Christmas Traditions - Stockings or no? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 59 Old 12-02-2010, 11:50 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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?

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#2 of 59 Old 12-03-2010, 12:00 AM
 
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Our children have always had stockings...we just put the wrapped Christmas presents in them, then place them under the tree; it just adds to the festive look, and the kids love getting their presents out of the stocking. They somehow become much more exciting when they have been in the stocking! Sometimes I throw in some special Christmas chocolates...the European kinds which are particularly delicious. But as you said your children are too young for that, and definitely too young for eating nuts due to the potential choking/inhaling hazard.

 

Frankly I would ditch the 'giving stocking' idea on Christmas day....in the long run it is more likely to make them resentful of other kids who get to keep the goodies in their stockings. However it would be a nice idea to do that maybe a few days later...when the Christmas excitement has worn off, and then perhaps say to them that it's now 'giving stocking' time? That would be a good way to start decluttering after Christmas too.


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#3 of 59 Old 12-03-2010, 12:32 AM
 
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I love stockings, but hate clutter and buying for the sake of buying.

 

This year, everyone (even the baby) will get a toothbrush and an orange. The baby will get some bath toys, a sippy cup and a board book. DS1 will get a DVD, a book, some chocolates and some bath toys. DH and I will get socks, post-it notes and pens (where do all the pens go???). My father, who will be with us, will get some nice jam and his favorite cookies as well as the chocolates / orange / toothbrush.

 

The stockings are big, but they don't have to be filled to the point of exploding, either, y'know? I'm aiming for a few fun surprises.

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#4 of 59 Old 12-03-2010, 04:08 AM
 
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We usually do toothbrushes in stockings too, plus a few very small toys that my kids love like Hot Wheels, a little Lego set, etc. I also add a few large pieces of fruit to each stocking (oranges and apples hold up well, and bananas are another favorite) and some snacky foods like nuts or crackers (gluten free this year.) This year I'll also be adding some art supplies -- crayons, markers, maybe a new set of watercolors and a small sketch pad. Oh and they'll each get stickers and their very own roll of scotch tape. We really limit candy, but they'll probably get a couple of candy canes and a set of those little chocolate coins.


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#5 of 59 Old 12-03-2010, 05:03 AM
 
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I sewed stokings for the kids so they are not as large as some I've seen. I have fun filling them though.

 

Not all gifts are new, I'm happy to pick things up used throughout the year.

 

I also put in things we would have bought anyway, though you might get a fancier version in your stocking. Eg I generally buy plain socks but we always have a fun pair for Christmas.

 

They usually get some chocolate coins and satsuma, this year I think DD will have a small bottle of cola.

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#6 of 59 Old 12-03-2010, 10:30 AM
 
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Stockings go on the end of the bed, to keep children amused for a little while when they wake up too early on Christmas morning. Mom and Dad get an extra 15 or 20 minutes sleep (hoping for an extra hour or 2, but hey, we'll take what we can get at 5:30 a.m)! 

 

There's ALWAYS a mandarin orange in the toe, and a Terry's chocolate orange (to be eaten later), and a book (or 3) and a new toothbrush.

The rest tends to vary. Some past ideas: 

- small LEGO or Bionicles gift pack

- Warhammer figures

- wooden train for the train set

- crayons or markers or pens and other office supplies/stationery items

- craft kits, beads, hemp for bracelets 

- knitting needles and a skein of yarn

- DVD or CD

- iTunes gift card

- manicure kit

- soap, lotion, facial blotting tissues, loofah, favourite lip balm 

 

 

 

 

 

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#7 of 59 Old 12-03-2010, 10:36 AM
 
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We never had stockings as a kid and I never really felt like something was missing. But, my husbands family did do stockings, but the thing was never completely full, just a few fun items. We do do them for our kids. They have an orange, some nuts, a bit of candy, a toothbrush and a tube of toothpaste, then just one or two small things and honestly the thing is usually full, full, full.


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#8 of 59 Old 12-03-2010, 10:45 AM
 
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We do stockings, but they have useful things in them.  Toothbrushes, toothpaste.  They also have a car or two, a candy cane and a gift card.

 

Dh's almost always has a dvd.  Ours aren't huge and stuffed full but the kids love them anyways.

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#9 of 59 Old 12-03-2010, 11:29 AM
 
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Stocking are the best part of Christmas.  You can buy small stockings, make your own or just buy some nice socks (striped, Christmas patterned, etc) and use those.

