How to Stuff the Stockings: Tweens, Teens, & Young Adults
Let’s talk stocking stuffers. My kids have told me more than once in the last several years that stockings are probably their favorite part of Christmas morning festivities. They always seem amazed at the amount of stuff I can fit in there! (Just to clarify…I have one teenage child and two young adult children. They still get stocking stuffers, but I’ve also been known to gift a completely filled stocking to an adult friend or family member!)
I have a budget for Christmas, but it’s not super strict (although that’s probably not a recommended way to budget). What I spend depends on how much we have that year. The same goes for gifts. I decide on the total amount that I want to spend—gifts and stockings both come out of that amount.
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Tips for Saving Money
- Use apps like Ibotta and Checkout 51 to get cashback for your purchases.
- If you shop at Kroger, get the Friday Freebie…sometimes they have gum, candy, or personal items that make great stocking stuffers! Other stores offer freebies and discount products that can be used as stocking stuffers as well. For instance, I’ve heard that Target’s Circle app (formerly known as Cartwheel) is great for that too, but I don’t have a Target nearby. Bummer.
- When shopping online, use cashback sites. Rakuten, Swagbucks, and TopCashBack are my favorites. I try to check them all before I shop and use the one that offers the most money back that day.
What To Include
What I put into the stockings varies from year to year. Sometimes there are toys, sometimes gift cards. One year I bought my husband a mini Big Wheel—it brought back a lot of memories for him! (Raise your hand if you had a Big Wheel growing up. Apparently, my husband’s favorite thing to do was to put his little brother on it and shove him down the hill!! I just rode mine up and down the driveway like a normal person.)
I do have certain things that I try to include as stocking stuffers every year. Repeat items are:
Socks and underwear can sometimes be tricky. Even if you buy them in bulk packs, they aren’t cheap. That can eat up a lot of your budget. They also take up a lot of space in your stockings!
When my boys were small, I could buy one pack of socks and split it. That didn’t last long, so now I recommend if you are buying a whole pack of socks or underwear to wrap it up and give it to them as one of their gifts! Otherwise, take them out of the package, roll them as tightly as possible, and stuff them down at the very bottom of the stocking. Usually, when I buy socks now they are novelty socks with something funny on them—same with the underwear.
I like putting toothbrushes, toothpaste, and other toiletry items in their stockings because those are things they need throughout the year anyway and they can be money suckers! Buy the boxed sets when they are on sale before Christmas and take them out of the box. I have put sample size and full-size products in the stockings before. It just depends on how much room you have. Tip: The Dopp kits with travel size products are fabulous for stocking stuffers. I usually take the products out and try to fold or flatten the kit bag so that it will fit too. If not, leave it all in the bag and just put it on the very top!
I always include stick candy (I usually get it Cracker Barrell) or gum. Tip: Buy gum in the multi-packs and split them. I do stockings for three kids and my husband, so a four-pack works great. If it’s got six, my kids get two each and I don’t give the Super Trooper any. He’d rather have mints anyway.
Speaking of husbands, mine fills my stocking every year. Some years he is great and some years he completely forgets. (He is that guy you see in Walmart before closing on Christmas Eve or at the gas station buying an armload of candy and lottery tickets.) I have learned to put a couple of things in his stocking that I wouldn’t mind having myself because he has raided it to fill mine more than once!!
Yes, that’s right. He takes things out of his stocking to put in mine so that he won’t look like he completely forgot to get me anything. More than once I have gotten up on Christmas morning to pull candy and ink pens out of my stockings, knowing good and well I put them in his before I went to bed! It has become a little bit of a joke. So go ahead and put something in there you know you like—chocolate, mints, pretty ink pens, a kitchen gadget. Chances are, you’re gonna get it back!!
Beyond the Basics
Once you get your basics in there, what else are you going to give?
Honestly, the list is endless. The only thing that truly limits you when stuffing a stocking is the size of the stocking. Sometimes you have to get really creative. Sometimes you have to use brute strength!! There’s been a couple of times that the kids just about couldn’t get the stuff out because I had squeezed it so tight together.
