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

Stocking stuffer ideas

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 this much-loved list (again) with 100 stocking stuffer ideas. Since my kids are older than when I first shared this list, we’ve included some new items for teens. Now there’s truly something for everyone.

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.

(These are just stocking stuffer ideas. You can read more about my minimalist stocking stuffer philosophy here.)

100 stocking stuffer ideas that are way better than the usual cheap crap

To play:

1. Play silks.
2. Puzzle books. (This book of crosswords is our favorite.)
3. Mini puzzles. Like these wintry scenes or these famous paintings.
4. Glow sticks.
5. Bananagrams.
6. Silly putty or thinking putty.
7. Mini Rubix Cube or Etch-A-Sketch.
8. Playing cards. (Or a card game like Pairs.)
9. Lego Minifigs. (Link is for a 6-pack but you can find single packs near checkout counters.)
10. Travel chess or checkers. (Make your own out of LEGO bricks.)
11. Ivan’s Hinge Puzzle.

12. Mini puzzle ball.
13. Wooden animals.
14. Glow in the dark stars to make their own constellations.  

To wear:

15. Hairbows and headbands.
16. Ponytail holders. These newer twisty styles are fun. 
17. Cute panties or boxers.
(Teens might groan about socks and underwear.)
18. Leggings.
19. Cute socks.
I also like these anti-slip socks.
20. Earrings,
like these strawberries or pretty daisies.
21. Reflective-wear.
For running or walking the dog on short days.
22. Cute face masks.
23. Mittens/Gloves.
24. Nail stickers.

To eat:

25. Altoids. (We always give Altoids.)
26. Beef jerky. This is my favorite. Or make your own.
27. Smart Sweets.
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. Craft soda in a glass bottle.
(IBC, Jones, Jarritos, or your regional favorite.)
35. Dried or freeze-dried fruit.
(We just discovered dried hibiscus.)
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. Mini flashlight or headlamp.
38. Pocket knife or multi-tool.
39. Small umbrella
in a cheerful color.
40. Batteries.
41. Travel Mug.
42. Candles.

43. Mini manicure kit.
44. Key chain.
(Something cute like this or this.)
45. Bluetooth tracker,
for those who tend to lose their keys.
46. Magnetic Headphone 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. Bike tools.
52. Old books iphone case,
or choose their favorite title.
53. Reusable straws, for the party-throwing type.

To read:

54. Board books. (My favorite, for young or old.)
55. Slim paperbacks.
56. Book light.
57. Book darts.

58. Charming bookmarks.
Choose from literary heroines like Anne Shirley, Hermione Granger, Jane Eyre, and Scout Finch.
59. More adorable bookmarks.
60. I’d Rather Be Reading.

I'd Rather Be Reading, a great stocking stuffer idea for the reader in your life.

To watch or listen: 

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

To write:

63. Blank journals or a planner/calendar for the year to come.
64. Note cards. (A literary version.) Or thank you notes!
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. 
I love the shape of these mechanical pencils; for a fancier option go with Tombows.
69. Printable coloring sheets. Narnia, Anne, Jane Austen. Roll like a scroll and tie with a bow.
70. Calligraphy stencil. 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 or bath bombs. 
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.
Lotion bars.
81. Fancy soaps.
(You can support refugees by buying through the Preemptive Love Coalition)

For crafting:

82. Carving knives. (Goes great with soap if you buy plain ol’ Lever 2000)
83. Markers/crayons/colored pencils. Or the holy grail of pencil sharpeners

84. Washi tape.
85. Stickers.
86. Watercolor paints and brushes.
87. Mini fairy lights.

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. The New Yorker or another periodical. Subscribe now on their behalf, slide the first issue in their 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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100 stocking stuffers that will actually be appreciated


Leave A Comment
  1. Lizabeth Snell says:

    One of my fave’s is Post it’s.. always useful, fun to have cool ones, like mini legal pads or bright colors. 🙂

  2. JLBS says:

    This looks wonderful but as mentioned by others, the rstlye links don’t work – any way to get the correct links? Or does anyone know what I’m doing wrong? THANKS!

  3. Kim says:

    My boys are young, 6 and 4, but they always get a new reusable water bottle. They both love Playmobil so they’re getting some new figures. The little one wants his own wallet and he loves bath bombs. The oldest got some fancy kid binoculars and a small lava like lamp with jellyfish inside. Any extra room will include small cans of Fanta, their favorite and a big treat around here. Stockings are my absolute favorite! My husband is getting some fun things– witty socks, skincare items, and a few silly things from PaperSource and The Container Store.

    • Jenny says:

      I like the fanta idea–we have a cool butcher shop near us that stocks a huge variety of unusual sodas in glass jars that we like to put in stockings, too!

