So, one of the most fun things related to Operation Christmas Child is hosting a packing party. I’ve been on the receiving and planning end of this and its so fun. You can do this if you are setting up your items at home, with a small group, or even for your whole church event. I’ve set up around my dining room table at home, a conference room at work or the gym/Fellowship Hall in a church. The same rules apply all that changes is the number of things you are working with
Things to note:
- obviously you have to invite people – you can be as elaborate or efficient as you want to in this. Facebook event, Evite, printed invites, announcement at church, word of mouth to a few friends, or in place of another celebration (birthday, sleep over, etc.) are all good options.
- determine your “how” – are you going to collect everything and have them help you pack? are you asking them to bring things? are certain people bringing certain things and others, others (like last name a-f bring hygiene, g-m toys, o-t-school supplies, u-z-wow items) Is it a full family thing, kids only, grown ups, gals, dudes, by small group?
- locate your where – you will need some space to set up tables to walk around and pack. A garage or back porch work good, space at church or community center, conference tables, or big open floor plan house. You just need some space to spread out and move around
- supplies – shoeboxes are necessary – whether you get boxes from OCC, buy the plastic ones they started using this year, get plastic shoeboxes or tubs at Dollar Tree or use actual shoeboxes you collect these are a must.
Things to prep before the party:
- if you have time, fold your boxes or stack your tubs before your event – or this should be the first thing people do as guests arrive at your party
- if you choose to use regular shoeboxes, you will want to wrap them in wrapping paper. Make sure you wrap the lid separate from the main box. This will help with the check points before they go overseas.
- separate your supplies if you have them before the party – take them out of the packages so they are individually wrapped or separated and ready to go
- you can organize these in to boxes, tubs, baskets, kitchen bowls, containers, or big boxes and big tubs
- label tubs – if you are having people bring items, label the tub/boxes so they can go put the items in there when they arrive
- also, if you want people to take more than one of an item per box, put that label on the tub so they know when they walk by to grab more than one
- are the items in the tub for a certain age? label that and group those things together
- if you are going to package things together, do that ahead of time – soap in baggies, hair ties in baggies, little items stuffed in cups, eraser tops on pencils, etc
- if you have more of the same item than will fit in one tub/box, put the “replenishment” tub on the floor underneath the table so when that box gets empty, someone can easily grab the new tub and move it to the top of the table and get rid of the empty box/tub.
- set up your room/packing area – you will need a beginning point where all the boxes are stacked up, rows of tables that you put your items to stuff the boxes with, a label station at the end and place to stack boxes after they are labeled.
- one thing to think about is to group like items together – hygiene, school supplies, toys, wow items
- label area – things you will need: printed labels to mark who the box is for, sharpies or pens to mark the labels, rubber bands to hold the box together, scissors might be helpful randomly
- what’s your plan to get the stuffed boxes from your packing party to a collection site?
Starting off the party:
- Get everyone’s attention – Welcome them and thank them for helping
- Share your why – why did you organize this? why is this important to participate in? what about it is important to you?
- Show an OCC video – I came across this video last week, its 6 minutes long, but for people who may not be familiar with OCC and what it’s all about, then its a great way to start
- this is a great time to share about the $9 per box shipping and how you are handling that at your event
- let everyone know “the plan” – what’s the order, who goes where
- jobs you could assign people:
- box stackers and managers – they become stuffers at the end
- box stuffers – walk the circle and put stuff in the boxes…this will be most of your people
- supply replenishment (depending on how many you are packing)
- box labelers – this can be a great job for older folks or unable to move around – these people can rotate out with box stuffers
- big box packers and movers
- floaters – no more than 1 or 2 – just people that can watch and help with everything…you should probably be in this role! (these people could double duty as your supply replenishment team)
- pray over your time together and the boxes you are packing
- say “GO”
- play some upbeat, festive, keep them moving music!
How to make the party more successful
- think of flow – where do people start?, what do they pick up?, what is their path?, where do they label?, where do they drop off shoeboxes, etc. Just make it easy and seamless.
- set up the room where things are up on tables, the less bending over or hunching people have to do the better – maybe take a couple breaks and do some stretches – roll shoulders, reach for the sky, roll shoulder back, rotate neck
- are there some dudes who can help? depending on how many you are wanting to pack, it might be helpful to go ahead and get the big shipping boxes from OCC so you can pack them up and load them at the end. These boxes get heavy, so you will need a dolly and some muscles to move them around to a trailer, truck or car, where you will transport them to the collection center
- have a good party play mix – Christmas music is fine, but make sure its upbeat. This is the time to play the music that makes people tap their toes and shake their legs and wiggle their booty…you want them to be productive!
- or, maybe play a Christmas movie in the background…if you have dudes, they will get distracted and stand and watch so, just know your audience!!!
- it is most helpful to have the $9 per box to ship. Some people you invite, may not be able to come and would be willing to just give a donation instead. This is a great thing to have your attendees fundraise and bring with them the night of the party. And if you don’t have your attendees bring items, don’t hesitate to ask for donations for the shipping of each box.
- Have snacks – drinks, cookies, meal, etc…that says thank you. But keep the drinks away from the packing area!
- just be positive and make sure everyone has a great experience investing in the children of the world.
- share about your party online. Tag @operationchristmaschild on Facebook or Instagram or @OCC_Shoebox on Twiter and use #ipackedashoebox so OCC can get excited too!
I’m going to challenge you if you are the party planner to take some time to know all you can about this incredible organization and all they do to spread and share the Gospel around the world.
If you host a party, make sure to tag me (@bigpittstop) in your pictures you post online. I want to celebrate with you!