Do You Have a Christmas Stocking Tradition?

Updated on November 26, 2013
T.T. asks from Baltimore, MD
33 answers

We've never really done the Christmas stocking thing with our kids. Up until last year, they were too little to know or care, plus we always had Christmas at my parents' house, so we just went with whatever it was they were doing. Stocking-wise, this was nothing.

Last year was the first time we had Christmas at our house, but it's likely that we will continue to host Christmas for the foreseeable future. Last year was also the first year that my son really understood that most of his friends get gifts in their stockings. He was peeved he didn't get anything in his (we just put them up for decoration). However, my kids get PLENTY of presents, so I don't love the idea of giving them even more stuff just because everyone else is getting something. I'd love to make whatever we do as far as stocking stuffers something meaningful that adds to our family traditions, something we can keep going year after year, rather than just another gift grab. I wonder if anyone has any family stocking traditions they would like to share to give me ideas?

I have friends whose kids always get a Christmas book or PJs or socks (none of those are ideal for us). I've heard of people doing oranges or chocolate coins. I'd love to hear other ideas and the meanings (if any) behind them.

Thanks so much!

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So What Happened?

Donna S., what point are you trying to make exactly?

Tara H., I didn't like it either. It WAS a teachable moment - I certainly didn't retroactively gift him with a stocking stuffer at the time. That's why I want to make the stocking thing a little more meaningful than just a reason for them to get more random stuff.

Thanks to everyone for their advice. Tori H., if you saw my home, you would understand why we don't need any more books or socks. But I am finding lots of great ideas. Keep 'em coming! Thanks again!

Featured Answers

F.W.

answers from Danville on

With my kiddos (now 17 to 24) I always put some candy in the stockings...and a new toothbrush as well! Then some silly things that they can relate to (like the 'character' PEZ dispensers) and maybe some new slipper/socks.

The dogs get new raw hides...and maybe a toy or two with an x mas theme...and the cats get some random toys as well.

best

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J.G.

answers from Chicago on

I put ornaments, little toys, etc in stockings.this year my oldest will have a stuffed my little pony hanging out of it, and my son will have a pack of super heros.

I love stockings. I did as a kid too, and my mom stopped giving us stockings recently, and I was upset. I like getting socks and small gadgets and things.

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M.F.

answers from Houston on

I love stockings! We didn't get them as kids and I wish we would have. This year the kiddos will get a spin brush, some chocolate coins, a Tervis tumbler that's all I have so far. My 2 year old loves bandaids and gum. My son likes hot wheels cars. I will put treats in there they normally don't get. For my husband I like to put special kinds of chocolates, and mini sausages, condiments. I get all his stuff from world market.
Forgot to add the dogs have stockings too and they get new bones and treats in theirs.

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L.A.

answers from Austin on

The stockings are very much as the moms said below..
Filled with holiday themed book, socks, tiny bit of candy,
All through the year, when I came across a funny wind up toy, or hair accessory.. I REALLY tried to not make it junk, but fun versions of things she would use.

My husband and I also exchange stockings so All year I would find things for him. Of course when our child was young, I had to be careful that she was not aware of his stocking gifts while shopping, she was way too observant.

And of course the cat, was given treats, special can of cat food.. maybe a new collar or a holiday collar.. She liked the boxes and tissue paper the best anyway.

Pocket knife, a tool, Dress socks, Lugag4e tag, Beef Jerky, Gift card to a local coffee shop.. Super dark chocolate, new wallet.. Hot sauce... Back in the day rolls of film. Things I knew he needed but refused to purchase for himself.

We have a friend who was the son of a Doctor. There were 3 boys and early on, their dad was on call the week of Christmas so more years than not, dad was at the hospital.

The kids and their mother would take a meal up to dad and then they would go to the pharmacy next to the Hospital. Each child was given a $10. dollars and they would purchase stocking staffers for each other.

He said it was amazing and hilarious what they might end up purchasing for each other. Especially since they were 3 young boys allowed to choose whatever they thought was a good gift.

Even in college this friend said they still went to local Pharmacy in their neighborhood as a family to continue this tradition.

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D..

answers from Miami on

Yes, oranges and chocolate coins are great! My kids love that. It's kind of easy to find them during the holiday season because they're popular for Hanukkah.

I do put small gifts in the stocking, especially something so small that it would get lost under the tree. We also put nuts in the stockings and a little candy. We open stockings first.

