100 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

100 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. I know you relate because this post has been going bananas every Christmas season (and by that, I mean from Labor Day to Christmas Eve) every year. We’ve updated the much-loved list for 2018.

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.)

100 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. Bananagrams.
6. Silly putty or thinking putty.
7. Mini Rubix Cube or Etch-A-Sketch.
8. Playing cards.
9. Paper clips. For building contraptions and doing magic tricks. (Check Youtube!)
10. Travel chess or checkers. (Make your own out of LEGO bricks.)
11. Ivan’s Hinge Puzzle. 

12. Metal puzzlers.
13. Wooden animals.
14. Glow in the dark stars to make their own constellations.  

To wear:

15. 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.)
16. Ponytail holders. These newer twisty styles are fun. 
17. Cute panties or boxers.
18. Leggings.
19. Cute socks.
20. Earrings,
like these cute cats or pretty flowers.
21. A mixed box of buttons.
22. Scarves.
23. Mittens/Gloves.
24. Nail stickers.

To eat:

25. Altoids.
26. Beef jerky. This is my favorite. Or make your own.
27. Trail mix.
28. Drink mixes 
(hot chocolate, spiced cider, Emergen-C).
29. A pineapple, like in this episode of Charlie and Lola.
(Or maybe a clementine, pomegranate, or starfruit.)
30. Tiny adorable bottles of Tabasco or portable packets of Sriracha.
31. Small tubs of Nutella.

32. Gold chocolate coins, like St. Nick threw in the legend. (We get ours at Trader Joe’s.)
33. Maldon sea salt flakes, for chefs and bakers.
34. Mini boxes of cereal.
35. Dried or freeze-dried fruit. 

36. Herbs and spices. Think little jars of barbecue rub, steak seasoning, a new herb blend, cinnamon sticks, or mulling spices.

Fun and useful:

37. Flashlight.
38. Pocket knife or multi-tool.
39. Small umbrella 
in a cheerful color.
40. Batteries.
41. Monogram Mug.
42. Candles, especially with a fun theme like these Jane Austen candles or this “old books” scent.
43. Mini manicure kit.
44. Key chain
(Something cute like this or this)
45. Paper straws,
for the party-throwing type.
46. Cord Wrap.
47. Sprinkles and cute cupcake wrappers,
for those who love to bake.
48. Personalized address labels.
49. Small framed photos.
50. Seed packets,
especially if they’re already dreaming of spring.
51. Luggage Tags.
52. Old books iphone case,
or choose their favorite title.

To read:

53. Board books. (My favorite, for young or old.)
54. Slim paperbacks.
55. Book light.
56. Book darts.
(For fans of Modern Mrs. DarcyWhat Should I Read Next? The I’d Rather Be Reading tins are our bestseller this year. 
57. Charming bookmarks.
“I read past my bedtime” or “I like big books and I cannot lie.”
58. More adorable bookmarks. Choose from literary heroines like Anne Shirley, Hermione Granger, Jane Eyre, and Scout Finch.
59. Magazines, individual issues or a subscription.

To watch or listen: 

60. iTunes gift card.
61. A favorite (or soon-to-be-favorite) audiobook.
(40 ideas here.)
62. Movie tickets.

To write:

63. Blank journals or an awesome reading journal kit.
64. Note cards. (A literary version)
65. Notecards that you can color.

66. Pens. (Like Paper Mate flairs or Sharpies in pretty colors.)
67. Postage stamps, especially the fun limited editions. 
68. Pencils. 
Ticonderogas are the best drugstore buy; for a fancier option go with Blackwings.
69. Printable coloring sheets. Narnia, Anne, Jane Austen. Roll like a scroll and tie with a bow.
70. Lettermate. A fun tool that makes my handwriting look a lot better.
71. Custom library stamp or printed book plates
72. Pencil case.

Personal care:

73. Bath bubbles.
74. Reusable hand warmers.
75. Nail polish.
76. Character band-aids. (Not just for kids! Try these for fun and these for literary types.)
77. Rosebud salve. A perpetual crowd pleaser.
78. Chapstick or lip balm.

79. Hand lotion.
80. Toothbrushes,
plain or fancy.
81. Lotion bars.
82. Soap. 
(You can support refugees by buying through the Preemptive Love Coalition)

For crafting:

83. Markers/crayons/colored pencils. Or the holy grail of pencil sharpeners
84. Scotch tape or washi tape.
85. Stickers.
86. Watercolor paints and brushes.
87. Mini fairy lights.

88.
Mini photo clipboard frames.
89. Post-it notes (especially the shapes).
90. Small craft kits like this or this.

Just for grown-ups:

91. Coffee or tea. (See my husband’s favorites here, 45 decaf options here, and my current tea crush here.)
92. Literary matchbooks.
93. Milk frother for homemade lattés.
94. Essential oils. 
95. Dollar Shave Club. Subscribe now on his behalf, slide the first month’s shipment in his stocking.
96. Wine stopper.
97. Tea towels.
98. Bottle opener.
99. Instant read kitchen thermometer.

100. Whiskey stones or ice sphere molds to cool your beverage in style.

Tell us your favorite stocking stuffer ideas in comments. 

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  1. Nichole says:

    I put monogrammed blank note cards in my kids’ stockings. They use them for thank you notes, birthday cards for presents, and everything else throughout the year.

  2. Alison M. says:

    Our kids range from 14-23. Every year they look for the chapstick and ITunes gift cards that are in their stockings. For my college son there will also be cards to food places. Most years we also give movie theater gift cards. Last year charging cords went over well. I think my husband wants to add portable chargers this year. I bought the 2 girls some nice tweezers that have a light on them and a mirror on the case. I have them and they get taken a lot, so they are getting thier own. This year for my stocking I want book darts.
    And I can’t forget they also have en expectation of candy canes and their favorite holiday sweet treats.

