Category: gifts

Packing a Shoe Box for Operation Christmas Child – What Fits Inside the Box?

Since the gift idea blog post, I’ve had some requests to show how those items fit inside the shoe box. While I can’t send every toy to each child, I squeeze as much as possible into each box, making use of every nook and cranny. It’s most important to send a fun “wow” item and school supplies, clothing and extra toys are secondary.

I ordered plastic shoe boxes from Samaritan’s Purse for a few reasons: They’re large (6 quart), sturdy and reusable. The children can use them to store their things long-term. Parents often use them for food storage in the home, to keep foods dry and pests out, or to hold washing water.

Here are some things I learned while packing the boxes:

Roll the clothes. I tried several different packing tricks but rolling made them the most compact. The boy’s socks are thick with larger cuffs, so I rolled each pair separately. When rolling socks, stagger them so that the cuffs aren’t lined up. The girl’s socks are thinner, so I rolled two pairs together.

Underwear: Folding and rubber banding the underwear together spares the recipient the potential embarrassment of opening underwear in front of their friends. That’s never gonna be a fun party game! I folded them so that the elastic waistband shows, and they’ll get an idea of what it is without removing the rubber bands.

Boys underwear: While I don’t regret buying the five pack of boxer briefs for $2, I’ll stick to only buying briefs in the future. They take up a lot less room than boxers.

This next point blew me away! It’s so important to remove the packaging. I decided to collect all of the paper and plastic trash in one bag, and see how much our boxes generated. WOW! Enough to overflow a laundry basket. When you think of sending all of this trash overseas, the decision to remove the packaging becomes very obvious.

I used my car packing method to pack the boxes in layers. Here’s what fit into the girl’s boxes.

Layer One: tiara headband

Layer Two: 20″ beach ball

Layer Three: pencil pouch with school supplies, comb, leggings, three pairs of underwear, pencil sharpener

Because we want to send as many gifts as possible, the pencil sharpener has three pencil cap erasers stuffed inside, along with two stretch headbands.

The pencil pouch contains: 6 pencils, 10 markers, 10 colored pencils, 1 highlighter, 2 large erasers and 1 pair of scissors

Layer Four: toothbrush, tee shirt, bag of jacks, toy turtle, toy fish, bar of soap, box of 24 crayons, smooshed Minnie, 2 glue sticks, 2 pairs of socks

Layer Five: washcloth

Layer Six: composition notebook

The lid snaps on flat (mostly!) and because the box is filled to the gills, I placed rubber bands around it. Godspeed to the fantastic volunteers in the processing center who have to unpack and re-pack these boxes to go through customs!

So, that’s what fits! I hope this post was helpful to you. If you have ideas to share about how to pack shoeboxes, please let me know in the comments. Click to learn more about Operation Christmas Child.

This post is not sponsored. I only endorse charities that I personally support, and I hope you will consider supporting them too!

Copyright 2019 © Arthurized Home – All Rights Reserved. This post is the original content of Arthurized Home. If you’re reading this on another site, it’s unArthurized.

Make an Easy Beaded Bracelet

Each year at the beach, the whole crew goes souvenir shopping at Callahan’s of Calabash. It’s tradition. We load up on tees, hoodies, ball caps, beach totes and usually buy a blown glass Christmas ornament or two. We try to find an ornament that commemorates a special occasion, accomplishment or event during the year. For the past several years, my cousin Ruby and I have selected a piece of costume jewelry so that we can ‘twin’ across-the-miles when vacation is over.

This beaded bracelet with wooden buckle clasp was our pick a few years ago. Over time the elastic has become slack on a few of the strands, so it’s time for a restring. While I’m repairing mine, I thought it would be fun to show you how to make these easy bracelets. This project is simple enough that older kids can make them, with a little adult assistance in tying the knots.

Here are the materials you’ll need:
Buckle Clasp
Beads
Jelly Cord – I’m using 1mm
E-6000 – optional, to secure knots
Scissors
Ruler
Toothpick, or other small implement for applying glue – if using E-6000
Beading tray or kitchen towel – I don’t have a beading tray, so I use a terry cloth kitchen towel to stop beads from rolling off my work surface.

