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Healthy Ways To Stuff A Stocking

Stockings and Christmas are an ancient tradition, going back hundreds of years, but it still seems like it surprises us each year, that thought of “Oh yeah, what are we going to put in those giant socks?” No matter how many years we’ve been playing Santa in our homes, the science of stuffing stockings can feel a bit out of reach. We don’t want to give our kids meaningless junk but are also prey to the point of sale items that seem ready-made to fit into that cylindrically shaped piece of fabric. What’s a parent to do?

We sat down with MHCC’s Clinical Dietitian, Ashley Littleton, about this very concern for advice, tips, and ideas for healthier options we can put into those stockings. She provided some great advice and guidance, so our kids aren’t floating around the house on a perennial sugar high during Christmas Break each year.
“Maybe think more about stockings more as part of the tradition of Christmas, instead of it being a last-minute todo,” said Littleton. “For example, my mom and dad always put an apple and an orange and nuts in my stocking, and that filled up the bulk of it. I remember that, and we always got the nutcracker out, and we would crack the nuts and eat them throughout the present opening.”

Leaving out the refined sugars doesn’t have to be the ultimate goal, and stockings can have sweets. But think of adding those sweets in moderation or cherry on top type of role, not as a base. Start with filling the stocking with nutrient-based items like the suggested fruits, nuts, homemade foods (check out our Facebook page for videos on how to do homemade fruit roll-ups) that have more health benefits versus pre-packaged food items. All of this can help fill the stocking, and your child’s belly, with some more substantive things. Then you add the fun stuff!

Also, making a tradition of the stocking can help Moms and Dads have a bit more of a framework to go from year to year. If you are knowingly filling it with fruits, nuts, and other items, it becomes a known enterprise and minimizes that guesswork in a week where time seems the most precious.
Other ideas also include things that are experience-based items versus trinkets. “Gift certificates or gift cards are an awesome thing to put as stocking stuffers,” advised Ashley. “Think also of activities that might include the whole family or just enough for that child specifically. But making it more intentional, and I would recommend going more towards an activity and memory aspect versus necessarily another toy or another trinket.”

Have other ideas for your fellow parents? Let us know in the comments on our Facebook page what tricks you have found work to fill those stockings and keep the sugar highs at bay! And of course, a very Merry Christmas, and may your naps be plentiful!