I will admit when I first had kids and started helping Santa with the stockings, I needed to learn a thing or two.
Like the fact that the kids were MUCH more excited about their stockings that I had anticipated.
There is an art to finding just the right items for the stockings -- fun but useful, engaging but seasonal and something that Mom probably wouldn't give to the kids (let's face it, Santa is waaaay cooler than Mom).
I think the key to a great stocking is one that has a few memorable items that will be treasured for a while along with some fun treats to eat. So I like to start in November to hunt for some creative items that fit a current hobby or obsession -- and ones that are good and will last well past winter break!
Great Stocking Stuffers for Kids
We love it when Santa leaves items that are played with for a long time or ones that lead to a great experience. Mini science kits, puzzles, seasonal items and cool 'practical' gifts are always a big hit.
Here's our list of some of the great items Santa has left at our house along with affiliate links so you can decide if you want to put them on your list for this year!
Santa always leaves something 'christmas' for us - probably made by the elves. We love these items and keep them from year to year.
Another big hit are holiday coupons! Try these Coupons from Santa for Good Boys and Girls: Stocking stuffer coupons to redeem throughout the year!
You might also find some mini holiday toys like the ones in this fun Christmas TOOB which can be used as ornaments or to create a fun holiday play scene!
And we just adore these fun 3D Christmas Glasses! If you look at the tree lights thru the glasses, you can see reindeer (shh..they're magic!)
Fun & Engaging Activities
Mini-figurines -- Kids love mini! We love the figurines and play items from Safari Ltd. and use them quite a bit for both pretend play and educational activities. They have a huge selection of Toobs with a variety of animals & structures to fit any child's interests!
Card Games -- always a big hit because they are interactive. Try Dr. Seuss Cat in the Hat Card Game for creative play with younger children. Older kids will love the classic Uno Card Game (one that parents will probably remember too).
Books, Books, Books -- yep, Santa loves to encouraging reading! We always find some fun seasonal reads in our stockings.
For book ideas for preschoolers & elementary age kids, check out New Holiday Books post and also our book list for fun Christmas traditions.
Tweens & teens will appreciate books that focus on a favorite hobby, interest or some creative Laugh-Out-Loud Jokes for Kids and mini-guides like the Pocket Guide to Gemstones or Dinosaurs (DK Pocket Guide).
Give an Experience
Some of the items we find in our stockings lead to even more fun! If you have a child who loves to help in the kitchen, maybe they'll find an apron and a real set of Kids Kitchen Tools!
Or maybe you have an outdoor explorer in the house? In that case, a copy of The Kids' Outdoor Adventure Book: 448 Great Things to Do in Nature Before You Grow Up along with a set of these Terra Kids Binoculars would be ideal.
These ideas are 'outside of the box' fun that kids will love! First is Crazy Aaron's Purple Thinking Putty -- I don't know what it is but kids LOVE putty! It comes in lots of colors and Mom would never give the kids putty ;)
And of course, there's always those wonderful toys that stand the test of time. We've already mentioned a few -- the Uno Card Game and the Etch-a-Sketch -- other memorable ones include a Classic Metal Original Slinky and the Rubik's Cube -- both will offer hours of fun for the kids!
More Great Gift Ideas for Kids