The SKILL-FILLED STOCKING: 70+ stuffer ideas for kids to help build practical-life skills, inspire creativity, and soothe the soul!

Welcome to our 12 DAYS OF HOMESCHOOL CHRISTMAS POSTS! If you are just joining us, here’s what you’ve missed so far:


For our 5th day of Homeschool Christmas . . .

To FILL or FULFILL? That is the question.

Stockings these days are most often filled with your two basic types of stuffers: sugar and plastic. In other words, we basically stuff our kids Christmas socks every year with bright and shiny . . . junk. And the worst part is that it’s all that little junk. You know the kind of kid crap that ends up . . . everywhere. These cheap choices may make the kids happy for perhaps a few days (but more likely for just a few hours) and the dollar-section allows us parents to check off the “stockings box” on our Christmas list for very little time and effort. In the end, however, we are left with an empty, bereft, purposeless sock and the debris of instant gratification it delivered.

We may have stuffed it to the brim . . . but we were only focused on filling that sock rather than fulfilling a more worthy purpose for our kids. And not to be a heel or anything, but darn it, socks should serve a purpose! After all, socks were made to warm, to protect, to soothe the sole, and to accompany us on long, fulfilling journeys.

My friends, I’m thinking it’s time to cut the crap. With a little bit more intention and creativity, we can transform the potential of the Christmas stocking . . . if only to make it simpler again. The stocking used to hold humble gifts like mittens, scarves, and an orange or a single piece of candy. And the stocking often held the only gifts of Christmas day! Most of us probably aren’t interested in returning to that level of simplicity, but we would be wise to take the contents of yesteryear’s stocking to heart.

And let’s not forget that the first filling of a Christmas stocking was (as legend tells it) with a pouch of gold coins for a young girl’s dowry! What could be more intentional than . . . marriage money? Perhaps today our giant, fleece-trimmed stockings with our children’s names monogrammed onto them should fulfill a similar destiny. No . . . not to marry off our kids! Thankfully our daughters don’t have to have dowries (or camels) anymore in order to get married and/or have a proper place in society. But perhaps we can modernize Saint Nicholas’ Christmas gift concept by setting an intention for the Christmas stocking to provide opportunity to our children rather than to merely please them—purposing the Christmas stocking to symbolically and strategically equip our children for their futures.

What would that look like? Rather than cramming a stocking full of tens and twenties or a balance slip from a nice, hefty trust fund . . . I’m suggesting providing for our children by giving them the tools they need to provide (or adult) for themselves one day. I’m suggesting we give to them the opportunity to develop their potential. I’m suggesting we give to them useful things to set their hands and minds and souls to— long-term life skills and vocation rather than immediate gratification.

We can fill our kids’ stockings with gifts that do so much more than just gratify! Our stockings this year can cradle opportunity—beautiful, thoughtful invitations for our children to create, discover new hobbies, soothe their souls, and gain practical skills that will serve them throughout their lives. Let’s embrace simplicity and sophistication at the same time and furnish our children’s socks with vocation, innovation, cultivation, and inspiration. Wow, what a sensation!

Wool you join me this year in filling our kids’ socks with opportunity instead of stuffing them with junk?

The Skill-Filled Stocking

INCLUDED IN THIS POST:

  1. Six “Skillful Stuffer” categories and plenty of ideas for each
  2. A few budget picks highlighted in green for each category
  3. At least one made in USA pick highlighted in blue with link included for each category
  4. Bonus “Tips & Tricks for Stuffing a Stocking on a Budget”

I hope that this list will serve as a sort of spring board for your own “Skillful Stuffer” ideas! Feel free to go straight for the section you think your child will be most interested in, or mix and match for a stocking that holds a wide range of activities for your child to try his or her hand at!

