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No. 6 (Royal Tour)
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Filling the Xmas Stocking

Christmas shopping is such fun if you do it early, and such a headache if you leave it until Christmas Eve. Late shopping is very expensive, because all the cheapest and best things have disappeared from the shelves, and you are forced to spend more than you intended rather than disappoint the children.

It is not the money you spend that makes a good Christmas stocking so much as the time you take to plan what you will put into it. There is no need for a Christmas stocking to cost very much because children are not really interested in the price of a present. What they are interested in is waking up on Christmas morning to find the stocking that hung limp and empty the night before, mysteriously filled with all sorts of good things.

Christmas morning should be full of surprises. This is sometimes difficult for busy mothers, who can get to town only if they take the children with them. It is quite difficult to shop for a Christmas stocking if the children are right there at the counter beside you, but it can be done, and wondering what is inside the package makes all the difference to opening the present.

What goes into a really good Christmas stocking? First that great round orange. Then anything else that looks colourful and exciting. Some of the delightful plastic toys that cost two and three shillings make excellent fillers, even though they are flimsy and seem hardly worth the money. But they are colourful and clean, and the dolls' picnic baskets, the cars and trucks for the speedway, the hen that lays eggs, and the eggs that hatch chickens can make the first few hours of Christmas Day very gay. There are bound to be some casualties among them before the sun goes down. But some of them are better and stronger than others, and it is amazing what treatment they survive. It is certainly foolish to spend a lot of money on any plastic toy, however, when so many good toys are on the market, made from stronger materials like rubber and wood.

To fill in the spaces between the small packages there should be some peanuts and walnuts; some paper lollies, perhaps, or chocolate; a couple of balloons, and something to make a loud, cheerful noise with. Something extra special should pop out of the top of the stocking—a full-blown balloon, perhaps, or a windmill on a stick, or a long cardboard trumpet. Sometimes the present, the really important present, the one that has been ordered from Father Christmas, can be stuffed into the top of the stocking, or tied on somehow, so that it is the very first thing the child sees when he wakes up.

This present should be chosen very carefully, to please the particular child for as long as possible. It should be well-made and sturdy. A cuddly doll for a toddler; a tip-truck made with strong wheels, for a four-year-old boy; a ball-bearing skipping rope for a seven-year-old girl, and so on. You know just what your children want, and what they need.