Bang for my buck - or making small stockings seem HUGE

(60 Posts)

Dd1 will be 3. Dd2 will be nearly 12mths. For various unforeseen circs we won't have much money for a big overflowing stocking of dreams. That said dds are so young they don't know the picture books.

I'm relatively crafty, an able cook. I have ZERO fecking ideas of how to make the few actual presents seem more..... I feel guilty and ridiculous and sad and annoyed at my own self for caring when Xmas is about so much more in reality.

What can I do to add ooomph to things? Where to start?
I need a plan and I have to start NOW.

So I'm asking for your creativity, what can I plan that gives magic back? For adults not just kids....? Ie inc mum n dad!

Thank you by the way. Thank you very much for any ideas.

Dontwanttobeyourmonkeywrench Sat 28-Sep-13 21:22:58

We were ridiculously broke last Xmas so I used DH's old corduroy shirts to make DD, her bestie and DSGS teddy bears. I also made DS a patchwork quilt using old T-Shirts and my DSD's have asked for quilts this year.

Now quilt is possible def as dd2 is growing rapidly so could be a good blanket/memory thingy. Like it.

Can't do bears, no cords....denim tho....? Is that weird?

harrietlichman Sat 28-Sep-13 21:31:44

The pound shop is your friend, you can buy loads in there for very little, split packs (I have two boys, so buy things like a pack of four toy cars, open the pack and wrap them individually so they get four presents to rip open.) I have also bought stuff in charity shops, people start to clear out about now in anticipation of more stuff coming and you can get lots of brand new things that kids haven't even opened. Last year my ds2's favourite gift was a money box robot from the charity shop that cost 50 p, which was kind of galling when I had gone all out to get him a tablet!
Start stockpiling now - our local co op is selling Terry's choc oranges for £1, so today I bought five for stockings etc, will put them up and use iron will discipline not to scoff them!

everydayaschoolday Sat 28-Sep-13 21:45:53

I second Poundland, and also recommend B&M and Home Bargains.

To make sweets look more extravagant, I'm thinking of buying those non-branded big bags of sweets and marshmallows from pound shop, and decanting mixtures of them into medium/large cone-shaped cellophane bags (on amazon) and securing with a little bit of left over ribbon covering an elastic band. Saves forking out £££ on expensive christmas-packaged brand sweets.

www.amazon.co.uk/25-Clear-Cone-Cellophane-Bags/dp/B00894D272/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1380400969&sr=8-2&keywords=cellophane+cones

everydayaschoolday Sat 28-Sep-13 21:47:39

I also put stuff in stockings that I would be buying anyway: pants, socks, character toothbrush, strawberry toothpaste (99p tesco), christmas theme bubble bath (Avon), shaped/kids sponge etc

usualsuspect Sat 28-Sep-13 21:51:23

Wilkinsons is great for cheap colouring books,pencils, crayons etc.

Dontwanttobeyourmonkeywrench Sat 28-Sep-13 21:52:53

I have used denim in DSD2's quilt in some patches. I made the bulk with fabric that I had and added memory pieces incorporating pieces of material from all of the family. She moved away for university so it's something to remember us by smile

Marvellous. I'm taking avid notes. Pound lands getting visited and I'm re planning local walks by charity shops. Bit keen but I want magic I want ooohs and aaaahs and that feeling Xmas gives and I know its shallow but gifts do that. I'm cofe so we will be doing Sunday school etc too.

everydayaschoolday Sat 28-Sep-13 21:57:03

I have also made bunting for DD1 room. I'm not crafty, but scraps of brightly coloured/ pink material cut into triangles (mostly old PJs!) stitched onto a band. I managed this in an afternoon with a sewing machine and looks quite lovely. You could add a letter onto each piece to spell their name.

I'm now going to have a go at making material lovehearts and have bought that stuffing stuff from Dunelm Mill. Just need a little bit of ribbon for the top. Stitch it inside out, turn it right way round, add wee bit of the stuffing, stitch up last little hole and add a little button to the front or their initial from another piece of fabric - voila a little room decoration to hang on wardrobe door.

'Stuffing stuff' - have no idea what it's called!