Now it’s time for math class! To calculate the length of beads needed: Using your favorite bracelet length, subtract the length of the buckle clasp when closed and multiply the result by the number of strands in the bracelet. (If you are using very chunky beads, make your bracelet a little longer than normal because of the larger bracelet circumference. The cord will sit farther away from your wrist. Does that make sense?!)

I like a 7.5″ bracelet. The buckle clasp is 1.5″ long when closed, so my strands of beads would be 6″ long. I have 5 holes in the clasp, and 6 x 5 = 30, so I need 30″ of beads. I bought a little extra in case there are any wonky beads. Make sure the bead strands will be narrow enough to fit into your clasp without crowding – I’m using 6mm beads, but I could have gone a little wider. Okay, class dismissed. Now it’s time for the fun stuff!

Taking your bead length measurement from above, cut a generous length of jelly cord. Keep in mind that you will need extra cord to feed through the clasp ends and for knot tying. I cut mine at about 40″.

Slip one end of the jelly cord through an end hole in one of the clasp pieces. Tie a large knot in the jelly cord, and pull it tight. Tug on it to make sure that the knot will not pull through the hole in the clasp. String the first row of beads, measure for length, then weave the jelly cord through the other clasp piece.

Repeat the process for each row. Before tying the final knot, lay the bracelet flat and make sure that the rows are uniform in length, and the cord is pulled firmly through, but not stretched. I used the toothpick end to tighten the jelly cord loops, row by row. Tie a large knot at the end. Trim the excess cord off of each end, and place a dab of E-6000 on each knot to help secure it. Your bracelet is complete!

To shop the post: Jelly cord / E-6000 / Buckle clasp / Beads

Love the beads, but not up for a crafternoon? I got you.
Multicolor / Turquoise / Lavender Multi / Red

Do these beads look like Sixlets to you, too? Don’t you think this is the adult version of wearing a candy necklace? This bracelet is a fun way to perk up weekend denim or a plain jersey and would make cute, girlfriend gifts. Happy Crafting!

Disclosure: In addition to occasional sponsored posts, Arthurized Home uses clickable affiliate links. That means that I may receive a small commission from sales at no extra charge to you. As always, my opinion is 100% my own, and I only recommend things that I truly love or use myself. Thank you for patronizing the brands that support Arthurized Home!

Copyright 2019 © Arthurized Home – All Rights Reserved. This post is the original content of Arthurized Home. If you’re reading this on another site, it’s unArthurized.

Packing a Shoe Box for Operation Christmas Child

Y’all, this is so fun! Operation Christmas Child shares the joy and promise of Christmas with children around the world, by distributing shoe boxes filled to the brim with gifts. For many of these children living in poverty, this is the first gift they receive. Some of these deliveries are made on camel back, loaded onto elephants, others strapped to motorcycles; but all are delivered with love.

In 2018, more than 10.6 million shoe boxes were collected for distribution to 112 countries and territories. That’s a whole lot of joy!

Boxes carried by oxen in Mongolia. (Oxen with boxen?! Ha ha!) Photo Credit: Samaritan’s Purse

With just twelve weeks to go until national collection week, here are some fun ideas for shoe box packing:

One Wow Item: Dolls, stuffed animals and deflated soccer balls (with a pump) are all great. Mickey and Minnie are our “wow” items this year; boys get Mickey, and girls get Minnie. We folded them over, and placed rubber bands around them to make them as small as possible. The indignity! I tried using hair ties, but the fabric is too slick and they slid right off. Oh, well. The kids can have a humdinger of a rubber band fight!

Other Fun Stuff: Marbles, jacks, jump ropes, Matchbox cars, beach balls, sticky catch games, water bottles, playing cards, stickers, coloring books, journals and Lego kits are all fun additions to shoe box gifts. See Shanika and Sherika’s story below to learn why they were thrilled to get a set of jacks in their shoe boxes.

School supplies: In many areas around the world, school supplies are the ticket to education. Can you imagine not attending school simply because you don’t have paper or a pencil? One lady on a distribution trip reported that teachers break pencils into several pieces, so that more students can have one.

Something to Wear: Walmart and Kohls had great end-of-summer sales on kid’s clothing. The boys get tees and shorts, and I found tees, capri pants and dresses for the girls. Shoes and flip-flops are useful and appreciated.

