Christmas

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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73 Comments

  1. Brandy,
    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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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!

  4. 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.

  5. 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

  6. 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!

  7. 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!!

  8. Your stockings are beautiful. You have good ideas for stocking stuffers. I have found that Target’s dollar area and the dollar store have fun items that are inexpensive such as chapstick, fun socks, post-it notes, chewing gum, fun erasers (although I also use these in our Advent calendar … ). Sometimes I use it as a way to stock up on a needed item such as new underwear. I also have used packets of hot chocolate–if I were more ambitious (I’m not … ) I would make hot chocolate stirrer spoons (I have seen “recipes” for these–you put melted chocolate and something fun like sprinkles on the spoon, let it harden, then wrap it in cellophane and a bow to make your hot chocolate even richer!).

  9. My daughter always comments that there are 2 days a year she can have chocolate and candy for breakfast, Christmas and Easter! I always watch for sales on sweets after various holidays or saved left over Halloween candy, and tuck them away in my “candy stash”. This way, I always have special treats to put in the stockings. I have bought boxes of “lunch treats” like granola bars or fruit roll ups on sale ($1/box of 6 or so) to divide up between stocking (huge treat since I normally don’t buy these). As children, my mom always put a big orange in the toe as well as a banana. Her thinking was that at least we would snack something healthy on Christmas morning! I have tucked away free samples in the past, to use in various stockings (chap stick, shower gel, hand cream, razors, etc.). Socks work great as a filler for larger stocking. They are inexpensive, bulky and everyone can use new socks! You can even buy multi-packs and divide them between recipients as well.

  10. We love including a can of soda. It fills the stockings very full but you can get pop inexpensively (if you get the store brand). It’s a treat for my kids to get pop because we don’t have it often.

  11. 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.

  12. My family loves to play card games. These fit nicely in a stocking and I can usually find them at the thrift store for less than $1. I do carefully count the cards/ pieces before I buy and check to see if there are instructions. If there are no instructions I use my phone to check online for instructions for me to print out & add to the box. Several years ago I found a big book to the library sale of games that could be played with regular cards. I can often find unusual packs of regular cards at the dollar store. This year I found three different packs of cards that are Star Wars themed in cool metal tins at the dollar store. Playing everyone’s new games is a Christmas Day tradition. We have 8 people in the house for Christmas so you can always find someone who wants to play a quick game.

  13. I’ve been thinking about stockings for the last month or so. For years we hung stocking a close friend made for us. These stockings were on the small size. They were perfect. And yet as the kids grew so did their stockings. It got to the point that I dreaded even hanging them. For the last few years we (my daughter, her two kids and I) hung the stockings and we made it a game for all of us to put a few things in the stockings. I might find a treasured toy from my grandson in my stockings. It it was a lean year we might put love notes in the stockings. My little grandson wrote a note saying I had to live to be 1000 years old so I could hold his babies. *laughing* I have left notes telling them how much I admired a certain trait they have…and always tell them it is filled with love. Like other here I can’t tell you what your messages mean to me Brandy. This year I will be making new stocking for the family. My daughter has her own home with her husband. I am going to go small again. Thank you, Brandy.

  14. I used to fix stockings for each of the grandchildren but once we had more than four it was time to stop. Now I do a stocking for my husband and he does one for me. We open them Christmas morning when it’s just the two of us!

  15. 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.

  16. Brandy, If memory serves me, our pioneer forefathers considered themselves fortunate to receive any thing in their stockings. Citrus was exotic and sugar sticks a treat. I applaud your “minimizing” stocking efforts, and am tickled to hear your son’s recollections on his prioritized list of stocking favorites!

  17. I usually go all out on stockings. This year, we will be significantly trimming back on Christmas, stockings included. I have 6 kids. I usually put beef jerky, gum, favorite candy, chap sticks, ear buds, nail clippers, and such in my adult kid’s stockings. My 2 younger ones (11 and 3) will get favorite candy and small toys or games this year. Thank you for this post!! I look forward to your Christmas posts every year!!!

  18. Every year I scour the Easter and Halloween clearance for stocking stuffers. I often find 8-packs of small toys for .50 to $1 per pack. I divide them up between my 4 children. I have found inexpensive yo-yos, slap bracelets, bouncy balls, and whistles for this year.

