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7 Ways to Save on Stocking Stuffers

stocking stuffers

Guest post from Tanya of

I know from experience that Christmas gift giving can cost a lot of money and I am always looking for ways to save. One area I’ve found many ways to save is in buying stocking stuffers.

I actually enjoy picking out the stocking stuffers for my kids more than the presents! In fact, I start collecting them for the following year right after Christmas.

There’s a dresser in my guest room where I collect them all year. That way, when I see a deal I just grab it and save it. Shh! Just don’t tell my kids!

Here are seven ways I save money on stocking stuffers:

1. Look in dollar bins at Michael’s

Michael’s has great dollar bins as you are waiting in line to make your purchase. They make great stocking stuffers.

2. Shop at the Dollar Store

The dollar stores is a great place to find bargains on hair accessories, candy, socks, books, stuffed animals, and craft supplies.

3. Check the Target dollar bins

I have purchased eye masks, lotion, flash cards, and notepads from the Target Dollar Bins.

4. Re-gift

Although I am always appreciative of every gift I receive, I think we can all admit that we can’t always use everything we are given. Some of the things I have re-gifted are scented body lotions, small books, and pens.

5. Sign up for freebies

I have signed up for sites such as and and received things like razors, shampoo, makeup and lotion samples.

6. Give something useful

I like giving my kids things they can actually use as I know that it won’t be money wasted. Socks, toothbrushes, razors, and books make great stocking stuffers!

7. Shop after Christmas

Shopping after Christmas is a great way to save on things like Christmas ornaments, Christmas themed books, and coloring books. You might also be able to find things like scarves, hats, and mittens.

I hope these things have given you a few ideas of how you can be frugal during the Christmas season.

How do you save on stocking stuffers?

Tanya blogs at  about trying to create a beautiful and loving home while living on a budget.

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66 Comments

  • Lana says:

    I have a plastic shoe box for each member of the family in a closet and I shop all year round. Since I have 17 stockings to do this year and 18 next year (unless we have another grandchild announcement) I have to keep an eye out all year long for items to fill them with.

  • Carolyn says:

    I have teens, so I use my $10/$10 JC Penney and Kohl’s coupons for T-shirts, jewelry, the more expensive nail polish, men’s items, etc., for free or nearly free. I have a $20/stocking budget, so these really help out. Plus, by getting each teen a t-shirt (for free!) that helps take up some room in the stocking, so I don’t have to buy a lot of little stuff to fill it. I also try include a book in each stocking that I’ve gotten from Paperback Swap – again for free. Books also take up space, so I can go for quality and not quantity.

    • Meg says:

      I use JCPenney and Kohl’s coupons as well for Christmas gifts! Helps me save a LOT!! Also, 9 times out of 10 kohls has a 15% off coupon so check before you go shopping! The 2 coupons can be combined!! I have $45 in kohl’s cash, a $5 email coupon a 20% off coupon for this weekend! So I can get like $65 worth of stuff for practically nothing!!!

    • says:

      I have teens too. That’s a great idea!

  • says:

    I save up my points from Peter Piper Pizza and turn those in during parts of the year and get stocking stuffer toys. It took a while for my girls to understand that we should not waste them as soon as we get those points. Now they get one thing and give me the rest of the points to save for stockings. I also save the HEB Buddy Buck points and turn those in periodically to get more stocking stuffers. When they get Instant Winner, we save them for when customer service has prizes in stock. I also buy products from Avon to fill the stockings, those little lip balms, deodorants, paint body soaps and etc are great stuffers and they usually go on sale really cheap.

  • Carrie says:

    I try to do only edible or consumable items in the stockings. For instance, candy, gum, jerky, gatoraide, crackers, chips, cookies, fruit, nuts, deodorant, toothbrush, etc. I may do one little toy, but that is it. I don’t want any more junk and clutter in my house, and my kids love to have their own bag of whatever is in their stocking. I have 5 boys so snacks don’t last very long at my house.

    • Guest says:

      Carrie – I LOVE your response. I was going to post a comment saying that stocking stuffers are often the items that become clutter and/or trash. If you give items that are consumable, people will still be thrilled to receive, you know it will be used and you won’t be throwing it in a donate pile six months later.

  • says:

    We put a little candy in the stocking and a toothbrush, then each member of the family writes coupons to one another. It helps the kids think of others and it eliminates the clutter of all the little junky toys and whatnots that just end up in the garbage or all over after Christmas. My kids love it!

