Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Stuffing stockings on a budget

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I love to give my children gifts; and at Christmas I love stuffing their stockings. I have a couple of problems though, I HATE clutter and I'm on a budget. What to do? Many stocking stuffers I see advertised in stores are just junk, which means clutter and a waste of my money. We've been trying to simplify our lives a bit (that means Christmas too!), and the stocking stuffers are reflecting that. Here are a few ideas that have been working for us.
Breakfast in the stocking- You know all of the candy and junk you put in their stockings become breakfast, right? I've started putting foods that are still treats, but somewhat healthy, in their stockings. Juice boxes and fruit leathers are hits. Most of my kids love Cuties (the tiny little oranges). Maybe some yogurt covered rasens? Since these things are rarely seen around our house the kids are excited about them!

Light sticks- These are a huge hit and a fun way to go to bed on Christmas. They can often be found in the bargain toy area in large stores.

Make something- Is there something you can make that your kids have been wanting/needing? I'm planning to make baby doll bibs for my little girls. My older kids have been asking me to make chapstick when I make hard lotion. I'll be surprising them with their own tubes of chocolate peppermint chapstick!

Coupons- Is there something your kids have been wanting you to do with them? An activity they just can't get enough of? A chore they would love to get out of? Make up coupons to be rediemed by them. Our kids have loved this.

Need- Is there something your child is needing? Would they be excited to receive it? Why not put it in the stocking or put it under the tree? Can you take something that they need that would otherwise be plane and boring and spruce it up a bit so that they will be excited about it?

Gift cards- A $5 or $10 gift card can go a long way for a child (both monitarily AND emotionally) when paired with some special time either as a family or with mom or dad. Our kids love family trips to starbucks. We rarely go to McD's and such so a gift card to someplace like that and then getting to go with just mom or dad has really brought some big smiles!


Baby- The baby really does not need anything in his stocking this year, but I've been known to put a new cloth diaper in a baby's stocking. For an older baby I may get some of those fun yogurt drops or some other finger food treat. A book or a small toy with that little treat will be enough to make the little guy feel included, but costs very little.

Buy used- Make sure you are checking out thrift stores, garage sales, e-bay and even Amazon throughout the year for some gifts and stocking stuffers. Often new or like new things can be found at a much lower price. Stocking stuffers often go into the stocking better opened anyways so your kids may not know or (in our case) even care that the item is used!

Some of these ideas are just for fun, others are focused at getting (and keeping) our children's hearts through thoughtful gifts that can help build relationships. What ideas do you have for stuffing stockings this year?

I'm linking to Raising Homemakers.


  1. Found your blog because you commenting somewhere else. LOVE these stocking stuffer ideas. Juice boxes? So smart! Individually wrapped muffins would be a huge hit for my children but I never thought of that before reading your post!

  2. Growing up in a large household, we always had fruits in our stocking, which was always a treat. We seldom had candy, so the colorful Christmas candy was always included, too, but mostly our stockings were full of healthy goodness.

    Coupons were big sellers in our family, and so were baked treats.

    ☺ Hope

  3. Great ideas! :) As a large family mostly our stockings were filled with little things from our siblings. You could have your children make things for each other and help fill up those stockings! :)

  4. What a great idea to put breakfast in the stocking! We almost never have dry cereal and the kids love it. I could buy a bag of cereal and wrap individual servings with a plastic bag and a pretty ribbon. Or veggie straws. Or hot cocoa packets. Thanks for the ideas!
    Maryann from Castle Rock

  5. What nice ideas, I love filling stockings as well, and also like you dislike plastic clutter. I have always like to put in craft supplies, like crayons and watercolors, or modeling clay. We always have an orange as well and a couple candy treats. My kids are older teens now, so I am giving them gift cards, and fun pens for school, and of course still a Satsuma and a few candies. What a great post- love the breakfast idea!

  6. These are great ideas.

    Christmas shopping in general is really fun for me, because when we need things throughout the year I often make us wait to replace it until Christmas, so it can go under the tree. : ) So the things we give our kids are usually things we really need or that we really want the kids to heve. This year I am so excited, because we are getting the kids backpacks. As a homeschool family, we have not really needed each kid to have her own backpack, we have had one small one and one large one we share. But I am getting these to help each kid take ownership of her own school materials, and as a place to keep and organize the things we use everyday! So in their stockings this year they are getting their own pencil sharpener, their own nice eraser, their own pencil case, etc. I think they are going to love it, and I can't wait to use them, since I think this will help our house and homeschooling be easier and smoother! : )

  7. I love your ideas for the foods in the stocking! Santa usually puts an orange or clementine in the toe-- but I love the other things you mentioned too. My kids BEG me for fruit leathers/roll-ups and I always decline. I am so excited about your post knowing NOW I finally know what to fill the rest up with! Thanks!

  8. P.S. I LOVE the cloth diaper in the baby's stocking too! It always seems like the baby's stocking is limp. And we could always use new diapers!

  9. I love those ideas! My mother-in-law often fills stockings with healthy treats like the ones you mention -and then a single chocolate just for fun.

  10. I love this Gabe! Sharing on my blog. :)

  11. We always fill stockings with consumables! A pretty bottle of root beer or cream soda. Beef Jerkey, sippy cups for the babies, ponytail holders for the girls, caps for the toy pistols. Great post, now I have a few more ideas :-)

  12. Santa has always put certain things in our stockings. Oranges were a staple until clementines came on the market in such abundance. Nuts were always included though tastes have changed and they prefer pistachios (which they only get at Christmas). As a fluke one year, Santa put beef jerky in the stockings, and that was a big hit. A bonus size bag from the big box store goes far enough. One of the most unusual items is a toothbrush. Christmas toothbrushes are a favorite, but they can't always be found. So, the kids get some type of toothbrush that they would not normally have. The stockings usually have a bit of something peppermint because it is a symbol of the season, and I keep a look out through the year for a small something that will remind them of the Jesus and why we have Christmas. And the top of the stocking has a small stuffed toy. As the kids have gotten old enough to take care of things, the stuffed toys have become items that they can use to decorate their rooms for the Christmas season.