I have a big bowl and the family puts all the nuts and fruit in the bowl. (Not the coins - no one will part with their coins for the common bowl!!) I put a nut cracker in there and we eat for a week!

We also used to put out cookies and milk for Santa, and carrots for Ruldolph on a plate before the kids went to bed. In the morning, they were so excited because Santa had eaten the cookie (and left crumbs) and had drunk most of the milk. AND, the carrot looked "munched on" by reindeer teeth! LOL!

I always start the morning with something to eat - not a big breakfast, but not cereal either. A German stollen, if you can find a good one, is lovely. If you can find a special food that you ONLY serve at Christmas, the kids have great memories of that growing up. Then we go to the tree, and I read the Christmas story from the Bible - I particularly like the one from the book of Luke, chapter two, verses 1 through 20.

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C.T.

answers from Santa Fe on

Yes, we do stockings with our kids. My mom still will do a stocking for my brother and I if we are at her house...she loves doing stockings! We always put in candy coins at the bottom. And we always put in a new toothbrush. Then some candies and other small useful things. Barrettes, cute patterned socks, new watercolors, a small toy. Maybe something cute sticking out like a book or small stuffed animal. And a candy cane hooked over the top. One year my brother was extra bad so my mom put actual coal in the bottom of his stocking! He was shocked! We still get a good laugh over that. Our tradition is the kids can get up as early as they want and can open their stockings before mom and dad are up. That way they get this fun time of being up before the grownups and they love opening their tiny gifts (each one is wrapped in white tissue paper) and eating candy. It's a treat.

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T.H.

answers from Kansas City on

I must admit, I find it kind of odd that you say books and socks aren't ideal for you. They are low in cost and useful, which is what it sounds like you were aiming for in terms of stocking stuffers.

You could put one of the smaller items that maybe your kids wanted from Santa inside the stocking, like a watch, headphones, etc. so that it's special and not just junk, and because it's small it's more of a wow/exciting factor inside the stocking as opposed to opening it with the other presents.

I would try to incorporate things you were already planning on buying or things they need to put in the stocking so that you aren't adding more presents. I agree with you that I don't want to just fill my kids with a bunch of junk just for the sake of filling it.

Our traditions are pretty similar to the ones below. I usually do a book and sometimes socks or underwear. My kids really want a battery powered toothbrush, so I'm going to do one of those for each of them. I also picked out a DVD that they wanted and am going to add that to it. I might do hair bows or a ball or Matchbox cars. Other than that, I always add a little fun/funky candy that they wouldn't normally get. I don't necessarily aim for anything with a special meaning, just something that is useful but also silly or fun.

You could do card games or those little travel sized board games...or some sort of craft. Bandaids are also an idea.

I don't think I have too many "meaningful" ideas. You could always add things to it like certain figurines or some other collectible that your kids might like and have them start a collection of things you can add to each year.

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K.N.

answers from Boston on

Santa always filled the stocking for my daughters. Each year, there was an orange, some chocolates (including chocolate coins), a few other candies, a candy cane and other, age-appropriate small gifts. The highlight, though, was the ornament that Santa brought each year. Each girl got their own -- sometimes just a cute one, frequently something that commemorated something from the past year ( a snow man made of soccer balls when my youngest was playing on her school team, a pair of ballerina slippers when another was a dancer, red high heels when #3 "discovered" shoes in high school). It's been a fun way to remember those special moments or things that caught their eye for a while. Also, as each girl grew & started her own home, she left ours with her own collection of ornaments.

Over the years, there were crayons, small books or book marks, pens & highlighters, socks, nail polish, chap stick, moisturizer, shampoo, conditioner, small games, silly things, meaningful things, gift cards, jewelry, a tooth brush, laundry detergent -- all kinds of random things. Santa still fills stockings for the younger two. The older two are married and the year they wed was the last year Santa filled their stockings at our house -- though the stockings (I made each of them) still hang on our mantel.

We've had a ton of fun with stockings -- and, wonderfully, I've noticed mine is filled every year now that my daughters are college age. Beyond the fact that they pick out better hand moisturizer and socks for my stocking than my husband does, it makes me smile deep inside to see how much stockings have mattered to them and to see my daughters carrying on a tradition my husband & I started so very many years ago.

Merry Christmas!

