November 13, 2008

Stocking Stuffers -

Thoughtful and Thrifty!

Do you do stockings at your house for Christmas? For many of us, this is the best part of Christmas, but as any stocking stuffer Santa knows, the cost of all those little gifts can really add up.

First, make lists and buy a few things each week. The following list should give you some good ideas to start with, AND we hope you'll share your suggestions too!

The size of stocking stuffers. For this list, I considered a stocking present to be no more than the size of my fist, or anything that can reasonably be packed down to that size, such a t-shirt. I've included items such as rolled-up activity books too. Well over half the items on this list can be bought for under $2.00

Where I shopped. Because I go nuts when I see a list and then can't find the suggested items anywhere, fully 95% of the items on this list are available at Wal-Mart, a good Dollar Store, plus many are available through where free holiday shipping may be offered. Dollar Stores vary greatly (some are now $1.50 Stores!), but I've found Dollar Tree to be consistently well-stocked, clean, and every item truly is $1.00. And many now accept credit cards.

I did no on-line or mail-order shopping (except to check item availability at Amazon) , although one catalog source I would unhesitatingly recommend to you is Dover Publishing They offer hundreds of very inexpensive gift possibilities... kids' activity (sticker, stencil, coloring) books, blank and design books, and a huge array of kids' and adult classics, all well under $5. Your local bookstore may carry some of their products too.

There are no sports- or hobby-specific ideas because I know that if you have a golfer or a woodworker, a quilter or gourmet cook to buy for, you've already got plenty of ideas!

All-time favorites include fruit and nuts, playing cards, lip balm, and slinkies. Please don't forget that stockings are not just for kids...I know a very dignified older man who allowed his three granddaughters to paint his toenails bright coral this summer. He will be getting a bottle of purple glitter polish in his stocking!

These are in no order so you won't skip a section!
book marks - a reader can never have too many
sports whistle
bandannas (dog and cat paw prints available)
window scraper/small snow brush
shoe polish/cloth/brush
dice (plain and fancy)
magnetic letters
rain poncho
loofah sponge
safety pins/button assortment
eyeglass repair kit
shoelaces (practical or wild)
pens, pencils, mechanical pencils
markers, crayons
note pads
corn-on-the-cob picks

Money is great as a stocking present. For example, carefully split a whole walnut, remove inside, insert quarter and glue back together. Or, put some real dollar coins in one of those little bags of foil-wrapped chocolate coins. I also buy the sheets of uncut dollar bills to use as wrapping paper.

refrigerator magnets (a favorite: I used to run with the wolves, now I nap with the cats)
fingernail clippers, emery boards, polish
hair fasteners and decorations, hairbands, glitter spray
Christmas ornament
sewing kit (a must for office wardrobe repairs)
silly putty, silly string
travel/sample sizes of cosmetics, health and beauty aids
seed packets (spring will come again!)
sunprint paper
puzzle, dot-to-dot, crossword, sudoku, coloring books
bubble bath
pencil sharpener
lottery tickets

Gift certificates for only $5 may seem silly, but I treasure my Dunkin Donuts and McDonalds's ones in "emergencies." Cards from local drugstores or grocery stores may be appreciated by a college student. Bus and subway cards can come in handy too.
art supplies, paints, stencils, foam shapes, glitter glue
keychains (with lights, safety whistles or compass)
wind-up toys
small hand tools
breath mints, gum
hair brushes, combs
energy bars
worry dolls
spinner tops, especially the popping kind
card game such as Uno, Skip-bo
cribbage board
bouncy balls

Homemade gift certificates for everything from homemade bread, to sidewalk shoveling, from dogwalks to back rubs, from the mundane to the salacious are quick and easy to make. Great for last-minute.

yarn and knitting needles
Hot Wheels cars
kitchen tools, gadgets, special foods
candles, of all kinds, sizes, shapes
hats, gloves, ear muffs
metallic pipe cleaners
nylons, tights, leggings
scissors, sewing, fancy-edged or special purpose ones
ruler, compass, protractor
jewelry cleaner
marbles (I get gorgeous ones at a local art museum)
bike horn, bike bell, streamers
self-laminating pockets
magnetic picture frames (great for the refrigerator)
florescent stars

Pass-It-On presents can be sentimental or silly, but they're often very special. I've passed on my antique thimbles to my quilting daughters and some jewelry pieces to both my daughters and son. My husband gave up his very favorite, never-fail fishing lure for my stocking one year, and I've also passed on baby silver to expectant parents... so many thoughful possibilities!

extension cord
colored flame sticks or crystals (for the fireplace,firepit, or bonfire)
mini-dustpan and brush
birdseed, 'seed blocks, bells
bulbs, for winter-forcing or spring planting
nite-light (not just for kids, think safety)
first-aid kit
fire starters
picture hangers and wire
duct tape in classic black, clear, or colors!

Fruits, nuts, candy are the staples of stocking stuffing. An orange in the toe, a candy cane hanging off the top. But there's so much more. The year my kids first read the entire Narnia series of books, I made Turkish Delight and put a small tin in each of their stockings. Recipe at

magnifying glass
hand sanitizer
bath poufs
soaps, creams, health and beauty products
mini- photo album
snippet (how did we ever open potato chip bags without one?)
battery operated toothbrush, floss, toothpicks
bath pillow
sparklers (legal ones! Morning Glories are awesome!)

Beyond stockings... You could make up themed boxes or baskets using any combination of these possibilities and still keep that gift very reasonably priced. This is going to be a lean holiday season in many households, but frugal can be fun! Start now!


BrioII said...

For a healthy stocking stuffer, consider Gripit Floss Holders. They are only $6.95 and that price includes a year's supply of floss. You can see Gripits in action at

Lisa said...

There are some great ideas here, Mary. I'm going to the Dover Publishing site right now...

Rachel said...

Love all the great ideas. The one that stuck out with me was handcuffs. Hmmmmm...I wonder who came up with that?

SAHM I am said...

My son is getting some Matchbox cars, my husband is getting nice pens and all of us are getting some home made candy and toothbrushes. I try to keep the contents of each stocking under $10.

Anonymous said...

I too wondered about said handcuffs!