The stocking is practically synonymous with Christmas. The image of a group of festive-coloured oversized socks hanging above an open fire is on almost every Christmas card, pillow and ornament. But with the rising cost of living, it is hard enough to afford the main gifts under the tree without worrying about filling a stocking to boot (pun not intended). But fear not, as there are plenty of creative and affordable ways to ensure those stockings are brimming with joy without breaking the bank.
Set a Budget
Setting a budget comes up often in money-saving articles, but it is a significant point. It’s easy to lose track of your spending when the items are small nick-nacks that don’t cost much, but it all adds up. Remember, the stocking filler is extra. It accompanies the gifts under the tree and doesn’t need to be an expensive sock filled with pricey tech and jewellery.
Sock, not a Sack
It may sound obvious, but having a ginormous several-foot-long foot-shaped sack filled with gifts will cost far more than a regular-sized stocking, especially if you have multiple children. They don’t have to be tiny, but not comically large.
Where to Buy?
Swap out your M&S, Harrods and Smyths for more budget-friendly stores such as Poundland, B&M Bargains and Flying Tiger for fun little gifts, and for cosmetics and toiletries, skip the NYX and Mac and opt to shop for E.L.F or Revolution also consider the 3 for 2 deal at Boots which can save a nice chunk of change. Online stores such as Temu also offer hundreds of small gifts that are cheap and fun to fill a stocking, and supermarkets such as Morrisons, Tesco, and ASDA almost always have a seasonal aisle and don’t forget ALDI’s magical middle aisle!
What to Buy?
Homemade Treats - Nothing beats the personal touch of homemade goodies. Cookies, brownies, or even homemade fudge can be made in bulk and wrapped in a festive packaging. Not only are these treats cost-effective, but they also add a warm, personal touch to your stockings.
Sweets & Chocolates - Sweet treats and chocolates come together with Christmas; it is a day when diets and usual eating habits can be excused. Candy is an excellent way to fill up gaps in a stocking without spending too much money. For example, my family and many others have a tradition of having a Terry’s Chocolate Orange in a stocking. As a bonus, you can tell them it is considered a modern take on the 19th-century tradition of having an orange at Christmas; they symbolise bags of gold from a story where Saint Nicholas left bags of gold for three daughters who didn’t have dowries. Tasty and educational.
Pound Shop Finds - Pound shops are treasure troves for budget-friendly stocking stuffers. You can find various inexpensive and delightful items, from tiny toys to beauty products. Be sure to look out for special deals and seasonal items. On the topic of things for £1, why not buy a lottery scratchcard for an adult-themed stocking? It is the price of a dairy milk bar but gives them the chance of a fun little reward.
Personalised Items - Gifts like photo keychains or custom-made magnets can be surprisingly affordable. These items add a personal touch and show thoughtfulness without costing a lot. ASDA do personalised prints, stationery and magnets for under £5 and more significant things like mugs and keychains for £8 and under.
Second-Hand Books - For the bookworm in your family, second-hand bookstores can be a goldmine for affordable stocking stuffers. You can often find books in excellent condition for a fraction of their original price.
Fun Stationery - Stationery items such as unique pens, fun stickers, or quirky notepads can be great stocking fillers. They are practical, affordable, and can add fun to a stocking, and as a former student and adult, I can attest to how great stationery gifts are. For more information, try our article for a guide to the best budget stationery.
Gift Cards - While gift cards can be expensive, many retailers offer smaller denomination cards that can fit a tight budget. Even a £5 gift card can be a treat, giving the recipient the freedom to choose their gift.
Educational Items - Small toys, puzzles, or flashcards can be fun and beneficial for children. These items often come cheaply and can provide hours of entertainment and learning.
You don’t have to spend money to make a moment memorable, there are plenty of great gifts you can make that can help make a stocking special.
Crafty Creations - If you’re handy with crafts, homemade items like knitted scarves, custom bookmarks, or hand-painted ornaments can be unique and heartfelt stocking fillers. These items carry the added value of your time and creativity and are fun to make!
DIY Beauty Treatments - Homemade beauty treatments like bath salts, sugar scrubs, or face masks are simple and can be a luxurious addition to any stocking. Ingredients like Epsom salt, essential oils, and sugar are affordable and can make multiple gifts.
Handwritten Notes - Sometimes, the best gifts cost nothing at all. A heartfelt, handwritten note, poem or a handmade coupon for a personal favour (like a day of chores or a home-cooked meal) can be significant and cost only your time and creativity.
Our Quick List of Budget Fillers
- Terry’s Chocolate Orange
- Small power banks
- Phone cases
- Chocolate coins
- Flavoured toothpaste (instead of the typical boring mint)
- Bath bombs
- Lottery Scratch Card £1
- USB sticks
- Toiletry minis
- Clementines & nuts (traditional & cheap)
Filling Christmas stockings on a budget does not mean compromising on the joy and excitement of the season. With creativity, resourcefulness, and a dash of personal touch, you can create stockings filled with love, thoughtfulness, and delightful surprises while keeping your finances in check. Remember, it's the thought and the love that goes into each stocking that truly counts.
Are they looking for more Christmas gift inspiration? Check out our article on how to save on kids’ toys.
I joined MyVoucherCodes as a Deal Expert, searching the web and sourcing the best deals, discount codes and sales to benefit our readers. I decided to combine these money-saving skills with my love of writing and become an Editor, sharing what I have learned to help you get the most out of your money. As a student for four years, I understand the need to budget and get more for less. As well as providing budget-friendly advice here at MVC, I have written money-saving works for well-known publications such as The Sun and Pick Me Up!
I love playing video games and later writing reviews at GameReport in my spare time. I also enjoy anything to do with technology and cool gadgets, and I'm constantly adding extras and components to my home gaming computer. Additionally, I love DIY. Having worked in a tool store as a student, I enjoy fixing things, whether my car or home.