39 stocking stuffers that will actually be appreciated, don’t feel like a waste of money, and won’t be broken/destroyed/forgotten by New Years.

39 stocking stuffers that will actually be appreciated, don't feel like a waste of money, and won't be broken/forgotten/destroyed by New Years | Modern Mrs Darcy

I love the idea of stocking stuffers, but it’s too easy to feel like the usual items are just highly packaged crap that will be trashed, broken, or forgotten by New Years. It makes my frugal head hurt!

These favorite (and a few unconventional) stocking stuffers won’t make you feel like you’re throwing your money away. Some are inexpensive, some are a little more spendy, but all will actually be used. Choose accordingly.

I personally don’t mind paying a little more for stocking stuffers that aren’t junk. Some of these ideas could be funded straight out of the grocery or clothing budgets.

(Head here to read more about my minimalist stocking stuffer philosophy.)

39 stocking stuffers that are way better than the usual cheap crap

To play:

1. Play silks. (It’s worth planning ahead and making your own.)
2. Puzzle books. (This is our favorite)
3. Baseball cards.
4. Glow sticks.

5. Silly putty or thinking putty.

To wear: 

6. Hairbows and headbands. (You can’t make ‘em cheaper–or cuter–than you can buy them from Gymboree’s sale section this time of year. I’ve tried.)
7. Cute panties or boxers.
8. Tights.
9. Cute socks.

To eat:

10. Altoids.
11. Beef jerky. This is my favorite. Or make your own.
12. Trail mix.
13. Drink mixes 
(hot chocolate, spiced cider, Emergen-C).
14. Pineapple like in this episode of Charlie and Lola.
(Or maybe a clementine, pomegranate, or starfruit.)

Fun but useful:

15. Flashlight.
16. Batteries.
17. Candles. (These are my favorite.)
18. Paper straws and cupcake wrappers. 

To read:

19. Board books. (My favorite, for young or old.)
20. Slim paperbacks.
21. Book light.

To write:

22. Blank journals.
23. Notecards. 
24. Pens. (Like individual Le Pens or Sharpies in pretty colors.)
25. Postage stamps. Maybe Pixar or Harry Potter? 

Personal care:

26. Bath bubbles.
27. Nail polish.
28. Character band-aids. (Not just for kids! Try these for women. Or these for the men.)
29. Rosebud salve.
30. Chapstick or lip balm.

31. Hand lotion.

For crafting:

32. Markers/crayons/colored pencils.
33. Scotch tape or washi tape.
34. Stickers.
35. Post-it notes (especially the shapes).
36. Small craft kits from Kiwi Crate.

Just for grown-ups:

37. Coffee or tea.
38. Milk frother for homemade lattés.
39. Dollar Shave Club. Subscribe now on his behalf, slide the first month’s shipment in his stocking.

Tell us your favorite stocking stuffer ideas in comments. 

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  1. says

    This is a fantastic list, Anne! Many thanks. We celebrate St. Nicholas Day (Dec 6) each year, so I may be using some of these suggestions Friday morning.

  2. Rebecca in PA says

    I love your list!

    I like to get a magazine that they would enjoy, sometimes buying just one at the bookstore or supermarket and sometimes then getting a subscription for the year. When my kids were younger we did My Big Backyard, Ranger Rick, American Girl, Kids Discover, Kids National Geographic. Now it’s more along the lines of Guitar Player, Backpacker and crafting magazines!

    Another one I usually do is chapstick, a nice one like Burt’s Bees in different flavors so they don’t get mixed up. They are always nice this time of year with the weather and the heat drying us out so much.

  3. says

    This is great! Thank you. Stockings were always my favorite as a girl, and now they’re my three daughters’ favorite as well. Not completely sure why—just full of whimsy without pressure to be too much like some aspects of the holidays.
    I have a question/request/possible future post though, and maybe you’ve addressed this and I missed it, but I would like input on gift giving based on the temperament of the receiver. I know you, too, appreciate Myers-Briggs, and it plays a role in my parenting of my daughters. My eldest and youngest are easy, but my middle girl, the one I’m already on a bit of an alert simply given her position in the family, is challenging (only as it relates to giving her gifts:). She’s an ISFJ–Guardian through and through. She likes her room simple, free of any extras. Makes gifting more of a challenge!