  19. What a timely post! I just finished re-reading the scene in the Little House books where Mr. Edwards crosses the icy creek to bring Christmas to the little Ingalls girls. Laura and Mary are thrilled to receive a tin cup, a peppermint stick, a penny, and a homemade cookie each! This scene always touches me.
    My husband and I have decided to only exchange stockings this year. A clementine in the toe, bulk nuts, a favorite candy. Last year I knit him fingerless gloves for working in the garage — this year I’m thinking a new knit beanie. Monogrammed handkerchiefs made from white muslin (he carries a handkerchief in his pocket always). I think I will look for a card game, as he enjoys these. We usually include scratch-off lottery tickets. He enjoys crossword puzzles, so I often include a puzzle book. Bookmarks –yes! I love all your bookmark ideas, Brandy. And I think a note, telling him how much I appreciate him and how much he means to me.

  20. I stuffed my parents stockings. Mother got an orange, blackjack gum, peppermint gum,chapstick, Avon skin so soft original, homemade chocolate spoons (for her coffee) and homemade divinity. Pop (stepdad) got sugar free fruit slices or sugar free butterscotch drops (he was a diabetic) banana ,castile soap,chapstick and a coupon for homemade mixed berry pie or Autumn fruit pie. Daddy got a grapefruit, Allspice aftershave, cashews, homemade chocolate covered turtles and a coconut (which is what Grandpa got Daddy and his 5 sister to share each Christmas if there was money. The one time there wasn’t money , he told his kids that they had GOD and each other and that was what was important.
    Kids got toothbrushes, chocolate coins, reading book or a coupon for one, maple leaf sugar candy(made by a friend that produced maple syrup) and peanuts. Sometimes gloves or games(jacks, pick up sticks, card games) that I found for a less than a dollar. Hubby gets his favorite candies: jawbreakers, tootsie pop rolls (middle of the tootsie pop sucker) Milk Duds, horehound drops,word puzzle books. I do my own stocking since my daughters left home, I give myself bath items and candles that I buy at the dollar store and a new book to read.

  21. What a sweet post. Stockings have always been my favorite part of Christmas. I also like seeing a wrapped gift poking out of the top. You’ve given me lots to think about. I might go smaller this year. Thank you for sharing these ideas.

  22. My husband’s favorite candy is Werther’s, which our son likes to purchase for him. He receives either a small bag from the dollar store, or a bigger bag from Walmart or Kroger when we have a coupon. Awhile back, Kroger had peanut M & M’s as a free Friday download, and I saved that for one of my husband’s stocking stuffers. Our husbands enjoy the same candies! Other items I picked up for my husband’s stocking are Sharpie pens and a granola bar that was also a Kroger free Friday download. My husband can take all of these items to work with him. Our son has peanut/tree nut allergies, so I am limited on what treats to put into his stocking; usually Tootsie Rolls, gum, and Laffy Taffy are favorites. I get the same wall calendars each year from the dollar store for our kitchen and for my husband to take to work. My son likes the calendars from Dollar Tree that have one large calendar and one small calendar (he uses them in two different places in the house). This year, they don’t have a set he likes, so I made a 2018 calendar for him, using pictures I found on the internet that are of interest to him right now. As for “bigger” gifts…I find them throughout the year so we are not budget-crunched close to Christmas.

  23. Growing up, my family did the orange in the toe. However, my husband’s family did an orange, an apple, AND a banana! He said they (8 kids) got all the fruit to fill the stocking even more! We tried it with our children last year and my oldest son inadvertent squished his banana before he realized it was in his stocking! Whoops!

  24. Growing up our stocking always had an orange, an apple, and one of those big peppermint sticks. (Dollar General has them right now for 50c each.)

  25. We do this as well. Our rule is that the kids can open their stockings as soon as they get up, but aren’t allowed to open their other gifts until the grownups get up. This gives them something to do while they wait.

    Rhonda, We have five boys too! LOL. Ours love the individual sized cereal as well as a special treat.

  26. This is such a nice post. One year, my husband and I took all the broken crayons, unwrapped them, chopped them up, put them in a mini muffin tin and melted them together. I bought a pack of cellophane treat bags for something else, and we put 4 crayon cakes for each child in a bag, and tied the top with curling ribbon. That was fun. I think we enjoyed making them even more than the kids enjoyed using them! Each child also gets a box of snack cakes in their stocking, a new tooth brush and tooth paste (which I’ll be buying anyway, so why not!), and then whatever other goodies I find. Stockings were always my favorite as a kid. This year, I’m going to make cracker candy for each stocking. Those cellophane bags are great because I can put homemade treats in them and they look more festive than ziplock, although I doubt my kids care.