  4. Beth B. says:

    Mudpuppy makes adorable mini puzzles for kids for about $5 – bright animals or mod city scenes. You can usually find them on Amazon. And if you’re unfamiliar with the Mudpuppy brand, they’re a branch of Galison with great kid/family options!

  5. Cynthia S. says:

    We have a few traditional stocking stuffers. Black socks (good ones) for men. Tin of smoked oysters for one son.
    Tire gauge
    Nail clippers
    Penzey’s spices—small jars
    Cricut tools
    Gift cards for Starbucks
    Sugar free candy for my husband
    Bubbles for children
    Kitchen tools
    Bundt pan cleaning tool

  6. MeganTerrell says:

    For stationary lovers, journalers, planners …. Studio Calico is having a Black Friday sale, and their $1, $3 and $5 sale items are a very good value. Based on last years experience if you purchase any of their past Happy Mail monthly kits, you get a nice, though unknown, range of stationary items. As of this morning, they have pens, stickers, washi tape for as low as a dollar. I don’t work for them, I am just a happy customer. studiocalico.com

  7. Elise says:

    I love browsing the gift sections of local bookstores for stocking stuffers. I find lots of fun literary/artsy stuff there, and it’s another way to shop local.
    For kids: one year we bought a multi-pack of superhero masks and capes on Amazon and gave one to each of our kids and nieces and nephews. It led to a great Christmas morning of cousins running around as superheroes, and now, several years later, the capes and masks are still being used for dress-up.

  8. Janet says:

    For personal care: small bottles of hand sanitizer. Grove has an orange-scented one that smells so good.

    Sometimes I get my husband and son gift cards for the car wash down the street. Those always get used.

    As always, a fun and useful list!

  9. Alison Holliday says:

    Love this post !!

    I would add tea bags for loose leaf tea. I will be getting gift cards for gas as I have a new driver in the family. Also the microfibre cloths for tablets and phones etc. Bendy straws and texting gloves. Bobby pins and nail polish. It’s amazing what you can fit in there!

  10. Tracy Hancock says:

    I look forward to this post every year! So many great ideas. This year, I’m especially excited to try the coffee and tea recommendations. I’m thankful for you, Anne!

  11. Amy Yarger says:

    Automotive things for those who are driving – detailing cloths, air fresheners, etc. make great stocking stuffers, too!

  12. Jenny says:

    I’m curious if anybody does a different idea for older/married children, I would like to continue stockings for my daughter and her new husband, but would like a different type of “container” since they will have stockings at their new home. Anybody hear of anything like this?

    • Nifferly says:

      I made my son an advent grab bag–just used a green pillowcase with a red ribbon. He can select something from the bag without looking. You could use an appropriately-sized soft bag that’s like a mini “Santa” bag for the items. I’m not super crafty, but I imagine you could decorate them too.

    • Jenny says:

      My mom often gives me and my husband stocking like gifts for christmas, and she puts the things in a gift box that you can get at michael’s or in the wrapping section of target and walmart. It’s just as fun to open the box.

  13. Annie says:

    We always do the traditional orange in the toe of the stocking. 🙂 Full disclosure, I am the artist here, but karapani.com has some handpainted oyster shells that make great stocking stuffer gifts. They can be used on a bedside table or by a sink as jewelry holders, and they also make unique salt cellars. If you check them out, let me know what you think!

  14. Elizabet says:

    I remember earlier this year you mentioned extra cotton ear swabs you got as stocking stuffers? Do I remember that right? I thought I saved the link to them. Now I can’t find them..This would be a good for my family stock stuffers..

  15. Pam says:

    Little shavers that are now popular with covers. Lip balm and glosses. Tiny spatulas and basters at the $ store, packs of gum, small nail clippers and eyebrow clippers. Thanks for all the great ideas.

  16. Karen says:

    I’m getting some small LED flashlights, telescoping back scratchers and folding scissors for my adult children & spouses. I always put an orange at the bottom and everyone gets socks. Hopefully Target will have their special sock sets again this year. They’ve had Star Wars, Harry Potter, Xmas, etc. Sets of 10 or so were $15.

  17. Kim Keenan says:

    Movie tickets to hit the show during Christmas break, things they can do while they are off, tickets for ice skating, bowling night for the whole family. Think of things to remember their time off so when they go back to school and have to write about Christmas break they remember the fun.

  18. Lori says:

    De-icer spray for car windows.
    small heart ornament
    Fast food gift cards.
    Lottery tickets – scratchers.
    Beef jerkey
    Car wash gift cards.

  19. Robin Steele says:

    Fantastic ideas. I am always looking for small gifts for my visits to my granddaughters. So helpful!!

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