Many of you know that this week is collection week for Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes. And, since I know many of you are thrifty and have a desire to help others, I thought I'd share a few ways that I save items for our boxes each year without spending a lot of money.
The first thing is to shop year round for items. It never fails that when you are looking for inexpensive items, they are hard to find, you run ou of time and end up spending more. So, one thing you need is a place to store your stash. Any cardboard box, bin, drawer, etc... will do just fine. It won't do any good to remember to purchase the items if you can't find them when it is time to assemble your box.
This canvas bin sits on a shelf in my closet and is labeled, "Shoebox Goodies". We do one box per family member, so I just purchase with that in mind.
* Check clearance racks. I have found some wonderful toys on seasonal clearance, just because the package was seasonal. This year, Emily's box includes a My Little Pony that I found on the 75% off Easter clearance. Clearance racks are also a great place to find items like hand towels or wash cloths. After Christmas is a great time to check also. Target clearances out their dollar rack and I have gotten things 75% off of that as well.
* Shop school supply sales. This past year, we found one cent items at Staples including pencils, pencil sharpeners, etc... Crayons and colored pencils are less than a quarter.
* Shop free-bate items. This is especially great for items like toothbrushes and toothpaste. I'm always sharing about the Walgreens rebates we get, but our family cannot use up the quantity that I get free - so lots of these end up in shoeboxes.
* Shop sales. Walgreens has great sales on little items throughout the year like cars for 29 cents and soap 3/$1 or plastic cups 8/$1.
* Eat kids meals. When you go out, order a kids meal and save the toy for the shoe box. The kids meal is usually cheaper, still a good sized portion, and provides you with the toy to give away.
You do not have to sacrifice quality to get good deals, but it does take a training of your mind to be on the lookout for items. Now, I know there have to be other ideas you have...what do you do to keep the cost down?