Stocking stuffers. They seem deceptively simple.. until you decide that you don’t want to fill the stockings with low-quality junk, you want to fill them with good things that are needed, and you don’t want to spend TOO much money.
Can you even do all three of those things at the same time?
Where do you begin?
I usually start picking up stocking stuffers around or by the beginning of October. (It’s true.) Years ago, stocking stuffers were last on my list and I ended up shopping all at once last minute. I was appalled by the amount of money spent on a minimal amount of stuff for five stockings (and disappointed in the quality of the some of the things I ended up with.)
For the past few years I’ve been getting an earlier start which allows me to spend more time considering options, spread out the spending, and take advantage of sales, etc. Now we have junk-free Christmas stockings we all appreciate.
Keep An Eye Open For Needs
There’s a joke on Facebook about kids running out of toothpaste in December and moms saying something like “wait for Christmas” or “Ok, but that’s going in your Christmas stocking!” It’s funny because it’s kind of true.
All jokes aside, this is exactly the type of thing I’m talking about. Maybe not with toothpaste, but definitely for toothbrushes, hair brushes, combs, ponytail holders and other reusable items that eventually wear out. I often give chapstick in the stockings but my 19 year has at least a dozen tubes of lip balm right now so that’s not something she needs. On the other hand, she DOES need new mascara. =)
Since Saint Nicholas met people’s needs and helped where they needed it, there will be a good amount of these “needs-based” things in their stockings. Chapstick, mascara, nail files, hair brushes, combs, toothbrushes.. these needed things aren’t terribly expensive and they aren’t useless plastic trinkets, either. Check, check, check! All bases covered.
Don’t forget to check for “technology needs” too. Do your kids need new phone charger cords, earbuds, or batteries for their Xbox remote? Done.
Inventory the hobbies and interests.
Another avenue for “needs-based” gifts is giving things your kids need for their various interests and hobbies. Do your kids draw, paint, read, build, hike, camp, fish? What consumable items do they need?
Artists regularly use up their creative media, guitar players regularly need new strings and guitar picks. Fishermen need hunting licensces, lures, and lines. You can choose any hobby or interest and find useful stocking stuffers to include. Most of these are fairly inexpensive, too.
Stocking Stuffers for Their Love Language?
What does love language have to do with stocking stuffers? Everything. Because a child’s love language affects how they feel about any gift you give.
Acts of Service
Someone who has this love language feels loved when you do something to help them and shows love by doing helpful things for you. They like to meet needs and fix things. A kid with this love language might appreciate a pack of rechargable batteries whereas someone else may not. When choosing stocking stuffers for these kids, meet some needs they’ve been asking about recently. When their needs are met well, they feel well loved.
On the other hand, an “acts of service” person will try hard to appreciate an item they don’t need but frivolous trinkets won’t do much to fill their love tank.
Words of Affirmation
Someone with this love language feels loved when you not only encourage and praise them for the things they do, but especially when you validate who they ARE. This child will appreciate gifts that speak to their personality quirks and uniqueness.
These kids will probably also appreciate gifts with words on them (like coffee mugs that say “you are awesome!” for example.) But these are also the people who won’t feel impressed by gifts of unsolicited self-improvement items. Their love tank is filled when they feel loved just as they are.
The love language of physical touch is exactly what it sounds like. Hugs, snuggles, kisses, and cuddles don’t fit in stockings though. Or do they? One way to speak to their love language could be “hug” and “snuggle” coupons, and that sort of thing. (And those are free!)
Additionally, someone with the physical touch love language will probably enjoy things they can touch and feel (like a soft scarf or scented hand lotion.) I personally think my physical touch family members also enjoy tasty faves for their bellies — favorite snacks and such. I don’t have any proof to back this up, but I’m pretty sure it’s true!
Quality time might seem like the hardest love language to meet with a stocking stuffer, but it’s not. The most obvious solution would be a coupon for a night out, a movie to watch together, or a game to play together. Giving a gift that you have to build or make together is a great way to make them feel loved.
A person who speaks the love language of quality time usually has favorite ways to spend their time with others and favorite ways to spend their time alone. So, while looking for stocking stuffers that meet their quality “together time” needs, you can also add stocking stuffers that meet their “alone time” needs.
Last but not least, the love language of gifts is the most deceptive of all. You may be tempted to think that a person who speaks the love langugage of gifts will be happy with whatever they receive because they’re ALL gifts! A “gifts” love person may actually be harder to satisfy than your others — and not because they are shallow or ungrateful.
A person with this love language puts a lot of thought and effort into gift-giving. They take the time to consider your needs, wants, hobbies, interests, and desires. They spend time on wrapping and presentation, too. When you do the same for them, a well chosen gift speaks volumes to their heart, making them feel worth the time and effort. On the otherhand, a poorly suited gift, a prepackaged “gift set” type gift, can have the opposite effect.
Add Some Fun
Adding fun things are easy. Your kids probably have something they collect or some favorite books, movies, and tv shows. After you’ve collected a variety of items that your kids both need and want, it’s time to add a little flair.
What does your kid enjoy? Dinosaurs? Princesses? Star Wars? Unicorns? Everyone has their “thing.” You know your kids “thing,” (or more likely, “THINGS,”) so add that in, too.
Stickers, keychains, squishy stress relievers, small toys.. little items your kids might use with their favorite characters on them are good fillers.
The End Results
So where are we now? Let’s look at the big picture:
- toothbrushes or new toothbrush heads if they use something like Sonicare
- hairbrushes, combs, headbands, scrunchies, clips, bobby pins
- beanie/toboggan hats, gloves, scarves, jewelry, watches
- nail polish, makeup items, makeup brushes, foundation sponges, lip balm, hand lotion
- razors, shaving cream, body lotion, beard care, mustache wax
- power cords, usb plugs, portable chargers, rechargable batteries, memory cards, earbuds, pop sockets
- drawing pencils, fine pens, erasers, blending sticks, pencil sharpener, pocket sketchbooks
- bookmarks, pocket journals, pretty colored pens, highlighters, decorative notepads, small books
- flashlights, thermal socks, MREs, pocket knives, other hunting/fishing/hiking/camping accessories
- guitar picks, strings, tuner, strap
- beef jerky, gum, mints, chocolates, cookies
- key chains, stickers/laptop stickers, cards, small toys, and other “character” items.
Pulling a bunch of these ideas together, everyone in your family will have a treasure trove of stocking stuffers they can appreciate and enjoy – with no money or time wasted on cheap fillers.
Stocking Stuffers: A Favorite Tradition
If you haven’t figured it out by now, I’m definitely a gift-giver! If you didn’t notice, that’s okay, because I didn’t even realize it was such a big love language of mine until recently. I really enjoy spending a lot of thought and effort on choosing gifts my loved ones will appreciate. Likewise, for me, it’s not the cost value of a gift I receive that makes it valuable to me, but the time and effort put into a well-chosen gift that makes it special and makes me feel loved.
I truly don’t think this only applies to “gifts” people though. Really. I think everyone appreciates a thoughtful and well-chosen gift. For some, the smallest gift can bring the brightest smile. And maybe for some of your loved-ones the perfect gift is a gift card or a small non-showy gift, and that’s ok. =)
In the end, our Christmas stockings have become one of our favorite traditions. I’ve come to really enjoy shopping for it, and the kids have come to really enjoy opening them on Christmas mornings. What began, for us at least, as a last minute and frivolous tradition has become a meaningful and loved tradition.
If you haven’t already, read yesterday’s post about the history of the stockings and the evolution of our tradition.