Amusing, surprising, and cheap stocking stuffers for the whole family
November 26, 2013 4:35 PM   Subscribe

Every year, each of my (8 or so, all adult) family members buys the same small gift for the rest of us and gives the gift anonymously (and to themselves, to preserve anonymity). With Christmas a month away, what silly or useful stocking stuffers can I give out to each of my family members across a wide variety of ages?

Trying to guess who gave what is most of the magic, so I'd like to keep the gift fairly inexpensive, as I do need to buy 8 of whatever I pick. I'd say no more than $5 per gift, for a total of $40. I've made use of previous stocking stuffer questions before, but everything I've found here and elsewhere is either too specific to the gift receiver or too thoughtful. Or I've already used the idea. Again, it needs to be the same gift for all 8 people. This tradition of ours is not about being thoughtful. It's is about being enigmatic and/or hilarious, and trying to bluff your way through Christmas dinner as we trying to figure out each gift's sender.

Here are some things that have gone over well in previous years:

Crazy straws in the shape of each family member's name
Joke teeth
Toilet seat covers (but probably only because my grandmother was suspected of giving them)

These were less successful:

Credit card tools
A handful of book darts
Mustache stickers
Candy/chocolate, lip gloss, lottery tickets have all been done to death, and I'm sure will be done again this year, so I'd like to avoid them if possible.

It seems like jokey gifts have better potential to be hits, and I'm fine with silly, but I feel like the right practical gift could work. The problem is I have to please my Luddite-but-extremely-well-read grandmother, my tech-obsessed-but-not-so-much-of-a-reader grandfather, my late-20s-working-in-TV brother, and several others (though no kids). But it really does need to be the same gift for everyone.

I'm in Toronto, but will be celebrating in (and can order online and deliver to) the U.S. (Philadelphia area).
posted by joan cusack the second to Shopping (38 answers total) 49 users marked this as a favorite
Searching for Joke Gifts on Amazon yields... interesting result.
posted by jeffamaphone at 4:37 PM on November 26, 2013 [2 favorites]

$5 bill origami? You could fold each person's into a different shape.
posted by jabes at 4:41 PM on November 26, 2013 [2 favorites]

A friend just bought Instant Underpants for a similar situation. Lots of good stuff to look through at Archee McPhee.
posted by pixiecrinkle at 4:43 PM on November 26, 2013 [2 favorites]

It's hard to say - credit card tools would have been the biggest hit in my family.

If I had this assignment, I would go to Dollarama and pick out just something I thought was useful or cool, like a mason jar glass, or pretty wooden frame, or feather boas.
posted by jb at 4:45 PM on November 26, 2013

Keyring sized tape measures. So handy!
posted by Kaleidoscope at 4:48 PM on November 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

Spam Sampler - match the flavor to the recipient! Throw in a few classics for the traditionalists.

$20 for the 12-pack of Infectious Disease Balls.

Gifts under $10 at ThinkGeek has some good stuff. I bet the beer soap smells hoppy!
posted by amanda at 4:51 PM on November 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

Traditional, I know, but a lump of coal might work. Ace Hardware is selling them at their counter here in the U.S. might be fun if you add a note specific to each person explaining why they are getting a lump of coal.

(It's actually chocolate, and I apologize for not being able to link to it at the moment.)
posted by Vaike at 4:53 PM on November 26, 2013

Sumajin cordwinders are so handy. And they aren't funny, but they're fun, especially if you get bright colors. Everyone can use them -- even if someone doesn't need an earbud winder, they can be used to shorten window blind cords, store kitchen twine, keep long necklaces from tangling during travel, etc.
posted by payoto at 5:02 PM on November 26, 2013 [2 favorites]

Oooh! Practical and mysterious, get them a garlic peeler. Especially great if put in without any packaging so people can really wonder at what it is. You can find them very cheap on e-bay and a variety of different ones on Amazon to see how it works.
posted by amanda at 5:02 PM on November 26, 2013