Guitargirl Sat 28-Sep-13 21:58:26

Have you thought about doing Elf on the Shelf? I know it's not for everyone but we do it with our DCs and they love it! And it doesn't have to cost anything!

everydayaschoolday Sat 28-Sep-13 22:01:05

Don't forget you might have 'cash' in your loyalty cards too: Tesco clubcard, boots advantage card, Nectar etc

Guitargirl Sat 28-Sep-13 22:02:54

The other thing I always do as Father Christmas is adding little touches/changing things around in the DCs bedrooms during the night on Christmas Eve as though FC has done it himself.

So, last year Father Christmas added some furniture to DD's dolls house and put up some posters in DS's room. He also put up some sparkly fairy wall things in DD's room (bought in Poundland!).

This year the Elf is going to decorate the dolls house with Christmas decorations - bought off EBay.

Pachacuti Sat 28-Sep-13 22:09:29

Inflated inflatables and cheap cuddly toys. Plus regular trips to review new stock in Poundland and haunting the Christmas bargains thread on here.

Can you do really, really simple knitting? I have learn recently - just the basic stitches - and just learnt from YouTube - so you can knit really simple stuff - cushion covers, scarves etc easitly. I have just knitted myself some wrist warmers (rectangles sewn up with a hole for my thumb). Because they use only a ball of wool for 2 you can get bargain end of lines so cost v v little. pm me if you want pattern details.

everydayaschoolday Sat 28-Sep-13 22:12:21

I think most adults (me) love homemade goodies. Present in little cellophane bags. Nice oooh factor, in that I appreciate the effort made and it would be something I couldn't buy for myself, it's homemade by you.

Another oooh factor is homemade christmas cards. Doesn't need to be too fancy and complicated. Upside down child's handprint in green paint, add a star (paint or embellishment) to the top, some embellishments on the 'tree' and paint/colour a little brown wooden tree trunk to the bottom and you have a christmas tree card made by your own little ones for all the family, awww. The Works have packs of plain white cards and envelopes.

There's a thread in the Christmas topic about sharing pinterest boards. Click some of the links in there to see some homemade ideas - a lot don't seem complicated but look very effective.

SecretWitch Sat 28-Sep-13 22:13:47

Guitargirl, what a fabulous idea! I'm going to steal use that for my five year old's room..

Tinlegs Sat 28-Sep-13 22:14:33

Food is bulky. What about some sweets but in a wrapped box? Mine get hot chocolate powder and marshmallows. Our FC always gives a new outfit for Christmas Day. Clothes take up space and can be worn straight away. It could be some thing you would have had to buy anyway. Wellis wrapped in tinsel? Cheap Christmas pants.

Pachacuti Sat 28-Sep-13 22:20:32

Oh yes, I forget -- stuff like underwear/socks/hairbands/plain T-shirts that's getting bought anyway gets held back and goes in the stocking.

NorbertDentressangle Sat 28-Sep-13 22:29:49

For the 12 mo buy the sort of things you would be buying anyway - plastic bowls/plates, sippy cup, pelican bib, toothbrush, novelty bath sponge, pyjamas, socks etc.

For grown-ups - home baked goodies or baking kits (the ones where you layer the ingredients for cookies for example) in cheap Kilner jars (Ikea have big ones for £2). Maybe add a label or picture that your DC have made.

trixymalixy Sat 28-Sep-13 22:34:59

I always wrap stuff like a big bag of popcorn that bulks it out. Pound land had some good Angelina ballerina dvds that my DD loved. I've heard of other people wrapping chocolate breakfast cereal for a treat. I'm sure pound shops will have footballs with characters on that will bulk out a stocking.

A Christmas Eve Hamper?

We do for the DC (who will be 11.6 and 14 by Christmas) . It started with PJs and sort of evolved from there.

A nice big box covered in Christmas paper
PJs
Festive mug or tumbler
Hot chocolate sachet or a Ribena carton
Small pack biscuits
Annual (always on BOGOF or special offer) or a colouring book
Bath bomb/ bubbles

I add a jar of sweets- I've seen the ready filled jars , they are £££.
I bought the IKEA jars and now each time I go shopping, I'll get some small wrapped sweets, depending whats on offer.

