St. Nicholas Day Gift Ideas

The holiday season is often many children’s favorite time of year—and ours too. It’s filled with friends, family, gift giving and lots of wonderful celebrations. Tucked between major holidays, such as Thanksgiving and Christmas, Saint Nicholas Day is a lesser known holiday celebration, but one we recommend adding to your winter traditions. Learn more about this fun holiday, from its history to how to celebrate.

What is St. Nicholas Day?

Saint Nicholas Day is a celebration that takes place in Europe and America during the Advent season to honor Saint Nicholas by sharing of small treats and gifts. Saint Nicholas Day is celebrated on December 6 in Western countries, aligning with the feast day of Saint Nicholas. The tradition of leaving out a shoe or stocking for treats was brought to America by European immigrants almost 200 years ago.

St. Nicholas Day Traditions

The traditions associated with Saint Nicholas Day vary from country to country, but all follow the same thread of gift giving. Because Saint Nicholas was known for leaving coins in the shoes of the poor, similar traditions have become part of the celebration of Saint Nicholas Day. In Germany, children leave a shoe or boot on their front doorstep or windowsill for Saint Nicholas to fill with candies and fruit overnight. In Poland, kids may wake up on December 6 to find fruit and cookies tucked under their pillows or placed in a nearby shoe. Greece honors Saint Nicholas the patron saint of the Hellenic Navy because of his connection with sailors. Celebrations in Greece include special meals and festivities on the many boats that dot the country’s coastline.

How to Celebrate St. Nicholas Day

If you want to start a new holiday tradition with your little ones, here are some ideas on how to celebrate St. Nicholas Day in your home. Help your kids pick out a pair of shoes or a fun stocking to put out on the eve of Saint Nicholas Day, December 5. If they opt for a stocking, have them help decorate the mantel with fun garland and stocking hooks. You can also help them write a short note for Saint Nicholas about how they were generous or kind over the past year. This can be a good time for them to reflect. If you want, also give them a few carrots to leave in their shoes or stocking for Saint Nicholas’ donkey. When they wake up the next morning, they’ll be delighted to find the carrots eaten and new treats and goodies in their place.

St. Nicholas Day Gift Ideas

Saint Nicholas Day is not about receiving large or elaborate gifts—the focus is intended to be on sharing and giving to others, based on the model set by Saint Nicholas. Saint Nicholas Day gifts can be small and relatively simple, but consider gifts that your kids can use with their siblings or friends. Here are some of our favorite St. Nicholas Day gift ideas to keep in the spirit of the holiday.

Small chocolates and candies

To keep on-theme with the traditions of Saint Nicholas, try to find some chocolate coins to fill your kids’ shoes. Candy canes are another festive treat perfect for the holiday season. They can even be representative of Saint Nicholas’ staff.

A small pouch of coins, such as nickels and quarters

Add a few small piggy banks as part of the gift, too. You can use this opportunity as a learning experience to teach about generosity. One piggy bank can be for saving, and one can be for donating. Let your children determine how to divide their newly acquired coins.

Small toys and games

Toy cars, plastic figurines or a new stuffed animal are inexpensive, but they can bring lots of excitement for your little ones. Small puzzles and travel-sized games are also great for fitting into a stocking and can be put to use during holiday traveling. Active youngsters can receive a new ball or a jump rope to play with, too. Encourage your kids to enjoy the new toys and games together, or invite friends over to play.


A small container of putty or dough is a new activity to enjoy during the day and can easily be shared with siblings. A coloring book or new paint set also offer lots of fun. You can even have your kids create some holiday decorations with their new craft supplies to put up around the house.

Have more St. Nicholas Day gift ideas? Share them with us by using the hashtag #CrateStyle!

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