Fun, Affordable Stocking Stuffers for Kids

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Delight your kids this Christmas with these stocking stuffers. There’s something for every budget and every age.

For parents, stocking stuffers make Christmas morning less hectic. With the kids diving into them, you’ve got time to brush your teeth and make coffee. That’s super helpful if you spent Christmas Eve wrapping gifts and sipping spiked egg nog. If your kids are old enough, you can even let them get into their stockings as soon as they wake up. With any luck, you might get another half-hour of sleep.

Kids Christmas stockings hanging over a wood-burning fireplace in a farmhouse-style living room

What Are Stocking Stuffers?

Christmas stockings date back to the time of St. Nicholas himself. The story goes that he heard of a family in need but knew they wouldn’t accept charity. So, he threw bags of gold through an open window, and one landed in a stocking hung up to dry before the fire. Since then, kids have been hanging stockings or putting out shoes for St. Nicholas to fill.

Not all families bother with them, though. Many (many, many) years ago, my childhood best friend’s family didn’t. I always felt terrible for her, because all she got were presents under the tree. I got those, and a stocking — and the stocking stuffers were usually my favorite gifts. Good things come in small packages if you ask 5’1″ me.

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When Do Kids Open Their Christmas Stockings?

Some families open stockings and all their gifts on Christmas Eve. Other families do presents on Christmas Eve and stockings the next morning. In my family, we do it all Christmas Morning. (Though one year, I let my oldest child open one gift Christmas Eve to get her to go to bed on time. Of course, she announced the following year that it was a new tradition. We’ve been doing it that way for almost thirty years now.)

Do You Wrap Stocking Stuffers?

Stocking stuffers aren’t usually gift-wrapped — except on television or Instagram. Most people save the gift-wrapping effort for presents that go under the tree. You don’t need to worry about unwrapped stocking stuffers spoiling the surprise, though. Just leave the stockings empty until your kids go to bed. Then comes the fun of filling them.

My family likes to be strategic about filling Christmas stockings. We tuck the best stocking stuffer at the bottom, ideally in the stocking’s toe if it will fit. Then other small items go on top, with cute things like candy canes and the traditional Christmas orange peeking out at the top.

How Much To Spend on Stocking Stuffers?

How much you should spend buying stocking stuffers for a child is, of course, a personal decision. I know some families who limit the total value of stocking stuffers to $25. Others, like mine, often go big on stocking stuffers but spend far less than most on gifts under the tree.

So, the list of stocking stuffer ideas for kids below includes all sorts of price ranges. Some don’t even cost any money at all. Read on for great ideas for things to put in kids’ stockings, then have yourself a Merry Little Christmas and a Happy New Year, too.

Stocking Stuffer Ideas for Kids

1. Glow Sticks. For fun in the dark or a colorful way to read in bed, glow sticks are always winners with kids. This inexpensive set can work as stocking stuffers for several kids, or you can make one kid very happy for weeks.

2. Puzzle Books. Kids of all ages enjoy puzzles. They don’t even have to know that solving them boosts brain skills like logic and reasoning. Plus, they’re a great way to keep them entertained while you nap after eating the Christmas turkey.

3. Silly Putty. This old-school toy is still fun to stretch, roll, and bounce. Remember making transfers from the comic pages by pressing Silly Putty on them? This stocking stuffer would go well with a comic book, too.

4. Ring Pops. Who doesn’t love candy? Ring Pops let you wear your sweets. If you have furry pets, it’s good to know you can rinse the hair off of the ring pops quickly.

5. Bathtub Finger paint. If your kids balk at taking baths, that will stop (at least for a while) if you add these non-toxic, fun finger paints as a Christmas stocking stuffer. When they’ve decorated the tub walls and themselves, it rinses away without leaving stains.

6. Paw Patrol Finger Puppets. There’s no denying the popularity of Paw Patrol right now. Kids who get these fun finger puppets as stocking stuffers will have a blast putting on shows for the whole family. They’re a great way to keep kids occupied on car rides, too.

7. Harry Potter Golden Snitch. Even Muggles will enjoy this shiny keychain toy. It’s just like the one Harry captures to win the Quidditch game for Griffindor. This stocking stuffer is best for kids age 7 and up.

8. Sour Gummy Candy. For some reason, kids go crazy for sour candy. Even kids who don’t like bugs or worms will love finding these wiggly, jiggly sour worms among their Christmas stocking stuffers.

9. Paper Airplane Set. Another old-school toy, but this one’s reimagined. It comes with everything your child needs to make and decorate 20 different paper airplanes. Launched indoors or out, they’ll have a blast watching their creations swoop and dive.

10. Bananagrams for Kids. Stocking stuffers can be fun for kids and educational, too. This set is designed for young readers and uses color-coded lower-case letters to help them develop reading and language skills. It follows a reading curriculum, also, so your child will have fun learning.

11. Minecraft Mad Libs. If you have a Minecraft fan in the family, this Christmas stocking stuffer will go over big time. They don’t even need to know they’re learning to recognize parts of speech — they’ll just have fun coming up with crazy short stories.

12. MagMen Flexible Magnet Toy. A set of these colorful, flexible magnets can keep a child entertained for hours. They’ll look all over the house for places to stick their MagMen. Bend them, twist them, put several together — they’re fun to play with and useful as refrigerator magnets, too.

13. “Would You Rather — Ewww Edition.” Caution: this Christmas stocking stuffer might give your kids ideas about ways to gross you out. Filled with thought-provoking questions like “would you rather have foot-long fingernails or toenails,” they’ll giggle all day long.

14. “Smack It” card game. A cross between Slap Jack and War, this is a fast-paced, short card game for 2-7 players age six and up. Each round takes only a few minutes, so it’s a fun family game to play that’s still short enough to be entertaining.

