Over the years, our family has come up with a bunch of traditions that probably identifies us as a little weird. With little kids, it was always a struggle to get them to go to bed on Christmas Eve without opening just one present. As often as not, we'd break down and let them open one, just so they would close their eyes and let us get some sleep!
When they would roll out of bed Christmas morning, we'd start with their Christmas stockings. When they were in their Santa Claus years, we'd put little toys and candy in their stockings. But at some point, they just outgrew the cutsie stuff.
What's a Mollie to do? At some point, you have pre-teens who just eschew the toy and candy thing and want to go directly to the big stuff. But John and I always had the most fun with the stockings. You can stuff one of those with just about anything and a kid would be happy.
One year, once the boys were both in middle school, I was having a hard time keeping track of my pens. I'd buy a big bag of them in August, and by November they'd all be gone. So that Christmas, I put Bic pens in their stockings, and for good measure, I put an assortment of "Hello Kitty" pens in my stocking. Once I'd converted to pink pens, I never lost another; imagine a middle school boy showing up in class with a "Hello Kitty" pen - I think not!
But this set a precedent. We started putting goofy things in stockings and ended up having a blast. Imagine a 14 year old thanking his mother for the Odor Eaters in his stocking, and the 12 year old thanking the same mother for the bottles of Bean-o in his. Add cough drops, little boxes of raisins, warm socks, mittens and the occasional pink pearl eraser and you get my point. A mother could both entertain her kids AND make a statement with Christmas stockings. And it was cheap!
Of course my kids are grown now, one having made several deployments in the Middle East, the other married and buying a home of his own. But I'm still having the time of my life, coming up with tacky stocking stuffers.
The ground rules are easy. It has to be something that the kid needs (Odor-Eaters? a MUST for a teen boy), it must be something normally kept around the house anyway, and it must be cheap. If you stick to the big three, you'll all be laughing your heads off before they tear into the serious stuff. It's a good ice-breaker for families everywhere!