70 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

70 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.

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.)

70 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.
6. Mini Rubix Cube or Etch-A-Sketch.
7. Playing cards.
8. Paper clips.
For building contraptions and doing magic tricks. (Check Youtube!)

To wear: 

9. 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.)
10. Ponytail holders.
11. Cute panties or boxers.
12. Tights.
13. Cute socks.
14. Nail stickers.
15. Buttons.

To eat:

16. Altoids.
17. Beef jerky. This is my favorite. Or make your own.
18. Trail mix.
19. Drink mixes 
(hot chocolate, spiced cider, Emergen-C).
20. Pineapple like in this episode of Charlie and Lola.
(Or maybe a clementine, pomegranate, or starfruit.)
21. Tiny adorable bottles of Tabasco or portable packets of Sriracha.
22. Small tubs of Nutella.

23. Gold chocolate coins, like St. Nick threw in the legend. 
24. Maldon sea salt flakes, for chefs and bakers.
25. Mini boxes of cereal.

Fun but useful:

26. Flashlight.
27. Batteries.
28. Candles, especially with a fun theme like these Jane Austen candles or this “old books” scent.
29. Mini manicure kit.
30. Paper straws, for the party-throwing type.

31. Sprinkles and cute cupcake wrappers,
for those who love to bake.
32. Personalized address labels.
33. Small framed photos.
34. Seed packets.

To read:

35. Board books. (My favorite, for young or old.)
36. Slim paperbacks.
37. Book light.
38. Book darts. (For fans of Modern Mrs. Darcy / What Should I Read Next? or  generic)
39. Charming bookmarks. “I read past my bedtime” or “I like big books and I cannot lie.”

40. More adorable bookmarks. Choose from literary heroines like Anne Shirley, Hermione Granger, Jane Eyre, and Scout Finch.

To watch or listen: 

41. The Hamilton Mixtape.
42. A favorite (or soon-to-be-favorite) audiobook.
(40 ideas here.)
43. Movie tickets.

To write:

44. Blank journals or an awesome reading journal kit.
45. Note cards. (A literary version)
46. Notecards that you can color.

47. Pens. (Like individual Le Pens or Sharpies in pretty colors.)
48. Postage stamps. Maybe Batman or Harry Potter?
49. Pencils. 
Ticonderogas are the best drugstore buy; for a fancier option go with Blackwings.
50. Printable coloring sheets. Narnia, Anne, Jane Austen. Roll like a scroll and tie with a bow.
51. Lettermate.

Personal care:

52. Bath bubbles.
53. Nail polish.
54. Character band-aids. (Not just for kids! Try these for women. Or these for the men.)
55. Rosebud salve.
56. Chapstick or lip balm.

57. Hand lotion.
58. Toothbrushes.
59. Lotion bars

For crafting:

60. Markers/crayons/colored pencils. Or the holy grail of pencil sharpeners
61. Scotch tape or washi tape.
62. Stickers.
63. Post-it notes (especially the shapes).
64. Small craft kits like this or this.

Just for grown-ups:

65. Coffee or tea.
66. Literary matchbooks.
67. Milk frother for homemade lattés.
68. Essential oils. 
69. Dollar Shave Club. Subscribe now on his behalf, slide the first month’s shipment in his stocking.
70. Duct tape.

Tell us your favorite stocking stuffer ideas in comments. 

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70 Stocking Stuffers


22 comments | Comment

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  1. Ellen Cole says:

    I totally agree! Stocking stuffers can be more costly than some gifts! Our family has for years gone with more practical items that we’d have to buy anyway…toothpaste/toothbrush/razor blade refills/a bit of candy/a coffee shop gift card. This tradition may have begun after I heard my dad’s story of one of his most memorable childhood Christmases. He was born and raised in the UK during WWIIl. They didn’t have much money and for Christmas he and his siblings each received a treasured orange (which were hard to come by at the time) in their stockings. However, his mother was sick at the time and his father mentioned to them that the vitamins in oranges might help her to get better. They each gave their oranges to their mother.

  2. Susan says:

    I do a lot of these plus I throw in some fancy power bars sometimes. This year I ordered some hand lettering pens for one daughter. I also get those small bottles of perfume and what not at Bath & Body Works. Girls like them for their gym lockers. It is a lot harder to find things for the guys!

