It’s nearly that time of year, when colorful lights illuminate windows and trees, while snowflakes come tumbling down from the sky.
And as much as people appreciate and do their part to keep the tradition alive of stocking stuffers, not all of us want cheap stuff (often plastic) to fill our stockings and then our homes.
Let’s skip the silly toothbrush, reindeer socks, face masks printed with snowmen, run-of-the-mill deodorant and ordinary chocolates. Better to leave them on the store shelves.
Because this year is the one where you return to giving gifts made by hand, with love, to delight the unsuspecting recipient.
Easier said than done, right?
Let’s stop thinking in terms of filling a stocking for the sake of “stuffing” it, and change that thought around to lining it with presence. Presence of time, presence of thought, presence of being.
If you truly love and care for someone, giving a handmade gift (you don’t necessarily have to make it yourself) is a fantastic way of honoring their friendship.
Giving the Gift of Homemade
Homemade gifts are:
- for the person who already has everything
- easy to personalize
- unexpected (usually)
- items the recipient will treasure
- a way to create/do/share what you love
If any, or all of the above, fit your needs for a unique stocking stuffer gift, please read on and gather some gift-giving inspiration as you scroll.
Every so often, old traditions fall by the wayside as they no longer suit your new way of being. Use this opportunity to go the less commercial route and start making your own handmade gifts while there is still time.
Related Reading: 15 Forgotten Christmas Traditions To Bring Back This Year
30 Stocking Stuffers to Make – Not Buy
Stuffing a stocking is not just about the money. That being said, some items on this list may cost you some money to make. Other times, you’ll already have the tools and supplies to make it happen.
Another thing you need to consider is crafty and/or artistic skills.
Do you have them? Can you acquire them in a short amount of time? Are you able to find someone else who does – then maybe you can trade time, items or money for your gifts?
In any case, none of the items in this list will cost you a fortune. In fact, they may even save you money that would otherwise be spent on throwaway gifts from the store.
Some items are kid-friendly, especially the candy, while others are specifically for adults. Open up your ability to both give and receive and let’s get cracking!
One of the longest-lasting homemade treats I know is peanut brittle. It’s always been a holiday treat in our home. The reason is, it stays fresh at room temperature for 6-8 weeks.
In short, peanut brittle is an inexpensive treat to make that can be enjoyed by all those who have teeth strong enough for crunching the brittle sweet.
All it takes is sugar, corn syrup, water, roasted peanuts, butter, baking soda and vanilla.
If you aren’t so keen on corn syrup, that can be substituted with honey, light molasses, agave syrup or brown rice syrup. Naturally, it will have a slightly different flavor and texture, yet tasty all the same.
As much as I enjoy biting into a soft, sumptuous homemade marshmallow, I have to admit that I’ve never made them myself. That’s one skill I’ll leave to the other home bakers and food artisans out there. I’m more than happy to purchase their homemade marshmallows and pass the goodness onto family and friends.
Do you want to know what makes homemade marshmallows so special? You get to decide on their flavor. Orange flavored marshmallows, coffee flavored marshmallows, chocolate marshmallows. Add a couple to a mug of cocoa and you are in holiday heaven.
Make sure to toss in a small bag of marshmallows among the other stocking stuffers, for smiles all around the room.
I know, why make candy canes when they’re so cheap? Well, creating something from virtually nothing is always part of the fun. Even if it doesn’t turn out exactly as planned.
You can make them striped, or keep them all green or all red. Maybe even all blue to match your party lights. Turn them into a cane, make a green candy cane wreath. It really gives you a chance to explore your options.
If your candy canes don’t turn out as “pretty” as you expect, you can always break them up and add them to cookies and fudge. No loss there.
Nut fudge, white chocolate fudge, marbled fudge, mint fudge, cranberry fudge, raisin fudge. You name the ingredients and feel free to toss them right in.
The best part is, if you have 3 ingredients on hand, you can whip up a fresh batch of fool-proof fudge in a matter of 5 minutes. All you need is sweetened condensed milk, semi-sweet chocolate chips and a teaspoon of vanilla extract.
If you are catering to those with food sensitivities or sensibilities, you can still make a pleasing fudge to fill their stocking. Give these recipes a chance and see what vanishes first:
- Paleo Coconut Oil Fudge from Real Food With Jessica
- Perfect Pumpkin Spice Fudge (Vegan + Gluten-Free) from Bakerita
- Vegan Peanut Butter Fudge from Texanerin Baking
Move over Reese’s, this is what people need in their stocking this year: no-bake peanut butter balls.
