Written by monthly contributor, Emily Pastor.
I love Christmas Stockings! The mystery and excitement of stocking gifts gets the best of my inner-child every year. Put something in my stocking and you will see a composed, grown woman transform into a runny-nosed girl in footie pajamas right before your eyes. Now that I’m the one “stuffing” these stockings, I’m realizing the challenge of finding both meaningful and cost-effective contents. Those stockings start seeming bottomless when trying to stay within a budget, but I don’t want to fill a stocking with cheap items that just add “stuff” to our lives. Below are some stocking stuffer ideas that are both meaningful and budget-friendly.
Every family holds different traditions, so if Christmas stockings aren’t a part of your Christmas festivities, feel free to use the below ideas for other occasions in which you might need a frugal gift for the little ones in your life.
1. Dress-up Supplies. Do your children like to dress up? Find unique dress-up clothes or accessories at your local thrift store. For a DIY dress-up accessory, try making homemade play silks. Play silks are a wonderful open-ended toy that encourages creativity and hours of imaginative play.
2. Thrift Store Books. Some of my daughter’s favorite books have come from thrift stores for under a dollar. Keep your eyes open for “stocking-stuffer-sized” children’s books next time your at your local thrift store!
3. Homemade Body Products. For older children, whip up a batch of homemade chapstick to last them through the winter. For the teen girl in your family, concoct a lovely-scented homemade sugar scrub and pair it with a new color of nail polish.
4. Homemade snacks. Make-ahead and freeze a batch of your child’s favorite cookie. Bring several out of the freezer on Christmas Eve to thaw. Wrap them in brown paper and twine before placing in their stocking. OR, Compile your own trail mix bag with your child’s favorite dried fruits, nuts and whatever else might suit their fancy.
5. Art Supplies or Projects. Make a batch of Homemade Playdough in vibrant colors. Or, Go to the dollar tree and pick up supplies for this fun art project. Put the supplies in your child’s stocking for an art project you can do together.
6. Unique Foods. Go to a local international market (Asian or Mexican grocery stores are good options) and pick up an exotic fruit or a food item that your family hasn’t tried before. Enjoy sampling your international goodies throughout Christmas day.
7. Homemade Ornaments. Starting a Christmas ornament collection for your children can get rather expensive, especially if you have a handful (or more!) of children. Start a tradition of making each child in your family their own homemade Christmas tree ornament each year as a special keepsake. I especially like these homemade felt ornaments.
8. Mini Photo Album. When I was about three years old, my mom gave me my very own mini photo album in my Christmas stocking. I still have that album to this day, and I can’t tell you how much I loved flipping through the pages year after year. Take time to get some of your year’s best digital photos printed and compile mini photo albums for each child.
9. Kid-friendly Tableware. Most children love having their own special mug, dish set, and placemat. Unique tableware can make frugal and special stocking stuffers for your little ones. Find a unique mug just for your child at a thrift store and fill it with a bag of homemade hot chocolate mix and homemade marshmallows or roll up a different educational placemat for each child’s stocking. If you are a crafty mama, try your hand at sewing placemats and napkins for your children.
10. Words of Affirmation. Encouraging words are perhaps some of the most frugal and meaningful gifts we can give. Write your child a letter about how you are proud of them, how you’ve seen them grow, or how they are a gift to you. It’s okay if your child can’t read yet, you can still bless them by writing and reading them a heartfelt letter.
If you try an idea that’s a hit with your children, consider making that type of gift a tradition that they can expect each year. OR, start a combination tradition where each stocking gets three items year after year such as a book, a letter, and art supplies.
What are your favorite frugal and meaningful stocking stuffers?