How to Fill a Christmas Stocking

The time-honored holiday tradition of hanging Christmas stockings from the mantelpiece may date back as far as the 4th century CE,[1] and they've clearly been very popular ever since. It's fairly easy to put together a Christmas stocking. Gifts for stockings don't need to be especially fancy or expensive to be fun and useful. Here are some suggestions to get you started.


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    Consider the recipient. It's important to note the recipient's interests, preferences, and expressed wishes when putting together the items for the stocking. Consider what you think the person might like. Once you've settled on their preferences, pick a theme for a set of gifts.
    • Are you filling the stocking of a six year old boy or a sixty year old woman? Clearly the age directs the choice of gift and yes, it is perfectly fine to give stockings to adults too! It is a good idea though to note whether or not adult recipients think that this is an appropriate gesture at Christmas time. Many adults may prefer that only the children receive stockings, so keep this in mind.
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    Choose small and generally inexpensive gifts. Well chosen gifts need not be costly to be meaningful, helpful, or fun. For children, pick items that are fun, interesting, and likely to keep them amused for hours. For adults, select items that are both small and useful, such as kitchen accessories and office gadgets.
    • When filling the stocking, think of the shape. Small, expensive items are best placed at the toe because they're the last to be found and deserve to be the most exciting. Long slimmer items can be slipped down the length of the stocking leg, and in between many filler items can be stuffed in randomly.
    • Decide whether or not you wish to wrap the stocking items. It isn't essential but it does prolong the fun!
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    Choose toys for kids and kids at heart. The classics are great additions to any stocking: crayons, modeling clay or play dough, a Slinky, miniature Lego kits, travel games, decks of cards, mini jigsaw puzzles, wind-up toys, tops, squirt guns, balloons, beach balls, high bounce balls, small stuffed animals, toy cars, and even fancy shoelaces.
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    Add foods. A wide variety of foods fit in stockings, and they are consumable, enjoyable, and easy to give.
    • Try a favorite candy, jam, or ice cream sauce.
    • Fancy coffee, tea, or hot cocoa samplers would make a great addition for those who drink them.
    • Gum, cookies, fruit leathers, and other small snacks fit nicely.
    • An orange makes a good, traditional addition. You can also substitute it with a chocolate orange. Oranges fit well in the toe of a stocking. Don't bother to wrap it; just make sure it is in good condition.
    • Decorate the top of the stocking by hooking a candy cane or two over the rim.
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    Include favorite toiletry and personal items. These can make excellent stocking stuffers because they're small and they're always useful and desirable.
    • Try a new hairbrush or toothbrush (perhaps the one with the purple sparkles or a favorite cartoon character), a bar of fancy soap, or a loofah. For an adult, expensive electric toothbrushes might make a useful choice.
    • Check out the travel and trial sizes. Would someone you know enjoy trying a new hand lotion or shampoo? A travel set can be an excellent gift for someone you know who is about to travel just after Christmas.
    • Give a small handheld ball-type massager. These come in many shapes and sizes and you might like to include more than one.
    • Add fashion jewelry, nail polish, or hair clips.
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    Give gadgets. Handy little things make excellent stocking fillers for adults and teens. Some ideas include:
    • Pocket or desktop calendars.
    • Pocket knives or multi-tools.
    • Pens, pencils, erasers, pocket staplers, highlighters, color pens, notepads, especially for the students on your list.
    • Wristwatches or small alarm clocks.
    • Flashlights, small hand tools, kitchen utensils.
    • A travel-sized sewing kit. Again, this is perfect for someone who is about to travel after Christmas.
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    Find out about the recipient's hobbies. For instance, if anyone on your list is an aspiring artist, you could give a set of good artist's pencils or try a pocket sized pencil drawing kit.
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    Give money, especially interesting money. For example, try US$2 bills, if you can find them. Most banks have 2's, just ask. Give wheat pennies, dollar coins, or other interesting coins.
    • In the U.S., many post office vending machines give change in dollar coins. Money doesn't need to be wrapped, but make sure it doesn't get lost.
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    Include gift vouchers. Gift vouchers can be slipped in easily and can cover clothing, restaurants, groceries, music download cards, and even gift cards for new experiences for the more adventurous recipient.
    • While gift cards and gift certificates fit in a stocking, remember that they may be relatively costly compared to the space they take up. One possibility if you want to include gift cards is to attach them to a small, related gift. For example, a hardware store gift card could piggyback on a wrapped tape measure or other small hand tool.
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    Include a few items just for fun. These items can be decorative, enjoyable, or whimsical.
    • Small candles
    • Pretty stones or minerals
    • Potpourri or incense
    • Ornaments and miniatures
    • Music CDs.
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    Consider having a 'theme' for your stocking. For children, good ones are:

