Stocking Stuffers: 3 Copies “The Reluctant Entertainer” Giveaway!

Traditions can be started any time, and any place, with any person.

Thirteen years ago, the night before Christmas Eve, a knock came at my door. There stood our friend, Paula, with a beautifully wrapped silver Nordstrom box. Inside was a hand-knit Christmas stocking for our new baby girl, Abigail Ellen Rose.

“Here’s the sock! I worked all night to get it finished so you’d have it for Abigail’s first Christmas,” Paula told us, as she handed us the box.

My two other kids already had their own knit “sock,” as Paula called them. Paula felt the pressure to get Abby’s finished for her first Christmas. (By the way, these socks are about 2 1/2 feet long!)

What we didn’t know was, only a few short months later, Paula would be gone from our lives, as she died suddenly after a heart procedure.

Walt and Paula were dear friends of mine for many years. I had met Walter when he started on dialysis at my longtime workplace, and our friendship grew outside of a professional relationship. In fact, he and Paula were “designated grandparents” in my wedding almost 20 years ago, as my husband and I didn’t have any living grandparents.

My story today is about the tradition of our family’s Christmas Stockings.

It started with Elliot.
And then Garrett came along.
And then our little girl, Abby.

Their names are on the front side of the socks.

And the year they were born on the back.

Over the years, I’ve filled these large socks with toys, socks, underwear and toiletry items, cologne, lip gloss, video games, gift cards and music. Now my kids are teens, and we’re feeling the crunch of the economy just like everyone else. A sock this size can cost a lot to fill!

I want to be more creative this year, so this is where I need your help!

How should I fill up these stockings?

What to WIN:
3 winners will each win ONE copy of The Reluctant Entertainer.

Answer at least ONE of these questions to WIN:
What items do you fill Christmas stockings with?
Do you ever feel wasteful?
Do you fill the socks with useful items or “fun” items?
Do you have any happy memories of Christmas stockings from when you were young?

Tweet, Facebook, or sign up for NEW RSS Feed:
Do one of the above for an extra entry or two, and come back and tell me.

WINNER ANNOUNCED:
The 3 winners will be announced on Wednesday, December 22nd.

Thank you friends for the great “stocking stuffing” advice! I can’t wait to read all of your comments. And there’s still time to order from Amazon, your own copy of The RE. (However, it is too late to get a “signed” copy from me, in time for Christmas.)

139 comments on “Stocking Stuffers: 3 Copies “The Reluctant Entertainer” Giveaway!”

  1. Your stockings are just adorable! I have 2 boys who are older so I will be putting both fun and useful things in their stockings. Fruit is a must and then toothbrush and toothpaste. I will get them both a I tunes card. Then a copy of their favorite magazine and a Hershey bar. Maybe a little ball squeeze that is at the drug store I saw and an ornament for the year.

  2. I have 2 grown sons & they won’t let me stop the stockings. Same as story above, my boys could get in their stockings anytime so they woke up really early & went to one of their bedrooms to play with stocking presents & let parents sleep-couldn’t wake us up before 6 a.m.
    Today I usually put in some lottery tickets, flash lights are popular, sock hats, lip balm…..

  3. One of the great ways to fill stockings are with the little oranges only available at markets this time of year. They’re delicious and pretty cheap for a big box. You can also try the socks/underwear route – though kind of drab these items are always needed it seems.
    When I was a child, my parents started putting one item in our stockings about 10 days ahead of time. Each day after that, we would get another item. Christmas Day also just had that one item. As soon as those stockings were hung, my brother and I would pat them down each morning, hoping that this would be the day there would be a surprise in the stocking. As the years went on and the items became slightly more expensive, they would wait to start putting the item in the stocking. The anticipation was maddening but it is one of the great memories I hold at this time of year.

  4. Stockings are always so much fun… I have six children from 17 to 38 and every year about the same. Oranges & Apples, heir favorite candy, toothbrush, hairbrush/comb, lotion, razors/shaving cream etc. One year I made every ones dog’s stockings shaped like a paw & put homemade dog-biscuits in them, we made a cookie cutter from a empty can shaped like a bone. When my 31 year old was 3 we put a stick in her stocking & teased her about being ornery, then gave her another one full of things she liked. As we cleaned up the Christmas wrapping I tossed the stick into the fireplace. She cried so hard because her stick Santa brought was gone. Only through a child’s eyes can we see how special a stick can be. Merry Christmas to you and yours.

