I’ve been a Mum for a while now so I’ve learnt a few things about Christmas in that time. And one is that filling those essential Christmas stockings (I’ll be onto my 39th this year and would sulk badly if I didn’t get one!) can drive a coach and horses through the most carefully planned Christmas budget.
So here are some ideas for some awesome frugal stocking fillers that will stop a happy Christmas morning tradition turning into beans on toast throughout January.
Before you even buy a bag of chocolate pennies, have a good think – what makes for a happy stocking experience?
Maybe my 3 and 5 year old kids are mad (OK, they often are!) but they think the key to a great stocking is enjoying a fun guessing game as to what all the lumps and bumps inside are and having a good variety of little gifts. Price doesn’t really come into it when they’re younger.They just like lots of surprises.
Things you already own!
Younger tots and babies have ZERO expectations for stockings as they won’t remember last Christmas and they soon lose interest anyway. Keep it to 7-8 items max with under 2s. I mostly filled our twos stockings with their own toys when they were tiny and they loved pulling out a mixture of familiar friends and toys that had been forgotten after disappearing to the bottom of the toy box for a few weeks
If you and your spouse exchange stockings, you can always discuss expectations ahead of time. Our rules are to spend no more than £10 and we mostly exchange second hand paper backs and foodie goodies which makes for smiles all round.
Buy items you’d be getting anyway
The list of items in this category is long and can save you a lot of cash. Novelty bubble bath, new toothbrushes or paste, new flannels, underwear, pyjamas, socks, tights, slippers, gloves, hats, craft supplies (maybe avoid messy things like glitter glue), stationary, gel pens, body spray, make-up, deodorant…the list is endless. Anything you could be buying on another occasion can create a useful surprise. You can also pick up most of these things with the weekly shop which makes things even easier.
One smart Mum of 6 I know delays the moment when she’ll finally have to get out of bed by packing juice boxes or chocolate milk, cereal bars and the inevitable tangerines into her kids’ stockings. Genius.
Charity shop treasures
Charity shops are great places to pick up stocking fillers. Cuddlies can go through the wash and plastic or metal toys through the dishwasher or you can sanitise them in other ways. Books are also a good bet, especially little books. This year I’ve already found Minnie Mouse ears on a head band, a few cuddlies, two necklaces and a sweet novelty purse for my daughter and a bag of playmobil figures for my son. Toy cars are available by the thousand. You will be amazed what you can find. The year Pigwig was 3, her favourite present from the whole of Christmas was a cuddly Bagpuss from her stocking which had cost me 20p. And this is a girl who is showered in presents by relatives.
Other sources of ideas
A good place to pick up cheap stocking fillers, especially if you have several children, is in the party bag area of your local supermarket. Other good options, if you have them locally, are Tiger, IKEA and Poundland.
The final trick which I’m implementing this year is keeping a list of what I’ve bought. Because you can often buy bits and bobs over several months, it’s easy to get to Christmas Eve and realise you have way more stuff than necessary. In fact, that’s something I need to do this evening! It can also be easy to over cater for one child who is easier to cater for as you see things going and leave another a bit short.
So what are your great strategies for keeping the cost of stockings down? I’d love to know! And check out some of the other links below!