Seven sustainable ways to fill your child’s stocking this Christmas

6 Dec 2023
4 min read

Here’s how to make Santa’s treats a more eco-friendly part of their Christmas haul

The plastic and packaging associated with gift-giving at Christmas takes a major toll on the environment.

Christmas is an exciting time for kids, but let’s be honest, much of their boundless enthusiasm stems from one thing… presents! There are presents from mum and dad, presents from friends, presents from family members and of course, presents from Santa. Waking up to a stash of presents at the foot of the bed is a major highlight of every child’s Christmas.

Unfortunately, all the plastic and packaging associated with gift-giving at Christmas takes a major toll on the environment. But if Santa himself makes the effort to be a bit more sustainable, you’ll be setting your kids up for good habits in the future. You could even ask him to leave a special note in their stockings, explaining why good children get gifts that are also good for the planet.

Related: Quick tips for a greener Christmas

1.  Go for a reusable stocking

Woollen Christmas stockings, photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

First things first, the stocking itself. It’s no secret that the size of the average Christmas stocking has ballooned over the years and no longer resembles a stocking as much as a bin bag. Nonetheless, try to avoid buying gimmicky plastic sacks which are hard to recycle. Instead, go for a cloth sack or fabric stocking that can be reused next year.

2.  Ditch the plastic tat

Shops are bursting with ‘stocking stuffers’ designed to be purchased and thrown in at the last minute but, much of the time, these items are cheap, full of plastic and serve no real purpose. Avoid all the tat vying for your attention at checkouts and instead spend some time pursuing zero waste gift ideas. From craft kits and soft toys to trendy accessories for the burgeoning pre-teen, there are plenty of options for all ages.

3.  Include items they’ll actually use

Be mindful when choosing stocking stuffers. Zero-waste and plastic-free goodies are of course a no-brainer, but if they’re likely to be banished to the back of a cupboard then it’s still a wasted item. Basics such as pretty stationery and books will be used and enjoyed.

4.  Wrap stocking fillers in recyclable paper

Recyclable Christmas wrap. Photo by Samuel Holt on Unsplash

Instead of traditional wrap, use hankies, cloth offcuts, newspapers and magazines – kids only really care about what’s underneath, after all. But if you do go for wrapping paper, choose a roll that’s made from recycled paper and can itself be recycled – a lot of wrapping paper is coated in plastic or contains adornments like glitter and foil, which means it’ll end up in landfill.

5.  Make sure sweet treats are Fairtrade and plastic free

No stocking is complete without a chocolate Santa or a bag of gold coins! Make sure the ones you include bear the Fairtrade logo – this ensures producers in developing countries are paid a fair price for their work. These Fairtrade gold coins from Divine Chocolate and these milk chocolate Santa lollies from Cocoa Loco are both Fairtrade and palm oil free.

6.  Head to the charity shop

Your local charity shop is a great place to find second hand stocking fillers and it will save you a lot of money too. A lot of charities now have online shops too so you can choose your favourite charity to support at the same time as getting your Chistmas shopping done. Win win!

7.  Buy fewer, larger items

Having lots of lots of small items is just more of a drain on the earth’s resources. Each one has to be manufactured, packaged and transported. The stocking will still look lovely and full if you opt for fewer, bigger items instead. It’s better to go for quality over quantity and you can still stick within your budget by taking this approach.

The bottom line

We all want to make Christmas as magical as possible for our kids, but that doesn’t have to come at the expense of the environment. A more sustainable stocking from Santa can still be full of wonder and excitement without the plastic and waste, and it can help your kids learn more about the importance of protecting the planet in the process.


The information in this article was correct at the time of writing and is provided for guidance only. Please see the full disclaimer in our terms and conditions.

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