Stockings don’t have to cost a bomb, with these 53 ideas for cheap but fun stocking fillers.
On average, Brits will spend £45 each on stocking presents this year, according to research by American Express. For a family with several kids, that could really add up.
I really enjoy choosing stocking fillers for my kids, but I don’t think stockings need to cost that much.
In our house, stockings from Father Christmas are opened first thing in the morning, while larger presents from family and friends are opened later on Christmas Day.
Check out my tips below for Christmas stockings, followed by 137 ideas for cheap but fun stocking fillers. I’ve included suggestions from members of the Much More With Less #MoneySavingYear Facebook group too (do hop on over and join us!).
I focused on items that cost £2 or under per item, although there are a few suggestions around the £3 to £4 mark. I’ve also included some ideas for toddlers and also for tricky teens.
Remember, you can still have a magical Christmas morning without spending a fortune!
Top tips for cheap but fun Christmas stockings
Stick to a sock not a sack
Fundamentally, filling a smaller space costs less. I use stretchy football socks rather than expanding to a sack or pillowcase. I have a pair of socks, so I can fill one in advance, then nip in to the child’s bedroom and quickly swap it for the empty sock on their bed.
Set Christmas traditions
For our stockings, some presents always stay the same – a satsuma and chocolate orange right at the bottom, a cracker sticking out of the top, chocolate coins somewhere in between and maybe a new decoration for the Christmas tree. I can then nab familiar items when I see them on sale – I’ve been known to pick up cut price Christmas crackers in January.
Spread the cost
Given it’s already December, this may seem like one of those useless revision tips that advises starting way earlier than the week before the exam.
But if you do keep an eye open for bargain stocking presents through the year, this will help spread the cost. Of course, you do then face the issue of hiding them somewhere the children won’t find them, but you’ll still remember come Christmas Eve.
Save with multipacks
If you’re making stockings for more than one child, look out for multipacks. Splitting a three pack of socks/bath bombs/toy cars between several stockings is often cheaper than buying them individually, or stuffing a whole multipack in each.
Cram in some useful items
Seize the chance to include some stuff you’d have to buy anyway, among the toys and sweets. Think fun hats and gloves, cartoon character toothbrushes, flannels and toiletries, or fancy versions of arts materials such as sellotape, notebooks and glue sticks.
Make it miniature
Lots of things seem more fun in smaller sizes, which also makes them perfect to fit in a stocking. Think mini jars of jam, matchbox size toys or travel size toiletries.
Keep the kids occupied
One of the prime purposes of Christmas stockings is to buy parents extra precious minutes in bed. So think of time-consuming items like mini puzzles or construction toys, books or magazines to read, or games to play.
Watch out for noisy items
Kids may love noisy toys, but other family members may find them less appealing early doors.
Fair to say I regretted buying light up laser pistols, when space battles started at hideous o’clock on Christmas morning. Think twice about any ‘musical’ instruments (harmonicas, whistles).
Consider the consequences
In fact, consider the impact of any present, especially if you are staying in someone else’s house.
I do not recommend unsupervised access to anything involving missiles, glitter, Hama beads or mega bouncy balls (voice of bitter experience).
Keep it green
I can’t pretend our stockings are plastic free, but they don’t have to be entirely packed with plastic. Consider including some more eco-friendly items, such as trad wooden toys, reusable items and things you’d need to buy anyway.
Previous post: 10 simple swaps for plastic-free products around the house
Fair to say you’ll spend less if you opt for Flying Tiger rather than Fortnums and Superdrug rather than Selfridges. Happy hunting grounds for me include The Works, Wilko, The Range, Poundland, B&M Bargains, Ikea, supermarkets and local discount stores – ours is QD. I also scope out pocket money sections in toy shops, department stores and gift shops when we go on outings.
Watch out for delivery delays
When bargain hunting, prices from the likes of eBay, Amazon and Wish can look temptingly low. But do check the expected delivery dates, which can be lengthy when shipping from China. That’s fine if you’re shopping well ahead, but dangerous in December, with the risk that stocking fillers might not arrive until after Christmas.
I’ve therefore focused the links below on high street stores.
Mix it up
Keep the prices in perspective. If you fill most of the stocking with bargains, you might then be able to splash out on some more expensive items your kids would really love. In past years I’ve mixed in £3 music boxes at Flying Tiger, £3.50 Lego minifigures, £4 Playmobil characters and hexbugs. Just don’t feel every item has to cost an arm and a leg.