  3. Lori East says:

    I fill our stockings with some “usual”things like mini toothpaste for the travel bags, deodorant because, new combs, new toothbrushes, and always whole nuts, a candy cane, and an orange (because my mom always did that and tradition is huge). Will usually drop in a couple of small gift cards too.

    YES to Harney’s cinnamon tea! I only discovered it this year and am ordering some of the smallest tins for random gifts. I have hinted loudly that I would be happy with a Harney gift card in my stocking too.

  4. S says:

    My kids say their stockings are their favorite part of Christmas. I use many of the items on the list! Car chargers, cords, ear buds and portable phone chargers are all great for the teens. Lint rollers, ice scrapers for car, special hair products, make up brushes, fishing lures – we do a lot of practical but much used/enjoyed items. I stuff my own stocking as well – it’s always fun to see what I get haha.

  5. Karen says:

    I made play silks out of old sheers. Just cut half and you only have to hem one side! (I used my serger.) My grands still get these out to play with 10 years later!

  6. Dee says:

    Great ideas! To add, Spot It – camping version, recorder, Schleich Animals, harmonica, matchbox car, fruit snacks, vitamin water, locket necklace, ring, small Lego or Duplo set would all go over well in my family.

  7. Ann W says:

    I was hoping you would publish this list again this year! Love it! I need suggestions for very young children, under the age of 4. Help!

    • MaryG says:

      Stickers, small pads of paper, colored pipe cleaners, a set of old, mismatched keys on a cool key ring, a new box of crayons, play money, small stuffed animals, a new non breakable ornament for the tree, disposable camera.

    • Megan says:

      Play dough and play dough tools, fun character toothbrush, little flashlight, Schleich animals, craft supplies and books were all enjoyed by my kids when they were little.

    • Sara F says:

      How about bath tub crayons, fun socks, puzzles (in a small box so might need help), we travel at Christmas so I used to get those color/puzzle books that used the markers that only mark on that paper (Crayola?) and new ornament.

    • Katie says:

      Flashlights are always a hit with my toddlers. We’re doing small dinosaurs (request of my son), fun bandaids (which hopefully we won’t have to use haha), colored bath bombs (by Crayola), Stickers, snacks (larabar, food pouch, trail mix etc), small board book. I want to get some scrunchies for my daughter (which she prefers as bracelets rather than in her hair). We’re also gonna get her a cheap tv remote (no batteries) because she loves to play with our real one. And batteries for my son, because he’s always asking for them when he thinks something is broken. We’ll save them for when they’re needed.

  8. sarah says:

    The Hydroflask (my favorite) or Yeti tumbler make a great adult stocking stuffer. My kids will probably get water bottles in theirs and Neosporin overnight lip balm. Bookdarts and bookmarks will definitely make an appearance.

  9. Emily says:

    I ordered Knock Knock sticky notes for all my coworkers this year, but they would make great stocking stuffers also! Post-it note pads that are hilarious, snarky, and affordable.

  10. Kristin says:

    We started doing the NYT mini-crosswords online this summer so am going to put one of the mini-crossword books in my kids’ (17 and 19) stockings this year. And maybe one in mine… 🙂

  11. Beth says:

    My daughter-in-law switched stockings to last vs first. They have large stocking courtesy of a great aunt! It is a great place to put accessories to bigger gitts, such as a extra controller, video games, etc. This way, the surprise isn’t spoiled and the accessory items can cause their own accessories. Practical items fill it out…toiletries, replacement school supplies for the upcoming term, socks, etc.

  12. Ashley L says:

    I do nine stockings for family ranging in age (this year) from 15 to 88. So many things on your list are spot on regulars for us. But THANK YOU so much for the link to CW Pencils! I had never heard of them and I am *such* a pencil nerd! I got the crossword puzzle pack for my Mom and the lefty pack for my brother as well as some assorted singles for others. I always do something really silly for the over 70 crowd (an inflatable crown for my mom, glittery reindeer sunglasses for my mother in law, a red clown nose for my step father, for instance) and they have great fun with it.

  13. Jean says:

    Sneaker balls are a big hit with the guys in my family, and readily available at almost any shoe store. I stock up on crocheted dishcloths and scrubbies at craft fairs, and since we live in a city without a Trader Joe’s, I stock up on favorite non-perishables from there when I am traveling to a city lucky enough to have one. These include their taco seasoning, green tea mints, chocolate bars, 21 seasoning, and rice blends. Cookie cutters in shapes personal to the recipient are always fun, and any miniature toys, even for the grownups–these have included Lite Brite, Jenga, Tinker Toys, Licoln Logs and etch a sketch.
    Thanks for doing this list each year–I have twelve stockings to do each year, and this is always a help!

  14. Angela says:

    For older kids that drive, AAA membership cards are appreciated and practical. They have been used on several occasions for flat tires and dead batteries.

  15. Carolyn Kollmeier says:

    I discovered an AMAZING stocking stuffer this year: an Identity Theft Prevention Security Stamp Roller! You use it to ink over private information you want to conceal such as on prescription bottles before you throw them out or your address label on magazines/packages before recycling or bank account information on old statements. Great substitute for shredding!
    (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B074WF347Z/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o03_s00?ie=UTF8&th=1)

  16. Michele says:

    Good ideas. Found a few things here to add to my family’s stockings. Thanks!

    (Oh, and I guess we’re all supposed to pretend that we can’t tell that Chloe the mother, Chicken Tenders the puppy, and Alyssa the weirdo are all the same person? LOL! Clue: repeatedly using names like “_____ the _____” and making your posts within one minute of each other is a dead giveaway. Haha!)

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