15 Inexpensive Stocking Stuffers Your Kids Actually Want

Christmas stockings hanging over fireplace

This article originally appeared on iMOM.com and reflects their mission and beliefs.

In your house, are stockings functional or purely for decoration? As a kid, ours were completely flat on Christmas morning. The only gifts were the ones under the tree. A friend of mine said her mom used stockings to give all the things the kids needed (but didn’t necessarily want). In mid-November, when she told her mom her underwear was so tight it was cutting off the circulation to her legs, her mom’s response was, “Christmas stockings are coming soon!”

Two years ago, I decided to be the mom who fills Christmas stockings. I ran to the Dollar Store and spent money on stuff that looked like junk to my kids and felt like regret to me. One of the items, a color-by-number book, was still in the stocking when I unpacked Christmas the following year. I learned my lesson and wised up last year. I discovered 15 inexpensive stocking stuffers for kids that won’t get left behind or thrown in the trash. Set a budget for yourself or pick the five things your kids will love the most.

1. An App They’ve Been Begging For

My kids know if an app’s not free, they can’t get it. They would flip over a “Redeem for Any App Under $5” coupon.

2. $5 to Spend in Their Favorite App

Those free apps? They all want your money eventually. Slip in a second coupon redeemable for $5 in coins, power-ups, or extra lives.

3. A Reading Light or Headlamp

Stockings are great for little items your kids didn’t know they wanted but love to use. A reading light or a headlamp for unexpected nighttime adventures is one of those things.

4. Carabiners

My sons looked at me sideways when they opened a three-pack of carabiners. Now they use them to hang toys from a wire shelf and hook keychains to their backpacks.

5. The Gizmo or Tchotchke of the Month

There’s always some toy or plastic gadget my kids say everyone has and they have to get. Usually, it’s in a bin in the center of an aisle at Walgreens. Last year, that item was the Pop-It. I refuse to buy those things when my kids grab for them on impulse, but they’re cheap stocking stuffers.

6. Something Personalized

There’s a reason every tourist trap sells junk with popular names printed on it. Personalized stuff gives kids a sense of ownership and identity. So grab a nameplate for the bedroom door, a personalized mug, or a keychain with her initials on it.

7. A Trendy Accessory

Scrunchies, the hot nail polish color… If you don’t like the idea of your child being at the mercy of the latest trend, a stocking is an easy way to give in just a little.

8. Chapstick

Chapstick is one of the classic inexpensive stocking stuffers for kids. That’s because you can never have enough. It’s a win for boys and girls—and for you if your kids always steal yours after theirs goes missing.

9. Part of Their Favorite Hobby

If your child loves to bake, stuff a new set of measuring spoons in the stocking. If Pokémon is his favorite pastime, pick up a small pack of cards.

10. Small LEGO Set

If you let the kids dump their stockings out before they wake you up, these LEGOs will buy you another 30 minutes of sleep.

11. Tattoos

The ultimate inexpensive crowd-pleaser. Every kid likes slapping a (fake) tat on his bicep.

12. Photo Album

Since all of our pictures are online today, our kids don’t get to flip through photos like we did. Make a small album of your kids and their grandparents or a year-in-review album.

13. A $5 Gift Card to Their Favorite Ice Cream Shop

Kids love the grown-up feeling they get when they pay for something. You never know, they might use the cards to take you out for a treat!

14. An Orange

I always put an orange in the toe of my kids’ stockings. It comes from the story of St. Nicholas, who put gold coins in the empty shoes of three girls whose father couldn’t afford to pay a dowry so they could get married. The orange is an excuse to talk about the story and why giving to those in need is important.

15. Socks and Underwear

I know. Socks and underwear are surprisingly expensive and your kids probably don’t want them, so why are they on my list? They’re here because they take up space in a stocking. Plus, when your kids see them in their stockings and realize the wrapped gifts under the tree are not socks or underwear, they’ll be psyched.

What other inexpensive and exciting stocking stuffers can you add to the list?

This article originally appeared on iMOM.com and reflects their mission and beliefs.

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