I never knew they sold super-balls by the kilo.
December 1, 2011 2:32 PM   Subscribe

Help me take a big bite out of my Christmas shopping. What are some small, cheap, amusing things that I can buy in bulk?

So I was thinking about Christmas shopping and what to get for people, and I thought it would be entertaining and memorable to give some people large amounts of something small and fun. The best idea I've had so far was to buy a huge number of glow-stick bracelets (you can get like 1000 of these on eBay for under $50) and give a couple hundred each to four or five people on my list.

Basically I'm looking for things that while interesting and amusing are not terribly impressive alone -- but which would be fascinating/hilarious/impressive when given in large amounts. Most of all, I'd like to be able to get a lot of bang for my buck.

So we're talking things like bulk silly putty, large numbers of semi-precious stones, those world-coins-by-the-pound deals that someone else asked a question about recently, the aforementioned massive pile of glowsticks, and other such frivolities.

The targets of these gifts are all friends and family and all the people I'm thinking about are in their 20's. But I'd like to be able to give the same gift to more than one person (or maybe give *different* bulk-quantity gifts to different people, even) so they ought to be things that are sort of universally perceived to be fun but which people wouldn't ordinarily think of going out and buying 30lbs of.

Hooray Christmas!
posted by Scientist to Shopping (13 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
While I would really hate a gift of a few hundred glow stick bracelets, if you're dead-set on the idea you might want to poke around the Oriental Trading website. They were basically designed to be the place where you buy crap in bulk.
posted by jabes at 2:41 PM on December 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

Be sure to check the clearance section of American Science & Surplus (as well as the rest of its amazing stock!).
posted by MonkeyToes at 2:44 PM on December 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

Nothing says HAPPY CHRISTMAS like 5,000 ladybugs for only $35.
posted by H. Roark at 3:10 PM on December 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

Or red wiggler worms. (ms. Vegetable commenting)
posted by a robot made out of meat at 3:14 PM on December 1, 2011

If they're in their 20s, they probably also remember slap bracelets.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 3:25 PM on December 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

Amaryllis or narcissus bulbs. Flower and vegetable seeds. Please don't give me crap from Oriental Trading.
posted by Ideefixe at 3:53 PM on December 1, 2011 [2 favorites]

I am married to a purveyor of fine crap. Nthing Oriental Trading (I hide the catalog when it comes-how many plastic eyeballs does one household really need?)

But may I suggest that when/if you give bulk gifts you also give people an idea of what to do with it/them? I may roll my eyes at 500 glow sticks, but if handed to me in a couple of mason jars with these instructions, I would think it was a very neat gift.
posted by dogmom at 6:10 PM on December 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


LED Throwies
posted by lollusc at 7:02 PM on December 1, 2011

Buy a large jigsaw with a customized message. Give a portion of jigsaw pieces to each of the people you have in mind as a gift. Explain nothing. After days, maybe weeks or months of rumor, intrigue, and passionte debate about the special meaning of the gifts, when they finally get together, "puzzled" but excited, everyone helps each other create and complete the beautiful jigsaw puzzle. The ultimate secret message revealed to all reads: "FRIENDSHIP".
posted by Bwithh at 9:53 PM on December 1, 2011

Here is an example of one place where you can get a custom puzzle made to implement my above jigsaw idea. Up to 2,000 pieces. heart-shaped jigsaws available.
I don't endorse this specific store, there are others you can look at too
posted by Bwithh at 10:09 PM on December 1, 2011

...a bunch of LED pig flashlights? .78 cents each and free shipping!

I got nothin'
posted by zennish at 10:35 PM on December 3, 2011

Stamps! Search 'kiloware' on eBay.
posted by mippy at 1:16 AM on December 5, 2011

Can't believe I forgot to mention zip ties (sample example; the variety packs are awesome), which come in for hard usage where I live. Securing a fence? Building a pen? Holding something together when I can't find a clamp? All of the above. They're handy as all get-out, relatively inexpensive and won't take up much storage space. Bonus points if the gift tag reads "A little help in keeping everything together."
posted by MonkeyToes at 4:06 PM on December 5, 2011

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