Christmas Stocking Stuffers

  • The Theories Behind the Tradition of Oranges as Stocking Stuffers

    Why We Put Oranges in Christmas Stockings

    For centuries, Christmas stockings have been a centerpiece of religious and secular tradition, bringing little treasures and joy to children (and adults) on Christmas Day. And just as the history of the Christmas stocking itself has many facets, so too do the traditional treasures that are left inside.

    One such treasure is: The Christmas Orange.

    As it turns out, there’s no one theory as to why the citrus fruit became a traditional stocking stuffer. But each of the reasonings has merit. Let’s explore some of those theories.

    St. Nick’s Special Gift to a Widower

    Before coming into sainthood, St. Nicholas—who’s legend evolved into today’s Santa Claus tradition—was a generous, wealthy bishop. Allegedly one day, he heard of widowed shopkeeper and father to three beautiful daughters. The father was deeply concerned that his daughters would never marry as he couldn’t afford a dowry—and if he were to die, the girls would be left alone and destitute.

    As the story is often told, St. Nick was touched by the father’s dire situation and wanted to help. So, he crept into the man’s home one night and put bags of gold—or perhaps balls of gold as some tales say—in each of the girls’ stockings.

    When the father and his girls woke the next morning, they found the gold and rejoiced. The girls could now get married and the father’s worries were put to rest.

    As Smithsonian.com points out, the tradition of putting gold in stockings isn’t very easy to replicate. As a result, oranges (and sometimes tangerines) started being used as a representation of gold.

    What’s more, some say the oranges aren’t meant to simply represent the gold St. Nick left behind—but also his incredible generosity.

    Today, Christmas is known as the season of giving. So, by stuffing stockings with oranges, we’re paying homage to both the gift itself and the intention behind it.

    A Luxurious Treat on Christmas Day

    This “luxurious treat” theory has roots in multiple different points of history. Firstly, some say the tradition originated well before the 19th Century.

    As you can imagine, the trade routes, transportation types, and technology were far less developed than what we have today. As a result, oranges were not easily accessible in non-native growing areas—meaning only the wealthy could typically afford such an exotic treat. So, you could imagine the jubilation of a poor or average person receiving such an incredible treasure in their stocking on Christmas morning.

    Others claim the orange tradition was founded during the Great Depression and/or World War eras in the first half of the 20th Century.

    For a little more background, according to Taste of Home, the Sunkist brand burst on the scene in 1908. In fact, oranges were the first produce item to have its own ad campaign, the publication said. As a result, the interest and demand for oranges exploded across the country—and eventually accessibility began to grow.

    But during the Great Depression, as well as World War I and World War II, many felt the major financial crunch. So, depending on location and circumstance, using oranges as stocking stuffers could have been an easy, yet special, treat or an outstanding luxury.

    Oranges Are Lucky

    Perhaps one of the more unique theories behind the orange stocking stuffer tradition is rooted in ancient Chinese and other Asian customs and beliefs.

    You see, the orange has been a symbol of good fortune and luck for centuries. During the Chinese New Year celebration, which takes place very close to Christmas festivities every year, oranges (and tangerines) are often used as decorations and are exchanged among friends and family.

    While there isn’t a definitive connection between the Asian belief and the Christmas tradition, it’s reasonable to assume it’s no coincidence. As our world has become more interconnected, and both religious and secular traditions have mingled over the years, the orange stocking stuffer tradition has been influenced from multiple angles.

    What it All Comes Down To? Tradition

    Despite the many competing and complementing theories, the common thread is simple: tradition.

    No matter the historical reasoning one chooses to embrace, the fact is that putting oranges in stockings represents the spirit of the season; giving generosity, giving joy, giving luck, and passing on tradition.

    What long-time or unique Christmas traditions does your family honor each year? Tell us in the comments section below.  

