Got Enough Plastic Toys? Try These Notes Instead of Stocking Gifts

Christmas to me has started to feel “too”: too many gifts, too much stuff, too much money spent on things. Too much wrapping, too many ribbons, too much trash.

Stockings are fun, but in order to “stuff” them full, we end up with more and more stuff. Stuff that parents end up cleaning up, taking care of, trying to find places for, or eventually giving away.

To stop the avalanche of things, last year we decided to fill our children’s stockings with notes. The notes were for everyone in the family — from everyone. Once they were completed, we tucked them in the stockings and on Christmas Eve, the kids got to pass them out.

You can see a clip of me showing our notes to Sarah, in Thoughtful, Low-Cost Gift Giving Tips, the third video in the Frugal Mama Makeover Series.

Printable Family Love Notes

When I came up with the idea, I created a simple form to print out and give people:

Print a copy of the stocking notes

One evening before Christmas, we sat around the fire and filled them out together.

I was surprised at how excited my daughters were about the idea. Sofia and Virginia, who were eight and six at the time, were helping me punch holes and cut ribbon, corral everyone together, and pass out pens and pencils. And they could not wait until it was time to hand out the notes and read them.

A note from 8-year-old Sofia to her 2-year old brother

Sow a Little, Reap a Lot

To be honest, not everyone in my family’s older generation embraced the new tradition. Telling someone how you feel requires being a little vulnerable. In a way, it’s easier to just go out and buy something.

But like so many frugal ideas, love notes stuffed in stockings are not just about saving money. They make other people feel good, which in turn makes us feel good. Handmade gifts also mean less time running around shopping, less waste and clutter, and less worry about buying enough.

At the same time, we get more. More quality time together, more connecting with family, more memories. So the bit of extra effort is rewarding, and makes us happy. Happiness is the whole point anyway, isn’t it?

Note from Virginia to Coco the cat

How to Pass Love Notes on Christmas (or New Year’s or Any Day)

If you’d like to try it yourself, print several copies of the stocking notes.

Like the coupon books, you just fold the paper in half, then half again, and cut down the folds. We closed each note with a hole punch and a tiny ribbon, but the notes could just as easily be stapled.

On this holiday and always, I am wishing you love, simplicity, and peace.

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  • Austin Clarke January 23, 2014, 5:17 am

    That is seriously very adorable. I loved the idea.

  • Alison @ L is for Latte January 10, 2013, 12:03 pm

    Totally delightful.

    • Amy January 10, 2013, 9:05 pm

      Hi Alison,

      We did these again this year, on the Befana or Jan. 7, and they were just as sweet and funny as they were in previous year’s. Keepers, forever.


  • Georgia December 27, 2011, 11:38 pm

    This is a great idea to save money and share your feelings with your family. What a great keepsake to look back on when the kids are older! Definitely going to implement this next year.

  • Rachel December 22, 2011, 10:05 am

    This is so adorable! I love it. Perfect for next year when our toddler will ‘get’ Christmas a bit more.

    • Amy December 22, 2011, 2:01 pm

      Hi Rachel,

      Yes, certainly something for kids who can help you at least write out the sayings. I’m glad you like the idea, Rachel — that’s a compliment!

      Take care,

  • Lauren December 22, 2011, 9:47 am

    Beautiful idea Amy! I LOVE it and am going to implement this idea this year. I found myself thinking ‘I am just going to head to the dollar store for stockings this year’ but I don’t need or want anymore toys that just sit in the bottom of the toy box and only collect dust. Thanks for the idea!

    • Amy December 22, 2011, 2:02 pm

      Hi Lauren,

      That makes me so happy — I’m glad that this last-minute post could help relieve stress (and keep the clutter down)!

      Thank you for leaving a comment,

  • M.T. December 22, 2011, 7:14 am

    This is a beautiful idea!

    • Amy December 22, 2011, 9:22 am

      Hi M.T.,

      So glad you like it! I’m not great at keeping journals, so it’s a nice way to record memories.

      Take care,