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  1. I love the idea of giving the kids (and adults) experiences as gifts! Creating special memories is the best kind of gift. We usually do a house decluttering and donations before the holidays to prepare. I’m definitelly using some of your ideas for inspiration. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Marrelie Page says:

    Just so you know, I also grew up opening Christmas presents on Christmas eve and stockings were not a part of that tradition, but I am from South Africa, and I that is probably why. I have however, decided to keep that tradition with my children even though we live immersed in US culture.Partly because I want them to have somewhat of a South African heritage, and partly because I want to keep it simple and avoid the overwhelm that comes with getting and giving so many gifts. Thanks for the ideas though. They are useful even for those of us who don’t do stockings. :-)

    1. Marrelie, you have a beautiful name! I love that you are honoring your heritage AND finding a way to avoid the “more more more” approach to the holidays. :-)

  3. We always opened our presents on Christmas Eve too; but we still got stockings on Christmas morning. Best of both worlds! DH and I fought for a couple of years about whether we should open presents on Christmas Eve or Christmas morning. Then baby #2 was born on Christmas Eve, so we open Christmas presents (and stockings – which my husband never had growing up) on Christmas morning. And Santa always gets a piece of birthday cake, instead of cookies.

    1. Love that, Becca! I’m sure Santa loves a special treat to mix it up on Christmas Eve. :-)

  4. I really liked your list. I love the idea of giving my little one something other than “stuff”. But your comments about things being for “boys” or for “girls” rubbed me the wrong way. We spend so much time telling my little that he can be whoever he wants to be. Sometimes that means nail polish sometimes that means superhero undies. Either way, we’re happy and he’s happy. This blog post would have been just as good (if not better) if you hadn’t taken the time to tell me this was for “girls”. Thank you for putting together a nice list.

    1. Jenny, I love that you’re putting such an emphasis on letting your little one know the sky’s the limit for who he wants to be. But I’m sorry to hear you felt put off by me mentioning my experience as a mom of three girls. As I said in the post, these stocking stuffers could be perfectly good gifts for boys, too. I have three daughters, so that’s what I know. I’ve seen firsthand that my girls love “boy” gifts just as much as “girl” gifts – and I assume the reverse is true of many boys. But without personal experience to back that up, I hesitate to make it sound like the average boy would love all these too. Even with the gift idea of a spa day, I pointed out that my husband joins in with us on pedicures sometimes, so we may actually be on the same page here even if that didn’t come across 100% in the post.

      For what it’s worth, the whole “for girls” and “for boys” stuff is something that bothers me too, and I try to be really careful with my language to reflect my personal experience and not make blanket statements. I even wrote a post about the topic here :)

      Wishing you the best,

      1. No offense to anyone, I have a son and a daughter and I do stress to them things like “blue isn’t a ‘boy’ color; colors don’t have a gender,” etc. So I completely understand where Jenny is coming from, however I appreciate that you called this post what you did because that’s what I searched for. “Stocking stuffers for little girls” because I was looking for something specifically for my daughter. You are right that boys will love these gifts too, at least my son will. If I only had girls I probably wouldn’t have thought to mention that these gifts would work for boys like you did. One of the many reasons I don’t blog! ? Anyway, thanks for this list!! It’s wonderful and I plan on using every suggestion for both of my kids, though not all in one year.

      2. Very well written response to being “called out” on something you weren’t guilty of. Good job!

  5. Great list! A tradition I picked up from my parents were the annual standard stuffers that I have carried into my house- new toothbrush, toothpaste, ski socks, tights, and undies. The essentials but always nice to have some fresh picks! if we were going on vacation that year we’d also get something relative i.e.: hand warmers, sunglasses, winter gloves, etc. these were items that they were going to be purchased anyways so it was a win-win! I never minded it as a kid and it became to content expectation.

  6. I love the coupon book and it will force me to be fully present with my son more often.

  7. These are great ideas for very useful gifts for children, but I wouldn’t classify them as stocking stuffers, unless you spend hundreds of dollars on a stocking alone. Love the ideas, just not the title of article.