Ingredients-wise, it takes:
- unsalted butter
- creamy peanut butter
- vanilla extract
- confectioner’s sugar
- semi-sweet chocolate bars
- vegetable oil
- festive sprinkles, optional
Follow the recipe, dip in chocolate and enjoy. If they ever make it to the stocking…
It’s time to dig out your cookie cutters – or invest in a new stainless steel set – for gingerbread cookies are always a holiday favorite for kids of any age.
They are super easy to make too.
As far as ingredients go, you’ll need to gather:
- ground spices (cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg)
- baking soda
- brown sugar
- organic orange zest, icing and sprinkles (all optional, yet highly recommended)
Get out your mixing bowls, a rolling pin and get to work. Bring some creativity to the table and let your gingerbread men and women run away.
Here’s a gluten-free version of gingerbread cookies, not to leave anyone out of the fun of biting off the gingerbread man’s head. Or do you go for the feet first? You know, your first bite does say something about your personality.
If your attempt at making candy canes was a disaster, here is where they can shine.
Or if you accidentally dropped the candy cane box, smushed it to pieces between bottles of wine, or simply set something heavy upon it, a batch of peppermint bark can bring it back to life.
Peppermint bark is ridiculously easy to make. It starts with white chocolate broken down into pieces, then some semi-sweet chocolate, also broken. A little bit of oil, some peppermint extract, crushed candy canes and you’re almost done.
A word of advice: don’t make it too many days before you need to stuff stockings. Otherwise, you’ll end up making a second batch.
My grandma’s neighbor made the absolute best salted caramels I’ve ever eaten in my entire life. More than 35 years later I still remember their mouthwatering flavor. Now that they are long gone and the recipe forgotten, I’ve had to search for something that looks similar and I think I’ve got it.
These homemade chewy caramel candies appear to be just the thing. The only way to know for sure, is to try it out, happily.
Please know that a candy thermometer is necessary for the perfect execution of these caramels.
Sure, you can buy spiced nuts at the store and exchange the packaging if you’d like to fool your family into thinking you are a clever cook. But the joke would be on you, because candied pecans are so uncomplicated to make.
All it takes is an oven, preset to 350°F, and a medium sized bowl filled with confectioner’s sugar, salt and water. Cayenne pepper is optional if you prefer it on the spicy side. Cinnamon and nutmeg if you want to go the more traditional route.
Add the nuts to the sugar mixture (you can use any nuts you like) and stir until they are all evenly coated. Bake for 10-12 minutes and voila! You have a stocking stuffer ready for packaging up in cute little glass jars or tins.
I’m already thinking about eating a truffle, even as I write. And it’s not just about the number of carbs. These chocolatey round balls look fantasticly rich and scrumptious.
Coated with cocoa powder, espresso powder, shredded coconut, finely chopped hazelnuts or almonds, keto cookie crumbs, etc.
Just make them stay cool in the fridge before gift giving, up to a week. You can even label them “Eat Right Away!” or “Eat Me Now!”, just so the recipient knows what to do.
Okay, not all kids love truffles, but for the most part they adore chocolate milk. This time, you can really let them have it.
Of course, you’ll need some tools to get started, such as a thermometer and a sphere mold. Once you get your hands on those items, you can make all the hot chocolate bombs your family and friends desire. Maybe you could even make some for sale and make a little profit over the Christmas season and beyond?
You can also use a silicon mold to make Tracey’s tea bombs.
It’s a bit of work to make hot chocolate bombs and a tutorial may be helpful. Just imagine the look on the giftee’s face when they stir it into some hot milk. It’s a stocking stuffer that is totally worth it.
Not a winter should go by without a batch of pretzel peppermint bark. Similar to the peppermint bark above, it comes with crushed candy canes. However, the pretzels here add a salty element to balance out the sweetness.
If you are really in a pinch, you can always dip some pretzels in chocolate, add a few sprinkles and call it a gift from Santa.
You get the sweet point.
There are so many mouthwatering Christmas-inspired treats to make at home, that there’s absolutely no reason to buy expensive brand names from the store. You can make them all from the comfort of your kitchen, knowing perfectly well they will be gone in a flash.
Of course, you will still need to package your treats somehow.
Take a look at some zero-waste options before reaching for plastic.
Items that can be reused in the family for gift giving:
- tin boxes with lids
- stainless steel food containers
- small glass jars with lids
- glass jars with bamboo lids
- brown bakery boxes with window, not reusable
Anything that is metal or glass can be reused again and again. A one-time purchase for years and years of refilling and restuffing.
Now let’s move onto some non-candy items, for those without so much of a sweet tooth.
