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Over the years we’ve tried a few different ways of exchanging gifts between the children in our family.  For a number of years they drew names and gave a gift to one sibling, but truth be told, with so many young children, it added more work (and expense) for me.

A couple of years ago we hit on an idea that has become a wonderful new tradition.  Each child gives a small stocking stuffer to every sibling.  The gifts can be very small (think a pack of gum), or a handmade craft, or something larger if the gift-giver is able.  The younger kids have a great time wrapping their treasures and then tucking them into their siblings’ stockings on Christmas Eve. The big kids do a great job exclaiming over the Tic Tacs, Lifesavers, and other treats.  This year, Ladybug is making special gifts for her older siblings, which I would love to show you, but that would ruin the surprise.  I’ll be sure to post a picture after Christmas.

The huge added bonus for me is that I no longer need to shop for stocking stuffers!!  My contribution has been whittled down to a tangerine, candy cane, a few Christmas candies, and occasionally some much needed new underwear or socks.  I often found myself scrambling for stocking stuffers after completing all the rest of my shopping, which although it is limited to a book and other two gifts per child, still adds up to 36 gifts (with one son-in-law included). This is a very happy change for me.

Questions: Do your children exchange gifts with one another? What do you put in your children’s Christmas stockings?

I would love to hear from you on this Wednesday.  Have a wonderful day, friends.


  1. mamitaj (Reply) on Wednesday 12, 2012

    What a awesome idea!!! Thanks!

    • Lisa Qualls (Reply) on Wednesday 12, 2012

      Glad you like it, Mamita. It's always good to hear from you.

  2. Heather Snyder (Reply) on Wednesday 12, 2012

    We have had three foster kids added to our family in the last year. We went from one child to four, ages- 3, 3, 3, and 6. We took them to the dollar store and let them each pick out something for the other. They weren't quit sure about the not getting something for themselves, but were so excited to pick out for each other. They will also go in stockings. It was just under $13 and worth every penny for what it taught them.

    • Lisa Qualls (Reply) on Wednesday 12, 2012

      Heather – that's a great way to do it, and you're right, it teaches them so much about giving. BTW, how amazing and wonderful to have three children the same age!

  3. Alyssa (Reply) on Wednesday 12, 2012

    How do you manage taking them each shopping and the others not seeing the surprises?

    Our kids each take a name of another kid and I give them $10-15 to spend, but we only have 4 kids. Last night our youngest, newly adopted told me he also wants to pick something for each person in the family, so I will take him to get little things one day because he's so excited about that. The teenagers get stocking stuffers for mom and dad and that's always fun. ( In my family, we give to charity instead of gifts for the adults) We did a cousin exchange once, I kind of forgot about that. Your idea sounds great!

    • Lisa Qualls (Reply) on Wednesday 12, 2012

      Great question, Alyssa. So far this year, two of the girls got their gifts during a trip to Costco (one chose gum and the other candy). I picked up Tic Tacs for Little Man to give and he is excited about that. One of the older boys took Ladybug to the store to get the supplies needed for what she is making. Bee asked me to take her to the dollar store. That leaves Eby to figure out. The older five can manage on their own now that they all drive. The little ones get super excited about wrapping all of their gifts; Sunshine told me she is wrapping hers tomorrow.

  4. Becky (Reply) on Wednesday 12, 2012

    I have been wondering how to teach our two the joy of gift giving… this is a great idea! Of course, we only have two kids, so we'll probably keep buying them stocking stuffers too. :)

  5. Sara Edwards (Reply) on Wednesday 12, 2012

    Last year we did a one dollar gift exchange. We all drew names, then went to the dollar store together. The only criteria were that the gift needed to cost no more than one dollar, and it needed to make the receiver laugh. We opened our dollar gifts on Christmas Eve. We had so much fun being silly that night with the orange wigs, gag teeth, and other goofy, tacky stuff we gave to one another. We are definitely repeating this new tradition this year. :)

    • Lisa Qualls (Reply) on Wednesday 12, 2012

      I love the idea of giving the gift of laughter! Great thought, Sara.

  6. Blessed (Reply) on Wednesday 12, 2012

    I am so thankful you wrote this, Lisa! I only have 4 kids, but I have never taken them to buy presents for one another, or their parents. It just seemed so artificial–them spending money that is not their own, and little kids never pick out the most appropriate things, you know? We live in a teeny tiny house (no really–550 sq. feet) and just don't have room for stuff we don't need, so that's another reason I have never encouraged them to buy presents jost for the sake of buying presents. So my kids just all on their own started years ago making presents for us and for one another–little creations out of paper and string, "necklaces" out of fingerknitting, etc. And they are just so darned adorable giving and receiving these simple bits of love. The best one year–watching one sister unwrap individual pieces of leftover Halloween candy she knew was from her little sister's candy jar and enthusing over the gift and saying, "Guess who gets a big hug!"

