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Rethinking Christmas Stockings

Christmas Stocking 3 The Prudent Homemaker

A few years back, we were in need of new Christmas stockings. Our family had grown, and we didn't have enough matching stockings for the family.

At the same time, I had been seeing beautiful miniature stockings online made from vintage grain sacks. I loved the simple red stripes at the top and I especially loved the fact that the stockings were tiny. Small stockings (rather than ones that could fit an entire adult's arm) mean there is less to fill, and I can have a wrapped gift sticking out of the top, which is something I had always wanted to do. That didn't work with our previous stockings, which were so long I could fit all of our gifts for each person in with room to spare.

Chirstmas Stocking The Prudent Homemaker

I drew up a small stocking pattern and set to work. I didn't have vintage grain sacks, nor a budget for them, so I used my sewing machine to sew red stripes on some painter's drop cloth that I had previously bought at the hardware store. (Note: Our city got an Ikea store last year; they have dishtowels for $0.79 each that have red stripes at the top which would work beautifully to make these stockings).

Last year, with our new baby, I wasn't worried about hanging a stocking for him. Now that he's a year and a half, it's time for me to make a stocking for him too!

You can make your own small stockings out of your fabric of choice. Not a fan of red stripes? Try cutting up a velvet skirt or dress, or an old sweater that you find at the thrift store! Repurpose an old sheet to use as the lining.

Christmas Stockings The Prudent Homemaker


When it comes to filling the stockings, consider the simplest things.

In the toe, put a clementine or an orange. These are always on sale at Christmastime in the U.S.  (Readers in the Southern Hemisphere, please share your favorite summer fruits for stockings in the comments below!)

Include some candy and/or nuts. I like to buy some candy from the bulk section at Winco when it goes on sale right before Halloween and give that (this year I bought peppermint patties). Candy canes, purchased on sale, work well. I like to make homemade candies too, such as peppermint bark, which I put inside in plastic bags. For nuts, look at buying them in bulk from Sam's Club, Costco, Winco, or another place that sells bulk nuts. If you grow your own, whole nuts in the shell look pretty in stockings as well. If you prefer cookies to candy, a beautifully decorated Christmas cookie or two is a nice, edible gift.

For gifts, I like to keep the cost down. Most "inexpensive" stocking stuffer ideas that I see include several gifts that are $10-$20 each. Most years, that is my entire Christmas budget per person (candy and nuts come from my regular grocery budget, rather than my planned gift budget), which means I need to lower that amount considerably to keep within my budget for the year. I usually include two to three gifts per person in stockings. Here's some of what I like to include:


For my daughters:

Jewelry. I find pieces at garage sales for $1 an item. I'll make jewelry from repurposed or garage sale pieces. Broken or old costume jewelry is great for this purpose. I've also bought beads, elastic, and jewelry findings on sale to make pieces between $0.15 to $1 each.

Small toys. Garage sales are also a great place to find small toys. I found a number Legos for a total of $0.50 this year, and I'll divide these up between my four younger girls.

Art supplies. I purchase these for $0.25 to $1 at back to school sales.

Hair ribbons. I buy them on sale by the spool and cut them on the diagonal (to reduce fraying) in lengths for the girls.

Homemade barrettes.

Hair elastics. I buy these in packages of 100 from the dollar store.

Bobby Pins. I get these from the dollar store.

Hair brushes. I also get these from the dollar store.


For my sons:

Legos. Garage sales are again my source for the least expensive small Lego stocking stuffers.

More Candy and/or nuts. My boys like to have the same candy as their dad.

Ties. My boys wear a tie to church every Sunday. I find them at garage sales for $0.50 to $1 each.


For both boys and girls:

Toothbrushes. I buy them in packages of 4 or 5 for $1 from the dollar store (last Christmas I saw this same deal at Walmart too).

Chapstick. I often buy a bulk package and divide it up. I look for coupons and sales to get the price lower than $1 each.

Bouncy balls. You can buy a bag (usually of 6) in the party section of several stores.

Puzzles. The dollar store has small puzzles that fit in stockings. 

Earbuds. Again, I get these at the dollar store.

Bookmarks. Homemade bookmarks are a favorite gift at my house. My children are avid readers who always have a book going.


For my husband:

His favorite candy. At my house, this means a large bag of peanut M&Ms and/or a bag of Werther's. I can always find coupons and sales on these to get the price down considerably.

This is all I usually get my husband, but this year I'm thinking of adding a restaurant gift card using points I earn on Swagbucks. We don't usually exchange gifts between the two of us, so this would be a surprise. It also won't cost me anything at all!

Christmas Stockings detail The Prudent Homemaker

Reducing the size of your stockings makes it easier to fill a stocking and keep within a tiny budget. There's no need to feel obligated to spend money on stocking stuffers that will end up broken and unwanted before the New Year. Let your gifts be simple.