To cater to the more sophisticated crowd, Tracey’s mulling spice is the perfect stocking stuffer. Especially when it is made by you, with love and the following ingredients:
- 18 3” cinnamon sticks, or roughly 85g
- ¼ cup whole allspice berries
- ¼ cup whole cloves
- 1/2 cup dried orange peel
- ¼ cup black peppercorns
- 15 whole star anise
- 3 tablespoons of roughly chopped ginger slices (the sugared kind)
As it simmers, it fills the air with tides of Christmas joy. When you mix it with mulled wine, it makes for a very special heartwarming treat.
14. Dried Garden Herbs
It may seem like a trivial thing to gift someone with dried herbs from your garden. Yet, think of all the people who do not have the space to grow things. Chances are great that they will appreciate your thoughtful gesture when they add your homegrown sage to their stuffing.
When they make a healing tea with thyme grown by you.
Do you even know how proliferous lemon balm can grow?
You might think that giving dried herbs is the cheap way out. I say it is the thoughtful, caring and healing way to give a gift that matters.
15. Small Pots of Homemade Jams and Chutneys
As we go through the canning season, we always make it a point to make some smaller jars of certain jams that turn out well. All for the sake of gift giving later in the year.
After all, one must give gifts to the postman, the banker, the accountant and to all those delivery drivers who bring you gifts from afar.
Naturally, this isn’t a last-minute gift idea. However, when you remember to practice gratitude throughout the year, you instantly think of people who love what you cook as you are cooking.
16. Beeswax Candles
Nothing says “I love you” like a flicker of candlelight on a dark night.
If not for romance, candles can be displayed on the table for a festive atmosphere, or they can be burnt in remembrance of someone.
Candles can also be used to illuminate the chilly evening with a yellowish and warming light.
Best of all, it takes one ingredient: beeswax. Plus a wick, which can be handspun, if you have that skill. If you have plenty of leftover beeswax from other projects, candles are the way to go, to please even those who already have everything.
17. Garden Seeds
If there is a gardener in your life who could use some more vegetable seeds, why not offer up some of yours? In a fancy homemade packaging, of course.
Again, let’s forget the notion that Christmas comes from the store. It can also come from the heart, from your hands and undeniably from your garden.
Gifting seeds is a wonderful way to get children interested in planting as well. Show them your ways and perhaps they will follow yours. No better time to get another interested in gardening than now.
18. Macrame Plant Hanger, plant optional
Plant collectors live in all shapes and sizes of homes. Yet, they always seem to have room for just one more plant.
If you aren’t sure what sort of indoor plant they would like, why not give them the means to support new life, of their choice, later?
You may need to invest in some macrame cord and spend even more time learning the right knots to make, though in the end you’ll gather a new skill that you can share.
If you learn it well, you can even make macrame gifts worth giving. Bonus points for the fact that they can be stuffed, unwrapped, in the stocking.
19. Homemade Soap
Soapers, this one is for you. For those of you just learning about the art of making soap, better to leave this stocking stuffer in more experienced hands. After all, there is a bigger learning curve when it comes to making slippery, slathery soap.
That is, unless, you have the time, materials and ingredients to make these 15 melt and pour soaps.
Again, it’s among the more time-consuming stocking stuffers on the list, yet the recipient will be grateful every time they wash their hands. Everyone loves homemade soap, it’s always a fabulous gift.
Wintertime means chapped lips and dry skin for many people.
Lip balm is an easy gift to make in small containers.
To make it, you need:
- 1 part beeswax
- 1 part cocoa butter
- 2 parts high-quality edible oil
- essential oils, optional (peppermint, vanilla, sweet orange, jasmine, chamomile, lavender, etc.)
You’ll also need a double boiler to melt down the ingredients. A pot-in-pot works just fine.
As it takes less than an hour to make, I’ll call it an almost last minute gift, provided you have all you need on hand. Be sure to make a cute label and make it your own.
21. DIY Beard Balm
What can you give to the bearded men in your life, who already have more than they need?
Beard balm. You know, to help refine and tame their wild side. You can even choose a fragrance you think they’ll love: Woodsy Grape, Kentucky Runner, Classic Clean, Down To Earth, Holiday Love.
Get ready with beeswax, shea butter, jojoba oil, sweet almond oil, argan oil and a variety of quality essential oils. Package your beard wax in a neat little tin and gift away!
If the man in your life does shave, how about making this DIY natural aftershave spray instead?
22. Herb Infused Oil & Herb Infused Honey
If your summer garden was full of herbs, we do hope you have taken advantage of all the healing benefits they have to offer.
Now is the time to wrap up your growing skills in beautiful packaging.
Naturally, infused oils take some time to make, so don’t count on this as a last-minute stocking stuffer. However, if you are prepared, this could be the very thing that brings a smile to the recipient’s face.
