As a mother of two, Kathy has a bit of experience in the parenting department. She loves sharing her knowledge with other to help them.
When I was a kid, I couldn’t wait to dig into my stocking. My mother was the queen of stuffing stockings. She carefully wrapped each and every item. Little did I know at the time, but this was a diversion. For my parents, stockings were a great way to let the adults get another couple of hours of sleep on Christmas morning. Let me tell you, it was a great diversion! She always came up with the most amazing treasures. My brother and I would completely be engrossed in whatever fun items we found at the bottom of our giant sock.
As a mother, I’ve tried to carry on that tradition. Seriously, it’s not that easy. If I bought everything that I wanted for my kids’ stockings, I’d spend a fortune. And let’s face it, Christmas is already expensive enough. With everything I’m spending, I don’t need to spend a lot on stockings. So, I work really hard to make the ultimate stockings for my kids each year without spending a lot of money on them.
So, here are some of my favorite ideas for stocking stuffers that won’t break the bank. Hopefully you’ll be inspired. At the end of this article, I’ve also listed some of my most favorite places to shop for stocking stuffers. I think you may be surprised by at least one or two of them.
Stocking Stuffers for Toddlers
It can be difficult to put together a stocking for kids under the age of four. Stocking stuffers are small, and toddlers aren’t allowed tiny things because they are choking hazards.
One of the things I really liked to do with my own children when making their toddler stockings was buy a set of something appropriate for their age. For my daughter’s first Christmas, I got a set of 10 rattles and teethers. I pulled them out of the box and just wrapped them individually. When my son was a toddler, I bought him a set of toddler-appropriate dinosaurs and wrapped each of them. Another set of something I’ve purchased was the Nativity Fisher Price Little People. Again, buy one set, wrap the pieces individually, and voila: instant stocking.
Below I’ve listed several other items that would make perfect stocking stuffers for babies and toddlers.
- Bath toys
- Bath crayons
- Character sippy cups
- Finger puppets
- Fruit snacks
- Mini-carton of Goldfish crackers
- Fisher Price Little People figures
- Toddler-friendly noisemakers: whistles, tambourines, maracas, harmonicas
- Stacking blocks
- Play phone
- Toddler-size figurines
Stocking Stuffer Fun for Kids Ages 4–10
Kids from the ages of 4–10 are what stocking stuffers are all about. This is the age group that Santa wants to impress . . . or at least engage enough to let mom and dad sleep in a bit longer.
One thing that is always a hit are items with their favorite characters on them. To a child, a pencil is just a pencil, but a pencil with Mickey Mouse or Olaf on it . . . well that’s a treasure!
The list below includes some awesome ideas for your kids who are ages 4–10. You’ll also see a short list below of ideas specifically for boys and girls. I really hate to gender stereotype. But let’s face it, most little boys are NOT going to be into hair bows, and most little girls don’t like Hot Wheels.
Gifts for All Genders
- Bubble bath
- Bag of marbles
- Novelty erasers
- Mini Etch-a-Sketch
- Sidewalk chalk
- Sidewalk chalk holder
- Mini flashlight
- Flash cards
- Bouncy balls
- Silly string
- Mini puzzle
- Mini coloring book
- Mini container of Play-Doh (buy a pack to split up among your kids)
- Train whistle
- Temporary tattoos
- Coin purse
- Silly Putty
- Jacks and ball set
- Jump rope
Gifts for Boys
- Hot Wheels
- Lego mini figures
- Pokémon or other collector cards
- Hex bugs
Gifts for Girls
- Nail polish
- Hair bands, clips, bows, and other hair accessories
- Mini mani/pedi kit
- Candy necklace
- Costume jewelry
- Mirror compact
- Lip gloss
Stocking Stuffers for Tweens and Teens
By the time your child is a tween or teen, cheapy items from Dollar Tree just aren’t going to cut it. Their tastes become much more expensive, and WHOA are they much harder to please. Don’t worry, though. I’ve come up with some items to add to your tween or tween's stocking that won’t break the bank. Plus, they may just make you the coolest Santa around.
- Ear buds
- Flash drive
- Duct tape
- Items with school colors or school logo
- Book light
- Locker decorations
- Phone/tablet charger
- Device screen cleaning cloth (If your child has a phone or tablet, these can be lifesavers.)