~ARTS & CRAFTS~

Stuffer Ideas:

  • Wooden stamps
  • Ink pads
  • Colored pencils
  • Chalks
  • Pastels
  • Art erasers
  • Play Doh (for littles)
  • Glue, paste, glue sticks
  • Mod Podge (made in USA pick!)
  • Sculpey Clay (made in USA pick!)
  • Water Color set (budget pick!)
  • Paint brushes (budget pick!)
  • Acrylic paints (budget pick!)
  • Wood burner (ages 8+) (made in USA pick!)
  • Beading kits

~MUSIC~

Stuffer Ideas:

  • Harmonica (made in USA pick!)
  • Recorder
  • Flute
  • Kalimba
  • Chimes
  • Bells
  • Kazoo (budget pick!)
  • Castanets (budget pick!)
  • Music Box
  • CDs

~NATURE & SURVIVAL~

Stuffer Ideas:

  • Binoculars
  • Compass
  • Flashlight (made in USA pick!)
  • Headlamp
  • Maps (budget pick!)
  • Collapsible fishing pole
  • Fishing bait, lures, bobbers (budget pick!)
  • Hiking socks
  • Swiss Army Knife (ages 8+) these are still made in Switzerland!
  • Fire Starter (ages 12+)

~CARPENTRY & HOME REPAIR~

Stuffer Ideas:

  • Hammer
  • Screwdriver
  • Wrench
  • Angle, level
  • Tape Measure (budget pick!)
  • Safety Goggles
  • Nail, screws, washers (budget pick!)
  • Wood Stain (made in USA pick!)
  • Sand Paper (budget pick!)
  • Wood burner (ages 8+) (made in USA pick!)
  • Small saw (ages 12+)

~CULINARY ARTS~

Stuffer Ideas:

  • Measuring spoons
  • Measuring cups
  • Chef’s hat
  • Monogrammed Child’s Apron (made in USA pick!)
  • Rolling Pin
  • Silicone candy molds
  • Cupcake liner papers (budget pick!)
  • Pastry Cloth
  • Frosting/Icing Set
  • Wisk
  • Wooden Spoons
  • Cooking thermometer
  • Food Coloring (budget pick!) (made in USA pick!)
  • Extracts such as vanilla, peppermint, almond, etc. (budget pick!) (made in USA pick!)

~SEWING~

Stuffer Ideas:

  • Knitting/Crochet needles
  • Cross-Stick Kits
  • Samplers
  • Lacing boards (for littles)
  • Pins, needles, thimbles, seam ripper (budget pick!)
  • Fabric Scissors
  • Sewing Kit
  • Loom picks & combs (made in USA pick!)
  • Yarn (budget pick!) (made in USA pick!)
  • Embroidery thread (budget pick!)

Bonus Tips & Tricks for Stuffing a Skill-Filled Stocking on a Tight Budget

  1. Teaser Stuffers: This was something my mom always did . . . whether to be sneaky, mysterious, minimal, thrifty, or all of the above, I do not know! She would often put “teasers” in our stockings for gifts we’d be getting later on that day. For example, embroidery thread taken out of a sewing box she wrapped for us under the tree . . . or a small hair clip or headband she made for us to go along with the dress she made. Sometimes we wouldn’t even know what it was and she’d say with a twinkle in her eye “oh . . . that will make sense later!” It was like a clue and it drove us nuts . . . in a good way. So try this sneaky stuffer idea if your child’s sock could use some extra padding.
  2. Homemade is Best Made: Bake some cookies, make some popcorn balls, knit a bright red scarf! Homemade, homespun gifts speak of family and love and just make the best stocking stuffers . . . not to mention they are often the cheapest option as well! Join us next week for our Homemade Christmas Candy Tutorial for a super sweet stuffer!
  3. Subcontracted Stuffers: I’m totally guilty of this one! Our kids get a LOT of gifts from family. Often too many . . . a very blessed, first-world problem to have, I know! To manage the festive . . . flow, I filter through gifts as they come in, returning/replacing some gifts before our kids open them (oops . . . cat’s out of the bag and Miss Manners is appalled) and whisking away small-in-size gifts to the stocking stuffer box. This is a great way to fill a stocking without spending a dime. Just make sure you give Aunt Ruth credit for the *stolen* stuffer by putting a tag with her name on it.
  4. Stuffer Freebies from ME! That’s right! Subscribe below and stay tuned for my free printable stocking stuffers posting soon: The Stocking Scavenger and “Tell Me a Christmas Story Cards!”

Thanks for reading!

Love, ~Our Holistic Homeschool~

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