You could add a few small apples, tangerines

Howstricks Sat 28-Sep-13 22:42:30

I remember reading poss on mumsnet, about someone who blew up a load of balloons, popped them in a big box and wrapped it. Their 3 yo was utterly delighted and it cost them less than a pound! Pure genius!

snice Sat 28-Sep-13 22:45:31

variety pack of cereal with all the sugary ones they're not usually allowed fills up a stocking-then you can play the 'Father Christmas is SO naughty giving you that'-my children used to love this idea

Massive box full of inflated balloons. Trust me, works every time grin

x-post!

raisah Sun 29-Sep-13 04:44:01

Also concentrate on the experience aswell, going to see xmas lights (cheap), joining activities at museum (free & cheap), walk in woods with hot choc, making decorations like paperchains & popcorn strings (cheap) ,gingerbread house kit (IKEA, Lidl cheap). Lots of fun to create & enjoy.

Chottie Sun 29-Sep-13 05:11:52

How about a Christmas Day treasure hunt with simple clues - either in the home or at the park?

Or going for a walk just as it is getting dark and looking out for Christmas trees / lights locally?

chanie44 Sun 29-Sep-13 07:41:51

No need to feel guilty, the children are young and will enjoy Xmas regardless.

My children are the same ages as yours. I'm not getting my 12 month much as she had all of the 3 year olds 'barely played with toys' so there is no point in buying for the sake of it.

Ideas
Craft books from the poundshop - my 3 year old likes stickers.

I bought a drinking straw from the poundshop which is in the shape of specs. A small gift but a big one to pad out the stocking.

The 12 month old will love bubbles (as will the 3 year old)

Have a go at making sock monkeys for them both. Rather than buying expensive filling, use or buy a cushion and use the stuffing from that.

I also get a mixture of practical gifts like pjs, hair bands, umbrella which I wrap up.

Sweets - many shops are doing the tubes of smarties for £1. Lidl are doing huge chocolate Santa for 99p. You could even buy generic sweets and make up presents.

Do crafty things like Xmas baking, making decorations and seeing the Xmas lights.

Home made play dough for the 3 year old.

I agree with the added extras of lights, Santa visits, etc. I'm keen to use to add the wow factor that way. When I remember mine it was often the anticipation and run up I loved and I'm keen to involve dd1 as she's big enough to start to get it. So short it appears judging by threads here where they believe that I'm keen to believe hard and fast to make most of it!

Thanks for all the brainstorming. It's really helping me get excited. smile

QueFonda Sun 29-Sep-13 08:39:04

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

WaitingForMe Sun 29-Sep-13 09:03:04

My stepsons go nuts over the fact we have crackers on the table at breakfast. The kits to make them are cheap at The Works and we fill them with cheap sweets. We make them on their closest visit before Christmas and they add lots of embellishment.

We buy them less and do more each year that goes by. This year we're doing something with inflated balloons - I quite fancy making a "snowman" out of white bin liners filled with balloons with a hat and scarf made out of modelling balloons. I reckon it'll be pretty cheap to do but will blow their minds grin

ValiumQueen Sun 29-Sep-13 13:46:09

I second the Car Boot idea. Just remember to leave the kids at home. I went this morning and got DHs gift as we have a limited budget. £5 for something that would have cost £50 new. There was stuff I would have saved for the kids for Christmas, but they used their own pocket money :-)

bymoonlight Sun 29-Sep-13 14:30:58

Love the homemade crackers for breakfast idea.

Do they know there are sweets inside or is it a surprise?

NumptyNu Sun 29-Sep-13 18:04:52

What's Elf on the Shelf?

Elf is a computer thing. Put your photo in dancing elves faces. Quite funny! Only ever used at work, not there anymore. Never thought of it this way.

See! That's why this place is great! Another thing on my list smile

Guitargirl Mon 30-Sep-13 14:38:24

Elf on the Shelf is an elf who spends the month of December in your house, he sits on a shelf during the day but moves around at night so when the DCs wake up in the morning they have to find him, see what mischief he has been up to, etc. There are lots of threads on MN about what the elves get up to if you search. We play down the whole 'the Elf tells Santa if you've been naughty' element of it and just have fun - we think it's great and our DCs love it but some MNetters not keen.

Pachacuti Mon 30-Sep-13 14:43:48

You're thinking of Elf Yourself, Minnie. Which rhymes with Elf On The Shelf but is different... grin

Duh...... Never heard of other but like it!

jabelle Tue 01-Oct-13 21:37:42

I was in the Entertainer today, they had quite a selection of jigsaw puzzles reduced to £1 (from £4 I think) and also lots of craft sets for £1.50 (from £3 and a 4 pack of play doh for £2.

