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/destroyed/forgotten by New Years.

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 Batman 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. Or the holy grail of pencil sharpeners
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. 

(If you liked this post, would you put it on Pinterest? It’s easy to do with the share button below. Thank you!)

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 Year's | Modern Mrs Darcy

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestEmail this to someonePrint this page

117 comments

    • Beth B says:

      On St Nicholas Day I have given my kids a tree ornament specific to what is going on in their life that year (sports player, cub scouts, cheer, drivers license, new puppy or kitten, etc.) in their shoe. I label the box with the year they receive it so when we look back we remember. When they move out I will give them their ornaments to start their own tree. They are now 22, 20, 15 and 13 and look forward to this day each year. The older two are serving in the military so the younger ones call them to tell them what they got in their shoe. ❤️

      • Courtney says:

        God Bless your family & thank you for the sacrifice it takes as a mother to love your children enough to give them strength to fight for our freedoms!

      • My mom, aunt and I have always gotten three of one ornament per year for this very reason! My mom wanted me to have real decorations for my tree when I first moved out. Two years ago was my first in my new home and it was so nice to be able to unpack those and remember the same stories we would tell together each time we got them out! Your kids will thank you for this soon!

  1. 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.

  2. Amy 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!

    • Anne 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. 🙂

      • Amy 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:)

  3. Leanne 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!

  4. Shay 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!

  5. 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.

  6. Breanne 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.

  7. 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.

      • Eldonna says:

        toothbrushes are a tradition in our family as is an orange in the toe. These traditions are almost 100 years old — my father had these, I did, our sons did, now our grandchildren do.

        I also add a small personalized box of cereal. It is something we usually do not have and kids usually want to eat it right away so they get breakfast even though they are excited.

  8. Betsy 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.

  9. 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!

  10. 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. 🙂

  11. 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! 🙂
    Liz

    • Kristi says:

      I’ve followed my family’s tradition as far as a clementine in the bottom and an array of mixed nuts I have 4 boys so they all get multiple Microsoft gift cards for their use to purchase games on their Xbox and always a banana hanging out the top with candy canes. Those are just the staples of their stockings then I just go to the school and office part of the store and fill the rest up with their individual likes of certain pencils pens and whatever else they need to restock what they had to start school with

    • Cindy says:

      My parents did the same thing for all of us too! What great memories!
      Think we even got Play-Doh, huge candy canes and a Slinky in our stockings too…

    • Marlene says:

      We would include individual packets of gourmet hot chocolate or apple and cranberry cider from places like Starbucks or Second Cup. Little kitchen gadgets we’ve wanted but maybe haven’t needed. Movie tickets. Homemade chocolate spoons for stirring into cocoa. Tumbled stones or beach glass found at special places during the previous ywar. Fancy jams and interesting condiments ie elderberry jelly and Caramelized onion and bacon jam. Silly socks, trigger mitts, interesting teas, crossword books. Toy pets. Something a little extra special like the scarf that is revealed to be cashmere or silk.

    • Texhygienist says:

      It’s just the two of us… I would want cute undies and socks for myself. The Hanky Panky brand of underwear comes rolled up very small so it’s perfect! ☺️

      I always put beef jerky in my husband’s and/or my homemade toffee. I often put in BluRay DVD’s and CD’s.
      And he always expects a Dilbert desktop calendar!

      Gift cards to specific places that someone frequents, inexpensive jewelry, scarves, gloves, sunglasses, travel or purse size of favorite colognes/perfumes, fun size of favorite candy.

  12. Pingback: Christmas gallery
  13. 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.

  14. Michelle says:

    Excellent ideas!!! I like to put DVDs or video games in too. As well as other small but needed toys. Like last year I put in a couple packs of Ken clothes cause my daughter somehow managed to lose the shorts that came with her Ken doll. Was tired of seeing him laying around sans bottoms. Lol. I also found a few small dolls that were similar to the skipper dolls but a bit smaller and not officially barbie brand. I would suggest also hot wheels cars. Bubbles are always fun as well as sidewalk chalk or other fun trinkets like that. I have been known to do mitts too. And handheld electronic games like poker or yahtzee are fun too. Great for long road trips.

  15. Rhea says:

    my kids always get a new toothbrush in their stocking and Easter basket! One of the fancy ones that plays music and with stickers. It’s always their favorite part. My kids are also big into camping so they get a new flashlight, some new rope and clothespins so they can make forts out of the box of old sheets we keep just for that. So Christmas morning my living room turns into a giant fort and they spend all day playing and giggling under there. Something I’m sure won’t be forgotten.

