Practical Stocking Stuffers

In my family, Christmas stockings are not just for children! Everybody has a stocking, and we play Santa to each other by stuffing the stockings with little treats when nobody’s looking. It’s no fair to peek into your stocking before Christmas morning–when we open stocking gifts first thing, before breakfast or even coffee!

For the holiday gift tips edition of Works-for-Me Wednesday, here are some ideas for inexpensive gifts that fit into stockings and are useful things, not just cheap junk. Of course, some of these items are “useful” only to people of certain ages, sexes, interests, and levels of “that’s too practical to be a real gift!” sensibility, so use your judgment.

But first, let me say, IF YOU ARE NOT THE PERSON WHO STUFFS THE STOCKINGS IN YOUR FAMILY, YOU NEED TO READ THIS ARTICLE, TOO! Why? Because in families where one person plays Santa to everyone else, that poor person may wind up with an empty stocking! This tragic thoughtlessness came to my attention last year, when I read someone’s blog post about how she and her friend (both moms who work so hard every December cooking and shopping and decorating to make their families’ Christmas perfect) got tired of the sad, left-out, I-must-have-been-bad feeling caused by their empty stockings and decided to stuff one another’s stockings and give them to each other on Christmas Eve. That works for them, but I think it’s pathetic that their husbands can’t be bothered to do this little kindness for them. So if there’s a self-sacrificing Santa Mom in your house, be kinder to her this year!

On with the stocking stuffer ideas:

  • Lip balm. The best one I’ve ever had came from Bee Folks; it is all-natural yet has never gotten grainy or waxy, and I’ve had it more than 4 years! It works really well and smells yummy, too.
  • Favorite kind of pen, or a pen that writes in an interesting color.
  • Free card game! (If you cut out the cards yourself, it will fit into a stocking. If you’d rather have the recipient do the cutting, make it a wrapped gift.)
  • Fancy pencil.
  • Fancy shoelaces.
  • Dice. Many games can be spiced up with dice that have more numbers or are more interesting-looking than the standard ones.
  • Small notebook or sketch pad.
  • Scissors that cut scallops, zigzags, etc.
  • Stickers depicting something the person likes.
  • Nail polish or other small cosmetic.
  • Freebie toys you don’t want. Young kids appreciate a Slinky, stress ball, ruler, slap bracelet, pom-pom critter, etc. even if it’s stamped with the name of some business.
  • Deck of playing cards. The mini ones are particularly fun for children or people who like to be prepared for gaming at all times.
  • Favorite toothpaste, especially if it’s an all-natural type that costs more than other brands. Most of my family members like Tom’s of Maine and appreciate a free tube of their favorite flavor! However, if you get a great bargain on the toothpaste because it’s missing the outer box, that tube is not a good gift–I learned this the year my brother called saying how hilariously thrifty it was of me to give our father a used tube of toothpaste; it wasn’t really used, but because it wasn’t in the box and was a bit dented, it looked as if it might be!
  • Small personal-care item that you think is so great, you want to share it with everyone. We all got “flossing” toothbrushes in our stockings one year, courtesy of my brother.
  • Cooking utensil, especially if you’ve noticed the person doesn’t have that type of utensil (how does anyone live without a spaghetti server?!) or has an old, beat-up one. Some surprisingly high-quality utensils are sold at dollar stores.
  • Handkerchief or bandanna.
  • Bar of soap in a favorite scent or shape.
  • Mini box of raisins or individually wrapped fruit leather. These are great alternatives to candy!
  • One little toy figure, such as a wooden animal, Fisher-Price person, or role-playing game miniature.
  • Faucet aerator to save water in the kitchen or bathroom.
  • Batteries to fit the person’s electronic gizmos, or smoke-detector battery if you’re really practical!
  • Glitter glue.
  • Bead necklace–Mardi Gras type, or beads strung by a child, or beads made from magazine paper.
  • One small toy vehicle.
  • Key ring.
  • Bookmark.
  • “Property of ___” stickers that you printed on the computer.
  • Magnet for holding things on the refrigerator or cabinet. You can make these yourself using funny comic-strip frames or other paper images–see instructions near the end of my article on reusing things.
  • LED mini flashlight. These are better gifts than the incandescent type because they last much longer.
  • Barrette, ponytail holder, or other hair accessory.
  • Small, sturdy mirror for purse or pocket.
  • 3-ounce plastic bottle for transporting shampoo, lotion, etc. through airport security. Whether you buy an empty bottle or one filled with a favorite product, choose a bottle that’s easy to refill to prevent waste.
  • Box of paper clips or thumbtacks that are special in some way: colors, shapes, high quality, or just a favorite type.
  • Pad of sticky-notes.
  • Christmas tree ornament.
  • Bumper sticker.
  • Sample pack of coffee or other foodstuff.
  • “Coupon” the person can redeem to get you to do a chore, give a back rub, etc.
  • One piece of dollhouse furniture.

Need ideas for the bigger gifts? Here are 7 product recommendations (not paid endorsements!). Here are my favorite chapter books for kids and books for adults. Here are great games for kids. An exercise ball is really useful. Some people like silk underlayers or tie-dyed socks.

Happy holidays!  Check out the Christmas Planner at Mums Make Lists for more great ideas!

About 'Becca
author of The Earthling's Handbook, about the environment, parenting, cooking, and more!

5 Responses to Practical Stocking Stuffers

  1. Elizabeth says:

    I read that post about those women and thought the same thing!!

    looks like your stockings are a lot like our families! good tips!

  2. Young Wife says:

    Great ideas! Stockings are a big deal in my family, too.

  3. coupon says:

    Your idea about dropping a homemade coupon in a Christmas stocking is something anyone could do. Grandma’s can give a weekend of babysitting and Grandpa can give fishing lessons every Saturday. It can be used as extra bonding bonus.

  4. Pingback: Recycling Christmas Cheer « The Earthling's Handbook

  5. Pingback: Pens Made from Recycled Plastic (B2P product review) « The Earthling's Handbook

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