Here are some ideas to get your herbalness flowing:
- DIY Dandelion Infused Oil + 6 Ways To Use It
- How To Easily Make Herbal-Infused Honey + 3 Recipes
- How to Make Flavored Herbal Oils for Cooking
23. Herb-Infused Brandy/Tincture
Again, herbs are a popular affair with chefs, courageous cooks and those who love to garden.
It just so happens that those who are interested in natural healing will also appreciate a gift of herb-infused brandy. If you are the one stuffing their stocking, you’ll know whether or not they enjoy an occasional sip of alcohol. Gift accordingly.
One of our favorite winter tinctures (which can be made in summer with fresh leaves, later in the season with dry herbs) is a healing plantain tincture. It’s good for keeping coughs at bay and it tastes amazing!
You can also make an herb-infused brandy with bilberries, cinnamon sticks, spruce tips, star anise, orange zest, or pretty much anything you have on hand.
Do you know someone who loves watching and feeding birds?
You can always gift them with something they can’t eat, but with something that brings them joy – in the form of birdseed ornaments.
Wrap them up in parchment paper, or beeswax wrappers, and stuff their stocking with a useful item that is more for the birds. When nature is happy, everybody is merry.
25. Garden Markers
Garden markers can be bought year-round. But, you know that you can do the same at home, so long as you cultivate your creativity.
Not to go overboard on words here, as it’s already been said plenty of times, here are 17 DIY plant labels and markers you can create with your own hands.
Now these stocking stuffers are getting serious. If you have the skills to embroider anything from an ornament to a dishcloth, your stocking stuffers are definitely wanted.
If you don’t know yet how to embroider, why not dive into an online class, or watch a few videos online? It’s all very easy when you choose uncomplicated patterns.
Best of all, you can incorporate your own handwriting into a design, making your gift one to be appreciated for years to come. Often times, it is the sentiment that counts, not the money spent on a gift.
27. Handknit Socks or Mittens
Knitting isn’t a skill you can learn overnight, though it is a pleasing pastime that can keep you busy all throughout the winter.
If you have some basic knitting knowledge, why not take it up a purl or two? Socks are very useful items, mittens are too.
While it’s hard to free-form a knitted piece, here are a couple of patterns for each:
- How To Knit Socks For Beginners The Easy Way from Nimble Needles
- Cozy Slipper Socks – Two Needle Flat Socks (video tutorial) from The Snugglery
- Beginner Knit Mittens from Yarnspirations
- Easy Straight Needle Knitting Pattern from Gina Michele
For the tea or coffee lovers in your life, why not stock their stuffing with a coaster, or an entire set, to complement their morning habit?
Crochet a coaster in their favorite color, or choose one that matches their favorite mug. Nothing says “love” like a gift that is useful, delightful and handmade.
To give the gift of relaxation is to honor the need for rest and recovery. Lavender bath salts do just that. They soothe the soul, they help relieve sore muscles, they make you sleepy (gently urging your body to produce melatonin naturally) and they reduce inflammation. All due to the use of Epsom salts.
The lavender in the bath salts reduces anxiety, stabilizes the mood and can be used to treat insomnia and restless sleep.
It’s a wonderful stocking stuffer that is easy to make with lavender from your own garden.
Did you know you can use Epsom salts in the garden too?
While some gifts are purely practical, others are meant to pamper and soothe the mind, body and spirit.
There’s more than one way to make a sugar scrub, so do your own little search around the net to find the spices you like best – no one ever said you can’t fill your own stocking!
You can also make a sugar scrub with rose water, honey and lavender or green tea and mint.
It’s time to start DIY-ing your holidays before the holidays officially begin.
Related Reading: 35 Nature-Inspired Homemade Christmas Decorations
When you slow down to think about it, isn’t it absolutely amazing how many small items you can stuff into a stocking?
Get ready to become hands-on, creative and crafty. What will you make with the remaining time left before the holidays?
Cheryl Magyar is a sustainable lifesyle designer and environmental freelance writer with more than twenty years experience of living a simple life close to nature. It all started at a young age with a love for the outdoors, followed by a keen interest in goats, which turned into a love for raising ducks and mangalica pigs on the Plains of Hungary. Currently she is homesteading in Breb, Romania, amidst charming haystacks, with her husband and homeschooled daughter. Their land and their life’s work is aptly named ForestCreekMeadows.
She is an avid organic gardener who can often be found eating nourishing “weeds” and making herbal infusions, just as she can be seen planting native trees investing in rewilding the land. Follow on Instagram and sign up for their newsletter for more inspirations on living a sustainable life.