Written by Jamie Martin, editor of Simple Homeschool and founder of Steady Mom
A note from Jamie: This post originally published on November 22, 2010. Enjoy!
Holiday shopping time is nearly upon us and one of my goals as a mom is to avoid buying…how should I say it?
Often, in the efforts to fill the narrow spaces, stockings accumulate plastic trinkets that break after a day or a few too many sugary, high fructose corn syrup laden packages.
But I want even the smaller gifts my children receive to have the ability to inspire their imagination and creativity (& yes, a little chocolate is fine, too!).
If you feel similarly, here are a few ideas to fill the stockings for your little ones.
1. A Backpack
Photo by Amazon.com
Huh? Yes, you heard me right–this year Santa plans to remove the stockings over our fireplace on Christmas Eve and replace them with simple, colorful backpacks.
This is the one traditional school object my three kiddos consider quite cool and they’ve never had a need for one before. So I know they’ll be thrilled to discover them Christmas morning.
Backpacks may not directly impact your child’s creativity, but they do offer a bit more space inside, which we’ll be filling with a few of the items below.
2. Beeswax Crayons
Photo by Amazon.com
Beeswax crayons have a lovely vibrancy in color, come in both block and stick versions, and last much, much longer than their cheaper counterparts. You also never need worry if your little person takes a nibble–these are made of pure beeswax with no additives or fillers.
I also love these sweet crayon rocks–perfect for a preschooler just learning to color.
3. Art Kits
Photo by Amazon.com
Melissa and Doug carry an inexpensive collection of art kits, and some are small enough to slide into the top of a stocking (or backpack!).
I also like this decorate-your-own miniature piggy bank and this alphabet stamp set.
4. Blank Books
Photo by Amazon.com
My kids love receiving small journals or blank books in which they can create their own masterpiece stories and artwork.
This set of blank board books allows you to use software to make a more professional version of your child’s creation.
5. Make Your Own Puzzles
Photo by Amazon.com
My son Jonathan has really gotten into creating his own puzzles lately. This inexpensive set of two dozen small puzzle templates will fill quite a few stockings!
6. Book Character Memorabilia
Photo by Amazon.com
This sweet Raggedy Andy will poke his head out of my youngest’s backpack this Christmas. If you’ve recently read a book your child enjoyed, look for a small doll to go along with it.
My three will also be receiving this Wizard of Oz sticker book–another treasured favorite story. And the whole line of Dover little activity books are small enough to fit nicely in a stocking.
Choosing one or two of the above items will still leave room for a clementine or apple and a few chocolate treats. See if you can give your kids’ imaginations a boost (not just their sugar levels) when they open their stockings this year.
Do you have any favorite stocking stuffers to add?
I Live in an Antbed
Those are wonderful suggestions!!
We love to give out children things that inspire their God-given creativity. We have given outdoor cooking and camping gear to our two young Boy Scouts, digital cameras, art supplies, crafting kits, tools for tool boxes, hand puppets, and sewing machines. It is so much fun to give things that they don’t grow board with after a month.
I Live in an Antbed’s latest post: Mom Years
Mary @ A Simple Twist of Faith
This Christmas stocking stuffers will be replenishing many of our dwindling home schooling supplies such as washable markers, crayons, and play dough. I also carry on my childhood tradition of necessities such as a tooth brush and paste, hairgoods, religious items such as a new figurines for our manger set, and of course an orange at the toe.
Mary @ A Simple Twist of Faith’s latest post: National Adoption Day
we do the orange in the toe too! FUN!!!
My mom was (and still is… we all get stocking now that we’re adults, mom and dad included!) a master stocking stuffer. We do get some toys (particularly wind up toys) which I love but we always had art supplies, journals, kits, small books, fruit, nuts, non-edible consumables (like handmade bars of soap), pens, etc.
annie’s latest post: A List of Methods for a Non-disposable- Low Waste Life Part 1- The Kitchen
Yes, I agree! I was so excited about my daughter’s first stocking last year but I just picked up some little toys and low-quality mini art supplies from the toy store and quickly regretted it…they didn’t last long. This year I’m planning better so that the stocking gifts are special and contribute to open-ended creative play.
Kelly’s latest post: Remembering to play
Such lovely ideas! (We don’t do stockings here in South Africa, although the trend seems to be growing), I’m a great fan of little gifts like ~
Felt gifts – hand-made and kits that the kids make themselves. They are fantastic “quiet” gifts!
Little travel sized bottles of bath foam or bubble stuff is fun too!
We love stickers, craft items
Hair accessories are also lovley small, affordable gifts.
Nadene’s latest post: Conclusions- Closure and Congratulations!
My daughters love journals and we seem to go through them like mad, so I always put those and some interesting pens/markers/crayons. I was glad to see that someone else also does toothbrushes and toothpaste! My mom always did that and I’ve taken to including those as well. The girls also get some new barrettes and chapstick (which is like gold at my house : ) Happy stocking stuffing!
Paula@Motherhood Outloud’s latest post: Thankful for Thanksgiving
Thanks for the great practical ideas. My one plan not mentioned above is to include a small box of Cocopops (chocolate popped rice cereal) and a chocolate milk carton (Milo in South Africa) as a Christmas day breakfast treat.
Ooh, I like the make your own puzzle suggestion. And I agree, my go-to would always be art supplies of any kind.
I actually haven’t given much thought to stockings yet this year. We’ve decided to go totally homemade with gift giving this year, but I had forgotten about stockings. Hmm. Guess I need to figure that out.
