Budget-Friendly Stocking Stuffers (Printable!)

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Simple, budget-friendly stocking stuffer ideas with real food treats and a reminder that YOU get to decide what Christmas looks like in your family.

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Stocking Stuffer

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The first Christmas stocking I remember was one of those long, skinny knitted ones that everyone had in the 70’s and 80’s. Do you remember those? Do you remember why they went out of style? It was because the insides were a series of loose strings that strangled EVERY SINGLE TOY in the stocking. My 3 year-old-self spent half of Christmas morning trying to untangle matchbox cars from yarn tentacles.

There was also an orange my mom pilfered from the fruit basket and an off-brand Barbie doll. My very first barbie-ish toy. The other half of the stocking held a bag of gold chocolate coins and a bunch of Santa Claus and snowman-shaped chocolate bars. That year, everything I received could fit in a plastic shoebox – which was one of my under-the-tree gifts.

No one told me that other kids got more than that. No one told me that other kids were getting Power Wheels cars they could ride for Christmas. Or Barbie’s Dream House with real name-brand Barbies.

I was 3. All I saw was how I got enough loot to fill an entire plastic shoebox. It was amazing.

Below, I’ll show you exactly what we’ve learned about filling budget-friendly real food(ish) Christmas stockings. And I included a handy printable so you can download it and use it for your Christmas Gift List.

For more gift ideas, check out our Budget-Friendly Gift Guides! Everything is under $30, and it’s for all of the most difficult people to shop for: men, in-laws, tween boys, and adult children!

family at christmas tree

Budget-Friendly Stocking Stuffers

We put a lot of pressure on ourselves over what Christmas is supposed to look like. We want it to be special, meaningful, and dang it, it’s so hard NOT to buy ALL THE THINGS. I try really hard to ensure my kids’ childhood is just right. But who defines “just right?” Commercials? Walmart’s sales insert?

You do.

You define what Christmas means for your kids.

You’re the one who creates their Christmas, and for the most part, it’s the only one they know.

Maybe you feel the pressure to make Christmas just right. Maybe in the midst of that, you’re trying to save money and eat healthy, and you don’t want to fill their stocking with a ton of candy and chocolate.

You’re also trying not to break the bank on toys (my 10 year-old reminded me that Nintendo Switch games fit perfectly in his stocking).

Real Food Stocking Stuffers

Maybe you have a young toddler who isn’t used to that kind of food and you want to avoid it for as long as possible. Or maybe you have older kids, and giving them a bunch of sugar makes it hard for you to keep liking them this early in the morning. We can be real here.

As we’ve tried to save money and eat healthy over the years, I intentionally filled stockings with treats that are not only fun, but won’t prompt a sugar high on a day where I’m supposed to stay joyful.

Christmas cookies

Allergy-Free Stocking Stuffers

For many years, our kids had food allergies. They’re still sensitive to some foods, and we have to be careful what we eat and keep in our house.

If you have an allergy kid, we have a ton of gluten-free and dairy-free stocking snack suggestions.

Of course, you don’t have to put any food in their stocking. But too much extra stuff and disposable toys is not good for our sanity or our planet. So I’m sharing a balance. We pack stockings with snacks, consumables, and a few things they keep. Find what works for you and your family this season!

As I said, you get to be the boss of your Christmas. So take these suggestions from a veteran stocking-packer, then make them your own!

Here’s how we’ve filled stockings over the years:

Gift Ideas for Packing Stockings

1. Breakfast

Since my kids are the kind that wake up begging for food, I add snacks they can eat during the gift unwrapping. Think of gifts that make a reasonably good breakfast. This might include:

  • Granola bars
  • Applesauce pouches (maybe in flavors we don’t usually get)
  • For older kids, try oatmeal or cereal cups they can prepare themselves in between gifts
  • Apple cider or hot chocolate mix
  • Fruit – bananas, apples, or the classic orange. One of my kids hated oranges for a while, so he got apples instead

If you need a second, more substantial breakfast, try these:

  1. Simple Baked Oatmeal (gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, and vegan options)
  2. 5-Minute Egg & Cheese Muffins (gluten-free with dairy-free options)
  3. Overnight Oats for the Crowd (egg-free with gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan options)
  4. 4-Ingredient Clean Breakfast Sausage (gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, and pork-free)
Kids making Christmas cookies

2. Fruit Snacks

Since we don’t eat these very often, they make a fun, sweet treat. I buy the organic version from Aldi because it’s still cheap and contains no artificial colors or dyes.

Fruit leather works here too. Try it for older kids who don’t want fruit-shaped snacks.

3. Dark Chocolate

Aldi has bars of assorted dark chocolate. It’s dairy-free and only $2 for 5 bars where we live. I know it’s not your classic santa-and-snowman-foil-wrapped-chocolate, but let’s be honest: those ones taste like plastic, and my kids harvest plenty of them from the pavement during our local Christmas parade.

My Aldi carries these flavors: classic dark, mint, orange almond, chili, and salted dark. They also carry milk chocolate varieties!

Christmas stockings

4. Popcorn & Crackers

Again, because we don’t eat a lot of pre-packaged snacks at home, these are big deal. Single-serving snacks can be fairly inexpensive and take up a lot of space in the stockings (BONUS!). Try flavored popcorn, crackers, raisins, chips, or a favorite trail mix.

