That is such a great question that all parents are thinking about at this time of year!
Getting treats in Christmas stockings is a holiday experience I enjoyed as a kid, a mom and now as a grandma!
My kids loved the surprises they found in their stockings each year as much as I loved (uh…Santa loved) filling them. Their stockings always had a few candy treats but were mostly filled with other goodies they could have fun with for a bit longer than candy.
While no one wants to be a Scrooge and eliminate all candy from the holidays, certainly stockings don’t need to be filled with every type of candy ever made to show our love! Lest we forget that the kids just had a bag full of candy at Halloween!
Some of my family stocking favorites are things I got in my stocking too when I was growing up so I have continued the tradition with my own kids.
Traditional goodies that are still standbys ~
- oranges – In my childhood, tangerines were a rare treat so getting one in the toe of our stockings was something to cheer about! Now, tangerines are not as rare but still a fun addition to the stocking because they are easy for most kids to peel themselves.
- nuts in the shell – getting walnuts, pecans or even other more exotic nuts in our stockings were the gift that kept on giving because we had a lot of fun trying to get the nut meat out of the shell and then deciding if we should eat up the nuts or save them to add to something else like our oatmeal.
- pretzel rods – growing up we used to get the big pretzel rods out of the jar at the store. Getting this wrapped up in our stockings was fun since it brought back many memories. Now we can decorate the pretzels for more fun!
- gum balls – the big ones that we were never allowed to get but saw in the machine and dreamed about, the kind of gum you chewed and saved to chew the next day too saving it overnight!
Did you notice a theme here? We would get things in our stockings that we didn’t get often even though we begged for them. Sometimes not getting something whenever we wanted it, made it more special when we did get it especially on Christmas morning.
Non-candy stocking stuffers ~
Many stocking stuffers are items that I would pick up all throughout the year knowing that they would go into the stocking. It might be something my child would ask for but not get at that time and I would sneak it home. They should be small enough to make it into the stockings. Naturally, these items need to be age appropriate for safety.
- colorful pens, crayons or markers (scented for more fun)
- small memo style notebooks to store their secrets
- rings or other play jewelry or kits to make their own
- fun shaped balloons
- art supplies like sun catchers
- word game books – pocket size are fun
- funny socks
- mini-games like checkers (we loved things they could use in the car for longer rides)
- stickers (to use in their notebooks)
- temporary tattoos
- colorful hair bows and doodads
- nail polish and decals
- small cars like hot wheels
- card games like Old Maid and Go Fish
- funny shaped straws
This list is of course only the beginning but try to find things that are colorful, unusual and fun to play with others. I always wrapped each item in gift wrap so they got to enjoy the unwrapping and the surprise a bit longer!
Filling a stocking doesn’t have to be about candy but sharing the fun and even traditions! Enjoy!