Yes, I know it’s August. Yes, believe me, I’m with you. I too gasp in disbelief when I walk into Hobby Lobby to see Christmas is in full swing in their crafty world of peppermint wreaths and cheerful snowmen while it’s a broiling 90 degrees outside.
Why am I talking about Christmas shoe-box projects now? If you love preparing Operation Christmas Child shoe-boxes for Samaritan’s Purse, you probably wish you could find high quality toys, art supplies and gifts for less money. Why? So you can fill more boxes for more kids without sacrificing quality. I would hate to send something all the way over to a kid and it break in the first 5 minutes they are playing with it. That’s why I try to find high quality items.
NOW is the time to start shopping for awesome items at low prices for your boxes. I believe that if you don’t wait until it’s time to fill the boxes in November, that you can fill more boxes, with better stuff for less money. On the other hand, if you like to give at the holidays but sometimes feel financially limited this project might be perfect for you! These tips show you how to save money on high quality Christmas shoe box gifts.
1. Target Dollar Section Clearance
Did you know that Target now has a $1 section at the front of their stores? It’s called The Dollar Stop. It’s got some pretty good stuff in it! I feel these products are of a nicer quality than what you find in typical dollar stores. You could wait until the holiday’s to go down and pay $1-$3 per item in this section and fill your box with some pretty nice stuff without spending much money. The secret is watching this section of the store like a hawk. Every few months Target has to “cleanse” the Dollar Stop and those $1-$3 items get discounted at 50% then 70%. We are talking markers, toys, socks and other fun things for kids that are the perfect size for your shoe-box projects! At 70% off you could fill almost 4 shoe-boxes for the price of 1!
Last year I saw a family working together in this section after Christmas when it was 90% off and when I asked what they were doing they said, “Preparing to fill our shoe-boxes next year.” It’s never too early to start!
2. Back To School Sales
This week I paid $0.03 for scotch tape and $0.02 for sticky notes at Target with a coupon. Back to School sales are competitive between stores making the prices really low. You could get colored pencils, markers and art supplies for your shoe-boxes really cheap. If you’ve got store or product coupons you can almost get stuff free like I did. Then you are able to fill your boxes with name brand products that you know will perform for far less than you will pay for the off brand dollar store stuff come Christmas time.
3. Back to School Clearance
After the school year gets back into full swing, retailers start transitioning for Halloween. Places like Target start to clearance out all that back to school stuff. If you wait a few weeks after school starts you can fill your boxes with all sorts of school supply goodies and pay ridiculously low prices. Keep your eyes peeled for the clearance signs and save your coupons that expire in September to get additional savings.
4. Extreme Couponing
Some hygiene items are great fits for the shoe boxes. It seems that hygiene items are generally pretty easy for super couponers to get almost for free. The Samaritan’s Purse list suggests toothbrushes and mild bar soap. When you get ready to go extreme on some bar soap and toothbrushes toss a few to the side for your upcoming shoe-box projects! If you have a huge stock pile of these items consider finding a church or organization doing the shoe-box drive and donate them so that members can add one to each of their boxes.
5. Before Christmas Clearance
What I find without fail is that every year just before November, major stores like Target get ready for all the new toy merchandise by clearanceing out the old merchandise. I’m starting to see action figures, art sets and all kinds of really nice toys get slashed 30 then 50 then 70% off. Wait, watch and load your boxes with these great deals.
I hope that this post has given you some new ways to fill more boxes for less money this holiday season. I really like this organization and I’m planning to do some boxes myself this year as my son is getting old enough now to help me out. Check out my personal adventure at the Samaritan’s Purse processing center in the story below.
My Adventure At Samaritan’s Purse Operation Christmas Child Processing Center
I remember walking into the Samaritan’s Purse warehouse when I was 17 and being totally floored to see what looked like the inside of Santa’s workshop (minus the velvet covered elves singing Christmas carols). There were shoe boxes filled to the brim on pallets from floor to almost ceiling. In the middle of the room were rows and rows of workbenches covered in sorting bins, packing tape and large bins brimming with toys.. This was were the shoe-box magic happened and I got to be a part of it.
That day I was part of an assembly line of teenagers prepping the boxes to be delivered all over the world! Our job was to open every box and be sure that they not only had enough items stuffed inside but that the items fit with the shoe-box guidelines. If it needed more, we added items from the bins of approved toys. If we found items that were outside the guidelines like shampoos or toy weapons we removed them. When you get to see the inside workings of a non-profit it helps you to grow and respect the organization even more. It’s good to know that they do what they say they do with what you donate.
Want to know more? Check out the Samaritan’s Purse Operation Christmas Child website here!
Kim Anderson is the organized chaos loving author behind the Thrifty Little Mom Blog. She helps other people who thrive in organized chaos to stress less, remember more and feel in control of their time, money, and home. Kim is the author of: Live, Save, Spend, Repeat: The Life You Want with the Money You Have. She’s been featured on Time.com, Money.com, Good Housekeeping, Women’s Day, and more!