The presents are wrapped, the cookies baked and the tree is decorated, but the stockings hanging on the mantle are empty. Stocking stuffers are small gifts hidden inside the stocking. The idea of hanging a stocking from the mantle in hopes of receiving a present dates back to the third century. Today, children still anticipate St. Nicholas filling their stockings with goodies and not a lump of coal. Some parents view this as a perfect opportunity to start and continue family traditions.
The history of stocking stuffers dates back to the third century. Nicholas was born in the European village of Patara. His parents died of an epidemic while he was still young. Following the words of Jesus, Nicholas sold all of his possessions and gave the money to the poor. He dedicated his life to serving and assisting the needy, the sick and the suffering. While still a young man, he was made Bishop of Myra and became known for his generosity. As one legend relates, a poor man feared his three daughters would not marry because he could not pay the required dowry. One evening, the girls completed the washing and hung their stockings by the fireplace to dry. Nicholas, knowing the father would never accept the gift, slipped gold coins into each of their stockings. Word spread quickly of Nicholas's good deed. Other children began hanging stockings or putting shoes out in hopes of receiving a gift from Nicholas. The tradition of stockings and stocking stuffers began in Europe. Originally, children hung everyday socks, but special Christmas stockings evolved. Many stockings feature the person's name and a winter or Christmas scene. Typical stockings stuffers were small toys, candy, fruit and coins. Western tradition indicates that a child behaving badly shall receive a piece of coal in their stocking.
Stocking stuffers are small gifts. They are items that fit inside a stocking hung from the mantle. When purchasing stocking stuffers, consider the person you are buying for and items they enjoy. For example, if your child is a sports fan, consider trading cards as a stocking stuffer. Also, make sure the stocking stuffers are age appropriate. For example, CDs and movies should be checked for language and content before they are given. A few ideas for stocking stuffers for children include small toys, trading cards, snacks, card games, books, craft supplies, small dolls and action figures. Teenagers enjoy movies, CDs, candy and cookies, video games, magazines, small games or a gift certificate to their favorite store. For the adults, consider stuffing a stocking with cooking utensils and spices, magazines, personal organizers, coffee or tea and small household gizmos.
As parents and others shop for stocking stuffers, consider the size of the stockings. Stocking stuffers are usually small items, not exceeding the size of the stocking. Also, the items purchased cannot have too much weight so the stockings can continue hanging from the mantle. A good rule of thumb is to buy one or two larger items and then several small items to fill in the extra space. A combination of sizes works best. It also looks nice to leave a few sticking out of the top of the stocking.
The celebration of hanging stockings from the mantle and waiting for stocking stuffers dates to the third century, when St. Nicholas lived. His feast day is celebrated on December 4 each year. On this day, children wake up to discover stockings filled with small gifts known as stocking stuffers. Some families celebrate the tradition of St. Nicholas and stocking stuffers with their Christmas celebrations on December 25.
Stocking stuffers provide a great way to build a family tradition. Parents can stuff stockings with an ornament each year. This ornament can signify an important event from the year, maybe a trip or milestone event and the year. Children can hang these on the tree each year and remember events from that year. Stocking stuffers enable individuals to create a yearly theme. Perhaps your family enjoys traveling; grab little items from trips throughout the year to stuff the stockings. Maybe your family enjoys sports; this provides a great opportunity to give everyone a new T-shirt or sweatshirt of their favorite team. Think creatively about the family and what they might enjoy.