    • Lisa Qualls (Reply) on Wednesday 12, 2012

      That is the sweetest story! Wow – what a woman, to create a home for your family in such a small space. I admire you.

  7. Julie (Reply) on Wednesday 12, 2012

    Isn't it a challenge to keep the focus on Christ?
    Thanks for your stocking stuffer idea. (Will tuck that idea away; for now we're blessed that Nana and Papa do the stockings!)
    Our older 9 kids (9 – 24 years) draw names and exchange gifts ($25 price range). The youngest of this set get choosing/shopping help from an older sibling.
    We buy a gift for each of the younger 7 children (2 – 8 years). And usually a group gift for everyone (game, dvd, etc.)
    Blessings to all!
    We buy

    • Lisa Qualls (Reply) on Wednesday 12, 2012

      Julie, yes it really is. There is a part of me that would love to walk away from the gift-giving, but I'm not sure that would be the best thing for our family. I want to love and bless my children and for some of them, receiving gifts is a big deal. Of course, they all love presents!

  8. Captain Murdock (Reply) on Wednesday 12, 2012

    This. Is. Genius.

    • Lisa Qualls (Reply) on Wednesday 12, 2012

      Thank you so much! It only took me 23 years to figure it out :-)

  9. Kami (Reply) on Wednesday 12, 2012

    We have 4 under 10 years old. They draw names, then do "extra chores" around the house to earn money (clean a bathroom, wash baseboards, vacuum, dust, etc). I will keep doing this as I don't feel they are getting something for nothing, but I really like the stocking stuffers for everyone ideas. Thanks! I will see what the kids think of altering our tradition a bit.

    • Lisa Qualls (Reply) on Wednesday 12, 2012

      Kami, I like your plan for helping them earn money for buying gifts. Thanks for the comment!

  10. Mary (Owlhaven) (Reply) on Wednesday 12, 2012

    This is a brilliant idea, Lisa! Stockings are a lot of work with big crews like ours.


  11. Kat (Reply) on Wednesday 12, 2012

    That is AWESOME! We have eight and are in the process of adopting our ninth….and the kids LOVE this idea! Thank you so much for sharing it and making life simpler for (and a little less expensive) for us!

    • Lisa Qualls (Reply) on Wednesday 12, 2012

      I'm so glad it will work for you, Kat! Who knew that such a simple thing would be a relief to so many of us.

  12. Ann (Reply) on Wednesday 12, 2012

    You are a genius girlfriend! Crazy smart are you! We are doing a sibling gift exchange this year, but next year we will try your stocking stuffer idea. Like you, I often feel overwhelmed with one more thing to figure out, especially since I like to have some cute or fun things in the stocking along with socks, toothbrush, deoderant, new pencils etc. Thanks for sharing!

    • Lisa Qualls (Reply) on Wednesday 12, 2012

      Ann, I loved your post today too. I learned far more than I expected – I'll share it on my blog soon.

  13. Kelly (Reply) on Wednesday 12, 2012

    I LOVE IT!

  14. Lisa H. (Reply) on Wednesday 12, 2012

    This is a fun idea!! I wonder if my kids would like it? Right now my kids draw names, which works pretty well for us. My little ones do work for me to earn money for their gifts, so it hasn't been too difficult. This week it got all of the laundry folded and put away! :o)

    Here are things we give in stockings: Lipsmackers/Chapstick, tangerines, mini-flashlights, stickers, Silly Putty, toothbrushes, combs/brushes, nail polish, candy of all sorts, nuts, packs of individual hot chocolate, coloring books, markers, crayons, nail files, bottles of "nicer" root beers or Snapples, jerkey, magazines, socks, Legos, card games, hair accessories, pens, pads of paper or Post-its. Rolls of tape would make my girls happy! Target's dollar bins have good things too!

  15. Emily (Reply) on Wednesday 12, 2012

    We started last year having all our kids buy, make, or regift to each other. Regifting has been quite popular, and it is sweet to see a beloved toy outgrown given to a younger sibling to be treasured all over again. The younger ones (6-under) get $10 from us to do their shopping-at Half Price books, the thrift shop, etc.

  16. Sara (Reply) on Wednesday 12, 2012

    Our stockings are also our family gifts to each other. We all go to the little local health food store together (so I can feel good about giving them the freedom to pick anything) and the boys go one way and the girls go the other – the girls picking out treats for the boys and vice versa. Our kids are still young, so the best part is sneaking around the small store trying not to let the other gender see the goodies you've picked for them. The store workers get a kick out of us, stockings are done, and it is our favorite holiday tradition yet.