As I was writing this post, I asked my 12-year-old son what he loved getting in his stocking. He immediately mentioned the clementine, then candy, and then bouncy balls! And only then did he mention Legos. What my children have come to remember is the simple traditional items that we have included, and they look forward to them every year!


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  • Laura November 03, 2017

    Lovely post Brandy! As a Southern hemisphere person I swap the fruit out for a bathbomb or a pretty soap.

  • Brandy @ The Prudent Homemaker November 03, 2017

    Thank you for sharing! All of the summer fruits seem too squishy to go in the bottom of a stocking.

  • Ellie's friend from Canada November 03, 2017

    I really enjoyed reading the interesting comments about making Christmas stockings a reasonable size and the gifts that you include. Some of the most beautiful stockings I've seen were made by a friend of mine who made them for a fundraiser for charity. She used large fabric sample books that had been discontinued. One side of the stocking was ornate tapestry from the book; the other side was velvet she had bought on sale. They were so beautiful. But as you appreciate there is a great beauty in simplicity and I love your stockings. Your comments make me smile as they reminded me of my mother. She grew up during the Depression on a farm. Her family had no money. She felt truly blessed because they had food (all of which they grew themselves). They canned hundreds of jars of fruits, some vegetables. What did my mother put in the stockings for us? A mandarin or a clementine orange. It had been an enormous treat for her as a child. (There was a purpose to it during the Depression, too, as it a source of Vitamin C when it was really needed during the winter). A single orange. It was greatly loved by each of us, too and we knew its significance too. I remember one of the most cherished gifts my parents gave me was a pair of skis. These were no ordinary skis. They were, at one and the same time the best and worst skis. I had absolutely prayed for skis. And there they were... skis, the best skis. Skis that were second hand and bought for $10 from a neighbour. Skis that were the worst as they had no camber –– they were totally flat!!! (Modern skis are built somewhat differently). Still I adored them. $10 was a lot of money for my parents. Christmases when I grew up were plagued by strife with a father suffering from WW II "shell shock" (our PTSD which received no treatment, suffered with no help). But one memorable Christmas towards the end of his life was when he pretended he was at a market/bazaar selling (giving) us costume jewellery he had come home with. It was such fun!

    Christmas should not be bleak, no matter how tight or non-existent money is! My father's sister complained bitterly for many years about how hard her family had it during the depression. She complained that there was only one doll between her and her sister. One year I had had enough and pointed out to her that her father had a paying job as a teacher. they had had a lovely house and kept bees for honey and had eggs from their chickens. I pointed out to her that most children never had a doll, not even to share. Most people had no money, however modest a sum. what a difference between her attitude and my mother's who saw blessings everywhere, no matter how bleak circumstances seemed. As I sort through things, I find dolls that my mother's aunts and also her mother made for me. A little stuffed pony, a stuffed monkey, a doll made of little circles of fabric. hand painted faces on handmade dolls. A little binder with hand drawn artistic cloth cover and interesting children's stories that my grandmother had clipped out of various magazines for me to have a book of my own.

    When I was at university, a prof once chided me for liking gifts so much. I have thought about that for years. Perhaps it shows some insecurity on my part. Looking back, however, I realize now as I did then that each gift was made with love, was bought (sometimes) with considerable thought and love. I look at all of these handmade gifts from childhood and see the love that went into these efforts. It is snowing heavily here as I write this. I am trying to figure out what to make my great nieces, who have so much, for Christmas. I love that my nephew's wife had the little ones making Christmas cookie ornaments for my tree.

    I hope everyone has fun making do and finding things, simple things, with which to celebrate this special of holidays.

  • Sheena November 03, 2017

    Lovely post and so true.

    For Mother’s Day a few years ago my 2 daughters (aged 4 and 11) arrived in my room with a tray for me to have breakfast in bed ( their brother was on a school trip).

    There are 2 things I remember from that tray-pancakes made with strong bread flour ( squishy and not cooked in the middle which I ate and declared delicious) and a paper rose my eldest daughter had made herself. She had coloured white paper green for the leaves and red for the petals. She had sprayed it with her ‘perfume’. It was in a jar I had washed out and kept. She explained to me ( slightly apologetically) that she had wanted to buy me a rose they were selling in the school playground but did not have £5 so made one instead. That rose has been on my dressing table ever since. I love it. Last year I did not get a rose (spoilt in other ways). This year I decided ‘nudging’ would help and told her again that I loved it and wanted one in another colour- I received a yellow rose. My aim is to assemble a bouquet for my dressing table.

