Merry and Bright - Christmas Gift Exchange and Giveaway Blog Hop

Christmas is the season of giving, but giving in the classroom can be a bit tricky. I remember doing a traditional $5.00 gift exchange when I was in school - everyone would bring in a present and the teacher would have a game to determine who got to open which present. Gift exchanges are lots of fun, but pretty stressful for parents who have to buy the gifts, teachers who have to prepare back up gifts for the students who do not bring in a present, and for students who may have to pretend they like the gift they received.

Gift Exchanges Gone Wrong

I learned this the hard way when I did a classroom gift exchange my first year of teaching - it was a nightmare! I had the best of intentions, but the game I chose entailed students to choose a gift based on a number drawn. Students could choose an unopened gift from the pile, or take an already opened gift from another student. I actually had students crying when their gift was taken or when they opened something they didn't like and no one would take it! Plus, the game took almost the entire Christmas party and we barely had time for the other games and food. I felt like such a failure! So I vowed to find a better solution to the traditional gift exchange.

The Stocking Stuffer Solution

My teaching partner at the time (thank God for mentor teachers!!!!!) shared with me her stocking stuffer idea and I still use it to this day!!! It's simple for everyone, fun for the students, and makes your classroom look festive at the same time. I'm going to share this life-saving tip with you to make your last week before break Merry and Bright! You can also download this FREEBIE HERE.
The first thing you need to do is find a space in your classroom to hang stockings for each student in your room. I cover my already existing bulletin boards with red paper. I staple the paper right over the anchor charts. That way when I take it down, everything is still up underneath and I don't have to put it back up before leaving for break. (I don't know about you, but on the last day before break I do NOT want any extra work after the party.)

Secondly, you need to send home a letter like the one I use HERE to request a stocking from each student. I send the letter home at Thanksgiving break time so as families are starting to decorate they can easily find an extra stocking at home and set it aside for school. Also, you can let families know that very reasonably priced stockings can be found at the Dollar Store. Or you could even purchase the stockings yourself and turn this into a fun classroom craft.

We hang the stockings up as they arrive and it's fun to look at the new ones that come in each day!

Once all stockings have arrived and are hung up with care :) then you can send home a second note letting families know that anyone who wishes may send in stocking stuffers for each student in your classroom. I let my students stuff the stockings all through the week before break. When they do it one at a time, it's not distracting and it doesn't point out who did not bring in any stuffers. Most importantly, it builds excitement within the class who can't wait to open their stockings during the party.

Some stocking stuffer suggestions I send home to parents are: fun pencils, erasers, small christmas themed items, candy, gum, homemade items (one year students had so many rubber band bracelets in their stockings we couldn't stop laughing), book marks, small school supplies like pencil grippers, sticky notes, highlighters, etc.

I usually purchase FREE book certificates from Scholastic to stuff in each stocking. The students love getting to pick out their FREE book from me before they leave for break. I've also saved up the FREE books Scholastic sends out to teachers with each order, and used bonus points to buy the monthly dollar books to make up the difference. This way I was able to stuff each stocking with a brand new book.

Lastly, once all the stockings are stuffed, we open them at our Christmas party. I usually make this one of the stations at the party. Students open their stocking and get to look at all their fun gifts. It is so much fun!! Students love what they get, nobody cries, and it's very low stress for me - all I had to do was hang up red paper. It's a win-win for all.



  1. What a cute idea and the kids must love filling the stockings!! I'll have to think of a way to modify with my class since the majority do not celebrate Christmas, but it must keep your class on such a positive note!

  2. This idea is fabulous!! Pinning this becasue I'm SO doing this next year!


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