Bingersandtoes Wed 02-Oct-13 12:54:29

Home made play dough with extra bits to play with which can all be bought cheaply at pound shop?

like this

HappyAsEyeAm Wed 02-Oct-13 14:08:30

A pack of tubs of play doh take up a lot of space in a stocking. They are 4 tubs for £2 in The Entertainer at the moment, lots of colours to choose from.

Big bottles of bubble bath do too. Mr mayet is cheap and fun for children.

I am another one who puts stuff into a stocking that the DC would get anyway eg pants, socks, flannel, toothbrush, big pack of felt pens etc.

FairyJen Wed 02-Oct-13 19:25:46

this website has some great ideas inc Santa sleigh bell. Buy a cheap bell from eBay and pop it in the garden- somewhere noticeable and let your 3yr old see that a bell must have come off Santas sleigh while he stopped to drop off her present.

DD's stocking usually consists of (roughly) a net of chocolate coins, a thornton's xmas choc lolly, a new set of knickers (I do disney store but Matalan etc do soem lovely ones too), a new set of socks, one of those shrink wrapped flannels you put in water to expand, some small mini figure sets like the playmobil surprise bags or small boxed figures, set of new colouring pens/crayons, a candy cane (Aldi do multi packs if you are doing more than one stocking) and a small craft kit.

Love the sleigh bell idea!

ancientbuchanan Fri 04-Oct-13 16:57:40

Craft ideas for all

Hampers for everyone.. ie do your own shoe box. Home made sweets, jam, marmelade, hand warmer as above ( Brill idea, going to do some myself) . I crochet beanies, takes about an hour per beanie if the wool is chunky, wool 90 p from charity shop. And a couple of little bought things. Pens, note pads, some toiletries on scrunched up tissue paper.

If you are crafty, two v successful presents out of boxes,

Noah's ark ( one small shoe box on top of another). With a cheap lot of new animals ( pound land) and two washing peg dolls for the Noahs hours of happy fun.

And a treasure chest. Take an adult type shoe box, where the lid is integral to the whole. Take some card and roll it in a semi cylinder to make a curved top to the chest. Cover in paper. Shiny blue paper for the sea, or wooden style brown paper, whatever takes your fancy. Fill with treasure, edible or not.

Do your bulbs. A pot of bulbs ready to come out , pot from charity shop, put in dark place so ready for Christmas is a lovely present for anyone.

TheOnlyOliviaMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 04-Oct-13 17:05:01

Also Xmas stockings don't have to be all toys/sweets/exciting stuff - can be stuff you were going to need anyway -
new toothbrush/paste
Pants
Pencils?

I always had pants/socks/hair clips/shampoo etc in my stocking. All stuff I'd use anyway. Last year I wrapped 8 pairs of socks (in pairs) for DD to open. She was a bit bored of the socks by pair 4 but still loved unwrapping them grin She was 3yo at the time. Will repeat this year with things she needs anyway.

We've also bought things like Polly Pocket sets from eBay. DD is young enough not to notice they're second hand.

My saving grace last year was buying a pack of clear gift bags (for food) from Hobbycraft, plus having some ribbon in my craft stash. I baked cookies and packed 5 per bag and decorated with the ribbon. Great for Teacher gifts, stocking fillers and random distant relatives you've not bought for blush

I've also bought DD cookie cutters etc that I'd like in the kitchen anyway. She gets to help with a baking session so she enjoys that and the cookie cutter shape is also useful for me too.

fatmumjane Sat 05-Oct-13 23:57:35

My favourite things in my Christmas stocking as a child which I still remember as a 44 year old were: big pack 30 felt tip pens (looks great, all different colours and cheap), selection box, satsuma, colouring books grin

trixymalixy Sun 06-Oct-13 09:17:54

Yy to selection box.

I have got done great sticking fillers in the reduced section of tk maxx. I got a cut the rope apptivity toy, a monsuno core, a moshi monsters card game and a thing like a bakugan but for girls all for a pound.

If you have tk maxx near you it's well worth trawling their reduced toy section on a regular basis as they sometimes reduce stuff to silly prices just to get rid of them.