I sure hope that the boy who receives this outfit is a little spitfire. He’ll need a lot of personality to rock that monster tee!

We’ll KonMari the heck out of the clothing, and keep them folded during processing and shipment using rubber bands.

Personal Care Items: We’re packing for elementary age children this year, so a comb, washcloth, toothbrush with cover and a bar of soap will do the job. Just picture twelve children sharing a washcloth, or 25 children sharing a toothbrush. Such simple items can mean the world to a child in need.

Tuck a Christmas card, your picture and a note of encouragement into your shoe box. Let the child know that you love them, and are praying for them. Include your address if you like; sometimes the recipient or their parents will write to you!

Here are some helpful tips I’ve learned from the Shoebox Shoppers Facebook group:

  • You do not have to use OCC boxes, although they’re nice! Any shoe box will do. Standard sizes are best because they can pack more into a carton when they are a uniform size. However, odd/larger size boxes will not be rejected.
  • Remove all packaging material from the shoe box items. Most of the receiving countries do not have the resources to handle trash. The recipient will not think that your gift is used if it’s not in the manufacturer’s packaging.
  • Fill the box to the brim. Don’t ship air!
  • Boxes are inspected at 8 different processing centers around the U.S. The volunteers view each box as your unique gift to a child, and do not remove items unless they’re on the prohibited list. (Liquid, glass, seeds, war-related, etc.) They do not re-distribute gifts from one box to another. They will add to a box if needed, and keep small filler items on hand in case a box has extra room.
  • Track your box online, but know that some boxes go to sensitive countries and you might not learn the final destination of your gift. Be sure to include $9 per box to cover the costs of shipping and transportation.

No time to pack a shoebox? You can quickly build one online here:
https://www.samaritanspurse.org/operation-christmas-child/buildonline/

Here are some stories from shoe box recipients.
Izabella’s Story:
https://www.samaritanspurse.org/operation-christmas-child/shoebox-stories-izabella-and-a-snow-globe/
Shanika and Sherika’s Story:
https://www.samaritanspurse.org/operation-christmas-child/shoeboxstories-shanika-sherika-and-the-notebooks/
TRIGGER WARNING (Abuse/Sexual Assault) Boun’s story is difficult to hear, but so important:
https://video.samaritanspurse.org/boun-thornes-story-gifts-from-god/?fbclid=IwAR1-6fwko-4FOINBMsc4C94PRSIXCwngixknbyDvYAk9n6YvJxN_O_hl9PU

What a beautiful and simple way to bring the good news of Jesus to children around the world!

Helicopter delivery in Honduras. Photo credit: Samaritan’s Purse

This post is not sponsored. I only endorse charities that I personally support, and I hope you will consider supporting them too!

Copyright 2019 © Arthurized Home – All Rights Reserved. This post is the original content of Arthurized Home. If you’re reading this on another site, it’s unArthurized.

Nautical Gift Wrap

Here’s a quick and inexpensive way to add some interest to gift packages. Tie varied knots using lightweight rope instead of ribbon. In addition to being unusual, these embellishments are practical because they will not flatten during transport.

You will need:
Nautical theme gift wrap (Maritime designs, maps, paper in beachy, bright colors would work as well)
Gift Wrapping Tape
Scissors
Nylon clothesline or other rope – $2
Spring Link – optional – I call them caribiners – $2
Lighter – optional
Large letter stickers and tags – optional

Unless you’re a knot-tying expert, (I’m knot! Get it? Heh.) watch the videos that I’ve linked below. You can play the video and pause when you needed, or click the right or left arrows to see one step at a time.

Bowline Knot – After I formed the first loop, I hooked the caribiner through the tail end of the rope.
https://www.animatedknots.com/bowline-knot

I struggled with this knot until I realized that the loop looked like a lowercase “g”. Do you see it?

After I tied the bowline knot on one end of the caribiner, I wrapped the rope snugly around the package a few times. Then I tied another bowline knot at the other end of the caribiner. Push the knot close to the caribiner before tightening, so that the rope stays fairly tight around the package.

