Christmas Stockings 101 – stuffers, budget, and more!

Photo source:

Since we spent lots of time talking about how much we should spend on our kids for Christmas, I thought it was time to give our oh-so-important stocking friends some love and attention.

Many of us think to budget for Christmas gifts, but rarely stop and think about the stockings. Last year I made that mistake. I bought all sorts of fun trinkets and random what-nots for my kids hubby, and before I knew it, I had spent more on stockings than I had on gifts! It's deceiving because “little things” don't seem like much, so you want more of them…but they really add up! Here are some guidelines, tips, ideas, and parameters for your stockings so you don't go overboard this year:



I propose that the purpose of a Christmas stocking is NOT to use it as another platform for giving gifts. Rather, it's a fun Christmas tradition that holds treats and small items to help your loved ones feel even more special, and have a few more little things to enjoy on Christmas. I repeat…it should NOT be an outlet for squeezing/sneaking in more gifts! If you want to give them a gift that is small enough to fit into a stocking, wrap it up and put it under the tree anyway – even if it's tiny – and make it count as a gift in your budget just as every other gift does! Stocking stuffers should not be wrap-able (or should be very difficult to wrap), if that helps you visualize better.


As a rule, I propose that $25 per stocking is reasonable, regardless of age. It might not seem like much of a budget to some, but think about it…if you have 5 people in your family, that's an extra $125 just on stockings! That's more than what you should be spending on most of your kids' gifts. If your kids are young like mine, $25 is PUH-LEN-TEE. Go to the dollar store and grab 6 or 7 trinkets that they'll love you 'til they're 82! Don't forget to track what you spend on our free holiday envelope budget printables! If you are like me and don't really do gifts for your spouse, then feel free to do a little more in their stockings – maybe up to $40. But set a budget (a reasonable one!) and stick to it.



Every family has their own stocking traditions. A friend of mine always gives her kids a toothbrush, and a matchbox car (even her daughter). My dad always put an orange in the toe of our stocking, a magazine rolled up, a package of beef jerky, chapstick, and one of those life saver books. While traditions are important, just keep in mind that I propose that stockings should be for small, non-gift items. That's the best way to keep your wallet in check this Christmas. Here's a list of ideas to illustrate what items are appropriate for stockings in my opinion:

  • Fruit (oranges, for example)
  • Nuts/beef jerky
  • Candy/favorite treats
  • gum/mints
  • Small toys (dollar store-type)
  • toothbrush/floss/toothpaste
  • travel-sized toiletries (lotion, deodorant, body spray, hair spray, etc)
  • Chapstick/lip gloss
  • magazine or small book
  • small gift cards $5 or less (McDonalds, iTunes)
  • crayons/coloring books/stickers
  • nail polish
  • hair accessories
  • inexpensive trading cards
  • socks
  • underwear
  • Inexpensive makeup (bonne bell, N.Y.C, E.L.F)
  • $1 gloves/beanies/headbands
  • inexpensive travel games, playing cards (the dollar store has great ones)
  • Pencils/pens/cute paper
  • Coupons
  • Fun bandaids
  • travel lint roller/Downy wrinkle releaser spray
  • Keychain

There are a million and 1 things you could put in a stocking to make it memorable, fun, and stay under $25. Bubba (my husband) loves Burt's Bees Chapstick. I tossed a few of those, a magazine, and some treats in his stocking last year and he was happy as pie. My stocking had some inexpensive lip gloss, some gloves, and my favorite candy. For my kids, I go to the dollar store and $7 per kid goes a LONG way. They all need socks badly so I'll toss in a pack for each this year, and voila – they love me and my awesome stocking skills.

Here are some great stocking pins I pinned from Pinterest with HUNDREDS of other creative ideas:

29 Free stocking coupon printables

150 stocking stuffer ideas

200+ stocking stuffer ideas

100+ stocking stuffer ideas for men

75+ more stocking stuffer ideas for men

75+ stocking stuffer ideas for women

200+ stocking stuffers for babies and teens

40+ Stocking stuffers for preschoolers

Stocking stuffer ideas for kids

Stocking stuffers for homeschoolers

12 stocking stuffer ideas under $1

Best stocking stuffers shipped by Christmas (these are great for adults, but be aware that if you buy the pricier ones you should cut back on other things. $25 people! That's it! You can do it!

That should help you find PLENTY of amazing ideas to stick within the $25 budget this year. And remember to use our free holiday tracking envelopes to keep track!

Happy stuffing,





  1. AvatarNan says

    I ran across your blog when I saw the picture of those darling stockings so I read the article. I will say I laughed out loud as I read, “Every family has their own stocking traditions…regardless of what your traditions are just keep in mind that stockings should be small, non gift items.” Our family’s tradition is that Santa brings only stockings. As a result our children do receive gifts in their stocking. It is not the dollhouse gift that is given from mom and dad but may be the doll or craft project supplies. These gifts are included in the budget just as everything else is. When recognizing that everyone has their own traditions it may be well to not limit traditions to a very narrow minded view.

    • AvatarFunCheapOrFree says

      Good point! In re-reading that I see exactly what you’re saying and agree with you! haha! I’ll update it with more appropriate wording, thanks for pointing that out! And I love the idea of “santa brings the stockings”. I think that’s genius. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  2. AvatarSonya says

    Loved your article! We love stockings in our family. (In fact we get new ones every year). A few years ago, when our two daughters were teenagers, we started a new tradition of exchanging names for filling each other’s stockings. We have a budget limit of $20 per person. On Christmas Eve we all go to Walmart or the Dollar Store and shop for each other. Of course we have to hide from each other in the store and then fill the stockings in secret that night. It’s fun to see how creative we can get. It has also taken the pressure off my husband and me with that last Christmas thing.

  3. AvatarAmber says

    Target’s $1 bins are great for better quality stocking stuffers then the dollar store, which is cheap, but also looks cheap. In my experience, dollar store stuff breaks a LOT easier then regularly priced items do.

    We also get our stockings from santa, he typically brings stockings (for everyone, even adults), a few gifts for littler kids, and a couple for older kids. Adults only get santa gifts of we’ve run out of nonsanta wrapping paper, lol. We do christmas really big though, since we don’t give gifts for birthdays or mother/father/grandparents/Valentine’s day.

    We also wrap stocking stuffers. When you’ve got six year olds and special needs 15 year olds, waiting for everyone to wake up and come downstairs is nigh impossible, so they’re allowed to open stockings whenever they wake up christmas morning. Wrapping the stuffers also makes the real presents less tempting, lol!

    Standard stuffers for us are an Apple and orange in the toe, toothbrushes, chapstick, socks, and everyone gets their favorite lindt truffles. Then any other stuffers are mostly random things our couponing aunt picks up. One year we were all sick, so we got tissue, cold medicine, and nasal spray, lol!
    Amber recently posted…Amber Does Christmassy Things A Month Too Early And Has Exactly Zero ShameMy Profile

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *