Giving Back But Getting More: Charity Starts at Home

Posted on Oct 25 2013 - 8:39pm by Jessi Meehan

Recently, here at Practically Perfect Planner, we hosted an organizational meeting for Operation Christmas Child at our home.  You may be asking yourself two questions:

  1. What on earth is Operation Christmas Child?
  2. How on EARTH did you manage to hold a stress-free business meeting for 10 people in your home!? (and no, we’re not on sedatives!)

Well we can’t wait to share with you about this awesome organization and just HOW quick and easy it was to hold a fun, successful meeting that got our volunteers organized, as well as showed them how much they’re appreciated. We did it through a thoughtful yet inexpensive favor…as well as a quick, easy, and inexpensive dinner for 10. (With a funny story to boot.)

So let’s get started with first things first: what is Operation Christmas Child?


“Operation Christmas Child uses simple, gift-filled shoeboxes to show hurting children that they are loved…”

So, in a nutshell…what OCC does, is help volunteer teams excite and educate their community into packing shoeboxes with items such as toys,  school supplies, hygiene kits, and personal notes that get shipped ALL over the world to hurting children in need.  You simply fill your box, specify whether it’s for a boy or girl, include $7 for shipping and bring it to a local drop off in your area during National Collection Week: Nov. 18th-25th.


Or, if you’re like Brenda and a local coordinator for your city’s OCC team…you can host meetings like we’ll talk about, as well as “packing parties” and “countdown events”. More on that later…let’s talk about our meeting and how we made it fun, stress free and cheap to hold at home. The great thing is that this concept can be used for ANY meeting or organization.

  1. Have your time-line/agenda printed up and ready. This covers a few of what we like to call our “event basics”. With a time-line, you can help other volunteers with busy lives stay on-track with important dates, emails,  events, and reminders.
  2. Create a fun, inexpensive favor for your guests using items you already have hand, pieces you found on sale, and awesome finds/freebies from stores you regularly shop at.
  3. Use really tasty leftovers + some added freshness to create a simple meal that will impress your attendees AND make them feel appreciated.

Here’s a sneak peek of our cute favor!


We really wanted to show our volunteers how much we appreciate them, with just a simple gesture. We combined a few items we already had from buying them on-sale, and a few new items we got for an amazing price that same day! The extra bonus: when we bought the on-sale items from Bath & Body Works and told them what we were doing with them: they gave us coupons, bags, tags, and ribbon FOR FREE! Score! ALSO: always check your receipts! We found a short survey on the bottom of our Bath & Body Works receipt to help us save $$$ on our next purchase, which we will for sure be filling out!


So we scored and shared:

  1. Free Bags, Free Ribbon, Free coupons, and Free tags from B&BW that came with a small purchase
  2. Little hands & feet confetti from Dollar Tree
  3. Brand new inexpensive hand creams from Goodwill, hand sanitizers from B&BW, emery boards, and caramels from the Dollar Tree


Then we set up a little “staging table” where a friend and I took about 10 minutes and got all these little bags done up. Always try to get a sample done first with a line-up of how you’d like the items placed in each bag. That will take the guess work out for your volunteers or helpers, and make everything run a little smoother.

  1. Use Glue Dots to attach the little feet & hands to our free tags. (That way we can emphasize our theme of our volunteers being God’s hands and feet.)
  2. Add the hand cream, sanitizer, and emery board.
  3. Drop a few caramels in there!
  4. Tie the free ribbon around the bag, add the free tag & make a bow
  5. And then we finished each bag off with some OCC pins that we already had on hand. Made everything look cute & official, cost us nothing.


The finished product was Practically Perfect!



For a quick & easy dinner, we simply grabbed a few cans of 98% fat free turkey chili, added a few more handfuls of fresh chopped ingredients to the crockpot and it was delicious as ever! The best part beyond happy (and FULL) volunteers: there was ZERO stress to make a great hot meal. The key is using what you’ve got, adding some freshness, and ending up with something great! It doesn’t have to be perfect to be delicious and practical.


We served the chili in little plastic bowls we had on hand with colorful cutlery & seasonal napkins.  Pretty presentation, NO DISHES. Love it!


So by spending less than $1 per favor and about an hour of prep, we were able to make that great dinner (that fed company the night before), let the team volunteers know how appreciated they were with cute favors, and have a stress-free organizational meeting all at home. PLUS: all that Fall Decorating we did added a great themed setting for the meeting!


I’d say that’s a pretty great success! Have you ever held a meeting in your home? What are some of your favorite easy recipes or go-to items to make it a success?









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