Too often parents find themselves stuffing Santa stockings while simultaneously stuffing the turkey. Before your Christmas multi-tasking goes a step too far (and you accidently load breadcrumbs, celery and onions into the Santa sacks) take a quick read of Pippa Henderson's cheap & cheerful, fun & functional stocking-stuffer ideas, kind on both time and budget.
Make sun-safety a joy with a funky new sunhat or cap. (Most kids could do with a spare anyway!) Depending on their age and responsibility level, you could also pop in their very own roll on sunscreen, to help ensure their little nose doesn’t look like a Christmas strawberry this summer.
Soft toys are always a winner for the littlies, along with the paper they’re wrapped in. For good old-fashioned hands on toys for primary age kids, check out Doodle Toy Store (…‘in toys we trust’) at the new Whoa! Studios in Henderson, West Auckland. I picked up a metal slinky, wooden spinning tops and a tube full of alien bugs to assemble (treasure indeed!) for about $5 each. They’re well stocked with seedling gifts too – imaginative kits and toys that help bring kids’ ideas to life.
Tradition holds that an orange is the first item placed in a Christmas stocking, and is placed in the toe, according to reference.com (and my mother). Reference.com goes on to explain the orange is representative of St. Nicholas giving gold, which was used to provide dowry money. Legend suggests this gold was thrown to people by St. Nicholas in the form of golden balls.
Encourage some imaginative play with a dress up item, or some form of disguise. Look Sharp and $2 shops can usually help you out here. From the classic glasses-nose-moustache combo through to top hats and tutus, you’re guaranteed a giggle.
Knick knacks can be painful to buy if you’re a minimalist, or simply trying to declutter, so give your child Play Doh or Fimo instead, and they can craft their own. Or go for the Shopkins option – cute little collectable knick knacks, great for both display and play.
I’m not suggesting you stretch the budget (or the stocking) with a piano accordion or a set of bagpipes, little hands will be just as happy with recorders, harmonicas, castanets and maracas.
Cotton On Kids sell super cute summer pajamas.
I picked up an all in one set of Chess, Chinese Checkers and Backgammon for just $10 from The Warehouse. Playing cards and Snakes and Ladders are cheap and cheerful alternatives.
I’m not exactly pushing the envelope with this one, but stationery really is a tried and true, fun yet functional stocking stuffer, especially if you can pop into Typo or Smiggle. Smiggle sell lunchboxes and drink bottles as well, another sensible stocking stuffer.
A novelty toothbrush, neon nail polish, a mini manicure set, a hairbrush, bubble bath… These are all things you can throw blindly into your shopping trolley. (Throw with your eyes open if your child is also in the trolley of course.)
Try to find some fun designs, like a days-of-the-week set of underwear from Farmers, or socks with built in burrows for toes.
If you consider chocolate food, that is. Everyone deserves a treat at Christmas.
Books are always a worthwhile investment, but activity books crammed with stickers, word-finds and mazes are a cheap alternative that will occupy your kid's minds and hands, hopefully buying you a little downtime.
Kids love to accessorise. Some kids love novelty sleep masks (Typo have a good selection), some kids love goggles, masks (and snorkels), and almost every kid would be stoked with their very own little pair of sunnies.
In the words of Ernie, “…he makes bath-time lots of fun."
Bath toys, including the iconic rubber ducky, should really be top of the list for babies and toddlers. Littlies always enjoy something new to dunk, squeeze and slobber over. Babycity sell a set of blue, yellow and pink Tommee Tippee Dippi Ducks for $6.99. They also sell single Munchkin Safety Bath Ducks for $9.99, with a disk at the bottom that tells you when the water is too hot.
There are plenty of stocking size sports activities out there that will give your kids the run around. Skipping ropes, balls, mini basketball hoops, velro mits with velcro tennis balls… My youngest son is getting a baseball mit in his Santa stocking this year, which was actually passed on to us, in perfect nick, from the neighbour. “Second hand stocking stuffers?” I hear you gasp. That’s another story.