Stocking stuffers at Christmas are kind of like cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving. It’s there every year, but it’s usually an afterthought. It’s the opening band for the big concert.
But don’t you think the Christmas stocking deserves a little more love? After all, those stockings — hung delicately over the fireplace — are the first to greet Santa as he belly flops into your living room, and the first to bid him farewell when he climbs back up.
Because we think stockings deserve a little more attention this Christmas, we thought we’d share our five rules for stocking stuffers:
Set a dollar limit
This is top priority! How much are you going to spend on each stocking?
Some people like to keep the stocking stuffers cheap, while other people use the stockings to go all out with smaller gifts like jewelry or watches. Either way is fine, but make sure you budget for the stocking just like everything else.
Put some thought into it
The stocking isn’t an afterthought. It’s a gift, like any other gift under the tree. Ask yourself this question: Am I filling the stocking just to say I’ve filled it, or am I buying stuff the other person will appreciate?
Maybe your spouse would like a Starbucks gift card and some chocolate more than a 10-pack of socks!
Think outside the stocking
Do you give the same stocking stuffers every year — a gift card, maybe a pack or two of gum and some candy? What could you do that’s completely different this year?
You might consider giving coupons for acts of kindness (like watching the kids one night while your wife goes out for a girl’s night), or giving details about a special summer vacation you’re saving for. Sometimes an experience is more memorable than a physical gift, so what type of experience can you provide with the stocking?
Consider a theme
Rather than just a hodgepodge of different stuff, you might want to consider creating a theme for each stocking. It doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive, but that little bit of extra effort could make someone’s Christmas morning even more special.
Don’t force it
There’s nothing wrong with simply using the stockings as decorations, and saving all your money for the gifts under the tree.
If your family has never done the stocking thing there’s no need to start now — unless you truly feel like the change will be worth it. Your traditions are your traditions. Own them, and be proud!