Make your own stocking stuffers

Every Christmas I love hanging large, decorated stockings on the fireplace mantel, but then I have to fill them. And with multiple stockings to stuff, it can get pretty pricey, so this year I decided to make my stocking stuffers. I discovered that in addition to cutting my holiday spending, it gives me the freedom to personalize each present in a way that just isn't possible with store-bought gifts.

I set out to create items that would combine cost savings with customization and would also be small enough to fit in a stocking.

Notepads are easy to make if you have access to a die cutter. If you don't have one, it's likely the school in your area does; generally they will allow you to use it if you bring your own paper and cut when the teachers don't need the machine. Select a shape that suits the gift recipient. It takes about ten minutes and four to five sheets of construction paper to make a note-worthy stack. Decorate the top shape with everything from photos to stickers to holes cut with different size hole punches.

To convert a stack of shapes into a notepad, you need to stack the shapes and secure them with a binder clip. Paint a few dabs of padding compound on one edge to complete the pad. Padding compound is available online and in office supply stores and dries clear like white glue; however, it is flexible so the pad stays together as you remove one sheet at a time.

It's easy to personalize pencils and erasers to partner with the notepads by simply wrapping each pencil with washi tape and rubbing decals onto each eraser with a wooden popsicle stick. Washi tape and rub-ons are available at craft stores.

If you're willing to participate in a little do-it-yourself action, it won't be difficult to make small, inexpensive gifts to stuff Christmas stockings. Even though these pint-size presents will sit in a stocking, it's nice to know they won't cost an arm and a leg.

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