    1. Hi Dee, thanks for sharing your perspective. :) I’m definitely not suggesting you get the same quantity of stocking stuffers with this approach, but rather that it can be powerful to make the shift to quality over quantity in the stocking department (in addition to the shift many families have made to quality over quantity in gifts for under the tree). The idea is that instead of spending $20-30 to fill a stocking with a bunch of small trinkets, you can spend the same amount to get one or two meaningful stocking stuffers that kids will appreciate more than a bunch of random plasticky stuff that will end up broken, lost, or forgotten. I’ll revisit the post itself and try to clarify there as well.

  8. The most memorable thing in my stocking as a child…my mom hid a bell with painted nail polish glitter on it. Said it was the bell from Rudolph’s collar. So magical!

    1. love this! So cute, I’m definitely doing it

  9. Always a stocking stuffer for my children (in their 40’s now) was a box of Thank You cards to be used after gifts from others were opened.

    1. Thank you notes are a fantastic idea. Thank you for sharing that.

  10. We are celebrating Hanukkah and I’ve been trying to think of not too expensive of presents to give every night that will not be played with 1 day and forgotten. These ideas are perfect and I love how several of them promote family togetherness! If the wearher is nice (I’m in Texas so there’s a decent chance) I may try to talk my husband into a weekend camping trip. Oh and I have 2 girls and 2 boys and they would love almost all of these.

    1. You could also find a set of something and give one piece each night. :)

  11. We always put a certificate for a single movie ticket into each kids’ stocking and then choose a movie as a family to go to before we go back to school. SOMETHING TO LOOK FORWARD TO when the rush of the day wears off a bit. We may put passes to an area ice-skating rink in stockings this year in lieu of movies. FAMILY TOGETHER TIME!
    For our teens, we give them a pair of tickets to a must-see concert or event. That way, we get a one-on-one experience with that young person doing something they’re passionate about and enjoy. It’s an excellent way to connect and learn about what lights their fire. Some of my favorite days (and theirs, too)! Win-win.

  12. I like some of these ideas. We played a lot of games and had a tent rtf. My only concern is the cost of some suggested it’s. E.g. toys for $17! What about a £ 1-2 toy from a charity shop? Just a thought.

  13. We opened presents on Christmas Eve!!!

  14. Dorinda M Rumbold says:

    I do not have children but am an Aunt to many! These ideas were great, thank you.

  15. I love these ideas. We started doing this too. Our boys are 6,4 and 3. They open pajamas and a family game on Christmas Eve every year and we play and eat soup and drink hot chocolate. This year they are getting sleeping bags and a play tent bc one of our family trips is to Colorado this summer. ?? They will get plenty of cars and trucks and toys (which they love) from grandparents so we love giving experiences and things we can enjoy together.

  16. I by my niece bath stuff and other hygiene items in her favorite characters or something that makes her bath change color, etc. A bath bomb with a little toy in the center. She loves her stocking stuffers and wants to bathe this instant!!

  17. ? love it! Thank you for sharing! X

  18. Deborah Bussmann says:

    We started something like this when our boys were young. It was mainly out of necessity. I was completely exhausted from being a mom to small children, having a job and then trying to pull off the whole Santa charade. We have the boys hang their stockings up in their bedroom. They each get one small toy or game and one of their favorite treats. They would have so much fun starting their day playing with each other. It actually bought us an extra 1/2 hour of rest!!

  19. I grew up opening presents on Christmas Eve, and without stockings, they are not part of our traditions (FYI there are at least 2 whole counties in Central Europe where this is totally normal ;) )
    Anyway, now I moved and when trying to merge my family traditions with the new environment for my kids, this is a good inspiration!

  20. My daughter & I still like to write letters to friends, relatives & pen pals! I like adding stamps to her stocking (& mine!) so she can keep on doing it.

    1. What a great idea! I’m adding on to this to include stamps, envelopes, and a booklet of their friends’ and family’s names and addresses!