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#10 of 59 Old 12-03-2010, 11:53 AM
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My stocking was always my favorite part of Christmas. My dad traveled a lot, and he would buy things throughout the year to put in my stocking that were unusual. Chocolates and gum from other countries, little trinkets... it was awesome - my parents really got into Christmas and worked very hard to keep me believing in Santa as long as possible.

 

We do a stocking now, for my ds. We don't do stocking for adults anymore - its just so much cheaper and easier to just do one for Henry.

 

Like a lot of others, I always put a toothbrush in his stocking. This year, he will be getting some paints and brushes - stuff I was going to give him anyway, but is small enough to fit in his stocking. And, this may be controversial around here, but I'm putting in a couple of boxes of those Popits - those little white things that you buy at fireworks stands and throw down on the ground and they pop? He loves those things.

 

The stockings that we use are long and narrow and tightly knit, so books don't fit. I'll put a little bit of special candy in there, and that'll be about it.

 

 

 


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#11 of 59 Old 12-03-2010, 12:15 PM
 
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I'm not the best person to answer this, as I go way overboard with stockings. (It's really strange. I'm not much of a shopper, and have never been very consumer focused. I'm not out of control with gifts in general. But, stockings make me irrationally wacky, and I want to fill them to bursting. We didn't have stockings like that as kids - lots of fun, with interesting little trinkets, but not stuffed to bursting. I have no idea where it came from.)

 

However, things I've done, this year or in the past (and your kids are younger than most of mine, so many will be useless, but what the heck):

 

Lip balm

Toothbrush

Band-aids

Small bug jars, on strings (as necklaces)

Magnifying glasses

Tiny "dino dig" kits

Wooden bird gliders

Crayons (my kids have tons of crayons, but they always like new, pointy ones that still have wrappers)

Bubbles

Magnets (obviously not for your kids yet!)

Hotwheels type construction vehicles

Headbands, barrettes, and ponytail holders

Flashlights (these were LL Bean LED flashlights, with a crank - WAY more money than I would usually spend on a stocking stuffer)

Glowstick bracelets

Mittens/stretch gloves (I like to have a few extra pairs around, to throw in my bag for outings and such)

Mini hairbrush

Small notebooks

Tape...biggest hit was small multi-coloured rolls of electrical tape, but scotch tape is a winner, too (dh gets duct tape, masking tape, and box tape)

A colouring book (for the younger ones) or comic (for ds1) goes in the top

Assorted candies (I put in a lot of different kinds, but small amounts of each)

Nuts

 

There is always, always, always a mandarin orange in the toe. It's not a stocking (imo) without one. I may also add a pomegranate this year, as my kids love pomegranates, and that will fill it up a lot, which helps me cut back on the other stuff.

 

I do a bunch of other stuff for older people (ds1 is 17, and I do one for dh)...deodorant, pine tar soap for dh, guitar strings, picks, sketching pencils/charcoal for ds1...all over the map.

 

I'm really, really trying to bust my over-consumerist approach to stockings, but I just love them sooooo much and see sooooo many things that the kids would love. It's hard to get a grip on it. redface.gif


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#12 of 59 Old 12-03-2010, 01:42 PM
 
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Toothbrushes? headscratch.gif

 

I have to admit I have never heard of giving toothbrushes at Christmas, it seems that many of you do....it must be an American thing?


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#13 of 59 Old 12-03-2010, 01:50 PM
 
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We would get an ornament each year and that would go in our stocking, plus an orange in the toe. deodorant and other stuff from avon ( mom sold avon : p), lip balm, candy - never anything wrapped.  It would keep us busy until mom got up for the big presents and Dad could have his coffee.  ILs give thing like toothpaste in theirs and everything is wrapped.  You could definitely could give things that would be used and used up so not adding much to your toy load.


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#14 of 59 Old 12-03-2010, 01:51 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clutterwarrior View Post

Toothbrushes? headscratch.gif

 

I have to admit I have never heard of giving toothbrushes at Christmas, it seems that many of you do....it must be an American thing?


I think it's just a fun little thing that fits in a stocking and can be done in different colors/decor to fit the personality. We do them too. Usually socks, toothbrush, something to read, card game or similar, stickers, playdoh, bubble bath-or-soap-or-washcloth with Santa/holiday decor, holiday-candy (foil wrapped Santa, candy cane). Fills nicely. The kids get to have 1 candy before breakfast, then breakfast, then use new toothbrush.

