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Photo: New Africa (Shutterstock) There are two types of Christmas-observing families: Those who are serious about stockings, and amateurs. Like most things, my sisters and I view stocking stuffing as a competition, but we will never beat our mother, who has had three decades to perfect her stocking stuffing methods (with her children as test subjects). Over the past 30-something years, some of her strategies have been more successful than others. Repurposing Halloween candy didn’t go so well—there were bats on the wrappers!—but breaking up large sets of items that were packaged as a single gift, then distributing amongst her three children, was highly effective. It’s actually a little bit lazy, but it doesn’t appear to be, which is something I respect. Using gift sets as stocking stuffers The gift set is a tricky thing. A pre-selected collection of items from a single company or brand can seem impersonal if you’re not careful, though this is rarely a problem with the more expensive sets. Rather than give the whole set to one person, you can break them open, then divide the contents up amongst the stockings on your mantle. It’s especially handy if you have multiple children, as items from the same gift set tend to be comparable in value, but different enough that you can’t be accused of “getting everyone the same thing.” My mother did this with cosmetic gift sets from Sephora with great success, but food gift sets (think tiny jars of jam and mustard, fancy […]