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J.C.

answers from Anchorage on

While we don't allow our kids to have a ton of sweets, I consider Yuletide to be a special case, so they always get some sweets, like a chocolate Santa and a candy cane, along with a small gift like hot wheels. When we get up that morning they can "open" their stockings before we get up and play with whatever toy/toys that are inside while they wait for everyone else to get up and around for the bigger gifts.

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M.C.

answers from Chattanooga on

We always put an orange, some nuts, and some candy in my daughter's stocking. We also put in a few small toys and stuffed animals. We never spend more than $10 or so on stocking stuffers.

In our house, the stocking buys Mommy and Daddy some wake-up time and give our daughter something to play with on Christmas morning while waiting for present-opening time.

I do LOVE the tradition my dad started when I was young. He would flood the living room with balloons. It was awesome! I have done this with my daughter every year as well, though just blowing them up instead of using helium. (We may do some helium this year though.) her face when she sees them is priceless.

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A.V.

answers from Washington DC on

We put in candy, small gifts (often unwrapped), like Pez dispensers, koosh balls, pens in there. Sometimes a small gift that would get lost under the tree is in there, too. Decide if it's going to be from Santa only and if you are going to wrap them or not. We allow small gifts from whoever to be put in the stocking and there is NO PEEKING. Santa fills them the rest of the way. My mom always put an orange in the toe.

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K.A.

answers from San Diego on

All 3 kids get matching new pajamas to go to bed Christmas Eve in and wake up on Christmas morning in. This is fairly new but they now look forward to it every year.
Nothing gets wrapped in our house except for gifts for outside our home to family and friends. Everything from Santa is put into these great oversized felt reusable bags (Michael's has had them in the past and that's where most of ours came from). Anything really small that might get lost in a big bag goes into the stockings or the Thomas the Tank gift bags. That last one I am sure sounds funny to you. Well, one year we moved right before Christmas and could not for the life of us find all of our Christmas boxes. The stockings were among the things we could not find. We happened to have these unused Thomas the Tank gift bags in the house and said, hey, let's use these. They have been in the Christmas box ever since and get used every year now just like a stocking.
There is no set items that go into the stockings. It's totally just whatever is too small that might get lost. Could be anything. They do usually get a new holiday pin or 2 from Disneyland to add to their collection and those go in the stockings.

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L.G.

answers from San Antonio on

Mine get an ornament each year, I try to get one that has some meaning to the year, such as ballet shoes for the dancer, etc.

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M.K.

answers from Columbus on

My parents had us hang our stockings the night of December 5th to be filled and discovered the morning of December 6th - feast day of St. Nicholas. I've continued the tradition with my own children - when they were little, I put in little toys and cookies or candy. Even though they're teens we still hang them but now I put in snacks, gum and a bottle of flavored water or some other drink they like.

My husband said his family always got their stockings Christmas morning; I've never understood that. I wouldn't like doing stockings and presents on the same day.

Additionally, I hang a small stocking for each of my two cats and dog and fill it with treats and a toy. They're members of the family, too!!

Good luck!!

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S.G.

answers from Grand Forks on

My kids get toothpaste, toothbrush, chapstick, coins (new from the mint), pencils, pens, a small tree ornament, candy and a Tim Horton's gift card. When they were little they got Hot Wheels and Play Dough, but now they get sprinkles (for making ice cream sundays), gum and this year they will get some Mio. Anyway, on Christmas morning when the kids get up they see their Santa gift (Santa doesn't wrap them), and open their stockings while I make breakfast. Then we sit at the table and eat a nice breakfast before we start opening gifts.

ETA: I have also done bubble bath, body wash, kiddie band-aids. This year they will both get Axe deodorant.

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❤.M.

answers from Los Angeles on

Ever since I was little, the stockings were fun & held such little treasures.
From my parents to my dad's company Christmas party.
They had fun things & candy.
My husband puts amazing gifts in the stockings.
My sister & I (once we became adults) put fun things in each other's stockings: silver charms, sunglasses, rolled up t-shirts, earrings, Lottery tickets, magazines etc.
I think they can be whatever you want them to be.
For example for a young boy I would put in: a matchbox car, chocolates,
a DVD etc.
For a girl: Barbie doll, earrings, frame, a sm box of fancy chocolates.
For mom: scarf, gloves, whisk, fave coffee.
For teen: sunglasses, iTunes card, silver ring

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J.L.

answers from Los Angeles on

Sees candy. Chapstick. Headbands. My mom always bought the lifesavers books for us. Nail polish. Hersheyettes. For us it's usually edibles and gum. Maybe a DVD.