  • celia says:

    I always put a new toothbrush in everyone’s stocking. my husband gets a mini lint roller for his desk at work. Mini lint rollers are REALLY popular teeny gifts. I also put an orange in. I got a great idea in the comment section on The Prudent Homemaker’s blog last year and that was to put breakfast food in the stockings since children are usually too wound up to eat on Christmas and this way breakfast is fun. I am going to get single serve cereal and milk and let them “camp” under the tree.

    • amber says:

      My grandmother who was born in 1918 told me oranges, nuts and a few pieces of candy were what her and her siblings would get in their stockings. She also said she would always get one gift. It was always a ”new” doll. It was a rag doll her mother made her.

    • Em says:

      We always had an orange in the toe part…my husband still puts on in mine every year!

      I too do edible items…packs of gum, pringles, beef jerky, and maybe a candy bar.

    • sister4love says:

      I love the cereal campout for breakfast. Genius!

  • Gina says:

    With six kids and one income, we’ve had to be creative :). We put homemade coupons in our kids’ stockings (along with a few other little things). They love these personalized gifts we make for them. Here’s some ideas for coupons: “free” back rub, date with mom/dad, Sonic happy hour drink, movie night with mom/dad, slumber party with friends, “help me clean my room”, “day off school” (we homeschool), the possibilities really are endless. Even our teens have enjoyed these. Usually we make each coupon usable once per month, with little check off boxes on them. That way they get all kinds of treats all year, on top of everything else we do with them. 🙂

  • says:

    I put together a list of frugal stocking stuffer ideas not too long ago. It’s here if you’re interested! 🙂

  • amber says:

    This year I kept about 20 pieces of Halloween candy. These will be divided up between two stockings.

  • says:

    I actually save money on stocking stuffers by NOT shopping in the dollar bins. Most of the dollar store trinkets end up in the trash, which ends up being little more than wasted money. By shopping year-round to take advantage of sales and clearance on quality items, and giving experiences and consumable gifts, I’ve been able to save money and still cut down on the clutter that comes from the stocking gifts. I recently wrote a post with my favorite ideas for non-clutter stocking stuffers that have worked great in our house the past few years!

    • Andrea says:

      I was just thinking the same thing about not shopping dollar bins! No sense in stuffing stockings with things that will be stuffing the trashcan by the end of the day.

    • Luba says:

      Those are my thoughts exactly about dollar bins and dollar stores. Quality things can be found on clearance, and those things don’t look like they came from a dollar store, but can be bought for much less than a dollar often.

      • Wonder says:

        I buy the fun markers and pencils out of the dollar bins at michaels, my son loves having new stuff after christmas break and the other kids always want to borrow his stuff. So it really depends on what you are getting out of the dollar bins. I have snagged some great teacher gifts in dollar bins as well!

  • Karen says:

    Socks are my go to. I buy each girl a pack of low cut fashion socks and put that in. It takes up A LOT of room! My son just gets a pack of Hanes 😉 I also put candy canes in each stocking and that is all as far as candy goes. I like to buy school supplies when they go on clearance cheap. I get the different colored tapes, pens, decorative pencils, markers, little pads of paper. Fills the stockings up cheap and it also will keep them occupied when they are bored (not on Christmas morning, th0ugh!)

  • Stephanie says:

    Santa is in charge of the stockings…. he puts the 1 toy that they are allowed to ask for in it, a few other odds and ends (FUN), and then the rest is filled with Christmas morning breakfast. And boy does he spoil those kids…. they get foods from him that I would never let them eat…

  • LoriJo says:

    My cheap (and easy!) (and recyclable!) way to wrap stocking gifts is to drop each item onto a square of aluminum foil and just SCRUNCH it closed. No tape! No scissors! No gift wrap! After unwrapping all the stocking gifts, you just scrunch all the aluminum foil together and toss it into the recycling bin. (As an added bonus, it’s silver and shiny…just like tinsel!)

  • Betsy Durand says:

    My mother in law introduced me to the practice of “everyday items” for stocking stuffers– from cotton balls to socks to fun lipstick, chewing gum, pretty kleenex packs, pens, etc. and I have used these items far more than other things that were given to me. Practical but pretty goes a long way and means a lot too.

  • shannon anderson says:

    Since I have two girls, relatively close in age, I find things paired in packages such as lip gloss or small nail polish. I open the package and wrap one for each girl. I also wrap everything that goes in the stocking with tissue paper and ribbon in a tootsie roll style. This takes up space and looks festive at the same time!