    Shop Personalized Christmas Stockings

  • How to Stuff Your Kids’ Christmas Stocking to the Brim for Under $15 Each

    When you’re a kid, the best Christmas morning moment is arguably the sight and subsequent opening of your overflowing Christmas stocking. After all, these little treasures were carefully selected by Santa Claus just for you.

    But now that you’re a parent — and Santa’s little helper — filling stockings and the space under the tree can get pretty spendy despite your best efforts to keep costs down. In fact, according to T. Rowe Price’s annual Parents, Kids & Money Survey from last year, more than half of parents say they never stick to their Christmas spending budget. Furthermore, 11 percent admit withdrawing from retirement accounts to pay for gifts.

    The good news is that with a little creativity — and the right inspiration — you can find great stocking stuffers for your young kids without breaking the bank. And we can prove it.

    Some of our team members visited one of the nation’s favorite shopping destinations — Target — to find cute, fun and personality-matched stocking stuffers with the goal of spending $15 or less per stocking. Now, we bring our finds to you in hopes of inspiring your stocking-stuffing efforts.

    For Your Princess

    Christmas Stocking Stuffers for Your PrincessSugar, spice and everything nice — if your little princess loves sparkle, shades of pinks and purples, and is over the moon for grown-up-like accessories, this combination is sure to make her eyes glimmer with love and excitement Christmas morning.

    Here we have a five-pack of glamorous lip balms ($3), bedazzled stamps that light up ($3), a darling tin carrying case with the words “Shimmer & Shine” written on it ($3), and an assortment of three Cat & Jack headbands ($5.99) to help your princess accessorize.

    Total cost before tax? $14.99.

    For the Young Artist

    If your child likes to draw, paint and create, then this mix of art supplies will not disappoint.

    This stocking stuffer collection features a coloring book ($1), three grab-n-go coloring kits ($3 total), bath paint ($1), scented markers ($1), and Play-Doh minis ($1).

    Total cost before tax? $7.

    For Your Superhero

    Since the 1940s, when the first superhero comic books were introduced, superheros have been common childhood obsessions for boys and girls alike.

    And now that many of these characters have come to life on the big screen, it’s easier than ever to find superhero-themed trinkets and gifts that are perfect stocking stuffers.

    In this Spiderman-themed stocking stuffer example, we have a ball cap ($3), wall tumblers ($3), finger flingers ($1), socks ($1), and a water-activated towel ($1).

    Total cost before tax? $11.

    For Your World Traveler

    If traveling is part of your family’s holiday plans, why not kill two birds with one stone by stuffing your kids’ stockings with goodies that can keep them entertained on the road?

    In this stocking stuffer example, we have two grab-n-go coloring kits ($2 total), a Moana-themed memory game ($3), Old Maid card game ($1), Play-Doh minis ($1), scented markers ($1), a Hershey chocolate bar ($1), and orange-flavored Tic Tacs ($1.19).

    Total cost before tax? About $10.

    For Your Fun-Seeker

    If your kid is always up for a game or looking for fun, why not fill their stocking with pure entertainment?

    Just as in our previous example, the Moana-themed memory game ($3) and the Old Maid playing cards ($1) are present. But we also have silly string ($2), a junior slinky ($1), a Daisy and Minnie-Mouse themed domino set ($3), and squishy play foam ($1).

    Total cost before tax? $11.

    Get Ready to Stuff

    Following our shopping excursion, our team members had these stocking stuffer shopping tips to pass on:

    • Shop with a theme. When you shop with a theme in mind (i.e. princess or superhero), those constraints will actually fuel your creativity, helping you avoid extra items in your car so you can keep your bill down.
    • Hit the clearance areas first. Regardless of your shopping destination, head for the known clearance or low-cost merchandise first (i.e. Target’s $1 spot). This will allow you to find several good items at low prices before you’re let loose in the rest of the store. However, be prepared to dig to find the gems you’re looking for.

    In need of a stocking to stuff? Take a peek at our beautiful collection of personalized Christmas stockings.

    What are some of your go-to stocking stuffers for young kids? Please share in the comments section below!

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