Before children, my husband and I didn't really celebrate Christmas - no tree, decorations, or gifts to each other. However, with small children, I have decided to start celebrating this holiday. We got a tree last year, lightly decorated the mantel, and give a few gifts to my son (2 and a half at the time). Well, this year he is 3 and a half and much more aware of the holiday and really seems to love it. I also have a 9 month old who will no doubt grow to enjoy this holiday too. My question is whether to introduce the Christmas stocking tradition or to just skip it.
As a child, I loved having a stocking and opening all the little surprises inside. It was an activity that my sisters and I could do as we waited for my mom (who took forever!!!!) to wake up. As an adult, it just looks like a built in place to sink a lot of money on useless objects that will then clutter the home year after year (what a scrooge I am!). However, I love the homey feeling of stockings hung on the hearth during the winter holiday and I know children love them.
I've thought about how I can have them without falling into a money/clutter trap each year. I've thought about filling them with homemade treats like seasoned nuts, dried fruits, homemade popcorn, and gingerbread cookies but those stockings are pretty big fill and I don't want to overload my very small children with too many sweets. I've thought about filling them with useful things like new socks and art supplies but I keep those types of items stocked throughout the year and really don't use them up all that quickly.
For those of you who follow the stocking tradition, what do you put in them?
What about turning them into "Giving stockings" - a place for the children to pick out small things to give away to another child in need?