Looking for a fun and memorable Christmas stocking tradition for your family? Well here is one that won’t break the bank, will be fun for years, and leave you with memories when the kids are grown.
I’m a huge fan of traditions. As a matter of fact, my family says I have a tradition of starting and encouraging new traditions.
So in my first year as a new stepmom, I was all over the Christmas traditions.
And out of that came one of my favorite, the DIY Christmas stocking decorating.
It’s super cheap – 98 cents per stocking plus paint – and the kids love it!
The best part, though, is being able to look back at previous years and remember a little part of your family’s personality for the year.
Or that year that your 6 year old dumped a load of paint on theirs and called it Christmas island.
Or maybe that your 5 years old learned how to write their name between Christmases.
Whatever the case may be, there are years of memories built into each Christmas stocking.
Find the full steps below and enter your info to get the list of 180 ideas for each stocking.
PS. sorry about the picture quality. These were taken in the years before I started this blog.
(This post probably contains affiliate links. If you feel like falling asleep, feel free to read our full disclosure policy here)
Starting A Christmas Stocking Tradition For Your Family
There are a ton of traditions surrounding Christmas stockings.
As a matter of fact, even the use of a stocking for Christmas is a tradition. Which is a little weird, right? I mean, if you think about it, hanging socks on the wall and putting stuff in them is a strange thing to do.
If you know me at all, you probably know I had to do a little research. I do love some good research.
So, why do we hang up stockings at Christmas?
Popular poetry says that you hang them “by the chimney with care, in hopes that St. Nicholas soon [will] be there.” Modern tradition has them filled with treats, gifts, and food items for Christmas morning.
If you want a more historical answer, there’s a popular myth surrounding St. Nicholas’ use of stockings, which were hung by a chimney to dry, to help a recently widowed man and his three daughters.
The story goes that the St. Nicholas knew the widow would not accept charity after the death of his wife so gold coins were left anonymously in the stockings on Christmas Eve.
If you trace this legend even further, you come across another popular Christmas tradition – the use of oranges in Christmas stockings.
Except, this time, instead of gold coins St. Nicholas left gold balls in the stockings. An obvious and less expensive replacement for these gold balls were oranges.
If you want a more detailed look at this legend, The Smithsonian Institue has a great article here.
But, no more about history. Let’s move on to this fun Christmas stocking tradition for your family.
There are just a few things to gather. I’ll list them below so they’re easy to read. This is a family-friendly DIY idea, so I’m including a few extra items that I know (from experience) you’ll want for your kids.
You can also get a closer look at stocking and paint selections down below.
- An old sheet to cover whatever surface you’re using
- Scratch paper
- Clothes that can get paint on them.
- Stockings for each member of the family – I like the $.98 cent ones at Walmart. However, if you don’t have time or energy to battle Walmart during the holidays, you can order similar ones here. They cost a little extra, but save you the trip.
- Fabric paint – again, Walmart is a good source for this. Or any craft store. However, in this case, I think the cheapest ones actually are available on Amazon. And they work great, too!
- As much time as you feel like spending. It’s a fun family tradition, so don’t try to rush it!
- A good place to dry the stockings for a few days. We put ours on top of our kitchen cabinets. That’s out of the way enough they won’t get in our way, the kids leave them alone, and they don’t get dog or pig hair on them.
Don’t get too fancy here. You want lightweight. If they’re too thick they will take a long time to dry.
You also want some kind of texture on the material. The paint will have problems adhering to slicker material.
Finally, you want inexpensive. Our family of 5 spends $5 a year and it’s just as much fun and as memorable as if we spent $25.
One other note, we like to alternate colors each year. The top part of the stockings are white one year and green the next. You can see that reflected in the pictures I’ve posted throughout this article.
I know I put this above, but these ones through Amazon are essentially the same as the Walmart ones and save you from having to fight through the crowds.
Also, keep 1 or 2 extra on hand each year. One kid WILL mess up. And there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Save the heartache and give them a do-over.
If you’re thinking you won’t need bright yellows and turquoise paint for Christmas stockings, think again.
We have one stocking in our collection with a Christmas banana on it.
Kids are awesome. And will surprise you with their creativity. Get ALL THE COLORS!
The best way to do this is to buy a set like this. We bought this a few years ago and are still working on some of the colors. Then, add a few bigger bottles of staple colors…Green, Red, Silver, White, etc. These Tulip paints work great and are the ones we chose.
A note about Tulip paints. They come in different types: slick, soft, neon, pearl, glitter, glow, metallic, puff, etc.
Any will work, but I would warn you away from puff for younger kids. It takes longer to dry and can distort their creation as it rises.
Now that we’ve done this a few years, the kids enjoy planning their design ahead of time. Generally, for a few days in advance, we’re talking it over as a family and comparing notes!
The first few years were a little more stressful for them (and us parents) as they sat there for at least an hour trying to figure it out.
I would 100% recommend coming up with a design ahead of time. If you’re stuck, you can use the 180-idea list I’ve created for you.
If you’ve got pictures, keep them handy so you can refer to them as you’re painting.
Also, be sure your table and children are prepared for painting. ‘Cause it’s gonna get messy, which is part of the fun!
Paint and dry
This part is pretty self-explanatory.
Paint your designs and have a blast! Be sure to include your name and year on everyone’s stocking. We’ve only been doing this for 5 years and already it’s getting harder to remember who did what on what year.
After the painting is done, they will need to dry. Especially if you’re kids are anything like my younger stepkids. They put a ton on there and it’s going to take a few days.
As I mentioned earlier, you’ll need a good place for the stockings to dry. I would recommend 2 days minimum, especially if the paint is thick.
Hang by the chimney with care
There you have it. An inexpensive and memory-making Christmas stocking tradition for the family.
I hope your family enjoys it as much as mine does.
Don’t forget to grab the list of 180 decorating ideas. It will make this experience easier from year to year.
I would absolutely love to see pictures of your family’s stockings. Click over to the Facebook page and message them to me. I’m wanting to create an ideas board, so I’ll add everyone’s stockings and you can reference them for ideas.
Don’t forget it. Pin it!