Jessica’s latest post: Changed in Spirit- Tested by Fire
I LOVE the idea of artful filled stockings… we have also gone this rt.. pastels, paint brushes, stickers, glue stick, glitter glue, and many other small items to create with have found their way into our children stockings over the years.
As the children have gotten older things like wood carving tools, gift cards to the craft store are tucked in alongside fragrance, nail polish, bath beads, etc…
There’s always room for the traditional, Clementine’s, chocolate and nuts!
Debbie’s latest post: Make a Fall Leaf Picture Book part two
Thanks for the ideas. Love the crayons!
My mother-in-law still does stockings for all of her children and their spouses…we love it! She always puts in toothbrushes and toothpaste, gum, chapstick, lotion, hair elastics, spices (nice for the bakers), vitamin supplements, jerky, a new calendar, cookie cutters. Growing up we didn’t usually get practical things in our stockings.
My kids (14,11, 9, 6, 1) all love the orange at the toe of their stocking, and the whole nuts that they have fun shelling. There is always a big handmade candy cane…that’s usually what they ask Santa for. Because our stockings are rather large…there is always room for new socks. And I usually stick in a paperback book.
Deon’s latest post: LOVE…A true knight
I’ve given them crayon rocks, quality art supplies, Giant Microbes, and blank books. They got backpacks for birthdays this year and those have been great for library trips. Last year’s surprise winner — an electric pencil sharpener. It’s probably one of the most useful items we’ve purchased!
amida’s latest post: Copycat Art
I love the idea of beeswax crayons! There are some great recipes online for making your own too. We made some of our own for Christmas gifts for our younger cousins and nephews.
MamaGambino’s latest post: My Baby Sleeps With Me
What a wonderful post! I guess I’ve always just bought little toiletries and candy! I think the stocking could be a fun project filled with more thoughtful gifts this year! Thanks!
By the way, I love the picture of the mantle – especially the framed “We Love Our Family”!
Is this cheesy? Every year I get boxes of “fun” bandaids for each child — Dora for one, Disney princesses for another… They love it!
I love the art stocking stuffers! The picture above the fire place is an inspiration for our own family to do a picture together and have it framed.
Thank you so much for sharing your ideas. This is our second year of doing “Stocking Stuffers Around the World” (on my blog). I found your blog when I was looking for a stocking stuffer from South Africa. My sister resides there.
Take care and happy Holidays,
Stephanie's Mommy Brain
Moments before I read this post I purchased (online) decorate your own puzzles for my niece and nephews. I love gifts that inspire imagination and creativity in kids!
Stephanie’s Mommy Brain’s latest post: Thanksgiving: A Time to Remember
I love the create-your-own-puzzles! I’ve never seen those before! I imagine they’re a lot simpler and cleaner than the ones I used to make when I was little… I’d draw a picture, then get *very* excited about cutting it up. I’d end up with a pile of confetti. 😛
e-Expeditions’s latest post: Friday Freebie: Stykz
I use alot of the same kinds of things. This year I am putting Little Beetle training pants into my three year olds stocking as he seems to have had a potty training relapse! One gift will also be wrapped in a playsilk (always a popular toy at our house)
My kids have a couple of the Melissa and Doug art sets, including the piggy bank one, and they LOVE them! It’s so true that the stockings can be a catch-all for dollar store junk, it’s nice to remember not to fill that precious space with stuff that will be played with, broken and then discarded by Christmas afternoon!
Diane’s latest post: Prematurity Awareness Day
So, I found your blog searching for stocking stuffer ideas. I tend to purchase educational, creative, or personal hygiene items for my daughter who just turned four. I limit candy if any is given. I made the mistake my first year and bought dollar junk. Last year, I put the Pick and Draw card game in her stocking. She loved drawing and naming the characters. We even drew one and wrote a story about it. Recently, I used the game to practice the names of the facial features in Spanish (with adjustments). You can see the activity on my blog. Here are a few ideas that I am playing with for this year: Songs for Saplings CD’s, favorite DVD, Mr. Sketch markers (use coupon), Melissa and Doug paint kits (on sale), travel games, days of week undies, Play-Doh tools, pencil grips, art smock, story felt sets, logic or brain games, Tangle, cooking utensils or apron, nativity magnets, advent ornaments or crafts for next year’s Jesse Tree, Safari Toob Ltd. animal set, and animal life cycle sets. I also had several items from above on my list … I am still thinking. I need to make a decision soon. LOL!
Tracey’s latest post: Montessori Materials
sippy cup, toothbrush, fun fuzzy socks….. 🙂
Love, love, love these ideas! I, also, love sticker books. I love the Usborne & More sticker books and activity items/books (so much in fact that I became a consultant). In the “search” toolbar on my website, type in “sticker books”, “activity”, or “flashcards”. My 4 and 6 year old LOVE the doodle pad for boys (and it’s reasonably priced.) The pages are filled with “starts” of ideas for them to use their creativity to complete each page/drawing. There is a Doodle Pad for Girls too. There are MANY sticker books which allow a child to use their creativity to build a scene on each page. You can’t go wrong with a book either. My boys love The Whatif Monster. It has an excellent message at the end. I would much rather have a ton of books and activities to foster their creativity than junk/candy/useless toys. Don’t worry, they still get a great Christmas! I am also making them super hero capes this year in their favorite color with the first letter of their name on the back. They will love it!
Oops- my website is danceinabook (dot) com
Awesome list! I would like to add the science kits Toys R Us carries. You can make volcanoes, robotics and other stuff… super effective in encouraging creativity and critical thinking in kids. 🙂
Kit’s latest post: Nine Great Presents for Lawyers and Judges