Stocking Stuffers

 
 

Christmas stockings are one of the best things about Christmas morning. It’s like having a lucky dip all to yourself, with lots of little parcels and goodies to unwrap, making the present-opening-fun last a little bit longer.

Christmas just wouldn’t be the same to me without a stocking. (Although it’s not quite as exciting as it used to be now that I have to fill my own stocking!) My kids get so excited and dump everything out on the floor to rifle through their treasures, shooting off party poppers, blowing party blowers, opening everything edible all at once and revelling in the fact that it’s all theirs!! And it really doesn’t matter if the gifts inside are not expensive or amazing – just the fact that they are surprises seems to be enough.

I never fill my kid’s stockings with sweets – they have a few, but I also add in lots of other things so they don’t get too much of a sugar rush. This year I decided that instead of buying lots of little packets and treats from the shop, I would make all the treats myself. That way I know for sure what’s in them, and can cut down on the refined sugars, additives, preservatives, colours, and who knows what else that are in most lollies and snacks.

Here’s some great ideas for stocking stuffers, with links to recipes for making your own healthier sweet & savoury treats, as well as small gifts that our kids love finding in their stockings on Christmas morning. For extra fun, make sure you gift wrap every little treat and toy – the kids love that! (And I’m sure the adults do too – we all revert to childhood on Christmas morning…) Feel free to share your favourite stocking stuffer ideas in the comments below!

Homemade Treats . . .

 
 

Dried mango & banana; homemade toffees 

~ Dried mango, banana, berries, peaches, nectarines: Buy whatever fruit is in season when it’s on special, and dehydrate thin slices in a food dehydrator, pop in little sandwich bags, and tie with a ribbon. My kids LOVE dried mango and banana and will eat them like lollies. If you can’t dry your own, buy some dried mango and banana, but make sure it doesn’t contain sugar and preservatives. It may seem expensive, but it’s better than buying lollies!

~ Fruit rollups: Again, make your own in a dehydrator with whatever fruit is in season. Puree the fresh fruit in the Thermomix, and spread it thinly on greased dehydrator sheets. If you don’t have a dehydrator, you can spread the fruit puree on a silicon mat on an oven tray and bake at a very low temperature in the oven until dried. Slice the rollups into strips, and roll up (obviously!), wrap in a piece of greaseproof paper, and tie ends with gift ribbon, like a bon bon.

~ Toffees: We love this recipe for Rapadura-Maple Syrup Butter Toffee – it’s so good, and very versatile – you can add chopped, roasted nuts or leave them out, top with melted chocolate, sprinkle with naturally coloured sprinkles, pour over whole toasted brazil nuts… or just leave it plain. Break it up into shards, place in little sandwich bags and tie with gift ribbon, then keep them in the freezer til Christmas morning. (At least, that’s what I do, because our weather is so hot and humid here that they get sticky after being out of the freezer for a while.)

 

Rapadura Maple-Syrup Toffee

~ Rice Malt Syrup Toffee: Another version of butter toffee can be made with 1 cup of rice malt syrup and 1 cup of butter, melted on the stove and cooked the same way as the Rapadura Maple-Syrup toffee. It’s a little less sweet, and tastes delicious too.

~ Peppernuts: These crunchy little morsels of gingerbread-y deliciousness are perfect for Christmas stockings, instead of much less healthy mini-cookies like Tiny Teddies. Children love to run around with a little bag of these to munch on, and adults love to dunk them in their coffee! (Or you could make little gingerbread stars with some royal icing decorations made with xylitol.) This recipe is gluten free.

Peppernuts

~ Chocolate Hazelnut Balls: These are my substitutes for Ferrero Rocher chocolates. They are dairy free, gluten free and much healthier! First make a batch of Chocolate Hazelnut Spread, but use half the amount of milk. It’s best to make this hours before you want to make the balls, so it sets quite firm. Next, toast whole hazelnuts on a tray in the oven (180 degrees C), and once cooled, rub the skins off with your hands or a tea towel (see pic below). Chop some of the hazlenuts in the Thermomix. Make a batch of homemade chocolate, or melt some dairy free chocolate in the Thermomix. When you’re ready to make the balls, mold a couple of teaspoons of the hazelnut spread around a whole toasted hazelnut, roll the ball in the chopped hazelnuts, then dip the ball in melted chocolate and place on a baking paper lined tray in the fridge or freezer to set. Wrap individual balls in small squares of foil. (I’ll try and get the exact recipe and photos posted soon!)