    We also do St Christopher and on that night my kids put out there old boots and receive their new winter boots filled with new gloves, a hat and a scarf. Along with a small bit of German chocolate my MIL sends for them.

  16. Katie P says:

    I absolutely LOVE this list!! Thank you so much. My expectations were super low when I clicked on this; I’ve read lists that tout themselves as awesome ideas and not junk, but they almost always are. These are great, I’ll be using a heap of them this year!

  17. Debbie Lyon says:

    When our kids were small we always included little gem donuts and chocolate milk to their stockings. our rule is you have to eat your breakfast before we opened the big presents. As adults they still love the idea of these rare treats for breakfast on Christmas morning.

  18. Wendy F. says:

    Thanks! Our recent drop in temps got me thinking about Christmas! I definitely appreciated the list…and the links to products that have worked for you.

  19. Kate says:

    We never ate sugery cereals like cocoa-pops & fruit loops as a kid, but we would find mini boxes of these in our stockings at Christmas, fun!
    Lats year my 6yr old son wanted to put up his advent calender before I was ready to fill it, so we did. He then went about filling it up himself, with his own lego figures, show tickets & party prizes that we had gathered throughout the year. All I had to do was pop in a few candy canes & wrapped sweets!

  20. Laina says:

    Santa often puts cute packages of tissues, individually-wrapped lens wipes (so useful!), and hand tools like screwdrivers into our stockings! Sometimes the grown-ups get little booze singles like they serve on airplanes. He knows us too well.

    • Pam says:

      I totally AGREE! My nieces are getting a sheet of nail wraps along with the boring gift cards we always give them. I try to surprise them with something fun every year. Jamberry is the hot thing this year.

  21. Jennifer King says:

    For guys, we do car care items – car wash, leather and glass cleaner wipes, air fresheners, ice scrapers.
    For girls – nail care items – cute emery boards, nail polish remover, nail polish, cuticle cream.
    We also try to put a special Christmas ornament in the stocking!
    Stocking stuffers are so much fun to shop for but you can really spend a lot of money if you’re not careful!

  22. Teresa Thompson says:

    One year we bought tickets to see the Dallas Stars for our family and put our sons tickets in their stocking. they thought there wasn’t anything in them. They were in high school and are both about to graduate from college. They still talk about how much fun we had at the game. We bought the cheap seats and they loved that because they could see the entire game from up top.

  23. H L says:

    My kids love scented pencils. I love the Washi tape. Never heard of it before but it looks like a great idea! My mom would love it….and so would I!

  24. Karen says:

    Seed packets for the gardener, deck of playing cards, balloons, colorful chopsticks, even chopsticks for children (fun to teach them early), mini bottles of alcohol (for adults, only), Pier One has great stocking stuffers, usually near their registers!

  25. Chelsie says:

    Thank you for the list I have the hardest time being creative with my kids stockings! For grown ups I use perfectly posh peoducts there naturally based pampering products with essential oils, cocoa butter, palm oil, honey etc. And everything is under $25 dollars they smell good and have done wonders for my skin!

  26. melissa says:

    i have also used a magazine as a stocking stuffer and it was a success. ive also in the past for my son gone into the travel and trial section and gotten him things like miniture size body wash, body spray, shaving cream, razors ect….

  27. Pam says:

    Knitting needles
    Gorgeous skiens of yarn
    Sewing notions like basic thread colors, machine needles, seam ripper, quilters pins, tape measure, etc.
    Beads and beading accessories
    For the quilter: new rotary cutter blades, class gift certificates, fat quarters
    For men (or women) tape measure, carpenters pencils, sharpies, duct tape, wood glue, any small needed hand tools, WD40, a really good razor and blades, new comb

  28. Katie says:

    Scentsy bars and the little travel tins are nice for the car 🙂 I gave those out last year along with some bath fizzies which you can easily make yourself. My mother always gets us “chicken poo” Chapstick from orschelns! It’s a tradition with no chicken poop involved! Lol. Also undies, fuzzy Christmas socks, scratch tickets, cute pony tail holders, small hand lotions, Christmas tumblr cups, sample size professional hair products (I’m a stylist so I’m awful biased hehe) scarves that take up space, personalized stamped Christmas jewelry from etsy, essential oils, opi makes it’s bitsy nail polishes that are extremely affordable, nail wraps, sonic gift cards for a single drink, tanning lotion packets, scrapbook items like stamps and ink, pin cushion for the seamstress, the possibilities are endless! I’m thinking for the female point of view I guess.

