7 Last-Minute Stocking Stuffers for an Afternoon of Fun



“The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there” –Clement Clarke Moore: “A Visit from St. Nicholas”

 A Brief History of Stockings

During the holidays, we put up our stockings without hesitation. We have them for each member of the family, and in many cases, even our pets get a spot.

To most of us, this is just the way it has always been, but we don’t really know the true reasoning behind it. So, to answer all your questions about this unique tradition I’ve come up with some brief facts to help you understand this special occasion a little more.

  • There is no concrete date or story of the origin, but we know stockings have been around since at least 1823 when they’re mentioned in Clement Clarke Moore’s “A Visit from St. Nicholas”.
  • The most popular origin story is about a man with no dowry money left for his daughters to get married. That is until Saint Nicholas comes around. However, the man is too proud to accept gifts or charity. So, St. Nick climbs his roof to drop gold coins in his house through the chimney. Little does he know that the man’s daughters have put their stockings up to dry by the fire and the coins land inside them. Thus, the daughters have money to get married and our long-lived tradition of putting gifts in a sock is born.
  • This story could be the reasoning behind why unmarried women in the Czech Republic throw a shoe over their shoulder (hoping it points towards the door upon landing) on Christmas to see if they will get married that year.
  • Instead of stockings, German children put shoes outside which are then filled with treats overnight.
  • England shares the US’s tradition of stockings and fills them with coal if a child has been bad. In Austria, however, the naughty children aren’t given coal, they’re visited by Krampus who gives them a spanking with branches.
  • In 1883, The New York Times published an article titled “The Christmas Stocking” in which there is talk of the stocking revival. People had seemingly replaced them with the Christmas tree because they couldn’t find the right sized stocking, and they were either too big or too small. This led to the invention of the “Smith Christmas Stocking” which solved the sizing dilemma with proper dimensions and helped the tradition carry on to today.

The 7 Gifts They’ll Never Forget

Now that you know all about stockings and their origin, it’s time to fill them up for your children. To help you out with this, I’ve created a list of 7 inexpensive items that most people would overlook when giving this year. However, these gifts are a sure way to create an afternoon of fun that kids will never forget.

  1. Balloons – Balloons aren’t just fun to make animals out of, you can also play balloon badminton! All kids will really need is their hands and an area where they will know the boundaries. Just set up their court and watch them play for hours. Or, you could even join them!
  1. Ping Pong Balls – There are many crafts (like making miniature snowmen) or games that could use ping pong balls. One of the most fun to me is Pong Tac Toe. It is a simple game that all ages will love. Players go head-to-head with different colored balls to get a tic tac toe (3 in a row in any direction) of their color by bouncing them in the cups that are placed between them. Or, contestants can also go one at a time while trying to beat the clock.
  1. Crayons/Markers/Chalk – Any time is a great time for kids to just be creative and let it all out. Simple utensils like this could help your child spend their time productively while gaining important skills or even become the next Picasso!
  1. Bubbles – A little bubble solution can go a long way! Kids can have competitions to see who makes the biggest or longest-lasting bubble, or they could even come up with inventive new ways of blowing their bubbles. Giant bubble wands are easy for kids to make and they only take some yarn and a drinking straw.
  1. Cards – There will be countless games played and houses built that come with a fresh deck of cards. This is a great way to establish better math skills or just learn a new game to play with friends and family. Cards have been around for decades and the fun that comes along with them will never disappear.
  1. Plastic Cups – Cup songs have become a viral internet hit and they show that creativity is far from dead. These videos are amazing, and any child will love to try to put their own spin on this fun activity. On top of songs, cup stacking has also become a new sport and there is even a world competition for the most talented competitors.
  1. Scarfs – Do you have a child that wants to be a circus star or just learn how to juggle? Then scarves are a great place for them to start! Scarf juggling is a fun activity that will have kids learning the basics and advancing their coordination. When they’re done juggling, they can also learn some awesome magic tricks!

Have an Amazing Holiday!

I hope that this list of obscure, inexpensive items will leave your kids in awe and take away any winter blues you may have been feeling about this year’s holiday season. Finding the perfect gift is never easy, but even something like a plastic cup could go a long way for many new, fun activities. I hope that you and everyone you hold dearly has an amazing holiday and a great new year to come. Together we can Shape America’s Future, one child (or unique stocking stuffer) at a time.










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