- Body spray
- Pocket knife
- Lanyard for school ID card
- Novelty key chain
- Breath mints/gum
- Phone case
- Personalized key ring
Practical Ideas for Gifts
I know, I know, practical sounds just so boring. It doesn’t have to be though. Think of it as getting things they need, but with a twist.
For example, don’t just get them socks . . . get them novelty socks in vibrant colors or with their favorite superhero on them. Don’t just get them a toothbrush, get them a toothbrush with their name on it. You get the idea. Get them something they need, but more awesome and fabulous than just the basic item.
- Gloves or mittens
- Stocking cap
- Mini bottles of lotion, body wash, or shampoo
- Lip balm
- Grade-appropriate school supplies (By December, most of their school supplies have either been lost, used, or even trashed. Christmas is a great time to restock.)
- Batteries (Specifically ones for any presents they may receive.)
- Character bandages
- Pocket hand sanitizer
Stocking Stuffers for Everyone
This last list is full of ideas for kids of all ages. They are things that you can pretty much adapt to any child. They are the “no-brainers” of a stocking . . . candy, fruit, and random goodies.
- Deck of cards (Perhaps a matching card game for tots, Old Maid for the older kids, and a standard deck of cards for tweens and teens.)
- Puzzle games
- Art supplies: crayons, markers, or colored pencils (age appropriate)
- Small craft kits (age appropriate)
- Pez dispenser and candy
- Orange or apple (A boring, yet traditional stocking stuffer. Great news though, they fit perfectly in the toe of a stocking.)
- Ring Pop
- Hot cocoa packets
- Post-it notes
- Christmas ornament
- Novelty chocolate (Chocolate coins or chocolate coal are a holiday tradition at our house, but there are many other novelty chocolates that you can find around the holiday.)
- Plush toys
- Mad Libs
- Favorite candy treat
- Candy canes
- Life Savers “Story Book”
Stocking Stuffer Shopping
I’ve found that if I start searching for stocking stuffers at a few key places, I can really get some deals, and my stockings will still be special without putting me in the poorhouse.
- Michael's: Michael’s craft store has several sections that are chock full of excellent stocking stuffers. Most of the items in the bins are only $1–$3. I’m not talking about just crafting supplies. Just to name a few items: they have toys, character pens, small coloring books, seasonal items, and note pads. They even have small all-in-one crafting kits. You can really find a lot of fun things there. Also, if you have multiple children, you could buy a pack of some crafting supply, like glitter glue, and split it up between the kids.
- Target: I love The One Spot at Target. It’s like a mini dollar store that rotates its merchandise. You can find it at the front of most Target stores. The prices of all the items in The One Spot cost between $1–$3. You never really know what you will find. I’ve bought candy, mini gardens, school supplies, hair clips, jacks, bubbles, socks, and various character toys. At Christmas time, you’ll find seasonal items that are also perfect for stocking stuffers.
- Dollar Tree: At the Dollar Tree, everything is one dollar. So it’s a great place to search for stocking stuffers. Since it is variety store, you can find all kinds of hidden treasures there if you take the time to look. I usually stay away from the toys there, mostly because many of them are cheap. No worries though. There are still plenty of other stocking stuffers you can find at the Dollar Tree. Just to name a few things: hair accessories, nail polish, novelty candy, balls, school supplies, magnets, and sunglasses. If you wander through the whole store, I’m sure you will find many other items there that your child will love.
- Amazon: Do you shop on Amazon during the holidays? I do. One of Amazon’s best-kept secrets is the “Add On Item.” These are low-cost items that would be cost-prohibitive to ship on their own, but if you are ordering more than $25 worth of product, you qualify to purchase the “Add On Item.” For example, my son loves Harry Potter. So I bought him a Gryffindor robe on Amazon. When adding the robe to my cart, Amazon showed me a golden snitch as an “Add On Item." It was only $4, and I knew it was perfect for him, so I bought it for his stocking. I’ve also bought earbuds, Nerf guns, and small plushies as “Add On Items.”
Another great idea that Amazon carries is electronic accessories. Chargers, ear buds, styluses, and phone cases can be found all at a very reasonable price. I highly recommend it for not only stockings, but at any time of year.
There you have it, a wide range of stocking stuffer ideas and a few ideas of places to shop for them. Hopefully this helps you in your stocking stuffer shopping. Happy holidays!
© 2015 Kathy Hull
FlourishAnyway from USA on June 08, 2015:
These are some great ideas and you're certainly giving people plenty of time to get ready for the holidays.