A New Tradition

Are you disappointed in your holiday experiences? Here are a few examples of why you might need to work on making a new tradition:

  • You now a vegan who is unable to eat Thanksgiving turkey.
  • You are a very boring person who wants to spice up their life with something more than Christmas Mull.
  • You twisted your ankle playing volleyball so now you can’t to do a 5K Turkey Trot.
  • You are addicted to an amazingly hectic life so you need just one more thing to become even more stressfully busy.
  • You hate all traditions, hate holiday consumerism, and overall prefer to be the Grinch.
  • You really like Chick-fil-a (at least if you live in the D.C. area).


Or maybe your motive for adding a new tradition could be more subtle, or even more meaningful:

  • You want to teach your kids that there are other people in the world whose lives are different than their own.
  • You want to learn about poverty and remember the poor.
  • You recognize generosity might be a value you want to embrace as a family.


Regardless of why you want to add a new tradition, Operation Christmas Child is one of my favorite traditions we have chosen to adopt.

What other organization goes to an insane amount of work to let you actually send your own present around the world to make another kid happy? Its not necessarily efficient. It would be undoubtedly easier for an organization to make their own generic boxes of gifts to bought in bulk. And arranging the pick-up of these boxes? Shipping them? I can only imagine the effort requires an incredible amount of organization to accomplish.

And in terms of ideal charitable work? It’s not like you are buying from local businesses in rural India, supporting their economy. Its not like we have a list of everything a child needs. Someone in the jungle might be given hats and gloves and someone in Romania might receive flip-flops in the dead of winter. They might already have pens and paper but were dying to receive batteries and a flashlight.

Although it might not be perfectly efficient, developmentally sustainable or perfectly ideal- what Operation Christmas Child actually is, is very effective.

It changes the life of the giver and the receiver. We need to give and are therefore blessed. They might have needs, and our box to them might meet those needs. But they will survive without the contents within our boxes we send. But it does change a child’s life to know that in the seemingly big uncaring world, someone might care.

How does it work?

I know it seems complicated, but really, it isn’t. I actually used to bring the instructions with me until i finally figured out that it really wasn’t that hard.


Steps to make an Operation Christmas Child Box

  1. Go to a store- a $1 store is best! (It can be the difference between spending $15 on a box verses $40 elsewhere).
  2. Decide who you want your gift to go to (Boy? Girl? Old? Young?).
  3. Put a plastic box in your cart (Or use a shoebox from home, or dump out a plastic storage box to use, like I did).
  4. Go down every aisle and put small stuff in your cart to go in your box.
  5. Be both fun and practical (toy cars, markers, paper, socks, penlight).
  6. Make sure your candy is hard- not easy to melt and put in a ziplock just in case.
  7. Put your soap/toothpaste in a ziplock baggy too.
  8. Buy your stuff and dump in the box.
  9. Have your daughter take everything out of the box and “decorate it” with stickers that were supposed to be for the kid.
  10. Find the kid more stickers of your daughter’s to replace the ones she used.
  11. Let her put a picture, drawing, letter in the box. You can even put your address on it (maybe someone will write you?).
  12. Appreciate your son who spends three minutes on his box, verses your daughter’s 2 hours.
  13. Have him put rubber bands around your box to make sure it doesn’t fall apart.
  14. Decorate the top of the box.
  15. Go online, put in a $7 shipping donation for each box, print labels, and tape onto box.
  16. Realize your girl box has a “boy” label on it. Color pink all over the label, writing “GIRL” in big pink letters on it.
  17. Drop them off by the deadline.
  18. Find a drop off location on their website, here.
  19. Or check with your local Chick-fil-a. Many take boxes and give you a free sandwich when you drop off there. (I got five sandwiches, thanks to my friends who let me drop off their boxes!)
  20. Keep an eye out for an email showing where your box went!


One of the cool things Samaritan’s Purse started not to long ago was being able to track your box. It only tracks it to which country it goes to, but still! To do this, you must give the shipping cost online (as opposed to $7 in an envelope when you drop your box off).  You just print a barcode and slap it on your box with some useful packing tape: Track Your Box

Have fun! This is so easy to do, an 18 month old child can even help! We all need way to teach your kids to be generous from an early age. So thanks Samaritan’s Purse for giving us this opportunity!

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