Careful adults only step:
I sealed the cut ends of the rope by melting them with a lighter. If you do this, please don’t set yourself (or anything else) on fire, and take care not to breathe fumes from melting plastic. Don’t attempt to seal the ends of cotton rope. We call those ‘candle wicks’.

Single Rope Braid – I didn’t know that you could form a braid like this with a single piece of rope. This braid is simple, so I added a paper tag with the recipient’s initial.
https://www.animatedknots.com/single-rope-braid-knot

Carrick Bend Knot – Because I wanted the knot to lay flat, I doubled up the rope and did not tighten the knot down in the final step.
https://www.animatedknots.com/carrick-bend-knot

Use a square knot to tie the loose ends together on the underside of the package.
https://www.animatedknots.com/square-knot

And there you have it! Simple nautical (knot-ical?) gift packages. I hope you will try this out. If you do, I’d love to hear from you in the comments or via email: arthurized dot home at gmail dot com

Disclosure: In addition to occasional sponsored posts, Arthurized Home uses clickable affiliate links. That means that I may receive a small commission from sales at no extra charge to you. As always, my opinion is 100% my own, and I only recommend things that I truly love or use myself. Thank you for patronizing the brands that support Arthurized Home!

Copyright 2019 © Arthurized Home – All Rights Reserved. This post is the original content of Arthurized Home. If you’re reading this on another site, it’s unArthurized.

Let’s Make Fire Starters

Years ago, we took two of our nephews and a niece on a white-water rafting trip in West Virginia. We tent camped that weekend and planned to roast our dinner (and s’mores) over a campfire. My niece and I got to work starting the fire. We had nice, dry firewood, sturdy matches and kindling gathered from the surrounding area.

There were thunderstorms that day and the humidity was nearly 100%. We couldn’t get our kindling to ignite, so we started looking for paper to burn. Having none, we did what all intrepid explorers do and burned our atlas! (This was in the days before GPS, when dinosaurs roamed the Earth.) Fortunately, that worked. We had a nice cookout that night and were able to find our way home at the end of the trip.

Shortly after that, my sister gave us these awesome egg carton fire starters and we’ve been using them ever since. The combination of wax and paper helps them to burn for several minutes; long enough to ignite a nice fire.

Disclaimer: I should warn you up front that this project is for careful adults only. Always use caution when working with fire, flammable materials and heat sources. I don’t want you to singe those beautiful eyebrows off. Or worse.

That said, and because I love an element of danger, let’s dive right in!

Here’s what you’ll need to make the fire starters:

  • Paper egg cartons with lids removed – do not use foam!
  • Wax from discarded candles
  • Flammable Filler, small pine cones, tree bark, sawdust, etc. The lid of the paper egg carton torn into small pieces will work.
  • Scented/Decorative Filler, dried citrus peel, cinnamon stick pieces, etc. – this is entirely optional
  • Double boiler for melting wax – Mine came from the flea market for $1. You can often find vintage, aluminum double boilers inexpensively at yard sales and thrift stores. I do not use this one for food.
  • Metal ladle – optional, but useful if you’re like me; not very accurate when pouring liquids.
  • Sturdy scissors – I used herb scissors.
  • Cardboard, plastic and newspaper or paper grocery bags for protecting your work surface.

This is a great way to recycle/upcycle both the egg cartons and discarded candles.

Cover your work surface with cardboard or plastic with layers of paper on top. The melted wax makes this a messy project! Children could help with gathering the supplies and arranging them in the egg cartons, but the wax melting and pouring is an adults only step in the process. You may just want to send them to Grandma’s (or at least out of the room) while you’re working with hot wax.

Remove the lids from the egg cartons, Set the lids aside for another use or tear them into small pieces to use as filler. Using scissors, cut in between the cups without cutting them completely apart, like the photos below. This will make it easier to break them into individual fire starters.

Fill the cups of the egg carton with your choice of flammables. If you are using scented/decorative filler, arrange that on top of any less attractive filler. I layered mine with torn egg carton lids, dried orange peel, hemlock cones and birch bark.

Gluten for you, gluten-free for me! Kidding. Don’t eat these.

Over low heat, melt the wax in a double boiler. Watch the wax as it melts. Do not leave it unattended and certainly don’t let it come to a boil. Also, don’t bother cleaning your stove until after this messy project!

