How to have the best stocking stuffer experience at Christmas!

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One of my favorite parts of the Christmas holiday is giving and receiving stocking stuffers. There are many traditions that surround the stocking. Some receive stockings on Christmas Eve, some on Christmas morning. Some give trinkets and inexpensive gifts, some wrap each gift inside, and some fill Christmas stockings with an array of different kinds of gifts. This guide will give you some great ideas for an all around fun, exciting and well-rounded stocking stuffer experience.

When giving a stocking, size matters! I like to go just a little larger than the traditional sized stocking shown above. With a larger stocking, you can fit lots of stuff in there…there’s just enough room to get everything in that you couldn’t resist buying. Plus, you can fit that last minute orange, apple, or cool fruit, and stick in some candy canes, and not have too many presents spilling out over the top.  Don’t get one that’s too small, because you’ll most certainly have more stocking stuffers than stocking.

Fill the stocking with a great selection of gifts.  You’ll want to include items from each of these categories:  standard, traditional stocking stuffers, food items, fun, personal creations and GREAT, but more expensive, items!

Standard/Traditional stocking stuffers:
Standard or traditional stocking stuffers are items such as toothbrushes, trial-sized toiletries, pens, pencils, batteries, and small notebooks.It’s always nice to get weird and funky items, too, like strange colored pens, or a funky flavor of toothpaste. For the kids, you could include fun animal print gloves, trial size shampoo, cutesie hair accessories, or fun party favors. 

Food/Candy:
You should include a piece of fruit, such as an apple.  For more variety, you could select an exotic fruit like a star fruit or something neat that’s in season.  Favorite candy like chocolate or fruit candy is fun.  You can usually find something interesting and different at the checkout aisle of your local department or grocery store.  Candy canes and chocolate Santas are more customary, while single-serve gourmet coffee, banana chips, or jams, jellies and trial mix can be something unique. 

Fun:
Stocking stuffers are fun, but everyone knows that getting deoderant and apples on Christmas are not as exciting as, oh, say, a diamond ring. I always like to include a few items that aren’t ‘necessarily’ more expensive, but more of a surprise. Here are some ideas: calling card, gift card, small plush animal (maybe a Ganz plush Webkinz), wristwatch, postage stamps, stickers, makeup, lotto tickets, jewelry, cologne, art supplies, craft supplies, a small bottle of liquor, a small toolset, a CD, DVD, or a roll of quarters.

Dollar Store:
So many different types of items can be found at dollar stores. For $1 each, you can go crazy! Here are some ideas for items that can be found at your local dollar store:  costume jewelry, knick-knacks, fun-shaped soaps, markers, crayons, keychains, magnets, novelties, fun socks, incense, candle holders, figurines and bubble bath.

Personal Creations:
There are many items you could make or create yourself. Here are a few ideas:  handmade notes, coupons, homemade cookies, brownies, Christmas ornaments, or hand-knit mittens, scarf or hat. 

GREAT, more expensive items:
Finally, I always like to include a couple of gifts that are ‘tree’ worthy, but perhaps too small to go under the tree. These types of gifts generally give a big suprise, since no one’s expecting them to be in the stocking. These items would definately be ones you’ll want to wrap, if you opt not to wrap all stocking stuffers. Here are some ideas:  cell phone, diamond earrings or ring, digital camera, GPS Navigation, or keys to the new Benz.

To Wrap or Not To Wrap:
For me, it’s almost as fun to wrap other people’s stocking stuffers as it is for me to open mine. I choose to wrap most, if not all, of the stuffers inside. This way, it’s just that much more exciting to see what’s inside. It makes the mundane ‘standard’ stocking stuffers seem more fun, and if done correctly, things like nail polish, or toothbrushes, that would be easily guessed, are concealed and oh so much fun to discover.
a. Use up little bits of leftover wrapping paper.
b. Find odd items to use for wrapping; toilet paper rolls, small boxes, pieces of cardboard.
c. Get creative! Find ways to make it less possible to guess the contents of each package. Wrap items within items, roll items together, or scrunch up balls of paper to stuff in holes.

Finally, decide ahead of time whether it will be customary for your family to open the stocking stuffers on Christmas eve or Christmas morning.  For me, Christmas morning is a special time beginning with opening stocking stuffers first thing.  Following the opening of stockings, we have a little Christmas breakfast, and then get to the good stuff under the tree.

Remember, the holidays are a time for family and fun.  Put aside any ill feelings, especially if children are involved.  Christmastime can be, and is meant to be, spirit-filled, joyful and full of cheer.  Enjoy your holidays!

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