Avoid the malls this Christmas season, and make some of your own stocking stuffers for kids from the comfort of your own home. These gifts promise plenty of play time, creativity, and opportunity for kids to have innovative play.
Kids are the creatures that get the most plastic, made in China, easily broken stuff in their Christmas stockings. Our boys always got a small package of lego brand building blocks — they market those for Christmas stockings. Then I’d do a dollar store binge and buy polyester stuffies, plastic slinkies, matchbox cars and action figures — maybe a puzzle book or mystery story, just to flesh things out. A stocking like that is full of endocrine disruptors, carbon polluters, and its not good for your budget either. Most of those things ended up on the floor, under the couch or mashed in the bottom of the toy box after Christmas. Insanity.
With a few hours of time you can create stocking stuffers for kids at home, and fill the stocking with fun things that don’t cost as much as the gift under the tree, and take less time to make than a trip to the Mall and back. Just think: No circling the lot for hours to get a parking spot, No line-ups at the cash, No walking up and down the aisles of the big box store looking for the perfect thing or the last minute addition to fill out the stocking, and no trip on December 24th because you forgot to pick up a gift for cousin Lou’s toddler. Instead of going to the Mall, walk into your kitchen and lets get started. If you have a lot of nieces and nephews, consider making these in big batches and giving them enmass to all the kids on your list.
This is the second in a series of Sustainable Christmas Stocking Gift Ideas that you can make yourself, instead of going to the mall. For part 1 of this series go here.
Sustainable, handmade stocking stuffers for Kids
1. Gingerbread Playdough – Gluten-Free version, GMO free
This smells wonderful, and its nontoxic. Its a great way to use up older spices, when you replace them with fresh for your Christmas baking. If the kids taste it, its very salty so they won’t eat it.
- 1/2 cup rice flour
- 1/2 cup tapioca starch
- 1/2 cup potato starch
- 3/4 cup salt
- 2 tbsp. coconut oil or other vegetable oil
- 2 tbsp. ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp each ginger, nutmeg & cloves
- 1 tbsp. powdered orange zest — dried orange peel, finely ground.
Combine all ingredients into a 1 litre (quart) sauce pan. Add 1 1/2 cups of water, whisking to remove lumps. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a whisk or wooden spoon. Mixture will thicken and pull away from the sides of the pot. Turn out on parchment paper or a counter floured with rice flour. Allow to cool until you can handle it safely. Knead well until it is smooth and elastic. This is preserved by the salt and will keep indefinitely if its kept in a jar with a tight fitting lid.
Makes 3 cups of play dough. To gift it as a stocking stuffer, package in 1/2 cup (125ml) jam jars or up-cycled honey jars. Add a ribbon and a cookie cutter, or shaping tools. This makes a simple stocking stuffer for the kids on your list.
Or make a gift of it by adding a board, a set of cookie cutters and a 1 1/2 inch dowel rolling pin, sanded and finished with nontoxic linseed oil.
2. Homemade paste – Gluten-Free, GMO-free
This paste is a great option for kids who are into scrap-booking type creations, creating their own posters, or who might like to try paper mache.
- 1/4 cup sticky rice flour
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/8 tsp. winter green essential oil
- 1 tbsp. salt
Whisk together rice flour, salt, and water in medium pot over medium heat. Cook until a very thick paste forms. Remove from heat. Allow to cool slightly. Stir in essential oil. Store in air tight jar. Can be refrigerated. Makes 1/2 cup (125 ml). Gift it in a 1/2 cup jam jar and attach a small paint brush with a ribbon. Make sure the lid is secure before wrapping this gift as a stocking stuffer for kids, also add a label and explanation.
Add some magazine pictures, a pair of kids safety scissors, a ream of construction paper and a scrap book for a gift of art.
Now more ideas from the Farm:
7. Dancing silks dyed with natural dyes
Grab a piece of undyed silk yardage or a silk scarf. Wash well in hot water to remove serecin and prepare it for dyeing.
- 2 tsp. alum
- 1 tsp. cream of tartar
Mix together in 3 cup quart container. Add silk scarf, simmer gently for one hour. Do not boil. Turn off heat. Allow to cool. Remove from heat and rinse well.
Meanwhile soak dried plant materials over night in warm water. Optional natural plant materials include pine needles, bark, onion skins, left over jam, turmeric, paprika, cinnamon, pomegranate skins, avocado skins and seeds, flowers, leaves, or carrot tops. Bring to a simmer and simmer for 1 hour to release the color. Strain liquid and add silk. Simmer for an additional hour and remove from heat. Don’t allow the silk to boil or you will lose the luster. Keep the simmering pot around 180F. Allow to cool slowly and naturally. Remove silk and rinse well. Dry and press. Hem if necessary. Its ready for gift giving. Include a CD for dancing, if desired, and its ready for the Christmas stocking.
