Cheap Stocking Stuffers

by Erin Huffstetler

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The dipping temperatures and sudden presence of winter coats can only mean one thing. Christmas is around the corner. While this knowledge is likely to excite visions of toasty nights by the fire and time spent with family, it's just as likely to excite fears about the impending cost of the season.

Take the tradition of stuffing stockings, for example. It's an innocent enough tradition, but as any parent can attest, the small trinkets that go inside do not always come with small price tags. Throw in all the other expenses of the season, and stocking stuffers can put a real strain on your budget. Read on to find out about five sources for stocking stuffers that are sure to help you keep your budget on track.

Samples - Trial-size bottles of shampoo and lotion are the perfect size for filling stockings, and can often be obtained for free. Just visit manufacturer websites to sign up for free sample offers, or write to companies to request free trials of their latest products.

Survey rewards - Online surveys are a great source for free stocking stuffers. Just sign up at a few survey sites, and you'll receive points each time you participate in a survey. Then, once you've accumulated enough points, trade them in for some great prizes. Gift cards, CDs and DVDs are just a few of the most common rewards, all of which make great stocking stuffers.

Rebates - If you're looking for no-cost stocking stuffers, rebates are the answer. Scan weekly sales circulars for items that are offered free after rebate. Then get to the store and take advantage of the bargains. Just keep in mind that it's only free if you remember to send in for the rebate, so don't forget this important step!

Multi-packs - If you have several stockings to fill, try to select items that come in multi-packs since it's generally cheaper to purchase one large package of an item as opposed to several smaller packages. Gum and lip balm are just a few of the many possibilities; so find a multi-pack that's suited to your recipients, and then divide the contents among the stockings.

Clearance - Every store has a special location for clearance items; it might be a bin or table prominently displayed at the front of the store, or an aisle that's discreetly tucked along the back wall. Wherever it's located, find it and make friends with it. By making frequent trips to the clearance section of your favorite stores, you'll always have plenty of affordably-priced goodies on hand when it's time to fill stockings.

As you gear up for another Christmas, just remember that stuffing stockings doesn't have to mean stuffing your last dollar into the hand of a cashier.

Erin Huffstetler is a freelance writer and mother of two who resides in East Tennessee. She is the Guide of the Frugal Living section at and the owner of the site My Frugal Home.

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