  • says:

    One of the fun, CHEAP things I put in stockings for my little ones are band aids and scotch tape. Another day of the year, I’d never let them “waste” a package for fun. They love it and both are very inexpensive at Dollar Tree.

    • Leah says:

      Oh, I love this suggestion! What kid wouldn’t like their own box of band-aids or roll of scotch-tape!

    • Rachel says:

      Santa always brings my four boys scotch tape, too! And a box of Tic Tacs. We have 9 adults and only 4 children at Christmas at our house so us grown up ladies fill the stocking of all the adults. We each get one small item for each other(usually the same thing – like I will buy 4 bottle of nail polish and give one to each). The men take care of the candy. It works for us!

  • Heidi says:

    I enjoy giving some of their favorite snacks from the grocery store. Gummy snacks are great because they always want them, but I don’t buy them except at Christmas. We always stuff a box of Lifesavers every year, a really large navel orange, as well as new toiletry items.

  • michelle says:

    Sounds silly, but our kids are getting Scotch tape in their stockings. I stocked up on Targets school clearance (paid .30/piece) . They are always asking for tape. Now they will have their own roll and not have to ask.

    • Christine says:

      Not sill at all. One year, when our son was 8 or 9, we got him bungee cords and large paper clips. He loved it and it kept him entertained for many hours months beyond Christmas. Another idea, duct tape if they get any gifts in large boxes. They can connect the boxes for a fort.

  • Laura says:

    I have done toothbrush toothpaste body wash new body puff and shampoo. I have also done new pencils erasers and markers all things that will go to school not stay in the house I pick these up at the back to school sales

  • Carla says:

    One way that I save is when buying candy, I buy a big bag a divide it out into smaller bags. Same with animal crackers and cheese sticks. I usually can find Christmas bags on sale for 75% off after Christmas. I put three or four in a stocking.

  • Mary says:

    My favorites for stockings are art stuff (crayons, glue, tape, etc) and flashlights. My kids love flashlights!

  • Joan says:

    My mom always gave us an ornament in our stockings (picked up on clearance the previous post-Christmas) This way when we left home our first tree wouldn’t be bare! She usually included toiletries and candy, too (consumables)

  • says:

    It used to be that all gifts were in a stocking, and that there weren’t gifts under a tree at all. There might be one or two or even three things in a stocking: a piece of candy, and orange, and ONE Christmas gift, usually handmade by mom.

    Then stockings got bigger and bigger and we felt like they had to be FULL–even overflowing out of the top.

    I’ve actually been thinking about making all new stockings for the family that are smaller, so that they are more reasonable.

    I usually print some free paper dolls and paper toy activities to put in stockings, along with candy and a clementine. I sometimes will add some socks or tights, or a small gift from the already planned gifts for that child.

  • Christiana says:

    I have 3 boys ages 11,11,10. I put 1 book, candy canes, and a small gift card to get icecream or something like that. Plus, candy. If I find cheap DVDs I do that too. My MIL crocheted them a HUGE stocking that they have had since birth so it is so hard not to stuff it full. This year the kids will get a magazine subscription each for the year and a gift card to download music to their mp3 players.

    • jaime says:

      I found it funny that one of the favorite yearly stocking stuffers my kids receive are bandaids with a character on them. Also, Avon sells these little roll on colorful soaps in different fruit scents and they cost $1 each and the kids have fun with them and want to take a bath. Crazy huh? Also, new character toothpaste and nail clippers always get used throughout the year and very inexpensive.

  • Kim says:

    My stocking stuffer ideas are mainly for older children and teens. I like to get lottery tickets & movie tickets. I buy gift cards in small amounts like $5, and I always put in See’s chocolate candy coins wrapped in gold foil.

  • Laurel says:

    Shop all year long for stocking stuffers, I have a box in my closet designated just for that and for things to put in the Operation Christmas Child Shoe box. I get the expensive nail polish after Christmas sale, socks, and Christmas t shirts. Closer to Christmas I buy the ‘fancy’ chocolate like Lindt ‘hello’ bars or Godiva truffles and gift cards for the stocking. Having a teenage son jerky and snack food is always a hit in his stocking !

  • Theresa L says:

    I’m actually a little ashamed to say this, but I found a book for my hubby’s stocking at a thrift store yesterday. It’s a book of Far Side comics in great shape that only cost $.99. How can you beat that? I also found a Calvin & Hobbes book for my 10 year old that was like brand new for only $2.99. He’ll never know it came from a thrift store. 🙂

    • Kathy says:

      Why would you feel ashamed about that?? I think it’s awesome that you found gifts that you know they would love, at a budget price. Be proud, not ashamed 😉

  • Jessica says:

    The garage sales, CVS and Walgreens freebies as well as the 90% off clearance sales each year are how I do it. My 7yo is getting candy, hair accessories, and bath stuff and a chapter book. 3yo DS is getting similar stuff, and the baby gets soft dolls.

