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Healthy Ways To Stuff A Stocking

All too soon we will be facing that final stretch before Christmas. It's that time where it seems the more you cross off your list; the more needs to be done. And one of those tasks we can forget about until it's almost too late is the stockings.

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 just 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 met up with Registered Dietician, Ashley Littleton about this very concern for advice, tips, and ideas on what are some healthier options we can put into those stockings, 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 more 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 substantiative items. Then you add the fun stuff!

Also, the approach of making a tradition of the stocking can help us Moms 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, then it becomes a known enterprise and minimizes that guesswork in a week where time seems the most precious. And who doesn't want to save time in a week that already feels as though it has sped by?

Other ideas also include things that are experience based items versus trinkets "Tickets to the art museum, or tickets to the Denver Zoo, or movie tickets, or tickets to a concert. 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 and a friend can go out on an outing. But making it more intentional, and I would recommend going more towards that activity and memory aspect versus necessarily another toy or another trinket."

Have other ideas for your fellow Moms? 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!