    Just wanted to share this because that homemade gift meant so much more to me than a £5 rose ever would. This year my family are trying to economise on gifts. I have made crocheted Afghans for my sister and her husband. My mother asked for one too so I made her one as well. While I was making them it was lovely to think about the people I was making them for. That’s the thing about homemade gifts. They are made with love and that is priceless.

  • Ellie's friend in Canada November 03, 2017

    That is so touching about the rose(s)! I love that you are making crocheted afghans. I have lots of yarn but can't make them anymore. They will all love them!

  • J November 03, 2017

    Lovely thoughts Ann.

  • Lilli November 03, 2017

    I purchased small stockings from Kohls that have a monogrammed letter on them. I used coupons and some Kohls cash ,so I don't remember paying more than a few pennies for them. It is ironic that my college daughter was talking about this very subject tonight. We have a running joke that hers shrinks every year. She asked me tonight if it would hold a stick of gum this year along with a Redbox code. I pulled a small piece of cardboard out of my purse and asked her if that was what she had in mind . It was a Redbox code from a box of popcorn I recently stocked up on. I usually buy her a good lipstick and a gift card to put in hers. College boy will be getting a gift card and some keurig coffee cups that I received as a sample. I enjoy finding just the perfect things that are meaningful to them. College girl will be receiving a necklace that is intended to be inherited by her. I love the small stockings. I would like to make a set of stockings for each child to have when they start their families. Now, to just be on the lookout for a few more items. The days of grand holidays are over. Our small family gathering means so much more now.

  • Brandy @ The Prudent Homemaker November 03, 2017

    Lilli, I think it would be funny to sew up a tiny stocking (even out of paper) that fits just one stick of gum and a Redbox code, and hang it up on Christmas morning. Then after she takes it down, you can take out her other one and hand it to her!

  • April H. November 03, 2017

    Brandy, that would be really cute. A little mouse-sized stocking.

  • Lilli November 03, 2017

    The size of her stocking has brought Many Laughs From Her Dorm Mates. The explanation about the size of her. stocking started out as a joke. I told her every year she was moved out, it would shrink another inch. I will look for something to cut down. She has a wonderful sense of humor and will love a mouse size stocking.

  • Jody S. November 03, 2017

    My children like having their own tube of toothpaste in their stocking.

  • Jean November 03, 2017

    I love your son's response, it shows that tradition trumps a lot of fancy stuff or expensive things that do not speak to the heart! Your picture feels more festive than canned music or glitter at the stores. I love how you keep your Chriistmas simple and lovely! It helps keep me more focused on the Lord and family!

  • Isabella November 03, 2017

    I loved this entry because stockings are always a big part of our Christmas. Not that I go overboard, but it is so traditional. Must haves year after year are Cracker Jack boxes, gold chocolate coins, a small pkg of Anna ginger spice cookies, a chocolate Santa, in addition to individual items and gifts, Our four children are grown but still look forward to their stockings.

  • Brandy @ The Prudent Homemaker November 03, 2017

    I love what you include! I always loved Cracker Jacks as a child. Your yearly traditions sound wonderful!

  • Debby in KS November 03, 2017

    The gold coins were a favorite of mine when I was young!

    When I was in college, my favorite was always the McDonald's gift certs. SOmetimes it was just nice to eat somewhere besides the dorm dining hall! Many years later, my mom commented about how she wished the other fast food places had them, but back then, McD's was the only one!

  • Jen November 03, 2017

    What is with husbands and peanut M&M's? That's my husband's favorite candy, too! We put chocolate coins in ours, along with many of the things you mention. Often, a used book pokes out the top, which can be gotten very inexpensively, or even for free... Other things we use are craft supplies, including skeins of embroidery floss, stickers, etc. Stickers often come in a package with several sheets; I open up the package and divide up the stickers. (I do this with lots of things...colored pens, hair elastics, you name it.) We have also included food items such as a package of hot chocolate mix or a small can of juice... But, like you say, the clementine or mandarin in the toe...this was a tradition even when I was little!!

    Love your blog, Brandy.

    xx Jen in Canada

  • Brandy @ The Prudent Homemaker November 03, 2017

    Craft supplies in stockings sounds wonderful!

  • Debby in KS November 03, 2017

    Brandy, I always put embroidery floss & new needles in my mom's!! I'd watch for those 5/$1 sales.

  • Kelly November 03, 2017

    Last year we tried something new and everyone loved it. (Seven children plus two in-law children)

    We had breakfast in our stockings. Everything was individually wrapped. A bottle of orange juice, some grapes, muffins, stick cheese and a honey bun. The kids were all surprised and want to continue the new tradition. Plus no cooking breakfast!!

  • Rhonda November 03, 2017

    My husband is the youngest of five boys. His mom told me when they were little their stockings contained a small box of cereal and a banana for their Christmas morning breakfast. It was a real treat because of the tiny boxes of cereal - something they didn't get any other time of the year.

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