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**Updated for 2021**
It seems crazy that I’m sitting down to write this post and that it’s already time to start thinking about Christmas! I swear time goes faster and faster every year. I’ve already begun buying gifts for the kids but I feel like stockings can be tricky for toddlers and preschoolers. Babies get baby toys. Tweens and teens love gift cards, Bath and Body works etc. But the little kids are the prime target for tiny plastic JUNK. I REFUSE to purposefully bring it into my house let alone pay good money for it. BUT I love Christmas stockings… so here is my list of ideas of surprises to put in your little kids’ stockings that are still fun but also useful.
Character Bandaids are exciting because I REFUSE to buy them during the year. Target usually has them for $1 in the Dollar Spot. Fair warning; prepare to have every invisible microscopic boo-boo require a bandaid for the next week lol.
Again, I spring for the fun ones I normally wouldn’t like light up timers or electric spin brushes. These have been surprisingly popular with my boys considering toothbrushes aren’t all that exciting.
I usually pick up crayons and markers when back to school stuff goes on super clearance in September. I prefer the Crayola Ultra-Clean because my little artists have an affinity for coloring on anything that ISN’T paper and they wipe off of everything! Seriously, I’ve cleaned them off of walls, carpet, cabinets, glass, upholstery, laminate floor- you get the idea.
My kids are really tough on paintbrushes so a new set with different sizes is usually a safe bet. We have this set and my kids have been happy with it. I might need to grab another set for this year since they don’t like to share.
There’s something about a fresh, new coloring book that is so fun! Target and the Dollar Store usually have them cheap. This is a fun, inexpensive way to indulge their interest in whatever character is their favorite this month.
Die-cast Toy Cars
I usually buy a few nice metal ones for stockings. Military vehicles are a favorite around here but any quality car is bound to be a hit.
Nerf Dart Refills
I feel like these are always getting lost. My older son shoots them to build fine motor hand strength so I like to keep plenty on hand.
My kids are obsessed with these. One pack lasts us forever since we only make 1-2 tsp at a time. These are the ones we use and I highly recommend them. They are great for fine motor work and sensory play!
I get these during Back To School season from the Target Dollar Spot. There are always fun learning activities there.
Step Into Reading Books
I love that these are leveled for where your child is at academically. They usually have popular character stories available and are the PERFECT size for stockings!
Special Snacks Or Treats
This will vary depending on what your child likes and what your family eats. When I was a kid my mom always bought each of use a box of chocolate covered cherries because they were our favorite and it was the only time of year we got them. I remember how special that was. Jellybellies were also usually in there or one of the Lifesaver story books. I think the Harry Potter Every Flavor Beans would be fun, too. You could also do healthier treats like fruit leather or do like my mom did and put a whole fresh tangerine in the toe of the stocking every year. Did anyone else’s mom do that?
I know socks aren’t generally exciting for kids but by Christmas my kids are usually down several pairs. How the heck do they lose all their socks??? You can make it more exciting by buying “fun” socks with designs, characters, or colors.
My kids love slippers. We also celebrate 3 Kings Day so it’s good to have them for the Kings to leave their treat in them. I bought my kids these cute bear ones this year.
Winter Hat and Mittens
Another set of items that perennially seems to be misplaced. A fun new hat or soft furry mittens are usually a good idea for kids like mine who lose them.
I never buy ALL of these things for stockings (you would need a HUGE stocking!) but I usually include some combination of the things listed. Stockings don’t have to mean junk that takes over your house. Think about what your kids need then find a way to make it more fun! Necessity is the mother of invention. The younger your kids are, the less it takes to get them excited. I have to continually remind myself that the boxes are usually the favorite part of the present for little kids. It doesn’t take much to make the holidays magical; just keep your kids’ interests in mind and pick out things they’ll love! Let me know what you think of the list in the comments and tell me your ideas!
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