On that note, who keeps making the Christmas stockings bigger and bigger? Why are we trying to fill Shaquille o’ Neal’s socks?

5. Craft Supplies

Craft supplies make great stocking stuffers. I go to Dollar Tree and stock up on their favorite supplies:

  • popsicle sticks
  • googly eyes
  • pipe cleaners
  • modeling clay
  • crayons
  • notepads
  • coloring books
  • activity books
  • paint supplies
  • erasers

6. One Bigger “Wow” Item

We learned this tip from Operation Christmas Child. Choose one bigger, special item for your stocking. Then use the snacks, breakfast, and craft supplies to fill in around.

For us, a “Wow” Item might be a book, t-shirt, movie, small lego set, or a stuffed animal they’ve talked about wanting recently.

Choosing one “Wow” item helps keep the stocking budget-friendly and simple.

There are some great Wow Item ideas in our Tween Boys gift guide!

Here’s a quick printable you can download for your Christmas gift list!

allergy-free, budget-friendly stocking

How to Fill a Budget-Friendly Christmas Stocking

Yield: However many you need! You're the boss.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Difficulty: Easy

Here's how we fill our kids' stocking stuffers in a thoughtful, budget-friendly way.

Materials

  • 1. BREAKFAST
  • Since my kids are the kind that wake up begging for food, I add snacks they can eat during the gift unwrapping. Think of gifts that make a reasonably good breakfast. This might include:
  • Granola bars
  • Applesauce pouches (maybe in flavors we don’t usually get)
  • For older kids, try oatmeal or cereal cups they can prepare themselves in between gifts
  • Apple cider or hot chocolate mix
  • Fruit – bananas, apples, or the classic orange. One of my kids hated oranges for a while, so he got apples instead
  • 2. FRUIT SNACKS
  • Since we don’t eat these very often, they make a fun, sweet treat. I buy the organic version from Aldi because it’s still cheap and contains no artificial colors or dyes.
  • Fruit leather works here too. Try it for older kids who don’t want fruit-shaped snacks.
  • 3. DARK CHOCOLATE
  • Aldi has bars of assorted dark chocolate. It’s dairy-free and only $2 for 5 bars where we live. I know it’s not your classic santa-and-snowman-foil-wrapped-chocolate, but let’s be honest: those ones taste like plastic, and my kids harvest plenty of them from the pavement during our local Christmas parade.
  • 4. POPCORN & CRACKERS
  • Again, because we don’t eat a lot of pre-packaged snacks at home, these are big deal. Single-serving snacks can be fairly inexpensive and take up a lot of space in the stockings (BONUS!). Try flavored popcorn, crackers, raisins, chips, or a favorite trail mix.
  • 5. CRAFT SUPPLIES
  • Craft supplies make great stocking stuffers. I go to Dollar Tree and stock up on their favorite supplies:
  • Popsicle sticks
  • Googly eyes
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Modeling clay
  • Crayons
  • Notepads
  • Coloring books
  • Activity books
  • Paint supplies
  • Erasers
  • 6. ONE BIGGER “WOW” ITEM
  • We learned this tip from Operation Christmas Child. Choose one bigger, special item for your stocking. Then use the snacks, breakfast, and craft supplies to fill in around.
  • For us, a “Wow” Item might be a book, t-shirt, movie, small lego set, or a stuffed animal they’ve talked about wanting recently.
  • Choosing one “Wow” item helps keep the stocking budget-friendly and simple.

Tools

  • Aldi and Walmart usually provide the snacks
  • Dollar Tree usually provides the craft supplies
  • And we usually get the Wow Item from Walmart or Amazon

Instructions

    Drop the orange/apple into the toe of the stocking. This fills out the toe nicely and fills that small, awkward space.


    Choose a few cute items that you want to stick out of the top of the stocking (candy canes, a stuffed animal, a paint set. Set them aside.

    Place any bigger items in the stocking first (coloring books, notebooks, or boxes of markers. If the Wow Item is larger and you don't want it to stick out of the top, pack that in as well.

    Fill out the edges of the stocking with the snacks items and craft supplies.

    Add the items you set aside, letting them peek out of the top.

    More than likely, your stocking will be full before you know it, and you'll be stuck putting a random box of crayons and a bag of chips under the tree. Stockings fill up fast if you're strategic about it!

Notes

TIP:

Years ago, we learned that wrapping each gift in the stocking makes the experience last longer. Sure, it's a little extra work, but when you don't have a lot of gifts under the tree, it makes the gift exchange even more fun for the kids.

Keep The Christmas Stockings Simple

Whatever you decide to put in your child’s stocking, remember – you’re in charge. Your child isn’t born with preconceived expectations over how big their stocking should be or how much loot they get. You make the traditions in your home. And it’s not too late to make new ones.

However, if you love them, don’t use knit stockings. No 3-year-old needs to wrestle their off-brand Barbie out of a yarn chokehold.

What You Can Do Now:

How do you keep your Christmas stockings budget-friendly?

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budget-friendly real food Stocking Stuffer pingraphic


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