Tired of giving gifts that become clutter six months later? Yeah, me, too. I’m on a mission to have clutter-free stocking stuffers for Christmas.
Stocking stuffers are one of the highlights of our Christmas morning. We open stockings first. They are the start of the day’s fun, if you will.
A few summers ago when I was helping some children clean their room, I found several card games. Correction: I found pieces to several card games. Apparently, we no longer had the rest of the games, nor did we have the instructions to play them. For the record, I’d never ever played the games, nor had I seen my children play the games.
But I had bought them.
Oh, yes, I had. I bought the games, paid cold hard cash for them, wrapped them, and stuffed them in stockings on Christmas Eve. And here I was six months later throwing the bits and pieces in the trash.
And paying a stupid tax.
You see, I was paying for the error of my ways. In the name of stuffing a Christmas stocking, I had purchased things that no one had asked for and things that no one apparently loved. And they became clutter.
Note to self: don’t do this again.
The Grinch in me wanted to say NO MORE STOCKINGS. But, we love the stockings! The stockings are the opening act of a day full of fun. How do I reconcile that fun little bag full of treasure with the desire for less stuff later on?
Clutter-free Stocking Stuffers
In my efforts to curb this post-Christmas waste, I’ve set on a different course in how I go about filling my children’s stockings. The idea started that everything would be edible and therefore gone within a day or two. Since then I’ve adapted my clutter-free stocking stuffers motto it to require everything to be consumable. Edible, usable, consumable, and, hopefully, very little pickupable off the closet floor next July.
I don’t mind if they go through it in a day as long as it brings a smile and doesn’t become more clutter to pick up!
Consider these ideas for clutter-free stocking stuffers. I’ve rounded up some of the items that I’ve purchased for my kids here on this Amazon idea list.
Breakfast in a stocking is fun for the kids and easy on me. When I was growing up, Christmas breakfast involved passing around a two-pound box of See’s candy. As much as I love my nuts and chews, I know that a breakfast of straight sugar isn’t a great way to start the day.
Instead I include in the stockings fun and/or healthy items to eat during that “hyper-excited-it’s-Christmas-morning!” rush. This might include small, sampler sizes of granola bars or cereal, the prerequisite orange or clementine, juice boxes, and other fun breakfast foods, like those Dinosaur egg oatmeal packets. Sure, they might still have a good dose of sugar, but at least we’re taking a stab at real food.
Note for next year: You can save on these items by using coupons, watching for sales, or saving up the samples that you might request through different companies. If you build a stockpile as the year progresses — watching the best by dates — you can easily acquire clutter-free stocking stuffers on a budget.
I don’t typically stock our cupboards with “snack” foods all that often. So, these items make fun additions to the stockings. In the past I’ve included bags of Pirate’s Booty, fruit leathers, and popcorn on the cob as well as Jamba Juice gift cards bought on discount at Costco. This year I’ve picked up things like beef jerky, Cheetos, sodas, and candy. Since I rarely buy soda and candy, this is a treat!
Note for next year: Watch for sales on snack foods at back to school time and buy a few each week so it doesn’t crunch the budget. I loaded my Ralphs/Kroger card with all their freebie Friday coupons for several weeks and redeemed those for my clutter-free stocking stuffers.
Consider these edible stocking stuffers:
- small boxes of cereal
- granola bars or snack bars
- fruit leathers
- small packages of dried fruit such as raisins or cranberries or Funky Monkey snacks
- juice or milk boxes
- clementines, apples, or oranges
- candy canes and Christmas candy
- small bottles of apple cider
- individually packaged crackers or cookies
- popcorn (try popping corn on the cob)
- movie theatre candies
- rice cakes
- favorite teas and coffees
- coupons for restaurants
Toiletries can span all ages and sexes. What kid under the age of 8 doesn’t love character bandages? Along with Band-aids, you can include character dental supplies as well as hand soap, hand sanitizer, and shampoo.
For older kids I’ve included electric toothbrushes, facial cleanser, dry shampoo, shower caps, hair ties and headbands, razors, and travel size products.
Note for next year: CVS and Walgreens do a lot of promotions on toiletries like this, so watch for sales on these items, too.
Toys and Tech
Yes, toys can be clutter-free stocking stuffers, especially when they are things that can be used up, like coloring books, colored pencils, and water balloons. Those are definitely consumable! Do you know how fast a 3 year old can whip through a coloring book? My girls have run through my large Prismacolor box of pencils in a matter of weeks.
On the tech side, phone cases, ear buds, and even batteries are things that kids can easily use that won’t become clutter.
I’ve rounded up some of the items that I’ve purchased for my kids here on this Amazon idea list.
Try some of these consumable stocking stuffers:
- hair products
- silly string (yes, it will be gone in seconds)
- pony tail holders (at my house, these are totally consumable. They disappear constantly.)
- hand soap
- shower gel
- scented hand sanitizer
- gift cards
- coupons for experiences with you
Giving consumable, clutter-free stocking stuffers is a great way to reduce the things that you (and your kids) have to clean up as well as ensure that there are fun and tasty diversions to start the day off with a bang.
How to Save Money
- Get free samples. I originally got this tip from Freebies4Mom last year. Since then, I’ve stashed away any free samples that I’ve heard about online . I have a bag in the pantry where I hide items like small boxes of cereal and granola bars.
- Bundle some candy. It seems that Walgreens and CVS often have great deals on candy near the major holidays. Don’t buy individual packages if a bulk bag is cheaper. Simply bundle a handful of sweets in a piece of fabric or tissue paper and tie with a ribbon. Even M&M’s and Skittles work this way.
- Make playdough. I’m planning on mixing up several batches of homemade dough for my littles this year. Create a homemade playdough kit.
- Visit the dollar store. Use caution because purchases can still add up quickly, but you can find great little trinkets at these discount stores. Just don’t take too much money with you and you should be fine.
- Make muffin tin crayons. I stocked up on 25 cent crayolas at back to school time. Each of my bigger kids will receive a new box. But, I’m going to take all the broken chunks and melt them down into bigger crayon “muffins” for my little ones. Simply sort crayons by color themes into aluminum muffin liners. Heat in a warm oven until melted. Cool completely before removing the foil.
- Create photo books. Good deals abound on photo books. (Don’t forget to get cash back by ordering them through an Ebates or ShopAtHome merchant.) Kids of all ages would love a photo book of their own, be they toddlers, tweens, or teens. Just upload photos you know would interest them.
- Pick out a gift card. Even $5 to a favorite shop or restaurant is a pleasant surprise. Pick one out at ShopAtHome and get cash back from the purchase as well.
- Pass on a family heirloom. My mom did this for years, wanting to ensure that we received the things that were important to her. She always included a small note, explaining the history of the item.
- Write a love note. Share with your peeps how much you love them. It’s free, but it’s priceless. Get our free printable letter for your child here.
What are YOUR favorite clutter-free stocking stuffers?
Originally posted December 1, 2011. Updated December 18, 2017.