I’ve been filling shoe boxes for charity for a few years and thought I would start sharing some of the shopping bargains that I find, or easy crafts to help fill boxes on a budget, or to help you fill more boxes.

I currently fill shoe boxes for the charity Link to Hope. https://linktohope.co.uk/home/about/   I chose to fill boxes for them as they ask for boxes for a whole family, or for an elderly couple not just a single child as many other schemes do.   Trying to fit in something for everyone in a family into a shoe box is a challenge in itself.  Link to Hope suggest 6 essential items that should be put in each shoe box and then ask that you put at least 5 other items in.  They do suggest what the other items might be, but you can add other items, however there are a few things you can’t put in – such as food items (other than sweets or chocolate), seeds, medicines, sanitary products or reading books.

Fitting in a mixture of items for children of different ages isn’t too hard, but finding things for the mum or dad can be more of a challenge!  Boxes for the elderly could go to just one elderly person living alone, or an elderly couple so you need to try and put a mixture of items in, or keep them suitable for either gender.

Please be aware that although I currently fill shoe boxes for Link to Hope, and have included links to their website in this blog (as it would be great if more people could fill shoe boxes for them) – this is my own personal blog.  

If you are interested in filling a shoe box for Link to Hope they have collection points around the UK, and if you can’t see a location near you just email them to see if they can suggest somewhere you could drop them off.  (They usually need to be ready by early November.) https://linktohope.co.uk/shoebox-appeal-2020/getting-boxes-to-us/

Link to Hope have published a shoe box contents calendar, where they suggest what you might want to concentrate on sourcing in a particular month.  https://linktohope.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Shoebox-Appeal-Calendar.pdf   January was warm items – hats, scarf, gloves.  Bargain Buys/Poundstretcher have adult and children’s beanie hats for 75p and some gloves for 75p.  Home Bargains had some children’s gloves for 50p.  Poundland also had gloves for £1.00 and had some packs of 2 pairs gloves for £1.00, and Primark had 2 pairs of adult gloves for £1.00 and a few men’s hats for £1.00.  Matalan had children’s hat, glove and scarf sets for £2.00 great to divide up between shoe boxes, as they can take up a lot of room – not so much of a problem if you are doing a box for a single child as is the case with some other schemes, but if you need to fit in items for several family members as is the case with Link to Hope, you have to choose items which don’t take up too much room in the shoebox!

February is heat and light month.  Suggestions include candles & candle holders, torches, hot water bottles, and socks and tights.

Primark did have some candle tins and jars for 50p but stock was quite low in my local store.  I usually try and put a ramekin dish or votive holder in the box and at least 10 tea lights.  Ikea tea lights seem to last the longest – but I tend to put in a mixture of plain and scented ones.  Wilko, and Asda usually have some reasonably priced scented tea lights but it does mean buying a couple of different packs – I then put them in a plastic bag to help contain the scent.  Ikea sell a pack of 4 tea light holders for £1.00, (Galej) which can hold votives or tea lights – they are quite good from a safety perspective as they protect the flame more than shallow holders only designed for tea lights. 

I like to put dynamo torches in the elderly boxes but I can no longer get any for under £1.00 – the last ones I ordered on line for 89p never arrived and they seem to be about £1.50+ on eBay – beware some appear to be for sale for 99p but when you go to purchase them they are actually standard battery torches and the dynamo ones are  £4 or £5.  (I did buy some wind up torches last week from Bargain Buys which were meant to look like lady birds or wasps for £1.00 – fortunately I decided to open up the packaging and test them out,  I tried 2 out of 3 and they didn’t work so took them all back for a refund.)  If you are looking for hot water bottles – Bargain Buys seem to be the cheapest at £1.99 for a 2 litre hot water bottle, – there are some mini ones available on eBay but I haven’t purchased any yet so can’t comment on the quality. 

Socks can be found in quite a few places for reasonable prices if you are doing several shoeboxes or sharing contents with a friend.  Bargain Buys has had some good deals on men’s thick socks. At the moment they have packs of 3 pairs of men’s sports socks for 75p.  For children’s socks some of the main supermarkets are often the cheapest.  Asda have packs of school socks – 10 pairs for £3.00 which works out at 30p per pair.  Bargain Buys have packs of colourful children’s socks – 3 pairs for £1.00 so just over 33p per pair.  Bargain buys also had some fluffy ladies socks but they are 75p per pair – so depends on your budget and how many shoeboxes you’re planning to fill.  They have the advantage that the elastic tops are not too tight which can be an issue for older people. I’ve never put tights in a shoe box just because of the range in sizes and I wouldn’t like someone to find a pair of tights in their box that are too small for them. (or potentially that drown them.)

A few other items that are currently on sale that don’t relate to the theme this month – Wilko had some men’s hairbrushes for 50p and Bargain Buys/Poundstretcher have some Star Wars stickers for 25p per pack. 

Link to Hope published a poster a couple of years ago showing how you could fill a shoebox for £10.00.  As you’d expect prices have gone up so the items in the poster would now cost more than £10.00, but I have found that you can still fill a single shoe box for £10.00 just from items available in mainstream shops.  I hope to share that soon.

Happy shoe box filling

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