Makeovers & Motherhood has teamed up with some friends over the past 6 weeks to bring Top 10 Holiday Lists to help you pick the perfect gifts! I hope you have found them to be useful resources as you shopped and considered how to further your child’s play, crafting, and imagination! And in doing so I hope you have also found fun new ways to spend quality time together!
In the past, Stocking Stuffers have typically been one of my least favorite things about Christmas. Finding inexpensive items that aren’t food, candy, or not-really-wanted trinket type things can be challenging. And often the toys found at dollar stores don’t hold up very long. So what do you get for stocking stuffers… especially when you are on a budget?!
This past week, I went Stocking Stuffer shopping and am super tickled with some of the gifts I found for my boys. Maybe it’s because they’re older and can do more things or because they have expressed more likes. Maybe it’s because I’m tired of toys that talk at the boys and have been focusing more on toys that help the boys create and explore and pretend play. Either way, I probably enjoyed Stocking Stuffer shopping more than the other shopping I’ve done this year.
Here’s some of the great things I found (or thought of)…
Mini Magna Doodles and drawing doohickeys!
Oh, I am thrilled about this find! With both our families living 3 ½-4 ½ hours away (in opposite directions), we have a lot of travel time in the van. Movies are okay for awhile and we have a stockpile of action figures and trucks, but something we can easily hold in our hand and create with is exciting! This gem was $5 at Target and comes bordered with pictures of Marvel Super Heroes or Disney’s Cars.
Likewise, there are similar little drawing pads available for children ages 3+ with a neon drawing background for a little under $5. (You’ll find both of these items back in Target’s puzzle and game section.)
AND… don’t forget the mini Etch-A-Sketch toys which can also be found for $5!
NOTE: I am a stickler for buying age-appropriate toys for little ones because of small parts and little curious fingers and mouths. While these mini magna-doodles are recommended for ages 5+ and the neon drawing pad for 3+, I thoroughly checked out both items and with no breakable/swallow-able parts, I had no worries buying our 17-month old his own. The sliders to erase pictures are the only part he may struggle with, but at his age he just thinks he’s big stuff with his own writing utensil so I don’t think he’ll be too upset not being able to erase his pictures. (Plus, he has a big brother sitting next to him who could be a helper.) So if you have little ones over the age of 1, I would consider these as a fun stocking idea.
As I was wandering through the aisles of Toys R Us, I found a great mini-activity book for the boys to take in the van with them. One thing I love about this little Mr. Potato Head activity book is that not only is it full of mazes and little coloring sheets, but it is a self-contained toy (meaning it has it’s own crayon holder on the backside). AND… it was only $1.48! Yippee!!!
Connor (at age 5) enjoys doing mazes and dot-to-dots. And after he solves them, he often colors them making a beautiful rainbow-colored kaleidoscope! Dylan (our 3 ½ year old) doesn’t necessarily know how to solve the puzzles on his own, but loves the time mom and dad spend working with him and he loves to color.
From big thick activity books to pocket-sized ones and everything in between, most stores have a variety of characters that little ones love! And most are very inexpensive! Check out stores like the Dollar Store, Dollar General, Hobby Lobby, Walmart, Target, Meijer, and even your local grocer!
Legos are a fun option for 5+ year olds. You can find small boxed sets around $6-$7. And right now, several stores have the Lego City sets on sale for Buy 1, Get 1 50% off!
The Dollar Store is an AWESOME place to buy puzzles! Disney Cars and Marvel Super Hero puzzles for only $1!!! I believe they also had some girly puzzles, but unfortunately I can’t tell you which ones. I stocked up on puzzles for my boys and our nephews for Christmas last year and it was a hit! Although the box they come in may be too big for a stocking, you could open it and put the puzzle pieces in a quart-size Ziploc bag for the purpose of putting it in the stocking. I would hang onto the box though for stackable storage.
Playdough and playdough supplies are pretty inexpensive items to stuff a stocking with… especially for the hours of entertainment it provides! So load your little ones up with multiple colors, plastic cookie cutters, and playdough tools this Christmas! BTW… I’ve seen several stores offering Buy 1, Get 1 50% off on playdough tools lately!
Figures & small trucks
Miniature princess dolls with clip-on dresses, super hero figurines, green army men, and small Transformers. These are all under $7 and promote pretend play with your little ones!
Likewise, small trucks and cars (like the Hot Wheels line), small construction trucks and tractors are inexpensive and easily transportable.
Even though these items are likely just smaller versions of the toys your child already plays with, having the size variation can be enough to promote a different option of pretend play! Plus, on-the-go size toys are always great for the car.
Stamps & Stickers
When I was a kid, I had several self-inking stamps with a simple design that were just great fun! You can imagine my excitement when I found some very similar to them in the dollar section at Target (you know the area right inside the door where all sorts of little items can be found for $1-$3.50)!!! There were 4 little stamps in the package for $1. I instantly snatched them up and then thought “wow, what a simple great gift that the boys can create with!” Then I started thinking about all the wood-mounted stamps at the big craft stores and their 50% off sales and 40% off coupons!
AND… speaking of independent projects kids can do… what about stickers?! Kids LOVE stickers! Once again, take advantage of 50% off sales on scrapbook stickers (check online at www.hobbylobby.com). Sometimes Target will have rolls of stickers in their seasonal department or their dollar section up front. Check out a dollar store’s sticker section. Or have access to an art/teacher supply store? You can find great rolls of stickers there! Stickers are a great art/craft for kids. Lately, we’ve simply been coloring holiday pictures and using stickers to embellish them!
The possibilities to create and do independent crafts are huge for both of these!
Although the kiddos can’t play with them immediately, art supplies are small, exciting, and fairly inexpensive! Items you could include:
- Paint brushes
- Colored pencils
- Glue sticks
- Googley eyes
Check out Top 10 Craft Supplies for Preschoolers for more ideas!
Yes, I really said a harmonica! My parents got my two older boys harmonicas a couple years ago and they both love them. Kids love to make music and these are thankfully not loud, annoying music-makers! While it will probably not be an instrument they ever excel at, they love parading around the house blowing their harmonicas. When they are done with them, they think its great fun to store them in their pockets so they can have them handy for their next sing-song.
Think card games like Slap Jack, Old Maid, Go Fish, Spot It Jr., and Uno! Travel games, because of their small size, are great too… especially for long car rides to grandma’s house! Preschool aged travel games include magnetic tic-tac-toe, Connect 4, and Melissa & Doug’s Memory Travel Game.
More stocking stuffer ideas… a jump rope, a Slinky, holiday socks, CDs, movies, sidewalk chalk, finger puppets, Koosh balls, Mr. Potato Head Spud Buds and, of course, a candy cane!
Or don’t forget about all the wonderful homemade gifts you could give your child… puzzles made from cutting apart pictures, homemade playdough, hand-me-downs for pretend play clothing pieces/accessories (a scarf, bead necklaces, sunglasses), and more!
Get creative this Christmas and put on your thinking caps for those Stocking Stuffers!
Here are more great stocking stuffer lists and gift ideas…