With what do we fill our Christmas stocking?

With Christmas getting closer and wishes and lists being expressed, we all want to continue the magic of Father Christmas with our children. So, what do we fill our children’s stockings with and what informs what we include?

My Christmas stocking when I was young was my father’s hockey sock. My brother and I would be beside ourselves with excitement on Christmas morning. We’d wake up to find, what had been quite slim socks, looking widely distorted as different shapes of gifts had been forced down each sock, leaving a line of intriguing shapes. We would then know that we had to wait till at LEAST 6am, before barging in to my parents to unwrap our stocking gifts on their bed and then chat and play with the gifts. This was the start of Christmas for me and I know that I am fortunate to have such incredibly happy memories.

Now as a mummy, I also want my children to have happy memories around this special time. Whilst these days it seems that, like many things, the stocking for Father Christmas seems to be getting bigger, my husband and I decided that we wanted to keep the stocking, number of gifts and the gifts themselves small but continue to create the excitement and joy around this first part of Christmas day. Our children have a stocking and all the presents bar one must fit in the stocking (same size as my father’s hockey sock!). We also try to ensure the children don’t come in until 6am (becoming more challenging!) and they sit on the bed to open the gifts and then have time together talking and playing with their gifts. It really is very much a close family time, but also across the generations, as we mainly have Christmas at my parents, so they hear all the muffled noise and the “shhhh don’t wake Granny and Grandpa” and they say it reminds them of when my brother and I were young. As we think on our memories and those with our children, it seems obvious that the most important thing to go in the stocking, is the family time we create around it.

Also, being realistic and practical, there are also the gifts, so here are a number of ideas that I continue to revisit over the years as gifts for my children and a number informed by my childhood. I do tend to start purchasing gifts in the sales over the summer, thereby managing the cost element over a wider period of time, rather than a large financial hit in one go.

Mini games/jokes/magic tricks - Jacks, Trumps, Dobble, trivia quiz questions, whoopee cushion, harmonica, balloon car, yo-yo, finger guillotine, finger puppets, brain teasers, wazoo – these are being sold in toy shops, M&S (current 3 for 2 offers on) and Sainsbury’s. I bought my son Jacks one year, having played them as a girl, but my son didn’t know about the game and we hadn’t had the opportunity to play a full game. Quite soon after Christmas, I went storming in to his room at a time when he didn’t want me there and I found myself in acute agony from something I stepped on. I looked down to find he had laid all the jacks across the entrance of his room – something he said he had seen done on the film Home Alone!! Needless to say, the true way to play jacks was duly demonstrated!!!!

Outdoor adventurer – torch, compass, mini bug observer, tin mug with carabiner, bike bell, glow sticks, slap bands (found some Disney ones in a toy shop) – found at most outdoor stores e.g. Halfords and National Trust. Items such as these are guaranteed to then ensure that less moaning occurs on any Christmas Day/Boxing Day walk!

Books and Annuals – Sainsbury’s have been selling a number of annuals for £3.50. Who remembers Beano, Bunty, Smash Hits annuals etc.? Defies the years. Small books like Beatrix Potter and the Mr Men are continued favourites.

Stationery - every year I got pencils, pads and smelly rubbers and these are met with many squeals by my children. Pencils – a website called Studio can personalise 20 coloured pencils and 4 HB pencils for £2.99. Pencil case – you can find every shape, size and colour these days but found that the Surfstreet website had surf, shark and skateboard shaped pencil cases- cool for all children. Paperchase and Lorimers in Sevenoaks do a great line in pens, pencils, smelly/non-smelly rubbers and cases.

Craft - Hama beads – I put different colours in lots of mini stackable containers (from Amazon) which together made a tube of different colours. Made it look more interesting and didn’t have to get out large pots of beads each time! Dot-to-dot books – I have found myself having a go with these rather than the children as they now make them not simply numerical dot-to-dot. Very relaxing. They were being sold in LIDL earlier in the year but are in many stationers. Stamp sets and emboss sets – being sold in LIDL very reasonably.

Vehicles and cars – LIDL are doing a great range of cars, trains and trucks, some that light up and battery operated remote control. Matchbox cars and Hot Wheels still a favourite as found in most toy shops and loved by children through many generations.

Christmas Decorations – I buy my children a Christmas decoration each year, which then they hang on their own little tree that they each have in their room. I have done the same for my husband and I since we were married, so there are memories attached for all of us. My hope is that the children will then take their decorations when they leave home and put them on their own trees, continuing the Christmas memories.

Other individual ideas – (1) Stikbot – brilliant opportunity to develop animation and hilarious stories created. (2) Key rings – happily every craze of film and character has an array of key rings (especially those that change, light up or make a noise!). (3) Beakers with attached straws, bendy straws etc. which very much helps in aiding additional water consumption by the children, especially if its “theirs”!

Sciency things – There are number of Science Museum gadgets being sold in Sainsbury’s and other toy shops and this year I found a Zero gravity vehicle that states that once wound up, will roll vertically up the fridge, it was £2.99.

In keeping with the tradition from when I was young there are chocolate coins, a pad for writing and at the bottom of the stocking…..an orange!