Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Stocking Stuffers for the Rest of Us

Several years ago, I started noticing something about stocking stuffers. They were getting expensive.
To me, stocking stuffers are supposed to be small, fun gifts. If I buy the kids a couple of $50 video games to put in their stockings, and a GPS system for my husband, I'm already out a couple of hundred bucks before I've even started buying "real" gifts.

I thought I'd put together a list of stocking stuffers that are fun, inexpensive, and largely consumable, which means they won't result in a ton of junky plastic thingamajigs that never get played with. In addition to my own little nuclear family, I also put together stockings for 12 or 15 of our extended relatives who celebrate Christmas with us each year. Some of the following suggestions are for little ones, some for adults. (And no, in case you're wondering, nobody gets everything on the list in any given year.)

1) Candy-Here's the deal with candy. There doesn't have to be a ton of it, but it has to be good. For most adults that means chocolate. (Good chocolate!) My kids love lollipops (and are especially fond of Yummy Earth Lollipops.)

2) Fruit-My kids actually loves apples, so this works for us. You could always substitute a more exotic fruit, or even something like Funky Monkey Snacks.

3) Coffee-Not for the kids, of course, but those teeny little bags of specialty coffee make a nice treat for grownups.

4) Popcorn-My kids love popcorn. The mini 100 calorie bags of popcorn are just the right size for stockings.

5 ) Snacks-This one is only cool if you buy the particular snacks someone loves. (For my kids, it's raisins and goldfish. For my mom, it's a certain brand of granola bar.)

6) Toothbrushes-Spring for the character or battery operated toothbrushes for the kids, even if you don't usually buy them. (After all, if it makes the kids want to brush their teeth, it's worth it's weight in gold...)

7) Toothpaste-I know, that sounds pretty practical. The thing that makes it fun is that you're going to get the kids the one they like, be it Dora, or Spongebob, or whatever.

8) Bubble Bath-My all time favorite bubble bath is AVON. It smells great, and makes more bubbles than any other brand I know of. A hit with all ages.

9) Cosmetic Samples-This is a fun treat for tweens on up. I make a couple of orders from Sephora a year, and get between 3 and 10 samples each time, depending on what promos they're running. People get a kick out of trying new perfume, or skin cream or whatever.

10) Nail Polish-Even my two year old likes to get her nails painted.

11) Fun Band Aids-What kid doesn't like Band Aids? Buy the the Kai Lan or Transformer ones, not the boring flesh colored ones.

12) A New Box of Crayons-Pretty self explanatory, right?

13) Coloring Books-Our local Dollar Tree carries lots of cool licensed coloring books, like Cars, Blue's Clues, and Word World. They're the same ones that sell elsewhere for $4 or 5 bucks.

14) Books-Suitable for all ages, and again, pretty self explanatory, but I thought I'd put in a plug for the $1 books from Scholastic Book Clubs. (Don't forget that you can sign up to order from the book clubs if you are a homeschooler.)

15) Stickers-My kids are still young enough to get pretty excited about stickers. (Older kids might enjoy getting personalized address labels from somewhere like Vistaprint.)
16) Notebooks or Journals-You can get really creative and make your own matchbook notebooks, or you can just buy a cute one readymade. (Everyone needs somewhere to write all those bogus New Year's resolutions, right?)

17) Craft Supplies-For kids, this could be as simple as a pack of glitter glue or some beads.

18) Sidewalk Chalk-A perennial favorite here, with my own kids, and just about anyone else who happens to drop by.

19) Bubbles-Another one of those things kids just don't seem to get tired of. (You'll thank yourself for buying the spill proof ones...)

20) Play Doh-No, I'm not on Play Doh's payroll, although maybe I should be. ;) All the kids, even the really big ones like getting Play Doh. It's sort of expected here.

21) Christmas Ornaments-This is another item where the coolness factor comes from matching them to the recipient's interests. You can buy them of course, but I like to make them. (Perler beads, felt, shrinky dinks, take your pick...)

22) Homemade Coupons-For adults, things like a car clean out, or a morning of sleeping in are appreciated. Kids like coupons for a solo outing with a parent, or a family movie night.

23) Fun Socks-Target frequently has kid sized character socks in the Dollar Spot. (My kids want some every time we pass by.)

24) Silly Bands, Googly Bands or the like-Our Dollar Tree intermittently sells Googly Bands for a buck, instead of the $3-5 they cost elsewhere.

25) Magazines-Everyone's got a special interest, and many people consider magazines sort of an expensive luxury. My husband likes bike magazines, I like crafty ones, and L likes video game mags.

What are some of your favorite stocking stuffers?

Disclaimer: I was not compensated in any way for any of these recommendations.

Linking up at http://www.wearethatfamily/ for WFMW.


  1. Excellent list! I tend to like practical gifts (for me and others) and I gave my kids toothbrushes last year!

  2. For hubby I always put razor blades and shaving foam in his stocking, and he always puts little lotions and soaps and such in mine. For the little ones, they frequently get a few gift certificates to places like the dollar store, mcdonalds, and even michaels. generally they are just 5.00 gift cards, but they enjoy getting to buy their own lunch, or crafty stuff, or toys and games.

  3. Flashlights have been put in my stocking years past, and two Christmas' ago my family gave us all calculators (all in high school or older). They came in REALLY useful. brain teasers, like those metal rings you have to figure out how to take apart and put back together are often stocking suffers too. All in all it sounds like Santa brings the same things to your house as he does to mine! ;)

  4. I have seen the most ridiculous things advertised as SS's (Nintendo DS, seriously?). I was beginning to wonder if other people were falling for it, but obviously not. Thanks for the great ideas...esp the electric toothbrushes and bandaids. My kids invent boo boos just to get bandaids (even the flesh colored ones!), and they are ALWAYS begging for the elec toothbrushes. And birbitt, great idea on the GC's...hadn't thought of that.

  5. Excellent post! I always do toothbrushes (Although not always the "Cool" ones... but I do pick the colors that are pleasing...

    TAPE (for my olders) and Gluesticks are winners. My craft store also carries random packs of scrap card-stock, which my kiddos do some pretty nice things with.

    I usually will include one more "gifty" item ~ some sort of small game, cool pen, CD of music, or what-have you. (Getting into the age where jewelry is appreciated... so a fun pin would be good... but I'd save the really nice pieces for under the tree.

    Soap/Bath Gel and Lotion OH! and a HUGE favorite for all my kiddos~ New Lip Balms to face the dry winter with... I try to find the GOOD brands, with fun "Flavors"... Hmmm this is almost turning into a post itself! ;)

    Thanks for the inspiration...

  6. Haven't read all the comments - but here are some I use.

    Gum, mints, flavored chapstick, inexpensive costume jewelery, hair accessories, post-it notes, pens, nail clippers, hand lotion in mini size.