  3. Mary Kay says:

    This is a great list, Anne! Thank you for sharing! In your Minimalist stocking guide, you mention dried fruit, and I agree! Several years ago, my mom created a 2-gift-under-the-tree policy to keep Christmas simpler (and more portable, as she had 2 adult children living far away from her and each other). But, being the very giving mother that she is, she found a way to circumvent her own rule by loading our stockings with really nice gifts. Good knives, wooden spoons, jewelry, and fun kitchen gadgets are some of her favorites for our stockings. My dad also likes to include tools, like pocket multi-tools, so that we’ll always be prepared. This year is my first married Christmas. My new husband is Hungarian and didn’t grow up with stockings, so I am excited about sharing this tradition with him!

    • S says:

      Love this! My kids say they absolutely love their stockings so it is nice to hear the tradition can continue with grown kids!

  4. Carol says:

    I love surprising even my now adult “kids” with treasures in their stockings. This year my son and his 5 kiddos will get a stocking full of round, smooth, Idaho skipping stones. My stocking “drawers” are already full but I enjoyed reading through your list. This post won’t be deleted so I can refresh my memory in January. Well, maybe not that soon, but I do shop for little things most of the year. It is much easier on the budget. (Great advice passed on from my Mom.) I enjoy your posts! Merriest of Christmases!

  5. Laura J says:

    One of the best stocking stuffers I gave to my daughter was a pair of wooden toaster tongs. Years later, she still uses them all the time.

    Also, I noticed you have a lotion bar on your list. Have you ever made them yourself? I love the site: https://store.hardlotion.com .I have ordered some of her great products but also bought the kit and made lip balm and other things. Renee Harris has terrific videos and provides wonderful customer service. These products are all natural and kids can help make them. Activity with a usable end product Is my favorite type of gift! My daughter and I made them together and then she designed and made labels for our gifts. I also made a body mousse in a chocolate peppermint and also a lemon ginger scent that turned out really well. This isn’t a sponsored comment-I just love her site! ?

  6. Cindy McMahon says:

    This year instead of a stocking for my grown daughter, I filled a box with EMERGENCY STUFF like cute band-aids, cough syrup, Emergen-C, hairspray, de-tangler, anti-biotic ointment, a light bulb, herbal tea, chocolate, toilet paper (just one roll),a snow scraper,a book to read the kids, stickers, stamps, pens, and my business card with “Call Mom” on back.

    • This is a fab idea! I love the business card 🙂 We always do a traditional orange and candy cane, hot cocoa packs (especially fun flavors), and toiletries the love to steal from me–fingernail clippers for instance.

  7. MARY ANGEL says:

    When my boys were younger [about 30 years ago] they loved to play Dungeons and Dragons. One of the fun things I like about that game was the dice. They come in so many colors, shapes and numbers. You can try Amazon for them. I wouldn’t mind some myself! Somebody may know another site, but I love Amazon for prices and postage.

  8. D says:

    Love your expanded list!
    I look for things like this on clearance throughout the year, and I like having things for them that are useful throughout the year. My kids will be getting several things on this list, along with paper targets for my archery boys, and some new swim goggles just in time for lessons in January.

  9. Libby says:

    In our family, we’re going on a trip this year. So we’re *only* doing stocking stuffers. Which is fine because it’s my favorite anyway.
    I like to give Pez dispensers for a novelty item but after that it’s only practical items. Like those hot-hands hand warmers, post-it notes, and paperbacks from the used book store in town. 🙂

  10. S says:

    I stuff our stockings with similar things – almost all useful. The older kids get special hair products that I typically won’t buy year round, they all get chapstick, head lights, light gloves, tissue packs for their backpacks, and a magazine that appeals to them. All the kids get a small lego kit (even the older ones – the tiny little nano blocks are great for them) and an orange, along with their own stash of gum. My husband and I get a lot of batteries!

  11. Guy Austin says:

    BTW- StampAndSoul is awesome. I order two bookmarks and did them separately on accident. Eliza emailed me right away and dropped the second shipping charge and saved me some cash. They arrived quickly! Instant fan.

  12. Kathy says:

    It’s now approaching Christmas 2017 and I’m looking for stocking stuffer ideas. The list gave me some great ideas. Except the gifts are not for stockings but for a homemade advent calendar with 24 drawers for small treasures. I’m so excited to make this for my daughter and grandson!

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