15. Fart Whistle. Like it or not, kids think farts are funny. They love to play practical jokes, too. You’ll score lots of “cool points” for this Christmas stocking stuffer.

16. Flying Screaming Monkey. I love this thing, and I haven’t been a kid for many, many years. You pull back on the monkey and let go. It’ll fly up to 50 feet, screaming and chattering the entire way. It cracks me up every time, and my son loves it, too. So, I couldn’t leave it off of this list of Christmas stocking stuffers!

17. Spy Pen set. If you have several kids, they’ll enjoy writing and revealing secret messages with these stocking stuffers. Each inexpensive set contains 12 pens, so there are plenty to go around.

18. Temporary Tattoos. This inexpensive, massive set contains two each of 50 different designs — enough stocking stuffers for many kids. They’re waterproof but easily removed with olive oil and a rag.

19. A Pooping Reindeer. Remember finding PEZ candy dispensers stuffed in your Christmas stocking as a kid? This is kind of like them…except the candy is brown, and it comes out the other end of the Reindeer. Your kid will think it’s hilarious.

20. UNO: Minecraft Edition. It’s like regular UNO with a twist. Playing the Creeper card means other players have to draw three more from the pile.

21. A bag of Zombie Farts. Relax, this one doesn’t smell bad. It’s just cotton candy in a funny bag. Not into Zombies? Stuff a bag of Dog Farts or Cat Farts into your kids’ Christmas stocking instead.

22. Wilderness Animal Tube. Children who love animals will love finding this set in their stocking. It contains twelve easily-cleaned hand-painted animals that are bath-safe, too.

23. Crazy Straws. This inexpensive set contains twelve squiggly straws. If you have several kids, or some favorite nieces and nephews, one package can stuff several stockings.

24. Gazillion Bubbles. This liter bottle contains a solution and wand that makes clouds of long-lasting bubbles. Kids will have fun filling the yard with gazillions of bubbles that don’t pop the instant they touch the grass. And, if it’s cold where you are, they’ll love watching ice crystals spread on those bubbles, too.

25. Money or Gift Cards. Unlike some adults, kids don’t think cash or gift card Christmas stocking stuffers are lazy. They love the power of picking out what they want and buying it with someone else’s money. (Really, who can blame them?) And, hey, you can always put cash or a gift card into a brainteaser puzzle box they have to figure out how to open.

Coupons to Stuff in Kids’ Stockings

Sticking to a budget doesn’t mean you’ve got to scrimp on stocking stuffers for your kids. They’ve probably given you “coupons” for things like free hugs on your birthday. Why not give them coupons they’ll enjoy using, too? Here are some ideas to get you started:

  1. Coupon for the Bigger Piece. Younger siblings will love using this one to score the bigger piece of cake, slice of pizza, or half of the cookie.
  2. Coupon to Get Out of One Chore. Relax, your child will probably redeem this coupon stocking stuffer the same day they get it.
  3. Coupon to Pick the Family’s Pizza Topping. Just make sure they know they have to eat it, too, or they’ll choose something like anchovies.
  4. Coupon to Stay Up 30 Minutes Late. If you want to limit it to weekends only, be sure to note that.
  5. Coupon for Breakfast (or Dinner) in Bed. You don’t have to serve anything messy if you don’t feel like washing sheets.
  6. Coupon for 30 Minutes Extra Screen Time. Again, you can exclude schooldays or add other terms and conditions.
  7. Coupon to Pick the Family Movie. Yes, you’ve seen Frozen a bajillion times. Chances are, you’ll be watching it again.
  8. Coupon for a Second Helping of Dessert. Honestly, I’d be happy to find this stuffed in my Christmas stocking, too!
  9. Coupon for A Week of Double Allowance. If your child receives a chore-based allowance, be prepared for them to be extra helpful all week long.
  10. Coupon to Skip Eating Vegetables at Dinner. Another stocking stuffer that’ll probably get redeemed before Christmas break is over.

Just remember, only give coupons you’re willing to honor. Oh, and be sure they hand you the voucher to redeem it, or your child will try skipping vegetables every time you serve something they don’t like.

Other Inexpensive Ways to Stuff Kids’ Stockings

A great way to make sure your child’s Christmas stocking is well-stuffed is by combining two or three small gifts, a couple of fun coupons, and another inexpensive item or two. Below are some things I’ve used as fillers in kids’ Christmas stockings over the years. You can make some for next-to-nothing or pick up others at the dollar store.

  1. A homemade batch of their favorite cookie. What kid wouldn’t love getting an entire batch of cookies all to themselves?
  2. Travel-sized toiletry items. Tweens especially like trying new shampoos and body lotions or sprays. You can often find them in the $1 bin at the store.
  3. A new toothbrush. This is a tradition in many families because Santa cares about dental health.
  4. Combs or hairbrushes. Fun hair accessories, in general, make great stocking stuffers for kids.
  5. A handmade, personalized Christmas ornament. All you need is an ornament, a Sharpie, and some craft supplies.
  6. Free coloring pages printed from the internet. Crayola has a big page of them, as do many other sites.
  7. Candy Canes. Yep, more candy. Maybe that’s the real reason for #3?
  8. New winter gloves. If your kids are anything like mine, they’ll have lost at least one pair of gloves by Christmas.
  9. An orange. Yes, really! Oranges represent those golden coins thrown by St. Nicholas that started the tradition of stuffing Christmas stockings for kids in the first place.

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2 Comments

  1. Kami Windisch says:

    Great ideas! I always struggle to think of stocking stuffers. Thanks!

    1. Katie Berry says:

      You’re welcome!

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