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T.S.

answers from San Francisco on

I always just filled them with lots of little goodies, including practical ones.
Candy, craft supplies, new toothbrushes, small toys/travel games, bubbles/play doh, lotion/perfume, silly socks, mittens, jewelry, school stuff (pens, pencils, highlighters, etc.) cash/small gift cards, all kinds of things.
They knew they could get into their stockings even before we (parents) woke up so it was a really sweet, cute "bonding" time for just the three of them on Christmas morning. It kept them busy while we peeled ourselves out of bed and made coffee :-)

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T.F.

answers from Dallas on

I've always filled the stocking for my daughter.

Things I use are.... gift cards, toothbrushes, new brush, super soft socks, rolled up $1 and $5 dollar bills, Godiva chocolate, and treats she does not usually get during the year as far as candy. A staple has always been the Lifesavers book with 5 rolls of lifesavers... the original.. not gummies, etc. My mom even put those in my stocking and I loved them.

I try to find cute unique things that are not too costly but very usable to add to the stocking. Pencils, erasers, etc.

She's always had as much fun with the stocking as she has the Santa gift that was left for her because it was a surprise as to what will be in the stocking PLUS some things that are ALWAYS in the stocking... $$ and lifesavers

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H.L.

answers from Portland on

We always do a mix of practical and fun in the stockings. It's a great place for their new toothbrushes, toothpaste, floss, socks, chapstick, gum and mints and then fun, small toys and other things. Honestly, the kids are thrilled to get a few toys among the functional items. They get to open their stockings before the rest of the family is up, so it gives them a little something to do if they get up before the sun.

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S.B.

answers from Kansas City on

We do small things, like there's always a pez dispenser. And usually holiday themed socks.

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A.C.

answers from Dallas on

I'm a very light sleeper so I hear the kids sneak and whisper as they're coming down their hall to the living room. The stockings keep them busy while I wake husband and we take a couple minutes to dress, put the kettle on for tea and hot chocolate, and preheat the oven for our breakfast. In our house, the stockings can be from "anyone"---Santa, parents, siblings, neighbors, whoever. The stockings are simple little gifts, some meaningful and others not so much, but they're fun to go through and talk, and have a little treat.

My husband and I both grew up with an apple, an orange, mixed nuts to put in the bowl on the bar, a candycane or two, some chocolates, and of course the lifesaver Christmas book. (When I was little I called it "church candy" because it was easy to sneak one and suck on it during church and get away with it at church...silly memory, but brings a smile). Jeremy is older and from England, and he says the apple is seasonal and the orange was special because it was an "extravagant" gift in the old days, since places that grew oranges were far away and not the easiest to get (for a good price). We also BOTH got hot wheels every year, and continue those traditions with our kids: a hot wheel, the same treats (apple, orange, nuts, lifesavers), and one favorite candy that we don't really get through the year (me: kinder bueno, husband: toblerone with fruit & nuts, older son: small fruit cake, younger son: sleeve of peppermint patties). We slip notes to each other in there, something that made us think of them that we've seen and saved throughout the year (ninja turtle things at McDonalds--those were big hits last year, the annual ornament-we each get one a year that tells something about an interest, hobby, vacation, or personality trait of what we were doing or who we were at that time, jerky, funky flames or other camping things that we find fun, travel games, itunes cards, lottery tickets, novelty items you come across like $2 bills or Native American $1 coins, an awesome rock for a rock collector in the family, and sometimes a wrapped surprise that is special like a watch...something to be showcased). Comic books, coloring books, a great photo, a little figurine, gift certificates to a class or event (a conference for his club, shooting classes for me, equestrian lessons or martial arts classes have all been done in past Christmases for us), basically anything that could actually fit in the stocking, goes in the stocking. We try to make it personal though, a little nod and wink to each person, and the letters are actually treasured little items that everyone keeps. That keeps everyone busy while I heat up orange cinnamon rolls (though I MAY try that breakfast casserole that you cook in the slowcooker overnight this year?).

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L.M.

answers from New York on

Growing up we always got an orange, some nuts, a few pieces of candy and a small toy. I never really understood the orange or the nuts as these were always around during the holidays.