 

My mom's tradition was always 1 present to open on Christmas eve with pajamas and a holiday themed book. This is our first Christmas without her, so I don't know if I'll do it or not. They have plenty of PJs as it is.... Maybe slippers and the book from the stocking/non-holiday themed instead? We have too many badly written xmas books as it is now!


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#15 of 59 Old 12-03-2010, 02:51 PM
 
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I mostly fill the kids stockings with whatever gifts we are giving the kids that year. 

 

It's a bit of a confusing mess for our family in that we go out of town for Christmas (so Grandpa and Grandma do the stocking there), and my ILs also have their own stockings for all of us at their house (which gets filled with toothbrushes and the like - I was so offended the first year as I'd never gotten anything like that in a stocking before ;)) 

 

They don't need to be full to be fun - if you want to do them pick a few fun things and enjoy.

 

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#16 of 59 Old 12-03-2010, 03:25 PM
 
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Here are the standards that are in every year since we started doing "real stockings" (age 3)

 

fun toothbrush/toothpaste

assorted chapstick

fun band aids

photo ornament 

personalized pencils

markers/crayons

chocolate orange

candy cane

boxer shorts (matches dad's) 

legos (duplos)

bubble bath

chocolate gelt

orange/tangerine in the toe

 

none of it junk/clutter (IMHO)

 

 


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#17 of 59 Old 12-03-2010, 05:15 PM
 
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I love filling the stockings more than giving the big (ish) gifts as I find really fun things for the boys that I wouldn't normally buy for them, like the small lego kits, those squidgy balls that bulge when you squeeze them, and little shapped pads of paper. Theres usually some kind of silly pen in there and a snack to keep them going in the morning until i wake up.

 

Other than the stockings and the Christmas tree I only have 5 other seasonal decorations up.

 

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#18 of 59 Old 12-03-2010, 06:30 PM
 
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Growing up, we had stockings that had some candy, deck of cards, small toy or car, an orange.

My partners family only does stockings. Each person has one and that is what santa brings/fills. All of their gifts go in the stocking or just beside it. Then the only other presents are what the kids give each other and one gift from Mom and Dad.

 

Our DD is only 17months this year. We are not sure what we will do for her. I am not really into the whole "stocking is the gift" thing. But I do want to do stockings of some sort.

I like the idea of small toys, stickers, a treat, maybe a doll, small animals, etc.

 

Our big tradition in our family was one present before bed on Christmas Eve. We always begged to open one and my Mum would hym and haw about it and then finally relent but only one she chose. It was ALWAYS pajamas. She said she did this to make sure that we were always wearing nice pajamas that fit well for the pictures on Christmas morning. I think I may keep that tradition.


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#19 of 59 Old 12-03-2010, 07:11 PM
 
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Just because you keep pens/paper/art supplies stocked throughout the year does not mean that your kids wouldn't enjoy getting their own new, personal version. Also, you could put a smaller component of a large gift into the stocking, for instance we were going to get DD a play kitchen, and I had thought to put the play food, along with a few other things into the stocking. I really enjoyed getting some new sparkly pens, maybe a little notebook and one or two treats to eat in my stocking. I think that the adults used stockings as a way to keep me occupied so they would get to sleep in! You're  right about all the junk- but you don't have to stuff the stockings to the gills in order for them to get enjoyment. I really don't think kids compare what they receive in their stockings to others, by the time they go back to school (assuming you don't homeschool) it's kind of a hazy fun blur.

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My mom's tradition was always 1 present to open on Christmas eve with pajamas and a holiday themed book. This is our first Christmas without her, so I don't know if I'll do it or not. They have plenty of PJs as it is.... Maybe slippers and the book from the stocking/non-holiday themed instead? We have too many badly written xmas books as it is now!


I started doing the PJs thing last year, after reading about it here. We don't do a book, though. Since dh's robe was falling apart, I also got him a new robe to wear on Chrismas morning, and grabbed a couple sleep shirts for myself. DH doesn't need another robe, so I'm going to get him some warm, heavy socks. DS1 will get a new pair of sleep pants. I think the PJs can work, without necessarily buying PJs, yk? Slippers, warm socks, robes...lots of PJ related things.

 

I never did toothbrushes until I heard about them here, but I threw in a couple last year or the year before. They haven't become a standard, though.


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#21 of 59 Old 12-03-2010, 09:14 PM
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orange or other citrus; chocolates; candy cane or peppermints; crayons or colored pencils; sketch book, diary, or calendar; gift certificate/coupon for something special (age dependent, interest dependent). 