Rubbing skins off toasted hazelnuts

~ Sweet ‘n’ Salty Nuts: If you are a nut-eating family, these are a lovely treat. They’re very quick and easy to make, and there’s plenty of different variations to try.

~ Chocolate or Cinnamon Almonds: There’s a few different versions of this recipe, but basically they are like those sugar-coated almonds you can buy with different flavours of coating on them. Here is this recipe for cinnamon-sugar almonds (I would use Rapadura instead of sugar), and they are cooked in the Thermomix. Then there’s the one for cocoa-sugar almonds which is baked in the oven. Sonia from Healthy Cooking for Australian Families makes them like this: Whip on speed 4 in Thermomix: 2 egg whites and 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract; add 1kg of mixed, raw nuts and mix well on reverse speed soft; tip into a bowl that has 1 cup of rapadura & 4 tablespoons of organic raw cacao powder already mixed; mix around until there is no more dry powder; put onto two lined trays and bake at 120 degrees C for one hour or until crunchy.

~ Granola: This may not sound very exciting, but a little ziploc bag of granola they can pop in a bowl and have for breakfast or a snack is a nice treat – especially if you make it extra special with some dried cranberries in it to make it look Christmassy! For adults, you could fill a jar with granola and tie a spoon to it with a pretty ribbon. Try my recipe for Quick Quinoa Granola. Years ago, I used to buy those little boxes of fun cereals and pop one in each stocking, but the kids found them so sweet they couldn’t eat them, and they were full of nasty stuff. So this is a great alternative.

Quick Quinoa Granola

~ Bliss Balls: These are my favourites – Walnut & Cacao Nib Bliss Balls! There’s plenty of other variations – you can pretty much make them with any nuts and dried fruit – just use about half of each and add some raw cacao powder and a splash of pure maple syrup if you like. You’ll need to keep them in little bags in the fridge until the morning, then pop them in the stocking. They’re best cold.

~ Almond Coconut Fudge: If you haven’t ever made coconut butter in your Thermomix, you should – it’s amazing! This fudge is based on coconut butter, with some cocoa, maple syrup and extracts to flavour. The almond sits on top and is optional, so they’re great if you’re nut free too. A much healthier version of chocolate fudge from Deliciously Organic.

~ Chocolate: Of course, I have to include some kind of chocolate recipe! I love to make “Almost Raw” Chocolate – it’s dairy free, soy free and has no refined sweeteners. You can use it to make chocolate bark (pour over chopped toasted almonds, pistachios & craisins for a Christmas version), pour it into chocolate molds, dip pretzels into it then into sprinkles, drizzle over homemade shortbread, dip cantucci into it, or dip dried mango into it. Yum!

 

Almond, pistachio & cranberry chocolate bark 

~ Homemade pretzels: You could make these with spelt flour and whatever milk alternative you like to use. Plenty of variations, both sweet and savoury!

~ Crackers & Nut Cheese or Nut Butter: I used to put a little packet of crackers & dip in the kid’s stockings, but once again, there’s too many nasties in them for my liking. So here’s another option. There’s lots of different cracker recipes online, but these gluten free crackers caught my eye. You could add a mini block of macadamia cheese (wrapped in foil, in a little bag with the crackers – would need to go in at the last minute)… this stuff is delicious – have you tried it? Or maybe a little container of homemade nut butter to go with the crackers.

 More Stocking Stuffers . . .

~ Olives: Our kids love a small jar of olives in their stockings. Or maybe a little jar of mini gherkins… 🙂

~ Nuts in their shells (we always had these in our stocking as kids, and loved smashing them open with a hammer!)

~ A drink (my kids like to have a popper or fizzy apple juice drink in their stocking for a special treat)

~ A mini torch (especially good for Far North Queensland, where we generally get a cyclone around Christmas day that takes the power out! lol)

~ Party poppers, party blowers, sparklers

~ Balloons, water balloons

~ Glow sticks/necklaces/bracelets

~ Mini puzzles, books

~ Mini bubbles & bubble blower

~ Pretty pens, pencils, mini notepads

~ Electric toothbrush (I know, sounds boring, but kids love them!)

~ Stickers, stamps

~ Matchbox cars

~ Earrings, necklace, bracelet, hairbands, clips

What else do you like to put in Christmas stockings?

 

Gingerbread people

One thought on “Stocking Stuffers

  1. Samantha says:

    HI Jo, These all sound so yummy!
    Can you recommend a food dehydrator?
    there are so many different sorts advertised and I don’t know where to start…

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