10 Frugal Stocking Stuffers for Children

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?

Photo Credit

About EPastor

Emily Pastor is the wife of her high-school sweetheart and mama to their energetic one and a half year old daughter. They recently moved from the Pacific Northwest to the suburbs of Chicago and are expecting their second little one in the late fall. Emily is passionate about incorporating nourishing foods and holistic household management practices into everyday life as a full-time homemaker. You can find Emily’s latest musings at Sustainable Food for Thought.

12 Responses to 10 Frugal Stocking Stuffers for Children

  1. Alison Jardiman September 19, 2013 at 3:16 am #


    thanks for such a wonderful article, very inspiring! I maintain a directory of links to free knitting patterns for people to knit and share. There’s loads of patterns for free decorations and stockings for Christmas. Please share and enjoy. Wishing you all a joyous Christmas!

    God Bless,


  2. Nissa December 13, 2011 at 1:13 pm #

    Thank you Emily for this great post. I’ve mentioned you in my Coupon Mountain blog for your creative ideas for kids, check it out here: http://bit.ly/ts3NiC. I’ve added a few other frugal ideas for stocking stuffers! Look forward to more of your posts.

  3. Jessica November 28, 2011 at 4:52 am #

    We always got a new toothbrush in our stockings! As a college student I actually looked forward to this stocking stuffer ;+) I have also put hair ties and bows in my girls stocking because it is something they need anyway (isn’t it amazing how these little hair thingies always walk off?) and they still get excited over them! Ditto on the oranges and apples in the bottom of the stocking along with other treats that the kids can eat whenever on Christmas day they want.

  4. Lisa @ Stop and Smell the Chocolates November 27, 2011 at 10:37 pm #

    That’s a great list! Those special little gifts are so thoughtful and have more meaning for the givers and the receivers!

  5. Laura November 27, 2011 at 9:29 am #

    These are wonderful ideas. Christmas is a fun and wonderful holiday to celebrate! Many Blessings

  6. Shawn November 26, 2011 at 9:47 pm #

    For stockings I buy get cute holiday socks which can be knitted or found on sale or at the dollar store.

  7. Bethany November 26, 2011 at 8:15 pm #

    Thank you! I am always looking for frugal, simple Christmas ideas. One thing we do is put organic oranges in our stockings. They take up a lot of room and are a special treat. Popcorn balls are also a great surprise!

  8. Gail November 25, 2011 at 9:24 pm #

    As a preteen/teen I would get nail clippers, a nail file, whatever hair product I was using, finger nail polish, razor blades and other girly items. My brother would get fishing tackle, a pocket knife, nail clippers, deodorant, hair gel and other boy items.

  9. becky@purposefulhomemaking.com November 25, 2011 at 7:18 pm #

    These were so helpful and Lord-willing, I’ll do some of them! :)

  10. Lorilee @ Loving Simple Living.com November 25, 2011 at 11:37 am #

    Thanks for this list. I love #3 and #4. We are working on a 7 days of Christmas with little gifts each day but lots of time and energy spent on making family memories. I am needing to make a good list of little gifts for stockings and each of the 7 days. Kids are great. They just need a gift and it is exciting. It doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive.

  11. Rachel O'Neill November 25, 2011 at 10:17 am #

    My parents always used to fill the bottom with an apple, an orange, tons of peanuts and little chocolates, and then put a few small gifts on top. It was a fun tradition, and definitely a cheaper way to fill the stocking! :)

  12. Heleen November 25, 2011 at 2:29 am #

    I love these ideas! Celebrating Christmas with my family-in-law this year is making for lots of headache on ‘what to give now?’. Also we choose to not over indulge our kids but still like to give them gifts that they do enjoy playing with. The silk scarfs and the teen girl ideas are brill! So thank you so much for posting this.