    Also, for an inexpensive gift,

  27. Lovely stockings in traditional colours.. Keep family Christmas traditions re-occurring and simple pleasures give great pleasure to receipients

  28. Your stocking ideas are very similar to what I grew up with and whAt my family has continues. Orange, toothbrush lip balm, chocolate coins, nuts, some sort of other candy, and a special soap or something else similar. I have made stockings for my family using plaid cotton fabrics. The girl’s stockings have a bit of crocheted lace as their cuff (I made the lace) and everyone’s has a small stuffed Christmas ornament pinned to it to personalize it. My daughter loves raccoons, so her has a stuffed racoon on it, etc. When my daughter married, her husband received a stocking out of the same fabric, but a bit more manly. I need to make a matching one for my son’s girlfriend this year. And I need to find a tiny cow for hers.

  29. My husband LOVES that canned whipped cream that shoots out of the nozzle but we never buy it. So, in his Christmas stocking I always put a can of whipped cream; one year I found chocolate flavor so gave him a can of regular and the can of chocolate. He practically swooned in delight. My stocking from him usually has a can of that really expensive tuna fish packed in oil, from Italy. I would a) never spend several dollars for one can of tuna and b) I eat tuna in water for health reasons, but I save my Christmas tuna for a day where I feel out of sorts and want something special to eat. I look forward to that can of tuna more than any other gift!

  30. 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!

  31. An item that I put in my daughter’s stocking is socks! Last year I didn’t and she got upset with me! It’s usually a pr I pick up on clearance after a holiday for less than a dollar or a pair out of the dollar spot at Target. It’s come to be a tradition she loves 🙂

  32. 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.

  33. Our stocking are definitely not Martha Stewart; they are a mismatched collection of the stockings my husband and I had growing up, with those we purchased over the years for our children. My mother made some of them, his mother made some of them, & I made some of them. We use them all, especially when people are visiting. The grandkids like to hear the history of each stocking, & pick the one they want to use. Our married children were given the option of taking their stockings with them when they married. Some did; some didn’t.

    I have never filled stockings completely full. In each of our stockings, there is an orange or clementine in the toe, along with an optional apple some years. A few pieces of candy, usually Christmas nougats, two small Babybel cheeses (different varieties), and one larger waxed cheese, either Edam or smoked Gouda. When the children were growing up, everything in the stocking was edible. Now that it is just my husband & our youngest daughter, I sometimes add a lip balm, a hard lotion bar, or a Burt bees lemon cuticle cream, since there is plenty of room.

  34. 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!

  35. My friend’s mom did something similar. Santa left the stockings leaning against their bedroom doors. He was also kind enough to leave them a banana, a wrapped pastry, & a juice. They weren’t allowed to go downstairs until their parents were up. Santa always included some little puzzle or book to keep them busy!

  36. I grew up in the 50s and early 60s. There were three of us children and each year, in the toe of our stocking, was a silver dollar. I don’t know where my mother got the idea. My sister saved hers and had a collection of them as a young adult. I spent mine each year on the movies as soon as I could (I blush to say.) I continued that tradition with my sons growing up in the 70s and 80s. Silver dollars were much more common when I was a kid, you came across them in everyday commerce, but when my children were young I had to go to the bank to get them. They are unusual enough now that I think a lot of kids would get a kick out of them.

  37. My two daughters get a pomegranate in the toe of their stocking. They also get a box of Pop Tarts (the only time I buy them is for their Christmas stockings and Easter baskets). This year I found them on sale for 99 cents. I used Kellogg’s reward points to print $1 coupons so they were free. This year I will include boxes of those microwavable muffins you make in a mug. I think they are gross but the girls had them once and loved the novelty of it. I found some on sale and with coupons they were about $1 each for a box of 4. Special food treats are always a hit. Last Christmas I gave them each a small bag of 4 different fancy bottled waters/drinks. Got them all free using coupons and CVS rewards. My oldest already hinted she wanted water again this year. So funny that these simple items are what is looked forward to each year.

  38. Those stockings are lovely, Brandy.
    I like the idea of character Band-Aids and the tiny cereal boxes as special treats.
    I have always loved cooking, so my mom would often include a cooking tool in my stocking.