    • Chocolate - miniature individually wrapped chocolate, hot chocolate mix, chocolate scented pen or stickers, one large thick bar of chocolate, a calculator that looks like a chocolate bar, chocolate scented soap, etc.
    • Sweets - minute individually wrapped sweets.
    • Princess - tiny pink ribbons, individually wrapped pink strawberry bonbons, minute stories about fairies and princesses, a plastic tiara, costume jewelry, clear lip gloss, etc.
    • Football - Football key rings, tiny soft footballs, chocolates wrapped in football pattern paper.
    • For adults:
    • Stationery - minute erasers, pencils, pens, a tiny hole puncher, a mini roll of sellotape, a tiny stapler and pencil shaped chocolates.
    • Sanitary items - tester sachets of shampoo and conditioner, tiny bottles of shower gel, shampoo and conditioner, combs and brushes.
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    Remember your pets. Many people make up stockings for pets. These are fun for the recipient and for the family because family members have to encourage or help the pet to remove the items from the stocking. Be sure to leave something enticing dangling from the top of the stocking! Things to stuff a pet's stocking with include:


  • Don't forget a stocking for yourself. Even if nobody is getting you gifts, you can wrap up a few little goodies and blame them on Santa.
  • Don't rely solely on the items suggested in this article. Instead, use the list for inspiration and direction.
  • If you have several stockings to fill, there's nothing wrong with duplicating certain gifts. For instance, everybody can get a bar of fancy soap or a pen. Do include a few unique gifts in each one, too.
  • Many stocking stuffers are small enough to be wrapped in the odds and ends of wrapping paper that you cut off when wrapping larger gifts. Save up these scraps and put them to use.
  • The dollar store is a huge plus for those on a budget. So many things can be picked up cheaply. WARNING! Do not buy very small items for kids under 3 years. They can choke or inhale these far too easily.
  • Team up. Encourage others in the family or group to bring a few items to add to stockings. Does one person do most of the Christmas shopping for the family? If so, everybody else can make sure he or she gets a few surprises, too.
  • Wrapping stocking gifts adds to the excitement and will discourage eager children from peeking inside their stocking early on Christmas morning. It also means that gifts will be better appreciated and children will spend more time unwrapping them!
  • If you have a few too many items, put a couple of larger ones under the tree, instead.
  • Handcrafted items make great stocking stuffers, and wikiHow has many craft ideas that would make good gifts. If you plan to make any stocking stuffers yourself, be sure to allow ample time to do so and remember that the holiday season may make you even busier. For stockings, especially, choose projects with moderate difficulty and time commitment.


  • Before you buy gift cards, be sure that they are for shops and services near your recipient's home, and that your recipient will enjoy shopping there. If you're in doubt, cash is accepted anywhere.
  • Don't give personal hygiene items that might be embarrassing for the recipient or that might even vaguely suggest that they need them. Deodorant or toothpaste are not appropriate stocking stuffers!
  • Don't give very small objects to children under three, as they are a choking hazard.

Things You'll Need

  • Good sized stockings; or for small gifts like a gift voucher, why not make a miniature stocking instead
  • Stocking stuffers

Sources and Citations

  1. Wisegeek, How did the tradition of Christmas stockings begin?,

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