How to Pack a Shoebox on a Budget Part 2: Free Items

I LOVE Operation Christmas Child and last year managed to pack 45 good quality boxes for just $45 because I didn’t just start in November right before packing week. If that’s you and you don’t have totes full of goodies you’ve saved throughout the year, don’t panic! This is a whole series of posts on Budget Tips for Operation Christmas Child Over the next couple of weeks I’ll be sharing my tips on how to pack a shoebox on a budget.

Today is about ‘FREE Items’

So often I get items (legally!) from stores for FREE!!! Yup, it’s true and part of what i do at Mummy Deals each week is show you how. When it comes to shoeboxes it’s no different. If we need the item, we keep it. If we don’t but it’s inappropriate or liquids it gets given elsewhere. If not it’s going to Samaritan’s Purse and in the shoeboxes. Here’s how:

1) Drugstore freebies. One of the common questions I ask people when introducing my site is, “Do you know you can get FREE things at Walgreens and CVS. In fact I haven’t paid for toiletries in 8 years!”

While I wait for them to pick their jaw up off the floor I start to explain how Walgreens, CVS and Rite Aid all have great rebate programs that enable you to take advantage of FREE items. In fact one year at CVS I got over $1000 in free items!

If you don’t know check out this and this and then pop back each week as I walk you through how to get toiletries for free from Walgreens here and CVS here.
I never pay for toothpastes and toothbrushes which are perfect for the shoeboxes and have also been able to load up on other goodies like the above lipbalms for free after rebate or coupons.

2) School Supply Freebies

Many of the office stores offer rebate programs also and during school supply season offer free after rebate items or cheap deals. That’s when I stock up.

3) Using a high value coupon to get something free.
Free soap and 20 cans of playdough for just $1.99 after coupons.

If you see a soap for $1 but you’ve also got a coupon for it for $1, guess what? That item just cost you only tax! That’s why if I see a great coupon that I know I can use on the shoeboxes, I may buy some from eBay HERE and then be able to give more.

4) Menards mail in rebates

Crayola pens FREE after rebate. They came in packs but to save space I removed them from the packaging.

Before you panic about rebates, it doesn’t involve a bunch of clipping, cutting and photocopying. if you’re nervous check out my article here on how it took me just a few minutes to get $37 worth of stuff for just the price of tax. Although the credit comes back as Menards credit you can roll it into more free items or get things you need.

5) Free samples.

If you’re a regular around here you know about Granny’s Deals. If not, sign up for the email and start getting freebies! The bottom line is, companies like to give you free items to try like gum or candy or band aids or other items that you can pack in a shoebox. I get things in the mail often and you can too.

Check out the rest of the series:

Tip 1: Holiday Clearance
Tip 3: Holiday Candy
Tip 4: Regifting
Tip 5: Thrift Stores

Tip 6: Shipping Costs
Tip 7: Hunt Around The House
Tip 8: School Supplies
Tip 9: Hotel Items
Tip 10: The Dollar Store

Welcome if you’re new around here! Please sign up for my daily tips email HERE. Not only will you get great FREEBIES in your mailbox but you’ll be entered to win $100! If you love OCC like me then you’ll want to pack as many boxes as possible and by signing up for my email you won’t miss out on the deals I write about throughout the year and also the tips I’m giving over the next few weeks!

If you live in the Northwest Indiana/Chicagoland area please consider joining us on 11/11/10 for a packing party, details here.


  1. Saw the post on racetracks. Loved that idea and I’ll be adapting it to something I’m trying to do. With scrap fabric my grandmother had stored in her attic when she passed, I’m making small quilts for the 2-4 yr old boxes. The fronts are pieced, but I’m going to put a racetrack on the back for the boys. The quilts are bigger than the racetracks, but it will add another fun dimension and the quilt can serve two purposes.

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