"It's October!" I hear you say. Yes, it is, but perhaps you're beginning to think about Christmas because you want (or need) to spread the cost. Perhaps you're beginning to prepare now so that you can enjoy a calm and peaceful advent with your children. Today, I want to share with you some stocking filler ideas and recommendations...
Watching my daughter open her stocking on Christmas morning is my absolute highlight of the whole festive period. It's usually very early, so still dark, but Bean is so incredibly warm and delicious, with her soft and knotted morning hair and eyes sparkling with excitement, that I forgive the early start. So, shopping for her stocking is something that I really enjoy and that I want to get right, so I take my time.
Finding stocking fillers that are small, affordable and which your child will enjoy (and will not end up in the charity shop box, or in landfill within a week) can be a challenge. When I'm shopping for Bean's stocking I always bear this little shopping rhyme in mind...
'Something to wear,
Something to read,
Something that you want, and
Something that you need'
Self care items
This is a good place to start. What does your child actually need? A new toothbrush, a toothbrush timer, a hairbrush or comb, a face cloth, bubble bath or bath bombs, hair accessories? Bean is a really big fan of Tinti bath products. They're natural, non-toxic, 100% biodegradable, and do not dye hair, skin or your bathtub. Win win! We've also used them in our water play tray and, in the summer months, in the paddling pool. They're not cheap, but I only ever buy them for the Christmas stocking and for birthdays, so they have become something that Bean really looks forward to. These are the ones that we've tried and enjoyed...
Small items of clothing
Again, what does your child need? One Christmas, Bean got a pack of 'days of the week' underwear in her stocking which she wore for a whole year, and really loved. Gloves or mittens, a winter hat, a snood, socks, tights, an apron for cooking or painting, all make lovely stocking fillers, and are items that your child will use regularly. Small dressing up items such as play silks, scarves, masks, tabards, hats or wigs, work well as stocking fillers too. One Christmas Bean requested 'real glasses'. I managed to find some 'fashion' glasses for children and, to this day, they remain one of her favourite things!
A basic pack of playing cards is an extremely versatile resource, with many ways to play, alone or with friends. Story dice, tiddlywinks, top trump cards, dominoes and travel versions of some of the classics, such as Connect 4, Battleships, Guess Who etc. make great stocking fillers. The travel versions are cheaper, smaller and often have clever features as they're designed for travel. This year Bean will be getting the Uno card game, and Tenzi dice game in her stocking.
Below are some of the games that we've collected over the years and still play with regularly. I'm a big fan of 'eeboo' products, as they're so beautifully illustrated, and the 'haba' game tins as they're just so cleverly designed. Bean's favourite is 'Happy Families', but we don't get to play that one as often as you need three players (I'd be happier if the families were a bit more diverse too!)
Which books could I add so that we have something lovely to read over Christmas? Lots of full size children's picture books can be found as miniature versions. Below are three of our favourites for the festive season. Audio books make a nice alternative, and are especially lovely for listening to together on cold winter afternoons. Of course, once your children learn to read themselves, then small chapter books make great stocking fillers too.
Art and craft supplies
What does your child need? New pencils or pens, stickers, chalk, a tin of watercolour paints, finger paints, glitter, play dough.
What does your child want for Christmas? Matchbox cars, Lego minifigures, Playmobil figures, Schleich animals, musical instruments, cuddly toys. It can be tempting to stuff their stockings with lots of these types of toys for the immediate 'wow' factor, but think carefully about the longer term. Will your child still be playing with this toy in 6-12 months time? What alternative could be more versatile and offer richer play opportunities? I'm not suggesting that you deny your child, just limit the quantity perhaps.
I expect some of you have your own family traditions for stocking fillers, but if not, why not start one of your own? In our family we always found a bag of gold chocolate coins, a tangerine and a £1 coin in the bottom of our stockings. When Bean was born I wanted to add a family tradition of my own, so each Christmas I pop a tree decoration in her stocking. By the time she leaves home, she should have enough to decorate her own tree!
Stocking fillers for babies
Bean celebrated her first Christmas when she was just 6 months old. I could easily have got away without preparing her a stocking that year, and she would have been none the wiser, but as my first (and only) baby I was super enthusiastic and wanted to get her involved! In her stocking she had two books, a few bath toys and a wooden bead maze. I didn't wrap them, as she wouldn't have been able to manage opening them, and I didn't stuff her stocking to bursting as she wouldn't have been able to mange that either. She enjoyed sitting on her uncle Sam's lap and digging in...
What have been your most memorable stocking fillers from your own childhood? Do you have stocking filler family traditions? What are you planning to put in your child's stocking this Christmas?
Please like, comment and share with friends and family, if you think they might find this blog post useful.
With love, Rowan and Bean x
A small note on affiliate links...
This blog post contains a few carefully selected affiliate links. If you do click through, Bean and I will receive a small amount of commission which will contribute to new books and resources for her home education. You can, however, find all of these resources elsewhere, including other online retailers, second hand selling pages and your local library. Please do not feel obliged to use them.