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DIY Stocking Stuffers That Don't Cost a Dime

Here are four ideas for stocking stuffers you can make yourself that are sure to bring smiles to your little ones this holiday season — all without spending a dime!
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This year has pushed us to get creative with our time and resources: an afternoon becomes a fort-building mission, a Friday night becomes a movie night under last year’s holiday lights and the recycling bin becomes a treasure trove for arts and crafts. With Christmas around the corner and because stockings were a tradition I dearly enjoyed as a child, I decided to take that same creative spirit and create easy, memorable (and possibly free) stocking stuffers for my little ones, all from things I already had around the house — and without spending a dime! Here are four ideas.

gift
Gifts come in all shapes and sizes! But sometimes it's the small things that can bring the most joy.

Make Personalized Coupons

Think about what your child values and gets excited about that doesn’t cost any money. An extra 20 minutes of screen time, a movie night during the school week, one extra bedtime story, a bubble bath or an afternoon of baking cookies are all great ideas — and make great coupons! Once you decide on your coupons, write (or type) each of them out on separate pieces of paper and put them inside envelopes. You can use store-bought envelopes or make some yourself with wrapping paper with origami or using tape.

Envelope Making With Paper [Without Glue Tape and Scissors] at Home

To make envelopes sans origami, lay your paper rectangle (no bigger than 6’’ x 9’’) vertically and fold the bottom third up, creating a crease. Tape the sides up to the top of the fold you just made, leaving the top of the folded piece without tape. This will make your envelope’s pocket. Fold the remaining top corners inward into a triangle to form your envelope’s pointed top flap. Fold that point down to meet the bottom of your envelope, and you’re done. After that, decorate away! I used a single pom pom on mine.

A folded piece of wrapping paper with red reindeer with some scissors next to it.
1/4 The bottom third of your rectangle will form the envelope's pocket. | Meg Raby
A piece of wrapping paper with red deer on it folded up into an envelope shape with scissors next to it.
2/4 Folding the top third of your piece of paper will create the envelope's characteristic pointed top. | Meg Raby
An envelope made out of wrapping paper with red reindeer on it holds a note that reads "choose one extra bedtime story"
3/4 Your envelope is now ready to be filled with coupons. | Meg Raby
An envelope made out of wrapping paper decorated with a yellow pom pom.
4/4 An envelope made out of wrapping paper decorated with a yellow pom pom. | Meg Raby

Wrap Holiday Treats

My mother would bake shortbread candy cane cookies every holiday, but she’d only make around 2 dozen in total. They were my favorite! An extra, unanticipated treat is a sure way to excite your kids. Do they like gingersnaps or iced sugar cookies? Grab one or two, wrap them up in a baggie and place them in the stocking. That’s it!

A sugar cookie decorated with colorful icing to look like a present
A wrapped sugar cookie is a simple, yet effective treat. | Meg Raby

Create a Craft Activity

Think of this as a craft kit you might purchase, but this time, you’re the creator!

Take some time to sort through your craft supplies: markers, crayons, glue, glitter, string, pom poms, popsicle sticks, paper, etc. You can think of an original craft, place the materials needed in a baggie and explain the craft to your little ones when they open it. Another option is to simply place a variety of craft items in the baggie and leave them as an open-ended craft activity so kids can decide what they want to create with the materials. Here is an example of a little hanging ornament that requires popsicle sticks, pom poms, glue and string.

A tube of glue, popsicle sticks, colorful pom poms, a piece of string and a piece of paper are laid out on a table.
1/2 A few pieces of craft supplies present lots of possibilities. | Meg Raby
A hanging craft made out of popsicle sticks and colorful pom poms pasted onto a piece of paper with a string on top of it as a handle.
2/2 A hanging craft made out of seemingly random materials. | Meg Raby

Make Swirled Crayons

Besides being fun, this satisfying activity is good to do when you have small or broken crayon pieces around the house (you’re likely to find some scattered across your play area, the car floor or under the kitchen table). Besides the crayons, you’ll need a silicone baking pan and a baking sheet. Don’t have one? Try borrowing one from a friend or neighbor. The more festive the pan, the better! To start, peel off all your crayon wrappers and break the crayons into small pieces. Place the crayon pieces into each mold, making sure to fill it up completely. Place in an oven preheated to 280℉ for 15 to 18 minutes. The colors will melt together and create a swirl effect. Once cool, gently push out each crayon and wrap in tissue paper, or place it in a baggie.

Pieces of crayons in a silicone baking tray with gingerbread doll shapes.
1/3 Bits of crayon can make wonderful new crayons. | Meg Raby
A swirled crayon in the shape of a doll with different shades of green.
2/3 A swirled crayon in the shape of a gingerbread doll with different shades of green. | Meg Raby
Five swirled crayons in the shape of gingerbread dolls in blue, orange, purple, pink and orange shades.
3/3 Melting crayons of different colors creates a swirl effect. | Meg Raby

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