  39. Growing up I was raised by my paternal grandmother. My stocking always had an orange, a candy cane stick, an ornament and usually a chapstick or lipstick when I was older. She stopped when I was 21. (Although my husband/children now puts in a gift related to another. One year it was Ugg waterproofing for Ugg boots that were wished for).

  40. My children’s stockings were very similar in content: candy, an orange, a peppermint stick. I also included packets of hot cocoa mix (fancy flavored sorts) or an assortment of fun bath supplies (silly string soap, pretty milled soaps for the girls, soap crayons). I had a theme each year that I worked out. It was always inexpensive and yes, the stockings are what they remember most!

  41. I love the card game idea! We had always left a movie for the children to watch Christmas morning…a real treat since we don’t have television and buy few movies. Some years I’ve been able to get the movie used (be sure to watch it if it’s used to see that there are not any problems). As we have college students now, a card game in each stocking would be a real treat whereas movies have become more commonplace. Thank you for the idea.

  42. I always mix need with fun…and an orange in the toe! Toothbrushes and Toothpaste (the brands we use are a bit costly so I appreciate being able to double up, band-aids, hair ties, clippers, flashlights and books. We often need camping gear and ski hear, so I include that as well. And a box of Ike and Mike’s from the dollar store (I never buy candy, so that is a rare treat).

    I like the idea of smaller stocking. I think I’ll investigate.

  43. What good ideas. This was fun and inspiring. It reminds me of one of my favorite childhood memories. Every Christmas at my Grandparent’s house, we received a small stocking with a few delightful things. Maybe an orange, a large walnut, candy and a wood toy or ornament that Grandpa carved. We squealed opening our stockings. Grandma hollowed out each walnut put a gift inside and lightly glued them back together. There was jewelry for the girls, or a paper gift certificate, folded small. I remember getting a pretty heart necklace. Your children will have lovely memories of their stockings.

  44. My kids are 39 and 41 and I bought those fuzzy red fleece stockings with white cuffs. They each have their name on the cuff. A few years ago I offered to do new stockings and they both wanted to stay with the old faithfuls. When DS introduced us to DDIL, he asked us to find her a stocking like his. Hers is a bit more luxurious than the original stockings, but close. Her name is in a different type face. She loves it!

    I collect little items all year long for the stockings. Some are bought inexpensively and others are free. This year, I will be making earrings for DD…a first for me, and inspired by you, Brandy. One of everyone’s favorite gifts is those little individual packages of Kleenex. DDIL gets teabags from my pantry. I love the idea of character bandaids and will look to see what are available.

    I do not have grandchildren and don’t expect to have any. Christmas with the fam is important to both of my children and DDIL’s family lives 1,500 miles away…so she puts up with us and our foolishness. They love them their stockings!

  45. When I was in my twenties, my mom would buy us socks every year as part of our Christmas gifts. We didn’t have lots of money so that supply of new socks was valuable to us. It worked out great too, as our sock from the previous year were usually worn out and we would be in need of new socks. One year she didn’t buy them. We complained (whined actually), since we now had to go out and buy our own socks, not to mention we didn’t have nice socks to wear when we went visiting at Christmas. You have to take your shoes off when visiting other’s homes and it’s embarrassing to wear socks with holes in them! My mom has never forgotten since!!!

  46. What a good idea! My husband loves canned whipped cream too! We never buy it either. Christmas would be a great time to surprise him with some.

  47. Brandy,

    Thank you for your ideas! I also love the smaller stocking idea. I have only boys, I also incude matchbox cars for the little ones, deodorant or a hair jel or hair product, combs, a pack of their favorite gum, or a fun body wash(boy smelling) and a scrubby scrunchy. If I had girls I would include nail polish, you can find it pretty cheap.

  48. When I was a child, we did not have stockings to open. We also opened all of our gifts on Christmas Eve. That is how it was done in my father’s family, so my parents chose to do it that way, and that Grandma came to watch us open them. There were 2-3 gifts for each of us, then we were done. As we got older, we got more, as the sisters added a gift to each other as well. On Christmas Day, we went to my Mother’s parents’ house, and had a gift there. My husband was raised differently. The tree was very large. The pile of presents was often several feet tall, and there we so many it took hours to open them all. They had stockings and did it all on Christmas Day.