Once the wax has just melted, remove it from the heat and carefully pour or ladle it into the prepared egg cups. Fill just the whole cup section. You can carefully press the filler materials down into the wax if needed.

I wish that you could smell these fire starters. I made two batches, one is from a vanilla bean scented soy candle and the other is cinnamon scented. Both batches smell amazing!

Let the wax harden completely, and then pull the cups apart. You’ll appreciate that you cut the cups before filling them. I forgot one time, and spent the next few evenings hacking at them with a utility knife. #blisters

To burn, just light a corner of the fire starter.

These fire starters make great gifts (hint: Christmas) for the outdoorsy people in your life. Or anyone who enjoys a fire pit, chiminea or wood burning fireplace. Fill a pretty basket or bowl with fire starters and a nice box of matches or a butane lighter. If your friends love a fire in the fire pit, give a pretty bag of these fire starters along with a cozy throw for chilly evenings.

Fill a cellophane bag with fire starters and place into a large gift bag with s’mores fixins’: a bag of marshmallows, a box of graham crackers and some Hershey’s chocolate bars. Go crazy, and add some Reese’s peanut butter cups to the kit. (Don’t grill foods directly over the fire starters, wait until you’ve got a roaring campfire.)

Throw a few of these into your pack when you go hiking or on a camping trip. As Pa Kettle says, “you just don’t never know” when you’ll need to start a fire.


I hope you will give this project a try. If you do, I’d love to hear from you! Comment here or email me at arthurized dot home at gmail dot com.

I’m not in partnership with any brands referenced in this post. I’m simply sharing products that I use and enjoy, and I hope you will like them too!

Disclosure: In addition to occasional sponsored posts, Arthurized Home uses clickable affiliate links. That means that I may receive a small commission from sales at no extra charge to you. As always, my opinion is 100% my own, and I only recommend things that I truly love or use myself. Thank you for patronizing the brands that support Arthurized Home!

Copyright 2019 © Arthurized Home – All Rights Reserved. This post is the original content of Arthurized Home. If you’re reading this on another site, it’s unArthurized.

Coffee Card Gift with Quick and Easy Cheater Bow

I like to come up with creative ways to present gift cards and one of my favorites is giving a coffee card wrapped in a coffee cup. There’s no element of surprise about the contents, but it’s super easy and fun to do!

When buying a coffee card, I ask for a tall cup with a lid. The gift card fits down inside it perfectly.

For package filler, sometimes I use wrapped candies but today I’m using paper shreds. If you’re using candy, Lindt truffles are a pretty (and tasty!) option.

You can stop right here and you’ve got a clean, minimalist look to your gift wrap; or you can decorate the cup with messages and designs. Sharpie markers in bright colors work well for this. Another option is to add a reusable cup sleeve.

I’m going to make a cheater bow using two coordinating wire edge ribbons. I call it “cheating” because I’m not doing all the twisting and looping of traditional bow making. I’m using a striped “bow” ribbon and a sheer “tie” ribbon.

Start by laying the bow ribbon in a serpentine shape. The folds will become the loops of your bow, so make sure you have the same number of them on each side. I like to do two or three, depending on the length of the ribbon.

Cut the tie ribbon long enough that you can tie two knots and have plenty left over to drape nicely on the gift. Mine is two lengths of 15″ each.

Pinch the folded bow ribbon together in the center.

Using the tie ribbon, make a tight knot around the bow to secure it.

Then using the same tie ribbon, tie a second, loose knot to make the center loop of the bow. Fluff the center loop up slightly.

Trim the ends of the ribbon at an angle. I trim the bow ends pointing downward and the tie ends pointing inward, like the arrows below.

Adhere the bow to the top of the cup and you’re done!

Disclosure: In addition to occasional sponsored posts, Arthurized Home uses clickable affiliate links. That means that I may receive a small commission from sales at no extra charge to you. As always, my opinion is 100% my own, and I only recommend things that I truly love or use myself. Thank you for patronizing the brands that support Arthurized Home!

Copyright 2019 © Arthurized Home – All Rights Reserved. This post is the original content of Arthurized Home. If you’re reading this on another site, it’s unArthurized.