 

this year, i'm making peppermint drops, buying some nice chocolates (local), and getting some oranges. i have sketch books and colored pencils, and then a small gift for my aunt, a small gift for my son, and a small gift for my husband. i'm not sure what my gift will be, but i think it will be nice.

 

so, that is our plan. :D

 

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#22 of 59 Old 12-04-2010, 07:04 AM
 
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I love stockings...  As a parent, they are great for buying you some time on Christmas morning.  Growing up, we didn't start opening gifts until everyone had gone to church and the turkey was in the oven.  It would be 2pm some years!  When I was older, I loved getting a book in my stocking so I'd have something to do while waiting.  For ds, I try to get him some things that will keep him a little busy.  Usually he gets a mini lego kit.  If we didn't have cousins spending the night (and thus helping to keep him busy), I'd do a game for his ds or a dvd since he's an only child and not big on reading independently, yet.  I'd consider a small craft project if he were into crafts.  When he was younger, I'd give him stickers, bubbles, hotwheels, wind-up toys, and other little novelties.  I've given him candy and treats like a juice box.  Stockings don't have to be huge and extravagant.  You can just use a pretty sock:)


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#23 of 59 Old 12-04-2010, 08:16 AM
 
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I will ditto what others have said - orange in the toe, a tiny bit of chocolate, some sweet nuts and dried fruit that we only ever have at Xmas (candied pineapple, sugared peanuts, raisinets, that sort of thing)...also I always put crayons or art pencils, and a blank notebook, and a CD (story or music).  And one or two other small gifts - this year it's a little book light and a wooden balloon boat.

 

In past years they have gotten tights (for the girls), jackknives (for the older two), single Brio trains, small dolls or stuffed animals, rattles (for the babies), little puzzles, chapstick, flashlights, barrettes, gloves, DVDs (almost too big for our not-too-big stockings).  Not all in the same year!


DH and I have stockings, but I just put something token in them, mostly more of the edible goodies than the kids get, plus a chocolate bar or two.  And maybe one other thing, like a pillar candle or a mug or DVD or book or gloves.

 

Our stockings are smaller than mine was as a kid, and that is fine with me.  Growing up my mom's goal seemed to be to put as many wrapped things in as possible...she even wrapped up Lifesavers and gum.  We always got toothbrushes, my dad got razors, we got little packages of kleenex!, play jewelry, little figurines, underwear/socks, a tree ornament, little storage containers, change purses, little games or puzzles, and we usually each got a magazine sticking out of the top.


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#24 of 59 Old 12-04-2010, 01:28 PM
 
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What I want to do with stockings is:  a new pack of underwear, socks, a toothbrush, lip balm, a yummy-smelling lotion or bubble bath mix, a small toy, a candy bar, and a bag of chips.  (mainly, it is things I'd get them anyhow--though I don't know about the candy bar and chips, otherwise I can kiss them eating breakfast (gluten-free cinnamon rolls) goodbye)  I'm usually up waiting for the kids to get up anyhow.

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#25 of 59 Old 12-04-2010, 02:47 PM
 
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This thread has been very enlightening and amusing for me to read.....I am fascinated by the things people put in their stockings.

 

I have to admit I don't really 'get' it about putting everyday things in like toothbrushes, and even oranges, as those are always just available for people to eat in the house.

 

But this thread has given me lots of ideas for what to put in mine this year, and also I have decided to make a change this year and not wrap things that go in the stockings.


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#26 of 59 Old 12-04-2010, 05:15 PM
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here is some information about the history of using oranges in the toes is based on the "Three Sisters" story related to St Nicholas. It is said that the old bishop heard of a poor family where the girls were to be sold into slavery because the family could not produce dowry's to marry them. St Nicholas wanted to help the family, but did not want anyone to know. Over three nights, he climbed to the chimney, and dropped money down into each girl's stocking, where they were hung to dry. On the first night, the first daughter's stocking was filled. On the second, the second daughter's stocking was filled. The father watned to know who was doing this, how it was happening, and so he stayed up all night guarding the house. He caught St Nicholas on the chimney, and the old bishop asked him not to tell anyone. Of course, the man--grateful for the bishop's help--told everyone, and so the story of the stocking filling (and the traditions surrounding) began. 

 

Gold coins (often chocolate coins) are often put into the toes of stockings to honor this story. but, oranges and yellow apples are also used. 