  • Jen Krausz says:

    You can save even more at Michaels and Target by waiting until they clearance out the dollar bins. This year I even hit a 70% off sale at Target, making their $1 items 30 cents each! I also use these type of items to fill Operation Christmas Child boxes. Although these items can become clutter, careful choosing will allow you to give items that will actually be put to use.

  • Tara says:

    We do”throwback” stockings with fruit and candy. My kids love them!

  • Debbie says:

    I hit Targets halloween clearance and get little novelty candies that are not too obvious Halloween, little toys, fun sprinkles to decorate cookies and I have one that likes to bake so he gets fun cake or cookie mixes. They like skeletons and monster stuff all year long and at 90% off can’t go wrong.

  • Cathy says:

    I save all by cash back bucks from discover card and close to Christmas I order gift cards at a reduced cost for nieces, nephews and my kids!

  • CarolC says:

    When I was a kid, our Christmas stockings had an orange, some candy and a coloring book and crayons, maybe a comic book. Enough to keep kids busy in the early morning hours till the parents woke up. I have done the same for my daughter, but now that she is 13, I’m still refusing to fill a stocking with “gifts” because I feel she gets too much as it is. So this year, a few better peices of candy bought cheap with coupons and sale deals and free nail polish and hair accessories and hair brush from Rite Aid with UP rewards. She is asking for a 3-hole punch this year (?!) so I can put one of those in. I’m not sure how I’ll handle the stocking gifts in the future.

  • Jennifer Edgson says:

    I have started shopping in thrift stores. Often people give away unopened packages that sell for very low cost at the second hand stores, I frequent the stores often and just look around. I scored a my little pony unopened for my grand daughter today for 2.00.

  • Pam Smith says:

    I shop all holiday clearance sales all year long, especially back-to-school and Christmas clearance for almost ALL gifts….that dollar spot goes so much farther then!

  • Julie says:

    Use SMALLER stockings. Our 4 girls (& Mommy & Daddy) all have those miniature stockings (I wrote our names on in glitter glue) you can get 2 for $1 at the dollar store. They easily fit 5 or 6 small items (one of which is always a cutie) and that’s all the girls have ever known, so they’re content. 🙂

    • Julie says:

      Ah yes, and scotch tape is almost becoming a tradition as well. Love it when they have THEIR OWN to use up & not mine! 😀

  • Anna says:

    Hi, love it…Christmas is my fave time and all the better for frugal living: this is our 4th cash-only Christmas 🙂

    I say buy bigger things…one year i spent about £50 on ‘tat’ for my daughter’s stocking and most of it isn’t used, so the next year I bought a notebook, pencil case and a nintendo game (cheap online of course) and even though it was all ‘brand’ stuff we saved like £15 on the year before and she got much more use out of them

    Hubby’s stocking (coz big kids get stockings too!) always practical stuff: multipacks of razors, pens, batteries and large bottles of shower gel/ shave foam

    Hope this helps you fabulous frugal peeps

    Anna (in a very cold Devon, England)

  • Tina W. says:

    I shop for stocking stuffers year-round, too. The dresser drawers in our guest room are filled to the brim. Time to sort everything and see where I need to “fill in”. I find shopping for stocking stuffers a real challenge. By doing it this way, not only is it easier on the budget, but I find that I’m buying things that are ideal for that person rather than just something to fill the stocking.

  • Jenny says:

    My children are older in their mid 30’s their Dad and I are busy downsizing , so this year instead of stockings I am filling reusable grocery bags with items we no longer need but I know that they can use. I put cut out cardboard stockings on the holiday bags and I wrapped every item and I added some food , these will be the stocking stuffers this year and they are getting only one gift each beyond these items.

    One item I gifted this way was a teddy bear that one child had and was very fond of (in his hands is that child’s gift this year and I had the bear cleaned and dressed for Christmas ) Then wrapped and sent on his way! (Now he can give the bear to his child and keep the gift for himself this year. The bear looked brand new and it was such an amazing presentation everyone commented on how cute!

  • says:

    I love the Michael’s dollar bins! One of the things I really love is they often have items with initials on them. My daughters love to get notepads, note cards, etc. with their initials on them.

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