  29. Holly says:

    We always got a personal full box of cereal for our own enjoyment and hoarding. Now that we are all adults, this has advanced to switching the cereal bags and ‘re gluing the box, to get away with the coveted cookie crisp. My husband’s family always got necessities like new tooth brush, floss, tooth paste, and other such toiletries. With my daughter, we like to include iTunes gift card for new apps/music, a miniature toy character (mystery bag by Lego, my little pony etc), flavored milk straws, chapstick, beef jerky (umpquaindianfoods.com is our family favorite for jerky!), coins (roll of quarters or a few “dollar coins”) and of course a continuation of new toothbrush and personal cereal.

  30. Marcia Grimes says:

    Love it! I also put in a box of Celestial Seasonings herbal tea, and a jar of Trappist preserves. (Frugal mom tip… With a large family, you don’t have to buy tea or jelly for the rest of the year!)

  31. Cheryl says:

    I would suggest tweezers, nail polish, files. Coloring books for adults & rainbow markers or colored pencils. I like useful & consumables. Pretty note cards & pretty pens.

  32. Nicole says:

    Great list!
    For the past couple years, my teen has received the following in his stocking: boxer briefs, beef jerky, gum, gas station giftcard, and cologne.

  33. Liz says:

    Dollar Shave Club is not just for men! I ditched the pink tax on razors when my hubs got his and they work as good or better.

  34. Jan says:

    Great ideas. I usually include something personalized from shutterfly, this year it is playing cards and magnets. I also make a donation in their names to some charity. My kids love this one!

  35. Kristi Dohmann says:

    Everyone in our family gets an apple and an orange to contribute to a fresh fruit salad we have for breakfast and Christmas Dinner. Santa always left fruit in my sister & my stockings and I read about the fruit salad in the Little House on the Prarie books as an adult. Love your lists.

  36. Ellen says:

    My mom always put an orange in the toe, a toothbrush, Chapstick, and my favorite-a Pez dispenser with extra candy. There were a few other small items I’m sure but these are the ones we had every year and that were memorable traditions.

  37. Betty says:

    My still single 30 year old son gets a care package for cold and flu season. Cough drops, day and night cold and flu med., package of puffs, 6 pack of the individual orange juice, 1/2 dozen tea bags. He also gets 4 new tooth brushes. My grand kids get a food not to be shared can of ravioli for the oldest, shells and cheese for the middle and beef jerky for the youngest. Not stocking stuffer While living my mom always gave me two new bras, 7 pair underwear and 7 pair socks. I buy them for myself now each year, wrap them and tag them from her.

  38. Jennifer says:

    I love your ideas! Any chance you will do an updated list? My kids are about the same ages and genders as your older two and we have similar styles (and ideals)

    • Anne says:

      At 14 she can use the same equipment as adults. My own daughter loves the fun “extras”: Maldon sea salt flakes, sugar in the raw, sprinkles for baking and special herb mixes for cooking. Also: cookbooks! The more beautiful photos, the better.

      • Victoria says:

        Blow torch. A proper one not the piddly cooking ones. (Probably more of a main present). Her own measures, a set of cup or spoon measures like the lovely ones from Anthropologie. Apron (handmade?) or oven gloves. Fancy cupcake holders, crystallised rose petals, specialist flavourings. You know, you’ve really got me going with these ideas, I want to bake now!

  39. Sandy Lamkin says:

    I love your list of ideas, it really got me thinking. And reading the comments also gave me more ideas. We are helping our son this Christmas for his two young children, the stockings will be ready for him. I always did the orange and apple, hot wheel cars, fingernail polish, Chapstick, toothbrush & toothpaste for our kids when they were little. Thank you for sharing. Merry Christmas.

  40. Theresa says:

    Hi I just saw this now when you posted it to your FB page. I really like the looks of the Le Pen pens. I’ve never heard of them before. I can’t tell from the description, do they soak into the paper or do they stay on the surface more like gel pens?

  41. sheri says:

    Things I’ve done: recipe cards, postage stamps, small framed pictures of me and them, funny shoelaces, rolls of quarters for college kid laundry, personalized address labels, sachets, eye masks for sleeping, luggage tags, cool/unusual spices, already stamped & addressed notecards.

    Another idea: Something my mom started and I’ve passed on. She made a “birthday stocking” out of one my baby blankets. It would show up hanging on the end of my bed on my birthday filled with stuff. Now, when I give baby blankets at baby showers, I always give the blanket and a a stocking made out of a second one.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.