You can also make simple up-cycled dance silks using light fabric from thrift-store dress finds. Sari type dresses, and many other light weight fabric dresses will give plenty of material to create dance silks from. Simply take apart the thrift store item, and re-hem to the size you want. Traditional dress styles will have more available, seamless, fabric than current dress styles. These make great stocking stuffers for kids who are interested in dance, dress-up, and more.
8. The Gift of Nature for school age kids:
Collect rocks, shells, bark, or conifer cones. Package them in small paper 1/4 lb. bags. Label well. Add a magnifying glass and a field guide, maybe a butterfly net or a fish net, and give the gift of nature study. Package the whole thing in a glass quart jar with a two part lid. Add a circle of window screen to create an insect collection jar, if your field guide is a bug or butterfly field guide. You can find field guides at thrift stores, if you are lucky. Golden used to publish small field guides for kids of sea shells, rocks, birds and insects.
9. Cat’s Cradle Games:
Handspin a silky string of 4 ply cabled cord, or use linen or cotton seine twine. You can dye it with natural dyes to make it more personal or just give it plain. Attach a booklet of cat’s cradle or other string games.
There are lots of options for string based games. A knot booklet could also be of interest.
10. Tic Tac Toe Game
Give a Grid board made out of wood, leather, or cloth, with the pattern of the usual cross-hatch game board. Add two different characters with 5 playing pieces each — For older kids, flat glass decorative stones work well. For younger kids, model fimo clay into big shapes, cut cookie cutter shapes out of wood, sand and finish, make bean-bags, or use huge buttons — make sure they are too big for a toddler to swallow. Package in a cloth, draw string bag.
11. Wooden Tops
Using a wooden dowel and a toy wheel you can make a small spinning top for a child’s stocking. Paint it with Christmas colors as simply or as elaborately as you wish, using acrylic paints. Here’s a tutorial at Kleas
12. Christmas Play Rice
My toddler daughter loved to play in the rice box. Rice play is easier to clean up than a sand box or a water table. Its fun, nontoxic, and is a great learning environment. To make a rice play box get a cheap box of GMO free long grain rice. Divide into 5 equal portions. Reserve one portion to leave white. Color each of the other 4 portions blue, green, red, and yellow with food coloring. Color by dribbling liquid food coloring into a bowl that you’ve added the rice. Put on disposable gloves and stir the color into the rice, adding more color if necessary to intensify the shade. Spread the rice out on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes at 275 degrees to dry the rice completely. Repeat for each color. When thoroughly dry, Layer the colors into a 1 quart mason jar. Add instructions for the Play Rice. An additional play container may be beneficial. Add a scoop, measuring cups, and measuring spoons and a small wooden bowls. Rice play improves hand eye coordination, and finger sensitivity. Clean up is an easy sweep. For a larger rice play box, use a 10 kg. bag of white rice, store in a big rubber tub, with a lid. Add trucks, cars, scoops, shovels, as well as measuring cups, yoghurt containers and other plastic or wooden scoops.
13. Wooden blocks
Using off cuts from the wood shop, sand and finish with nontoxic linseed oil. Package a bag of 25 blocks in a cloth, drawstring bag.
14. Juggling balls
Make 3 wool felt balls the size of a tennis ball. Weight the inside of the felt ball with a small rock for balance, when you make it. You can add details with a felting needles. Give “Learn How to Juggle” instructions and the 3 balls in a tubular draw string bag, knit a wool jester ski hat to complete the gift, if you need something more substantial than a stocking stuffer.
15. Origami paper and instructions
Fold a few origami figures and give a wad of origami paper. The paper usually comes with a sheet of instructions. This was a staple part of stocking stuffers for our kids for many years. Non-typical origami paper, like the mini sized sheets, metallic sheets, or genuine rice paper are also great options if you can find them at thrift stores or inexpensively.
Back to You:
If you are looking for ways to DIY Christmas gifts and make happy Christmas memories while living within the health and budget constraints that have been handed to you this year, I created a resource that will help.
This DIY Christmas Planner workbook will help you make a solid plan you can live with for a Happy Holiday season. You’ll find inspiring DIY gift ideas, space to reflect on what is important to you, and a place to set goals for bringing a happy and meaningful Christmas to your family this year.
Get on Santa’s Permanent Nice list by staying organized, calm, and in control this Christmas Season.