  5. Oh what gorgeous ‘soxs’ – we too have our own little tradition like this although sadly, like your Paula 3 of the sox don’t need to be hung anymore – every year we take out the Christmas decorations and there they are & lots of wonderful Christmas traditions are there to remember when everyone was still with us. In fact, in our house – putting up our Christmas decorations is a weekend thing filled with lovely dinner parties, all the family around and we bring in the new Christmas season. That’s our tradition & we love it.

  6. Our stockings are filled with mostly useful things – toothbrushes, toothpaste, underwear, gift cards, deodorant (all things we would buy anyway, so it doesn’t feel wasteful) and some fun stuff (candy, gum, gift cards, perfume, fingernail polish).

    I’m so sorry for the loss of your sweet friend. She sounds like a dear, dear lady!

  7. I’m recently married. Hubby and my stockings are hanging from the mantel…and we have one for each of our rescue dogs too! Ha. :) I’m a pediatric nurse and work Christmas eve, you can bet I’ll be sneaking home Christmas morning and filling their stockings…treats and toys for the dogs and little trinkets for the hubby.
    Merry Christmas!

  8. Since I was small, my stocking has always contained an orange, a walnut, some chocolate, and a variety of goofy items. No change at all. Even for teens, I’d probably check at the Target Dollar Bin area and get tiny picture frames, silly socks, elegantly packaged stationary, little holiday chocolates, and maybe a paperback book or two. It depends on your kids and your budget.

  9. Just signed up for the RSS feed, why I hadn’t done that earlier I am not sure?!?!?!?!?! :)

  10. Wow Sandy, those are big stockings! What a special treasure to have them and to know what love went into making them. They are so lucky to have such love poured into them. One Christmas tradition we have is that the kids get their stockings on Christmas Eve as we do not celebrate Santa and it gives the stockings specialness all to themselves. We also sleep Christmas Eve as a family in our family room by the tree with the lights on all night. So the kids get in their pj’s, and open their stockings. I usually put a movie in the stockings so they can watch it as they drift off to sleep. This year one is getting Toy Story 3 Blue Ray. Sometimes a Christmas book (but as yours are getting older, and mine too, maybe a novel or such), also magazines are a hit. Since my stockings are smaller the Christmas pj’s are wrapped seperately, but you could put ones in yours. A special treat is a box of chocolates so I grabbed them on a great sale at Walgreens and they will be going in the stockings. I also have gotten bath toiletries at free or close to free so in goes those, a pack of gum that I got the same way. I also get the kids Christmas ornaments and if small enough and I need a filler they go into the stockings. Matchbox cars are a hit as well. If you need other gift ideas and want to limit the budget make a fun coupon book for the kids that they can redeem to you (they pick dinner, a dinner date with you alone, staying up late one night, a game night of their choosing, just some private time with you, a special run with you alone to McDonalds or out for ice cream, movie and popcorn night at home and they get to pick the movie, etc.). I just love to find stocking treats, I think stockings are my favorite and they don’t have to be expensive. Just filled with a lot of love!!! :)

  11. One of my favorite things to put into the kids stockings in the chocolate gold coins. It’s a reminder of the story of St. Nicholas and how he had a heart to give and snuck down the chimeny to leave gold coins in the stockings of the girls who could not pay their wedding dowry.
    We also put some fun christmas chocolates and favorite candies.
    For my son I put little trinkets. This year for my son (age 4) we put in a tape measure, a recorder whistle, a bouncing ball. For my daughter we gave her the same recorder whistle and ball but also put in some fruity chap stick. Simple little stuff to bring them the joy of play

  12. I subscribe to your RSS Feed!

  13. I’m pretty boring when it comes to stockings and usually stick with ordinary stuff like candy and gift cards. When I was growing up, my mom would always forget to fill our stockings. (This was once we were older and already knew the truth about Santa.) Then, the one year when she did finally remember to do them, we didn’t even waste our time checking because we were so used to them being empty! Isn’t that the way it goes? :)

  14. This is our first year with stockings, so I am at a loss as well, but they do look cozy hanging there. So far I’ve put stickers, pencils, mini butterfinger, and a small sketch book with a little pack of colored pencils in there. Little people with big artistic dreams = many papers all over the house. So I’m thinkin’ the sketchbook can contain some of that, and some of the emotional upheaval when I have to go through the mountain of pictures will also abate. Anyway, I made note of some of the suggestions above too. Thanks guys.

