Here is a way to fill stockings without last-minute stress.

It can be expensive and mind-boggling to fill stockings. Waiting until December to shop for many tiny gifts that fill up stockings can temp you to overspend in order to save time and footwork. 

The best advice for filling stockings is to keep your eyes open all year long. The best time to pick up stocking stuffers is right after any holiday. 

Here is one easy idea for a thoughtful stocking: Make a theme of a season or a holiday. Regularly visit the seasonal aisles of your favorite stores. After Easter, Thanksgiving, and of course Christmas you can stock up for next year. For example: On July 5th you can pick up many items in clearance aisles for 50-75% off and everything is in one place. 

You can collect stacks of themed napkins, paper plates, and cups. Usually you can find holiday themed socks, stickers, stamps, pencils, small toys, frames, even shirts and linens. 

When you get home from each shopping trip you can drop the bag full of goodies into your hiding place and forget about it until December or if you are motivated you can separate the goodies into labeled shoeboxes or bags for each of the recipients. This is an easy way to keep track of how full each stocking is getting. 

If you don’t want to focus on a holiday you can also find great buys as the seasons change. The nice thing about this is that it doesn’t take much extra time. 

If you’ve taken advantage of post-holiday sales throughout the year you may have a nice stock of trinkets stashed away for stockings or even gift baskets. One of the blessings of always having a stockpile of small, related items is that it is easy to throw together a quick basket at the last minute for a shower or as a thank-you gift. If you need baskets you can find all sizes for cheap prices at second hand stores. 

Make a date on the calendar for early in the month or even in November. Right before your chosen date pick up some candy canes and marshmallow Santas. Gather your gifts and your family’s stockings; turn off your phone, pour yourself a drink and turn on your movie or music. If you have been faithful to visit your stores you should have a bag full of trinkets from which to choose. Give the stockings a practice fill and then put the contents back into the shoe boxes ready to go for Christmas Eve night.