Growing up my mom would always say go open your stockings. It gave her a chance to wake up and get a cup of coffee.

As my kids were growing up the stocking has always been a combination of needed items (mittens, chap stick, toothbrush, hair ties, socks) and a toy (usually a card game) and something unexpected. Our tradition is to open the stockings first thing in the morning, then have breakfast. The gifts aren't opened until later in the day.

I love the idea of having a special gift in your stocking year after year, some type of keepsake like and ornament.

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C.F.

answers from Portland on

.

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C.N.

answers from Baton Rouge on

My daughter was never big on candy, so I put her favorite edible treats in her stocking - satsumas (outside La, they're called clementines), pistachios, beef jerky, olives, pickled okra.

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C.H.

answers from Chicago on

Our stockings always include a full-size Hershey Christmas bar, chocolate coins, an M&M tube and chocolate Kisses. Then I add small gifts - maybe a lottery ticket, small gift card, other odds & ends I picked up while shopping. Usually silly stuff. I guess our tradition is that if the kids wake up before us, they can go through their stocking. They can't touch the presents until we're up.

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S.S.

answers from Chicago on

our stockings always have small stuff. usually a book. or cd. they all get socks or underwear (usually funny boxers which is a riot when the new boyfriend or girlfriend are there as I get them for those kids also) and a food item. my 4 kids get the following. oldest is my daughter she always gets marachino cherries. she loves them. oldest son gets a package of pepporoni, middle son likes black olives and youngest son likes the pepperoni also. when i was a kid my mom always put a can of pop in our stockings. we didn't have pop a lot so it was a treat. i loved getting that can of dr pepper that I didn't have to share.

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G.B.

answers from Oklahoma City on

You put his smallest gifts in there. Games for hand held devices, an orange or apple, Hot Wheels vehicles, just small simple things.

Before my sister joined the Jehovah's Witnesses she always did my stocking. She would put a McDonald's gift card in a jewelry box, a necklace, earrings, or something like that.

Just remember, the bigger the stocking the more you have to put in it.

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P.N.

answers from Denver on

We got stockings as little kids, and I had all sisters, so the stocking held clues to what was coming. For instance, we always got an outfit or 2 wrapped from santa, and the stocking would have earrings, hair accessories, etc, that matched the outfit. Or gloves and a hat, if a new coat was coming. We also got lots of candy, and lipgloss, other little makeup, nail polish, etc.
Now that I have kids, my daughter is easy, but the boys are more challenging. I do the same for my daughter as my mom did for me but for my boys, its socks, undies, maybe a pack of gum, other candy, DS game (because they fit in there), books, really anything small enough to stuff in there. Plus the added challenge of making their stockings take the "same amount of time" to open, etc.
I love the idea of everyone getting the same things and having them be memory-makers...something to think about!!

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L.C.

answers from Washington DC on

I put exciting things like toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, and a chocolate bar or two in the stockings...
:)

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T.H.

answers from Norfolk on

my mom put candy in ours and anything that we got that would fit in there was wrapped then shoved in just cuz.

for us i sometimes bring them out and sometimes fill them when they are out.

one thing i didnt like to hear that you said was that your kid was upset that he didnt get what another kid got. that sounds like a teachable moment to me on being grateful for what we get and not being so greedy that we forget what christmas is about.

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J.M.

answers from Washington DC on

When I was a child, we always got oranges _and_ chocolate coins--both represent the gifts of the original St. Nicholas. Now that I have a family of my own, we do chocolate oranges (the kind you "whack" and it splits into wedges of orange-flavored chocolate) as well as chocolate coins. We also used to have boxes of Cracker Jack popcorn and simple little gifts--like our own scotch tape, new pencils, and things like that. Even our own travel sized toothpaste (you know, when you're a kid, those small trial sized things seem so cool, and they are handy to take on sleepovers and that sort of thing)! Nothing expensive at all; just things that, since there were four kids in our family, it was nice to have something of your very own that you didn't have to share with someone. With our own children, we put in DVDs or video games, or small Lego sets, or a small piece of costume jewelry or sunglasses.

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D.S.

answers from Norfolk on

Hi, TT:

I was wondering what you and others think Christmas means?

Just wondering, has the idea of Christmas changed since
I was a child?

D.

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