  15. Stockings have always been a fun tradition in our house. I fill the kids’ stocking with both fun & practical things, but usually with a $5 limit. An orange always goes in the stockings, and a candy cane too. Then I usually add a box of their favorite candy, chapstick or lip gloss, a fun little toy – matchbox car, tech deck skateboard, silly band bracelets, earrings, holiday necklace, then travel bottles of shampoo, lotion, deodorant, etc.

    The adults fill each others stockings. Usually we get 2 things for the other adults stockings, but sometimes we draw names and have to fill 1 person’s stocking. Then we have to pick things that start with each letter of the person’s name. That usually is more challenging and can be more expensive too.

  16. We do things like candy and batteries and dollar store nail polish. It still adds up quickly and sometimes the stockings are not filled all the way.

  17. You could fill it with a larger item like a sweater or shirt that would not be expensive but take up space. I am such a “tradition” person and love your story
    I have always put fun and useful things in the stockings. Things like a Caledar or a book, makeup or small tools for the guys, cute socks or undies, Chocolate oranges, shave gel, polish maybe a CD I try to pick things up all year.

  18. I have to say that stockings are my favorite thing about Christmas morning. I am an only child so there really wasn’t much excitment in my house while I was growning up but now I have three daughters and I just can’t stop smiling Christmas morning! i always put a book in everyones’ stocking along with any bathroom supplies that might be running low orsomeone has hinted they really want to try. My youngest is a big fan of play dough and little people and they fit so good stockings. My middle daughter is a craft-o-holic so anything artsy goes straight into her stocking. my oldest she gets the big girl thingsd such as nail polish and makeup. The one thing I have done every year is I include a “Day with Mom” coupon in every one (even my husband’s), I have to say that has been the best stocking tradition in our family.

  19. In my family, I have 3 grown daughters (19 to 29) a grandson (7) and a new granddaughter (due any moment), as well as the men in our lives and my mother. Our family tradition, started by my mother when I was a little girl is for everyone in the family to put in a stocking size gift to each other. We also have good size stockings and still they are often overflowing, it is fun to watch them grow in the weeks leading to Christmas.

    I always include the girls perfume of choice for each year as well as make up, chap stick, hair ties, bookmarks, toothbrushes and at least one toy-ish item :o) The men get similar items, razors, cologne, pens, shaving cream or after shave, beef jerky, etc. For the younger children we include more toys, coloring books and crayons, and a “grown up” smelling body spray or glitter spray and of course everyone gets a beautiful and tasty gingerbread man cookie and some chocolates.

    We open our stockings on Christmas Eve while having a feast of hors d’oeuvre’s and homemade Christmas cookies. In the morning after Santa has delivered his gifts, everyone finds that he has left fruit and nuts in the empty stockings, which helps to fill the room with the wonderful smells of Christmas.

    The best part of our traditions are being able to stop the hustle and bustle of the the season and be together with the people I love!

  20. My Dad had “stocking duty” at our house. He filled our stockings with fruits of the season, always tangerines, nuts, candy, the Lifesaver story book and candy canes, and chap stick. I love to fill stockings with travel sizes of baby powder, lotions, shampoos, etc.

  21. My husband and I are starting a few Christmas traditions and one of the is filling each others stockings. My mom and dad always did it for my brother and I growing up…a mix of practical (socks, mittens, toothbrush, dental floss) and fun items (movies, travel sized games, cards, lip gloss) along with a few treats like candy canes. My mom always wrapped each of the items in the stocking – which takes time, but makes opening the gifts more fun and exciting…and if you have someone who wakes up extra early and peeks! they still dont know exactly what is in the stocking :)

  22. Love your stockings & the story that goes with them. I have four very similar stockings knitted by my mother as our family has grown-one for my first Christmas (1961), one for my husband for the first Christmas we were married (1986), one for our daughter’s first Chrsitmas (1996) & one for our black lab Maggie’s first Christmas (2007)…as for filling my teen’s stocking I find that shampoo & shower gel takes up lots of space. I also fill her stocking with fun socks, nail polish, an ornament to remember something we’ve done during the year & an I-tunes gift card.

  23. I always do a combo of useful and fun. Stockings are the first thing they get to dive into. Little toys, special treats, make-up, hair do gadgets. Even special packets of hot chocolate or fruit. This year I’m tucking in a flashdrive for one of my kids who is into computers. $5 gift cards for a coffee drink or a little something are also part of it. Enjoy your Christmas!

  24. I’m signed up for your RSS feed.

  25. I fill stockings with a mix of useful and “fun” items – whatever’s small that I pick up at Walgreens for cheap. Things like candy, toothbrushes (and yes, I realize those shouldn’t go hand in hand), gum, crayons – that sort of thing.

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