Ideas for cheap but fun stocking fillers
Drum roll please…
Keep it clean
Dial up toiletries you’d have to buy anyway with more fun versions
Fun flavour toothpaste eg Boots £1 berry toothpaste
Character toothbrushes, such as this Minions toothbrush £1.99 at Superdrug. Stretch to £4 to £6 and you can find battery operated brushes.
Flannel, with cartoon character or magic flannels that expand in water, eg £2 Spiderman from Sainsburys or Disney characters from Wilko
Fizzing bath bombs eg £1 snowman from B&M
Gloop that turns bath water sparkly/colourful/slimy eg £2 Boots colour change bath
A few small but safe options for younger children
Cute plastic bath toys eg novelty ducks £1 at Poundland
Shaped sponge, like these animal versions £1.50 from Boots
Christmas wash mitt, like the polar bear or penguin £1.50 at B&M
Toddler character toothbrush eg £1.75 at Tesco for animal brushes
Toy dinosaurs eg £1.99 from The Range
Finger puppets, bear with me as 10 for £5 at Ikea, but that is only 50p each
Stacking cups, pushing the budget to £2.75 from IKEA
Small soft toy, such as this £1 bear from IKEA
Mini board book, for example 5 Peppa Pig books for £3.99 at The Works, so 80p each
Mini box of raisins, for example 12 for £1.30 at Sainsburys
Chocolate buttons, about 70p for a 40g bag of Cadbury’s Dairy milk buttons
Stickers of their favourite characters, eg Peppa Pig, Paw Patrol or £2 for the Gruffalo from The Works
Masks eg superheroes or £2.50 pack of 8 animal masks from The Works
Look out for stationery themed around their favourite characters, from superheroes and Harry Pottter to emojis and unicorns
Coloured Pritt sticks, 4 for £3.50
Glittery/patterned mini sellotape, eg 4 for £4
Four colour pen, eg £2 from Wilko
Fun pens – think novelty item on top, like this Lol surprise pen, £1.12 at The Range
Mini highlighters eg set of 6 for £2 at the Works
Novelty erasers, eg 4 Harry Potter erasers for £1.49 at The Range
Themed mini notebooks, eg spiral bound A6 notebook from The Works
Colourful mini diaries, think A6 (£1.50 from The Works) or smaller
Desk accessory set eg £1.50 from Wilko
Magnetic book marks eg 4 for £1 at Wilko
Wear it well
Good way to fill up space with useful items
Novelty socks, eg 6 pack for £3 from B&M
Woolly hat, eg reversible kids beanie £1.99 from Mountain Warehouse
Fun hair ties/hair grips, eg arrow hair grips £1.49 at Superdrug
Scrunchies, such as this £1.99 three pack from Superdrug
Reusable water bottle, eg £1 from Poundland
Let there be light
Great for dark December evenings – and mornings if they’re up early enough on the big day…
Torches that project shadows eg 2 pack projector torches £1 from Poundland
String of lights eg £1 for daisies from Poundland
Clip on reading lights, like this mini desk lamp £3 from The Works
Glow in the dark stickers, like these £1.50 glow stars from House of Marbles
Spooky specs, £1.99 from House of Marbles
I‘m a sucker for retro designs and small wooden toys
Dominoes or pick up sticks, 2 in 1 pack for £2 from The Works
Metal Jacks, £2 from The Works
Skipping rope, eg wooden handled version £1.50 at The Range
Slinky, £1.99 mini version from House of Marbles
Wooden yo yo, £1.99 choice of colours from House of Marbles
Twist and lock blocks, £1.49 from the Happy Puzzle Company
Keep ’em busy
Always include something that will keep them quiet for longer.
Construction kit eg Wilko blox spaceship for £1.10
Metal pocket puzzles £1.50 at Tesco
Beat the grown ups trivia games, £2.25 at Sainsburys
Mini joke book, £2 for Beano howlers from The Works
Mini crossword/suduko/wordsearch books eg £2 Sudoko from The Works
I’ve also picked up Lego minifgures and Pixel Bricks Animal Planet kits when on offer.
May require slightly more supervision, but can be useful diversions over the holidays
Craft scissors, with shaped blades, such as this 3 pack for £2 from The Works
Calligraphy pens, eg set of 2 for £1.99 from The Range
Metallic marker, eg 3 pack of retractable metallic pens £3.50 from Sainsburys, so £1.17 each.