Catmint Sun 06-Oct-13 09:25:08

We did reindeer food last year. Mix up a handful of porridge oats with a bit of glitter. Sprinkle outside near your home so the reindeer can snack whilst Father Christmas is doing his thing.

Our local National Trust place was doing this and making gift bags decorated out of old cards as a free activity.

One of my DS's favourite ever stocking fillers was a jar of gingerbread mix I made (google it - loads of cookie mix in a jar recipes out there to choose from) which I labelled Mrs Claus' Special Gingerbread Mix. It took a few minutes and I thought he might think it was a bit lame but he adored it. It definitely helped to keep the magic alive because he had been teetering on the edge of Santa unbelief until then but became a true blue believer again in the face of such concrete evidence grin

BiddyPop Mon 07-Oct-13 08:59:37

Free printable seasonal pictures from the net and a pack of cheap colours takes up space too.

Will have a think about other ideas.

BiddyPop Mon 07-Oct-13 09:16:49

I forgot to give you "the poem" my parents used for stockings, and which we still do....

Something you want
Something you need
Something to eat, and
Something to read

Ea was always a load of fruit each (red apple, green apple, kiwi, banana, orang, satsuma) and a half pound box of sweets. We loved it and used eat fruit all morning with some sweets, but eke those out over the hols. Normally, fruit in our house was boxes of golden delicious apples and not else, so a Granny Smiths AND a red one! as well as other fruit! was great.

Read...always had a book. In fact, anyone on my parents house on Christmas Eve still has to put out stockings for fruit, sweets and a book. Youngest is 29!!!
At that age, you could get the night before Christmas, to read every Christmas Eve afterwards, or there's lots of lovely mr men Christmas books that would be cheap.

Need...things like knickers (character ones are fun as mum wouldn't normally buy those in our house so it must be Santa), hair clips and bobbins, socks, maybe a brush for themselves (always helpful when getting into school etc to reduce passing any nits infestations through whole house by having own brushes), toothbrush, toothpaste, warm vests....all sorts of small but useful things. I think, when dd was that age, I got her a metal kid sized cutlery set in lidl which was very useful and she still uses (small hands). Smaller doc can have sippy cups, bins suited to larger baby feeding herself, also vests etc if need a few extra, first toothbrush.....

And hen, your wants space is drastically reduced to fill out with small things to make it all fun. I love the balloons idea, crayons or pencils always go down well, if you do any crafts or baking or anything together, things for that are nice, either materials/ingredients, or aprons or coveralls.

Keep an eye here and on money saving expert boards for free ideas and free offers, samples sizes etc can be handy.

An m I have posted a list before of lots of ideas for advent calendar things to do, I can,t post it from here now but it was over 60 and lots are free or very cheap. So for a few things to do before Christmas, you might find a few ideas there. Including go for a walk in a woods one day and look at natur sleeping but also collect pine cones, and nanother not so nice day, decorate those with glitter and paint for the tree or grandparent presents. Borrow DVDs from library or Christmassy stories, ton enjoy together on rainy days.

fatmumjane Mon 07-Oct-13 19:22:11

I read on fb today that a friend was making bath bombs... Maybe for grown ups pressies grin

BiddyPop Mon 07-Oct-13 22:25:49

Ickle baby bot from lush is lovely for littlest, and they have a few seasonal ones too for kids. Dd loves those, I give one Xmas Eve every year to help relaxing Eve bedtime and wind down excitement levels.

howcomes Tue 08-Oct-13 00:46:30

How about a helium filled balloon each? Packed in a box ready to float out when opened? Ds is 3 and lobes walking around the house bouncing it off the ceiling. He only gets them on Xmas and Bday but it provides a good 2 weeks before it is too bedraggled. Good value for £2

hazchem Tue 08-Oct-13 00:57:44

I made DS a set of toy stuffy filled cubes for his first Christmas. I made 5 and one side of each had a letter of his name. The other sides all had different fabric. Nice and bulky made from scraps mostly.

MadeOfStarDust Tue 08-Oct-13 09:01:05

Also.... yours are young enough to "start as you mean to go on"..... always found the mounds of presents thing to be "tacky" - ours get 2 or 3 well chosen things that they want and a small stocking with sweets and bits and bobs (now they are older... hair bands/makeup/nail polish) collected over the year.

Christmas does not have to be all about the presents... but some people build in that expectation right from the start by giving tons of "stuff".....

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