Unless your family members are all on Santa’s naughty list and expecting coal and skivvies, it’s getting to be the time to really think about how to stuff the stockings you’ve hung on the fireplace.

In my family the Elves, Santa’s little helpers, always came by on Christmas Eve while we were at church to give us small gifts to open before we went to bed. Candy canes, Lipsmackers Lip Gloss and as we got older, mini liquor bottles of Bailey’s to add to the night’s coffee were always included in these pre-Christmas gifts. For us it was never about the big gifts. It was small things that usually had a practical use. Here are a few tips to help you if you’re playing the part of an Elf this year.

IDEAS FOR THOSE DEPLOYED

1. When your spouse or family member is deployed you have to remember that space is limited. Toys and games are always fun, but try to find the travel-sized packs of playing cards. They can be stored in even the tightest of spaces.

2. It doesn’t matter if you’re on a ship or in the desert, you never feel clean on deployment. Hand sanitizer, hand wipes, and face wipes are PRICELESS when there are restricted water hours.

3. Nothing makes the day of a deployed service member more than a seeing the face of their loved ones. If you can laminate a photo or find the key chains that allow you to add a picture and record a message it will be the best gift ever.

IDEAS FOR YOUR WIFE

4. Remember that stocking gifts are just meant to be fun little things. If your wife is the very feminine type then play that up. Create a stocking filled with small spa supplies that allow her to do an at-home mani/pedi. If she’s anything like me, she loses nail files as easily as she loses bobby pins so you can never have enough.

5. Is your wife passionate about health and fitness? Swap out the candy canes for her favorite protein bars. Here are some peppermint protein bars to make it still feel like a holiday treat!

6. I don’t know many women who aren’t a sucker for the sappy stuff. A handwritten love letter on beautiful holiday paper will be a no-cost gift she will cherish for years to come. If she’s more of the practical type, find a new yearly planner and write little notes for her to find throughout the year.

IDEAS FOR YOUR HUSBAND

7. Has your husband had the same wallet since before he could drive? Find a great replacement and stock it with pictures of the family and a few gift cards to his favorite coffee/ice cream spot.

8. Maybe your husband is the outdoorsman who will be hunting all season to fill the freezer. Small outdoor gear such as gloves, a new beanie hat, or those wonderful hand warmers would be a good way to fill his stocking.

9. Want to be a little cheesy? Find some great holiday boxers (like these ones!) and attach a note with instructions on where to hang some mistletoe. Once you’re alone with the Christmas lights sneak a little romance before the kids and family wake up!

Now that you’ve got a few tips and ideas for Yuletide fun, it’s time to put on your pointy shoes and elf hat and help out Santa!

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