    • says

      Oh, goodness. I have a young guardian, too–although mine (or at least the one I’m already sure about) is my oldest. He’s super-focused on just a few things, which makes gift-giving a little challenging. I’m not sure what your child is into, but we tend to give what are basically accessories to hobbies. He really loves about 5 different activities, and this year we’re thinking about giving him lego sets, books about trains and the Titanic (the ones our library doesn’t have, because we’ve already checked out every book on these topics 3 times over!), camping gear and baseball training gear, framed baseball art for his room that he’s been swooning over for months. All of these are minimal clutter and will (hopefully) actually be used.

      For clutter-free ideas for our other kids, we’ve done magazine subscriptions, craft kits, and tickets to shows or events (the ballet, the aquarium, the zoo).

      I hope this is helpful! I don’t feel like I addressed this terribly well so please, please hit me with follow-up questions if I totally missed the mark. :)

      • says

        Thank you for the helpful reply! I have to share that this post inspired me to head to the health food store this afternoon for some of the Badger Balms—Sleep, Focus, and such—for stockings. I also went by TJ Maxx where sparkly headbands and stationery items caught my eye. Thought I’d mention them since I didn’t share any suggestions earlier. But then, fitting in with what you mention about hobbies, my middle girl’s violin teacher texted me during her lesson to say she has a Christmas gift idea: a full size violin! Once we went off gluten my girl has grown quickly, and now her 3/4 size is too small. Perfect timing:)

  4. says

    I love the character band-aid idea! That falls under the category of things you’d need to buy for the household anyway, but the kid will still like opening it. Budgeting score!
    This year, besides the usual stuff, I’m also putting love notes in stockings. I’m pinning a homemade card to the top, ending the writing on the card with “I love you because…” and hiding 10 or so little notes in the rest of the stocking finishing the sentence. Free, thoughtful…. and recyclable, for the non-hoarders!

    • says

      I love that idea! Thanks so much for sharing, and for sharing it now … so I can plan ahead and not have a pile of notes to write on Christmas Eve. :)

  5. says

    Thanks so much! I just ordered the Dollar Shave Club for my brother in law after reading this. I was looking for a little something extra to put in with his gift. Appreciate the tip!

    • says

      My husband belongs to the Dollar Shave Club and loves it – he had to scale back to every other month because he was so overloaded with razor blades!

      • says

        Oh, you can do that? Maybe my husband should do that, too. He’s never quite ready for the new package when it comes. Thanks for the tip!

  6. says

    Love this list! Such great ideas. Stockings are my dad’s favorite part of Christmas giving, and it’s such fun to watch him hand them out to every member of our family on Christmas morning. My husband loves Altoids, so those always go in his stocking. Plus an iTunes gift card, because he loves to download music.

  7. says

    Brilliant list, Anne. I really appreciate how you broke it down according to categories rather then just one long list.
    One fun thing my in-laws do is a pile of change for how old you are. It’s all nickels, dimes and pennies but it’s fun even for the grownups. =)
    Pinned this and will be referring to it for years to come.

  8. says

    I’ve started my kids collecting the state quarters, which they are finishing up. They’re getting the Nat’l Parks folders, to get them started on that series, and a roll of quarters in each stocking–and I’ll make sure most of them are the ones they need! Not a super cheap gift, but there’s lots of learning opportunities (and travel experiences) with this.

  9. Laura says

    We always put new toothbrushes and toothpaste in our stockings. (As well as bandaids and hairbands, like you mentioned!)

  10. says

    I’ll chime in with all the others to say what a great list! I’m with you on the trash/trinkets that end up in the trash. I live overseas and I guess my worldview has changed, so it always pains me to see how much STUFF in America is manufactured and destined straight for the trash can.

    You have some fun and practical ideas.

  11. Jackie says

    A great idea I read this morning:
    Pack up all the (dry) ingredients for making a favorite cookie or brownie recipe.

    Just might have to resurrect the stocking-hanging tradition to include this one, and a few from your list, too!

  12. says

    Oh. My. Gosh. Those bandaids are SO going on my list to buy! I’ve seen the bacon bandaids (have you seen those?), but I had missed these. I’m already thinking about a friend that I know would love these. :)

    In other news… great minds – my stocking stuffer post is going up next week. :) I adore stockings. :)

  13. says

    My mom would always put clementines in our stockings to fill out the toe! She’d also put in aan array of nuts, and we’d use our nutcracker to crack ‘em open all Christmas day. I’d love to keep that tradition alive! :)

  14. Annette says

    I love the glow stick idea. I always include sugarless gum in my daughter’s stocking. If your child is into making rubber band bracelets, a bag of bands would be a nice addition.


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