will receive a gift. Be sure to have extra pens and paper on hand for this activity.
- Don’t forget the Christmas cookies! What’s a party without food? Set the mood with holiday goodies like fudge and hot apple cider.
- Deck the halls and your party with twinkling lights or a small tree, and play some classic Christmas tunes. Throw in a little “Jingle Bell Rock” to really get the party going.
- Before the festivities end, have a special prayer time for the children, families, and communities who will be touched by your shoe boxes. Pray that these gifts will have far-reaching effects and that many would come to know Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior through these simple gifts.
National Collection Week for shoebox gifts is November 15-22. Visit www.samaritanspurse.org/occ for information about how to get involved.