We have a little more than a week to go before we’re hosting our Operation Christmas Child Packing Party! The invitations were sent out a couple weeks ago. Yes, I know it is only the beginning of October, but Collection Week starts November 12th and I was kinda-sorta-maybe hoping that our efforts (and all the fun that we’re having) would inspire you to host your own packing party??? ;) Here are a few things I have done this week to help prepare for our party next Sunday.
1) Make a menu. Thankfully, lots of people coming will be bringing an appetizer or dessert, but I still want to prepare a couple items. I also need to purchase plates, cups, napkins, and drinks. The recipes I’ll be making are:
Funeral sandwiches (a depressing name but they look good and like they’ll feed a crowd)
Party Meatballs in the Crockpot (1 bag of frozen meatballs, 1 T. lemon juice, 10 oz. grape jelly, and 12 oz. Heinz chili sauce)
It’s probably not the best idea to make 2 recipes I’ve never made before for a party I’m hosting…but what can I say??? I like to walk on the wild side.
2) Cut wrapping paper to fit inside the box.
Since we’re using plastic tubs to send our gifts in, we thought we would line the bottom of the boxes with Christmas wrapping paper, to make them a little more festive (an idea I got from Homeschool Creation’s Facebook page). It proved to be a bit more time-consuming than I originally thought. If you choose to line your boxes with wrapping paper, here are a few suggestions:
-Figure out the dimensions for your plastic tubs. The dimensions for our Sterilite 6-quart tubs were: 17 1/2″ long by 12 1/2″ wide.
-Cut the wrapping paper the length of your box (17 1/2″ for ours). If you’re lining several boxes like I was, cut 4 more exactly the same length and stack on top of eachother. Depending on the size of your wrapping paper, this should make 10 box worths of paper lining.
-Cut the stack of wrapping paper the length of your box (12 1/2″ for ours).
-While your wrapping paper is still stacked, snip a square off each corner of the paper. Our squares were 3 inches.
-Crease the edges and gently press the paper into the box.
-Stack the boxes on top of each other, making sure that the paper isn’t bent or just plain wonky.
3) Figure out a craft or coloring page for the kids to do while at the party.
I found a Coloring Page (the 5th option on the first row) for kids to fill out and color at the party, but this would require some adult help since many of the kids are younger and can’t read or write yet. I also bought some cute Christmas stickers and paper for the kids to make their own Christmas cards. I’m planning on setting up some tables on our deck for the kids to make the cards outside (granted the weather cooperates).
4) Start organizing all the stuff for the boxes.
Since last year, I have been picking up items on major clearance (like 75% off or more) as I found them in preparation for this party. Much to my surprise when I pulled everything out, I have acquired quite a bit of stuff. I decided to start sorting them by age and gender. We asked people to bring toiletry items to the party since I don’t have very much of those things.
Organized by age and gender (boys and girls 2-4, 5-9, and 10-14). I also separated the school supplies, gender neutral gifts, candy, and toiletries.
6) Print off pictures of children receiving their gifts to display around the house. Samaritan’s Purse has been sharing pictures like the ones below on Facebook and Pinterest. I think these would be great for the kids to see at the party so that they know that a child on the other side of the world will soon be opening the gift they are packing!
Things are coming together! The boys saw me working on all of this when they got up from their nap/rest time today. At first they were a little upset that all of these fun things weren’t for them. But it gave me the perfect opportunity to talk to them about how God has called us to give to others–and many of the children who receive these gifts have never gotten a Christmas present before. Afterwards, they started gathering all the toys they wanted to send to the children in Africa. Our boxes probably won’t even go there (last year they went to Mexico), but they are familiar with us talking about Africa due to our work at Nhowe Mission and supporting a friend of ours in Zambia. Although we can’t technically use their used toys to pack in the OCC boxes, I didn’t want to hinder their generous spirits…so we will definitely find something to do with the toys they have gathered, whether it is taking to a shelter here in town or packing in a container to be sent to Zimbabwe.