Trying to figure out what you should stuff your Christmas stockings with this year? Don't worry, we've got a great list of cheap stocking stuffers! Plus, we're talking about how to stay on budget, too.

Stockings hanging on a mantle, from Fun Cheap or Free

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.

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Many of us think to make a budget for Christmas gifts but rarely stop and think about the stockings. I've made that mistake in years past! I've bought all sorts of fun trinkets and random whatnots for my kids and hubby. Then, 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. Plus, I've got some great, cheap stocking stuffers that will keep you on budget! So, let's get to it!

THE PURPOSE OF STOCKING STUFFERS

Kids sitting on the stairs holding stockings, from Fun Cheap or Free

I propose that the purpose of a Christmas stocking is NOT to use them 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, at 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 is tiny! Make it count as a gift in your holiday 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.

BUDGET FOR STOCKING STUFFERS

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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 five people in your family, that's an extra $125 just on stockings! That's more than you should be spending on most of your kids' Christmas gifts.

If your kids are young like mine, then $25 is PUH-LEN-TEE. Go to the dollar store and grab six or seven trinkets, and they'll love you 'til they're 82! Don't feel like you have to spend that $25 per stocking, either! If $10 is all you can afford, then make that work. You can get a lot for $10, especially if you make their favorite homemade treats, like peanut butter fudge or chocolate chip cookies.

Don't forget to track what you spend with our free holiday envelope budget printables! If you're 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 reasonable budget and stick to it.

CHEAP STOCKING STUFFERS

Every family has their own stocking traditions. A friend of mine always gives her kids a toothbrush and a Matchbox car. My dad always put an orange in the toe of our stocking, a rolled-up magazine, a package of beef jerky, chapstick, and one of those Lifesaver books of candy.

While traditions are important, just keep in mind that I propose 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.

FOOD-RELATED STOCKING STUFFER IDEAS

Soft peppermints on a counter, from Fun Cheap or Free
  • Fruit – Oranges, apples, bananas, anything that will fit in a stocking and has a protective skin. (Berries would be a bad idea!)
  • Nuts – Keep this cheap by buying a large bag and portioning it out into smaller baggies for everybody.
  • Beef Jerky – Just like with the nuts, make this cheaper by buying a large bag when it's on sale at Costco and break it down into smaller baggies.
  • Candy – Make sure it won't melt if it's hanging over a fireplace with a roaring fire!
  • Favorite Treats – Granola bars, fruit snacks, or even their favorite homemade banana bread!
  • Gum – If your kids are old enough, buy them their favorite gum! You could give them each a pack, or just a few pieces in each stocking to stretch your wallet further.
  • Mints – There are not many kids I know that'll turn down those soft peppermints!

PERSONAL CARE STOCKING STUFFER IDEAS

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  • Hairbrush – We love our Bathpack hairbrushes! (Use the code JORDAN to get 10% off your purchase!)
  • Nail Polish – The dollar store, Walmart, Target, TJMaxx, Ross, Amazon, and so many other places have fun bottles of nail polish that are super cheap!
  • Hair Accessories – You can never go wrong with cute scrunchies, clips, and head bands. They're definitely a must-have in our hair bag!
  • Inexpensive Makeup – Bonne Bell, N.Y.C, and E.L.F are all great options!
  • Lip Balm – These aren't just for girls! Our boys love getting lip balm, especially since we go through it so much when we're outside at our family cabin.
  • Lip Gloss – Shine Cosmetics has my absolute favorite lip gloss, but you can find plenty of cheap options at the store that younger girls who don't need a nice product will love.
  • Toothbrush – This is one of the easiest cheap stocking stuffers there are! We buy a big variety pack at the store and each kid always gets the same colored toothbrush to make sure we don't get confused.
  • Floss – The kids flossers are so fun and they taste like fruit, so our kids get pretty excited when they get these in their stockings.
  • Toothpaste – You can never have enough toothpaste!
  • Travel-Sized Toiletries – The kids get so excited over how cute the little bottles are! We give lotion, deodorant, body spray, hair spray, etc.

STOCKING STUFFER IDEAS FOR KIDS

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  • Crayons – I usually stock up on these when they're on sale at the beginning of the school year, but you can usually find them pretty cheap at Walmart or the dollar store.
  • Coloring Books – The dollar store is definitely one of the best places to find coloring books!
  • Stickers – Man, are your kids sticker crazy? You can never go wrong with stickers!
  • Trading Cards – If your kids are into trading cards, then they'll get crazy excited when they see these cheap stocking stuffers!
  • Gloves – Gloves are a necessity around here, and it's always fun to get a new pair of gloves.
  • Beanies – You can never have too many beanies, so it's fun to get a new one every year!
  • Travel Games – It's always a good idea to keep some travel games in the car to keep everybody entertained.
  • Playing Cards – Card games are so fun! Whether it's regular playing cards or a fun game like Go Fish, the kids will be excited about these cheap stocking stuffers.
  • Pencils – Man, we can go through the pencils in our house! I usually have lots on hand from stocking up on them during back-to-school sales.
  • Pens – The same goes for pens!
  • Cute Notebook – You've gotta have somewhere fun to use those pencils and pens!
  • Fun Bandaids – What kid doesn't like bandaids?! They're definitely a fix-all in our house, which is why we love giving them as cheap stocking stuffers.
  • Small Toys – We're talking about the cheap dollar store toys, here.

OTHER STOCKING STUFFER IDEAS

  • Travel Lint Roller – This is a great one to keep in your bag so you always have a lint roller!
  • Keychain – These are fun, whether your kids have a key to the house for it or they just play with it at home.
  • Magazine – These are always fun to get, especially if everybody gets a different one, because then they can share them!
  • Small Book – You can never go wrong giving a book as a stocking stuffer!
  • $5 Gift Cards – These are great for places like McDonalds, iTunes, or even Redbox!
  • Socks – Can you really ever go wrong with new socks?!
  • Underwear – Our kids actually get crazy excited when they get new underwear, especially if it has their favorite characters on them.
  • Christmas CouponsPinterest has so many fun Christmas coupons that you can print out for the different people in your life!

There are a million and one things you could put in a stocking to make it memorable, fun, and stay under $25. Bubba (my husband) loves Burt's Bees lip balm. I usually toss a few of those, a magazine, and some treats in his stocking, and he's happy as pie. My stocking usually has some inexpensive lip gloss, some gloves, and my favorite candy. 

Whew, okay! What are your favorite cheap stocking stuffers to give? Share your fun ideas with us in the comments below!

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Looking for more Christmas ideas?

Now get to stuffing those stockings!

Jordan Page Signature from Fun Cheap or Free