    We we married and started collecting children, we were so excited! We wanted stockings, but also wanted to open things on Christmas Eve. We wanted to strike a balance between our 2 childhoods. We were very young (low 20’s) with 2 children, 5 and 6 years old, and it was all so fun! So, we just had the kids go into the other room and we put the stockings in a row on the couch and put some things in them. Then, they came back and we had those first, then presents. We literally had hardly any money, so things were simple, often homemade, but always fun! I can’t even remember where we got the stockings, but I think I probably made them.

    That tradition stuck, and somewhere along the line, we gathered a bunch more children, so sewed and collected a bunch more stockings. We always go to church on Christmas Eve, come home, and open the gifts. Then, the next morning, we have no pressure–just food to gather and the gifts for extended family to pack up for a trip to a relative’s house.

    The kind of things we put in stockings are: Always an orange. It’s tradition. Then, we collect little things like gold wrapped coins, chap stick, gloves, jewelry (maybe), small gift cards, etc. and, whatever else we can gather that they would like. This year, I’ve already collected a few inexpensive or free candies, bath/lotion items, etc. My husband always puts peppermint tea in mine, plus other small kitchen items. I always receive rubber scrapers from a child (or another spoon or something if I’ve loudly exclaimed that I don’t need more that year). It’s tradition. I usually receive a kitchen scrub brush for the sink and scratchy pads for washing pots and pans–things like that. I put trail mix, candy, aftershave, things like that in my husband’s. On several occasions, but not always, my husband travels to a German store and buys little special chocolate candies that are foil-wrapped to look like insects (nice ones, like ladybugs). Our youngest always received a chocolate orange candy when she was little, so we’ve added that to our stockings the past few years since she joined us. We only fill stockings for the people who are with us–not our older, grown children, unless they are coming over for that time period.

    We have a big fondue dinner, either on or near Christmas Eve. We’ve moved it to New Year’s Eve a few times. We have done it for years. We fondue bread in cheese sauce, fruit in chocolate sauce, and meat and shrimp in hot oil. Sometimes we made batter and also fry zucchini and mushrooms in the oil.

    I am considering doing a birthday cake for Baby Jesus this year, as we will have guests with a small child. We have not done that for many years. I have a stuffed nativity, which I will get out.

    For us, along with all of you, the traditions and the focus on the real meaning of Christmas are the highlights! I loved reading all the responses to this post–so many great ideas! I know things will change when it’s just the 2 of us, but we’ve had kids in the home for over 30 years now, and Patsy’s only 13, so I’m keeping things as they are for a while, yet.

  49. We changed our stockings to old shoe boxes last year. Chap stick, various candies bought on sale, $1 Christmas candy from Wal-Mart, jerky, restaurant gift cards, small gifts, scented candies, etc., are some of the things I include in the boxes. We are taking a family cruise for Christmas but the older kids still want their stockings and meal for Christmas day.

  50. Our King Soopers in Colorado (Krogers elsewhere) has canned whipped cream on sale this week, through Tuesday.

    I enjoy collecting little things for our girlies’ (and New Son’s — all in late twenties or early thirties) stockings all year. They act blase about it, but I get the feeling they enjoy fishing through them, too. I used to put the same care into Husband’s stocking, but he has made it clear it’s not that important to him. So…I get a package or two of his favorite dark chocolate, and a box of cookies — and that’s it.
    Because his stocking is not important, mine isn’t, either…I’ve resigned myself to a haphazard collection of edibles, purchased at the last minute — if I get anything at all. (Daughter #2 will sometimes put in a few things.)
    Our stockings don’t match — maybe this is the year to make new ones for everybody!

    Items I include: small packages of nuts, chocolates, something imported (usually cookies or candy), teabags (Celestial Seasonings is nearby, and sells boxes for $1), jars of unusual jam or cooking sauces, gloves, a DVD (usually from the dollar sale at the library), specialty pens or markers, or paperclips (purchased when school supplies are on sale), a can of tuna or sardines, a tiny bottle of beer or wine…and the hands-down favorite: a can of black olives. (They eat these while reading the Christmas book they always get.)
    And yes — an orange in the toe, plus a banana. I always tuck a chocolate Santa in top, which they rarely eat. For a while there, I’d retrieve the Santas and just put them in the next year! But now, if they don’t eat them, I chop the chocolate up and use it for desserts in January.
    My mom loved the dates she got in her stocking as a kid — so now she gets a package of those every Christmas. I try to add a package of ribbon candy, or some other old-fashioned treat, like horehound.