  21. I grew up with our family opening gifts on Christmas Eve (no stockings) and have always felt that was special. We carried this into our own family, but added stockings on Christmas morning for our children. Now, with our children grown with families of their own, they all come to our home for Christmas Eve supper and gifts. Then the adults all exchange names for stockings, and we then we we meet together at our daughter’s home Christmas Day, we open the stockings. For us as a family, it allowed the gifts to be special Christmas Eve, and the stockings to be special on their on and appreciated the next day.

  22. This was great! Thank you!

  23. I’m German the whole country does Christmas Eve…. ???? We still do it our last move back to the states but it works out well even though we’re grown …we do our family Christmas Eve then my sister can do the in-laws Christmas Day.

  24. We LOVE Sleeping Queens and Sushi Go! Another fun card game is Bold by Uno. Matching but with some risk and we love it!

  25. Andy Jones says:

    A great list and spa days can be for anyone. This holiday season let’s give our kids the gift of not having to conform to gender stereotypes.

  26. One my older son likes is gift cards to his favorite restaurants which means we get to go out as a family and have a meaninful time together. I also save sugary cereal for a treat at Christmas, as well as pop tarts. Movie tickets are great fun… as are tickets to concerts or shows.

  27. We always open presents after The candlelight Christmas Eve service and stockings Christmas morning. I’ve been told it’s a German tradition that Santa Claus comes when you are at church so you better go to midnight mass!

  28. I rarely agree with anyone or anything. I keep most of that to myself. I’m not crabby and negative just have my own ideas and opinions. You’re ideas, suggestions and opinions are thoughtful sensible and kind. Thank you!!

  29. MontessoriCarrie says:

    I always try to include something to encourage outdoor fun – warm socks, pocket microscope, magnifying glass, Go Find It cards, flashlight, etc. For a splurge – binoculars or headlamp. I love your idea of hand warmers and nature scavenger hunt! I also try to include something for art – washi tape, kwik paint markets, crayon rocks, etc.

  30. Thank you, Kelly!

    Seeds, it’s the best idea this year!

    We love the cupon idea.

    2 years ago you motivated us to place yoga and guitar classes pre-paid checks for the stockings.
    Last year we download the printables but didn’t persevere to use them all.

    This year I’m collecting empty oatmeal containers and clustering all little stuff we are trying to declutter from, which would still be useful for a homeless adult/kid and making “stockings” to give away for folks asking money in the street or outside of some nearby churches.

    Happy Holidays!

  31. I’m so happy that I have subscribed to your site! You. Share well thought out and meaningful ideas. Really appreciate it and I have even clicked on your links so you get the affiliate sales revenue! Keep up the great work!!

  32. Bernadette Kozlowski says:

    Love these ideas, especially the card games and coupon book. The game SET is one of the best games ever! You’re right, it’s all about experiences!

  33. My family traditionally puts fruit at the bottom of your stocking, and my husband’s family traditionally puts the kids’ new tooth brushes for the year (and I like to leave a note from Santa w/ them).That takes up most of the stocking room when you also add a bit of candy.

    My one reservation about some of the gifts you described is that (for young kids), experiences aren’t really “Santa gifts.” I prefer to give a toy that could be from Santa’s workshop with the stocking, and skip on giving them toys as gifts myself. I’m big on clothes, books, activity kits and experiences as regular gifts (and encourage grand parents to do the same).

  34. Elizabeth O says:

    Great ideas! Thank you for sharing. We always struggle with this (especially with 6 kids, 3 boys, 3 girls), I’m always for less stuff. We actually do stockings on St. Nicolas day (Dec. 6th). Christmas eve they get momma made pajama pants and an ornament. Everything else is opened Christmas morning.

  35. I love this post! Thank you for sharing all your great ideas! I am a huge advocate for quality over quantity in stockings. I love the family experience idea. I have 4 girls and 1 boy 8 years and under and are Waldorf homeschoolers. This year we’re including opinel pocket knives, flint/steel fire starters, knitting needles, wool yarn, and a Walkie talkie in each Stocking. My son is getting a quill and ink set. My kids prefer useful/handwork items over cheap trinkets.