Tip: My rule of thumb is to look for things that are mini (because who doesn’t love miniature-sized versions of anything??) and to break sets apart so that they fit better! Sometimes you can use a set to help fill multiple stockings. Win-win!!
Just in case you still need some help filling those stockings, here are a few ideas!
- Toys that remind them of their childhood(I have two adult children and one teenager. They still think it’s fun to get toys!)
- Handheld video or board games (think cheap)
- Deck of cards
- Cell Phone Karaoke microphone
- Mylar blanket
- Survival Kit
- Insect repellant
- Fishing lures
- Protective glasses/goggles
- Rolled up coins
- Miniature piggy bank with a few coins inside
- Gift cards
- Small book
- CD (lol…I still buy these for my car, but a lot of kids seem to be clueless about them. Definitely an age range for this gift!)
- Flash drive/memory stick
- Small external hard drive
- Car charger or adapter (to play music) for phone
- Wall charger
- Pop sockets
- Key chains
- Worry Stone or Cross
- Sports bottle
- Guitar picks, strings, drumsticks, electronic tuner, pick maker
- A note telling them why you love them or describing a specific Christmas memory
- Pens and/or pencils (with designs, special colors, etc.)
- Glue sticks
- Mini stapler
- Hole punch
- Mini notebooks
- Pocket calendar
- Paint pens
- Colored pencils
- Mini easel/canvas
- Mini cross-stitch kits
- Mini coloring books
- Sewing kit
- Any kind of small craft kit that looks fun
- Scrapbooking supplies
- Hairstyling products
- Hair clips, bobby pins, ponytail holders, scrunchies
- Novelty hair items like chalk and spray glitter
- Body wash/soap
- Loofahs and sponges
- Manicure kit
- Nail files/buffers with a cute design
- Bubble bath
- Bath bombs
- Makeup brushes
Kitchen Supplies (My kids like to cook!):
- Travel cup
- Mini cookbook
- Corn holders
- Measuring spoons/cups
- Turkey baster
- Bottle opener
- Spices/Seasoning Mixes
- Snack cakes and donuts (individual size)
- Cheese crackers/Peanut butter crackers
- Mini bags of chips, nuts, trail mix, or other snacks
- Movie theater boxes of candy
- Popcorn or seasoning
- Peppermint sticks
- Candy bars
- Mints and hard candy
- Giant lollipops or favorite flavors of suckers
- Any favorite food that you can think of
- Drink mixes
Tips & Tricks
- If I could only give you one tip for stocking stuffing, it’s to do a lot of your shopping at the Dollar Tree (or any place that offers items for a dollar or less)!! They offer a huge variety of products and you can easily fill an entire stocking for $10 or less if you put some thought into it.
- I also do quite a bit of shopping at Dollar General—look for clearance and hit up the candy aisle!
- Always break down sets. Whether you intend to divide them up or give them all to one person, it’s easier to fill the stocking if you aren’t trying to shove a full box or bag in there.
- Miniature sizes of just about anything will work for a stocking stuffer.
- Other than food items, stocking stuffers can be purchased year-round and stored for later use. Look for sales and specials—always check the clearance aisle—and anything that makes for a fun, interesting, and inexpensive gift.
- Keep the items for each stocking separate. I have a box that I keep for gifts and as I buy stocking stuffers, I divide them up into individual bags for each person. It’s so much easier than waiting until Christmas Eve and trying to divvy it all up!
- Do a stuffing trial run: Wait until the kiddies aren’t around (or are asleep) and see how much of that stuff will actually fit or if you need more (occasionally it happens).
- Have one item in the stocking that is special. It could be a toy or something that evokes a memory for the person receiving it, a gift card, or even something homemade. (Homemade things are my favorite!!) Just make it special.
I have filled stockings with fruit, nuts, underwear, and not much else. I have filled them with toys, candy, and items so random I’m not even sure why I bought them in the first place. Every year, my kids get excited about stockings. And every year they ask me how I got it all in there!!
Filling a stocking is just like giving a gift—it’s meant to be a special treat. Most of all, it should come from the heart. How are you filling Christmas stockings this year?