Scratch off rainbow art cards, eg £1 kit at The Range
Tub of playdoh £1, or split a multipack
Shaped cookie cutter, 4 for £2 Christmas cutters from The Works
Chunky or unusual paintbrushes
Paint sponges eg 6 crayola sponges for £1 at Poundland
Character ink stamp, eg 10 pack of dinosaur stampers from The Works
Mini colouring book, eg £1 unicorn version from Wilko or £1 dinosaurs at Flying Tiger
Decorated paper clips/bulldog clips/clothes pegs, such as these £1 wooden fairy pegs from The Range
Magic slate, 75p from House of Marbles
Paint your own flower or giraffe kit, £1.25 from Wilko
Gratuitously fun toys to play with. If all else fails, add a whoopee cushion.
Pens that write with invisible ink. eg £1 secret elf message pen from The Works
Balloon powered cars
Wind up teeth or toys eg £2 reindeer from The Works
Pull back cars/animals, like the £3 wooden racing car from Flying Tiger
Toy cars, such as matchbox or this Hot Wheels car £1.50 from B&M
Jumping monsters, 4 for £1.50 from Tesco
Sticky man wall crawler, 99p from House of Marbles
Finger monsters, 99p from House of Marbles
Fortune telling fish, 99p from House of Marbles
Long tongue frog, £1.50 from House of Marbles
Thumb push toys, on sale at £1.99 from House of Marbles, such as this reindeer
Character key ring, for keys or school bag, such as this £1 cinema light box from B&M
Mini gliders, like this £1.50 flying bird from House of Marbles
Snap bands, eg £1 each at Tesco
Toy magnifying glass, eg Adventurer’s folding version £1.99 from House of Marbles
Grass growing head
Seeds (eg wildflower bomb, packet of cress seeds, £1.50 from Wilko)
Terry’s chocolate orange, usually on offer for £1 round Christmas
Chocolate Santa/reindeer/snowman/bear for about £1
Chocolate coins, from 59p at Tesco
Mini box of their favourite chocolates
Favourite sweets, eg lemon sherbets, liquorice
Whistling lolly, eg Chupa Chupa Melody Pops for 20p
Pez dispenser, eg. £1 for Super Mario characters at B&M
Kinder egg, around 85p, mainly for the toy
Candy canes, 12 for £1 from Poundland
Warning – approach with care
Approach any of these items at your own risk, as you may live to regret them
Tubs of slime, magic sand or putty
Paint or permanent markers
Bubble gum/chewing gum
Sadly teens can’t just be fobbed off with a large cardboard box and a balloon at Christmas time. Their small items of desire seem to cost distinctly more, but here are some ideas to combine with childish fun above. Removing packaging can sometimes help sneak bargain items past choosy teens.
Compact mirrors, eg £2 initial personalised versions from Superdrug
Stress balls, like this £1 cutie from Poundland
Tweezers, like these £1.49 light up versions from B&M
Blue tooth shower speaker, stretching it but a good deal at £4.99 from Rymans
4 pack reusable metal straws and cleaning brush, £3 from Flying Tiger
Recycled plastic cover for iPhone, £3 from Flying Tiger
Multi tool, great for cyclists, £3.50 from Wilko
Covid special: funky face mask eg £1.49 tiger stripes from The Range
Vaseline lip tin, eg this rainbow version £1.29 from Superdrug
Mini nail varnish in full colours, eg Barry M Butterflyfish £1.99 at Superdrug
OTT false eyelashes only 99p from Superdrug
Colourful make up sponges, 4 for £2 at Savers
Hair wax, eg £1.99 from Superdrug
Travel size sun cream eg £2.99 Ambre Solair from Superdrug
Nail care, such as nail clippers or these £1.99 toenail scissors from Superdrug
Nail file like this version with a pouch £1.69 from Superdrug
Hair brush like this Savers eco detangler brush for £2.49
Oldie but goodie Maybelline great lash mascara £5.99 at Superdrug
Make up or skin care samples
Make up bag, pencil bag or purse, eg £1.49 from Superdrug
Small scented candle, eg £1.20 Yankee gingerbread votive from Tesco
Pot of their favourite spreadable, eg Nutella, marmite, peanut butter, mini jam
Retro sweets like love hearts
Slogan mug, eg ‘I run on coffee’ £2 from Tesco
For older teens, a miniature of their favourite spirit, eg £3 Sipsmith gin
Comedy bottle opener, eg this £1 flip flop from The Range
Corkscrew like this £1 waiter’s tool from The Range
Lottery scratchcard for £1
More expensive suggestions include small headphones/ear buds, power bank, charging lead, reusable cup, fold up shopping bag, make up, scent and make up brushes.
Now – over to you. What are your best budget buys from Father Christmas? Do share in the comments, I’d love to hear your suggestions for cheap but fun stocking fillers!