Filling a stocking can take a small fortune. While we do put in some candy, we try not to over do it. We realize a stocking wouldn't be a stocking without some treats, however, the last thing my kids need is a huge amount of sugar. Okay, lets get real, the last thing this mama needs is a house full of five sugared up kids! So we add little toys and such. Those little trinkets add up though, so this year I thought I'd create some stocking stuffers the kids would enjoy and fill out their stockings. Here are a couple of my ideas:
I discovered a wonderful site called The Toymaker. There is section for free paper toys. You print, cut, and glue some really neat little paper craft toys. Take a look for yourself here. Unfortunately, my printer pooped out on me not too long ago. While not being fully functional, it works a bit--enough for us to get by for homeschool purposes just not for quality images. I will be replacing it shortly, but with all the money going out at the moment with the holiday, the regular bills, and the midwife, it has had to take a backseat. I will be trekking to my mother's office (all of a few miles) to borrow her printer for these. The plan is simply to print out a few for each of my older girls and either put them in some sort of envelope or use the shrink wrap I spoke of yesterday, to give them a nice "gift" look. Then at another time, my girls can have fun cutting them out and gluing them together themselves--a little activity for them to do.
Another idea I have--which also requires a printer, go figure, unless you happen to be one of those who have physical photos on hand, which I am not--are popsicle stick puzzles. I found a great tutorial here. You can find directions and tips/hints all over the Internet for this activity. I especially liked the idea on this site for adding magnets to the back of the puzzle for use on a magnet board, or for us--the refrigerator. While I'll be being make one~or more~ for all four of my older girls, I thought the magnets would be nice for O(3). You need a picture, thick popsicle sticks, an exacto knife, and Modge Podge. You glue the sticks to the back of the picture and carefully cut them apart. Place the pieces in a bag and you're finished. Quick and easy! I thought I'd find a nice picture~a special moment~of each of the girls to make a puzzle out for them. You can use family photos but any image would do--favorite TV or story characters, animals, famous works of art, etc. . . Be creative! I tell ya, as a homeschooling mom, the endless educational possibilities of these for my preschooler gets me excited. I foresee a lot of popsicle stick puzzles in our future.
*P.S. I bought my thick popsicle sticks from the craft store for $2-$3. After I already purchased them I saw some at the Dollar Tree for a buck. You might want to try your local dollar store first.