 

another story i heard about it is that children were given three medicinals by St Nicholas: oranges to boost the immune system; peppermint as a folk cold remedy that not only works like menthol to aid in relieving congestion, but also in syrups to manage cough; and ginger bread cookies (instead of the more modern chocolate) in a depiction of the Saint (or in objects related to the child such as a tennis racket or animal the child loves or what have you). The ginger bread settles the stomach, aids in decreasing nausea, etc. So, all of these medicinals would be great for children during the cold months, when cold and flu season moves through a household.

 

i like these "health" aspects/elements. unfortunately, i'm actually unable to find a source for where i "learned" this particular material. :) I like to honor this as well.

 

it might also be noted that the candy-cane is the shape of the bishop's hook, that the gingerbread is often in the shape of the bishop-- again, to honor the saint's contribution and gift giving.

 

So while it might be "common" to have oranges around at all times, it wasn't always so--in northern europe, oranges were rare in the deep winter, and difficult to get, and so it would be a true gift to get an orange! 

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#27 of 59 Old 12-04-2010, 08:10 PM
 
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We have stockings that I made, but I don't think we'll fill them.  I'll probably put mostly edible treats in them with maybe one or two little small things, and maybe something like crayons or markers or other art supplies.   Stuff that can be used up.  My boyfriend and I agreed we want to keep things simple, but it's hard not to go overboard with wanting to give her stuff!

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#28 of 59 Old 12-04-2010, 09:32 PM
 
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We do them...an example of this years - new underpants ( she loves littlest pet shop undies, but only has so many ) If she were older that might be weird...in that case I would get some new fun socks (or maybe new slippers?), a new toothbrush/tooth paste, maybe some bath salts (kid version, they have fun animals on them and are natural, I saw them at whole foods), a new travel cup(we are stopping the use of reg sippy cups), and then I'll probably pick up some snack type stuff. 

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#29 of 59 Old 12-04-2010, 10:17 PM
 
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Everybody already has some great ideas on WHAT to put in stockings... Really- I HATE stockings... I HATE buying for the stockings.  I am saving for presents and stockings end up being such a "money suck" to me- I have 4 girls and filling them is a big dread to me so DH usually does it- he loves it... I too hate the extra clutter from little things.  Clutter is just part of my world that I am continually fighting against! LOL  But really I'm sure there are some things you can put in there- I always think of candy or treats as a good thing for the stocking.  Even oranges- we read this one scratch and sniff book where the bear got a Christmas orange in his stocking.  It was cute and the girls thought it was great and I liked that it took up room in the stocking! HA HA!  Have fun! Merry Christmas! :)


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#30 of 59 Old 12-04-2010, 11:43 PM
 
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I love filling stockings! Usually we do a lot of consumables though.. This year its going to be:

small nativity for each for them to play with

bubblebath

toothbrush (they get to pick their own, they love toothbrushes)

dried fruit and maybe a piece of chocolate (they don't get candy very often)

small toy each (plane for DD1, police car for DD2)

stuffed animal (cat for DD1, monkey for DD2)

playdough with a couple of cookie cutters (cars for DD2, princesses for DD1)

brush/mirror and hairties

hairties Im making for them (monkey for DD2, Minnie Mouse for DD1)

aprons (dogs/minnie for DD1, monkeys and monkeys for DD2.. they are reversible.. both girls have out grown their aprons and we cook/bake on a daily basis)

book (Curious George for DD2, Mickey's Clubhouse for DD1)

pictures of Christ book Im making them

nail polish for DD1

A necklace for DD1

some art supplies for each of them

I almost forgot, Im stensiling monkeys onto some undies for DD2. She recently decided she wanted to use the potty but really wants monkey undies. I can't find any within my price range (not paying 20.00 for 5 pairs) so I got some generic white ones Im stenciling monkeys on the front of for her. Im also tie dying some shirts for them to use as art shirts. They are in need of some new art smocks and I had the shirts leftover from another project.

 

Most of this I bought on clearance because I knew they would appreciate it/use it. I don't buy anything for the sake of buying it and Id rather have a half empty stocking of things they like then it full with things they won't use. I think I spend about 35 per stocking over the course of the year. Most expensive thing this year was the aprons, I allowed each girl to pick out her fabric and the fabric probably came to 15-20 for the two. I do have extra of all of them though that will be used for other projects.


~Heather~ Mama to Miss E (1/07), Miss A (11/08), Mr.T (2/11) and Miss A (10/12) Expecting our newest blessing sometime late Sept/early Oct.. Wife to my Marine since 11/2005
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