Stocking Stuffers: From Toddlers to Teens

“‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, 

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, 

In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.” 

A Visit From Saint Nicholas was written in 1823, sparking a new tradition around the world. It was this year that the earliest recording of the tradition is found, but it is believed that stocking stuffers have been around since the fourth century. 

According to legend, Santa Claus was passing through a town and heard the news of a man who was grieving the loss of his wife, and couldn’t afford a dowry for his three daughters. After hearing the devastating news, Santa climbed down the chimney and dropped gold coins in the daughters’ stockings, which were hung out to dry. 

Today, most children won’t wake up to find gold coins or petty change; but instead, they find treats waiting for them. 

Finding the Right Stocking

For some, the right stocking is the biggest sock without holes from dad’s sock drawer and for others, it’s a personalized, decorated, or handmade foot-shaped bag. Finding the perfect stocking can be part of the fun that turns into family tradition! Maybe the whole family gets the same stocking, and the only personal touch is the name at the top?

If it’s your child’s first Christmas, handmade or personalized stockings are great gifts. The stocking is something that will be used every year, even after they leave home. Do you, your mom, or grandmother know how to knit, cross-stitch, or sew? Maybe each year, the family has a stocking decorating day at the first of the month! The options are limitless.

Where do I hang it?

Let’s face it, many modern homes don’t really have the traditional fireplace to hang stockings above. Instead try one of these popular locations!

Bed Frame: Simply loop it around one of the posts on your kids’ bed frames!

Door or knob: Use a wreath hook to hang easily on the doors.

A tall door frame: Put a few nails at the top or around the side, and you’re set!

Hanging it on doors, door frames or knobs is a great way to show off your stocking style to all the guests and family that come to visit during the season. David and Megan Berberick from Spearfish have three kids in different age groups. The tradition of stocking stuffing has been passed down from generation to generation. “We hang our stockings on the banister for the stairs,” David says. 

So what should you put in the stockings?

We know that can be a bit tricky, so we have a few ideas for every age group! The Berberick’s three kids are in elementary, middle and high school. David shares, “Megan and I will get them all candy, socks or mittens because that works for any age, and then we tend to get them one item specifically unique to their age.” In the past they have given their kids Kindles, Matchbox cars, or DVDs. 

 Newborn to 3 years old 

Squirter Bath Toys

Getting your baby or toddler to take a bath can be quite troublesome. They don’t want to stay still or just don’t want to be wet. These fun toys create a win-win scenario for everyone involved when it’s time to wash! 


You can never go wrong with a book. Books allow the imagination to soar at such a young age, and are a great way to get one-on-one time with you and your child!

Mini-Musical Toys

Bring your house to life with music when your son or daughter receives their first musical instrument this Christmas! There are so many options out there including musical toys that sing and light up, simple maracas, and more.  

 Preschool to 1st grade 

Specialty Candies or Cookies

Have a baking day with grandma a day or two before Christmas, and set aside some of the best-looking treats for the stocking! If you’re not into baking, buy some pre-baked goods from the local grocery store or pick up some candy canes or Christmas-themed lollipops! Both are small and easily fit into any size Christmas stocking. 


Books can really be appropriate for any ages; did you know that most kids show their interest between 3 and 5 years of age? 

Crayons, Colored Pencils, or Markers

Drawing is important for young kids. Before they learn how to speak, it can be used to help communicate feelings. For Kindergartners and similar ages, benefits include enhancing motor skills, developing problem solving skills, making your child more expressive and letting them develop more of an imagination.  

 2nd & 3rd Grade 


Tying back into tradition, oranges are a fun alternative to gold! As the tradition transformed over the years, the gold coins turned into oranges as a symbol of the gold left in the stockings. Plus this is a great way to avoid any sugar rushes this season!


Kids grow like weeds; as they get taller, their feet are also getting bigger! They also aren’t very gentle on their clothing, so socks are great gifts. Instead of just neutral colors, get a few pairs of your child’s favorite color or socks with their favorite animal or cartoon character! 

Temporary Tattoos

Don’t just decorate the tree this season, let your little ones show their spirit with holiday-themed temporary tattoos! Each tattoo lasts about three days depending on the size and placement. 

 Upper Elementary 


Are you not quite ready to give your child a phone? Ipods are a great alternative and can last a while before you need to give them a phone. Let them travel with their favorite tunes and contact you after practices via messenger apps like Facebook’s, What’sApp, or Skype! You can also set parental controls to prevent them from engaging in any activity you wouldn’t approve of. 


This gift will last for years to come, and your son or daughter can even use it on Christmas while the whole family enjoys a hot cup of cocoa. To make things more interesting, get matching mugs for the whole family!

Miniature Games

From classics like Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots to current favorites like Legos®, miniature games and gifts are the perfect stocking stuffer to bring a smile to your child’s face.

 Middle School 


Writing every day or every couple of days is a great way for kids to improve their writing skills, explore their thoughts, and reflect on events. Keeping a log of sorts is also a great way to remember and track your goals.

Rubik’s Cube

Keep your kids’ minds spinning and motivate them to solve problems, by gifting them the impossible Rubik’s Cube that’s been around since the 1970s! This classic toy is a fantastic way to practice logic as well as develop skills that are critical to STEM education.  

Headphones or Speakers

From Ed Sheeran, Why Don’t We, Luke Combs, Thomas Rhett, and more, music is still pumping in the modern era. When kids enter into new schools or grades, music is a great conversation starter! Headphones or Bluetooth speakers are small enough to fit into stockings (it might be a tight squeeze for some sizes) and make great gifts. 

 High School 

Gift Cards

In high school, your kids are at the age where they begin to get really picky about the gifts they get. They’re tired of getting socks and mittens or maybe they have a car and need gas money. Gift cards are a great way to know your child will love their gift. They get to choose something they really want and still have you to thank for it! 

Lotions & Shower Supplies

Your son might not be a huge fan of this gift, but getting your daughter her own set of shower gels and lotions is greatly appreciated! Stick with the holiday theme and pick up some scents that fit the season – peppermint, vanilla bean, candy apple or try Bath and Body Works’ “Tis the Season,” new this year!

Trending Accessories

High School students are crazy busy with their schedules between school, sports, other extracurriculars, and work. Give them a little gift they can use each day for their last semester like a trending notepad brand, bracelets, or tech accessories.

words by Sarah Richards