    More ideas: http://cindybrick.blogspot.com/2011/12/filling-christmas-stockings.html
    http://www.pennythots.com/stuff-your-christmas-stocking-and-save/

  51. We never had stockings growing up because our mother didn’t sew, and nobody had money to purchase special Christmas stockings. Instead we had a clean pillowcase at the end our beds, filled with mostly school supplies for the year ahead. This could include contact paper (big in the day :)) A4 paper, folders, and pens. We also had a tin of condensed milk, socks and jocks, and some books.
    I think most kids in Australia had special Christmas stockings though. Certainly in my group of school friends we all got school supplies for the year ahead and other similar items.

  52. Brandy,
    I love your stockings- you did an excellent job and they look so pretty hung on the mantel. They will be a great addition to your Christmas decor as well.
    When my son was about two or three years old, I put a pack of chewing gum in his stocking and he was so excited to get it. He was done with Christmas right then and there- no reason to open any gifts because he was happy as could be with his pack of gum. He is almost 30 years old today and yes, there will be a pack of gum in his stocking this year.
    My husband always puts a couple nice interior design/home type magazines in my stocking. These are expensive so they are a real treat for me. I wait until a few days after Christmas when I have some quiet time and relax with the magazines and a hot cup of tea. I look forward to that treat every year. It is every welcomed after all the hard work of putting Christmas together for my family.

  53. Could you possibly share the pattern for your stockings? I’ve been so inspired by this post and want to make smaller stockings for my family!

  54. This has nothing to do with Christmas, but the tiny boxes of cereal were what we would eat for breakfast on family vacations when we stayed in a motel overnight. I loved those! That was also the only time we had those, so they were like a special treat. Funny how it’s the little things like that you remember. 🙂

  55. Funny — I buy that canned whipped cream more than any kind, because it lasts so long. Regular Cool Whip goes bad in a week or so; the canned stuff (a little squirt at a time) can last for MONTHS. It really is a moneysaver in the long run…unless our youngest comes to visit. She shoots it straight into her mouth. (I confess I do this once in a while, too.)

    Daughter #1 also loves a can of tuna. (Daughter #2 could care less.) What they both love is a can of black olives, to be stuck on the fingers and eaten slowly while reading the annual Christmas book.
    Brandy, I enjoy reading the readers’ comments almost as much as I enjoy your ideas and the blog! The other struggle is…I have to keep refreshing the page, and can’t read them all at the same time.

  56. Do you have a fail safe peppermint bark recipe? I wanted to make it with my oldest for his collection of teachers but there are a lot of variations on the internet!

  57. I have bought the tubes of flavored honey–they were 5 or 6 for a $1, and one of my granddaughter’s favorites. Stockings were always pretty easy as there were lots of small treats available from samples or coupons. My husband and I traveled a lot during our early retirement and I saved all the makeup remover sheets or products for my DGD, who has mascara stains on her pillowcases from NOT taking makeup off before bed. I don’t have any this year, and I bought her a set of sheets (my DD finds the bargains and I pay her for them when she brings them to me.) We didn’t do any travel this year because my husband is stressed by change. (We have a night light in our bedroom now, and even then, he sometimes has trouble finding the doorknob, so I have a flashlight on my bedside table and give him extra light if I hear fumbling in the night. He can still find the bathroom, once he gets out of the bedroom.)
    When they were very small I bought them animal shaped soaps when I found them, and they always loved those. Then I saved extra hotel soaps when we started traveling for car club events.
    We always got oranges in our stockings, and nuts in the shell. I think that is what my parents got in their stockings when they were little. Mom always put very practical things like toothbrushes in ours too. A little chocolate too. Playing cards–my parents were great card players and of the three of us girls, only 1 still plays. The other two were forced into games they didn’t want to play and neither of us plays today. My daughters played euchre, which I don’t know at all. Heredity comes through.
    I still make stockings for everyone every year. I do have some trouble with the men more than the women, so I will often fill the space with canned nuts, and try to find the strangest candies I can for them–nerds, sour things–I don’t even know what they are called, and the small cans of pringles if I see them. Fills up the spaces. I do have a budget for my spending but it is a bit more generous than yours. We have managed with much less in our younger days. One year when the kids were still toddlers, we had a very small allowance for gifts for each other. My husband did a great job–since I love to sew, he found a new tape measure and similar related things that I can always use!
    I have also used bandages with characters on them. I remember wearing a Mickey Mouse shaped one to work when I was the supervisor!! It was noticed and remarked upon. Stocking are always a fun part to fill and everyone likes to empty them!!

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