Get a pack of glow-in-the-dark googly eyes for everyone. This way, the joke ensues long afterwards, as everyone is armed with their own small arsenal. You open the door to find an anthropomorphized carton of milk! A surprised toilet seat! Toothbrushes glowering at you. Everyone is a culprit..
posted by suedehead at 5:19 PM on November 26, 2013 [5 favorites]

Sugru? Comes in 8-packs for $20 each, so if you get 2 then you could give everyone 2 little packets.
posted by ella wren at 5:33 PM on November 26, 2013 [6 favorites]

A bit out of your price range, but banana and pickle winestoppers are both useful and inexplicable if you remove them from their packaging.
posted by asphericalcow at 5:57 PM on November 26, 2013

Little wire puzzles?
posted by irisclara at 6:01 PM on November 26, 2013

Think Geek has some cool stocking stuffer type stuff.
posted by COD at 6:11 PM on November 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

There are eight figures in the Hobbit Pez set.
posted by MsMolly at 6:18 PM on November 26, 2013 [2 favorites]

Bacon toothpaste?
posted by gudrun at 6:56 PM on November 26, 2013

Nerf-style guns that fire suction cup darts. They are surprisingly awesome to play with a big group of people, especially family. Not available online, but maybe you can make it to a Target in Philly?
posted by sciencegeek at 7:00 PM on November 26, 2013

My mom has given me awesome stocking stuffers from Kiosk. Most of the stuff is an unusual twist on an everyday product.
posted by genmonster at 7:02 PM on November 26, 2013 [2 favorites]

Shoot I lost my comment! But shows that you can get small appliances for basically free, which might be entertaining or at least surprising.

Or how about a solar powered grasshopper? You can pay for expedited shipping and still make budget.
posted by dpx.mfx at 7:30 PM on November 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

Or how about those things to make the rubber band bracelets that are all the rage. My family would find 600 tiny rubber bands funny.
posted by dpx.mfx at 7:37 PM on November 26, 2013

Gingerbread soap. Fabric tissue case. Single serve liquors. Goldfish soap.

Etsy also has lots of interesting pocket mirrors for under $5.
posted by dpx.mfx at 7:58 PM on November 26, 2013

My MIL put these smiley face toothbrush holders in the stockings one year and they are awesome.
posted by jshort at 8:21 PM on November 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

Buzz brush 2in1 keyboard and screen cleaner. I unpackaged them and gave them individually.

They were a big hit.
posted by vitabellosi at 9:04 PM on November 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

Tiny remote control race cars. Hours of amusement
posted by fshgrl at 9:24 PM on November 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

five dollar finds is great for this kind of thing.

This might vary by family, but what about chopsticks? Colorful and inexpensive.
posted by annsunny at 9:29 PM on November 26, 2013 [2 favorites]

This. We got these one year and still, every now and then, one makes an appearance when least expected. More laughs than a barrel of monkeys.
posted by ms_rasclark at 9:31 PM on November 26, 2013

beer soap! I bought soaps for everyone last year, and they were a hit, and practical.
posted by hydra77 at 10:18 PM on November 26, 2013

How about a classic toy/board game keychain? (Examples: Etch-A-Sketch, Connect 4, Monopoly) I gave these to coworkers one year and they were a huge hit. has quite a few other stocking stuffers too.
posted by SisterHavana at 11:14 PM on November 26, 2013

A cigarette lighter USB jack thingy! Everyone can use these. They come in all shapes and sizes. The Evil Empire Walmart sells them in various colors for $2.
posted by AnOrigamiLife at 12:57 AM on November 27, 2013

Paper party cups, with a nose printed on the rim...?
posted by stillmoving at 2:34 AM on November 27, 2013

Wander around in stores. Gander Mountain had a bin of small pocket knives, apparently good quality, for $3 yesterday.
posted by yclipse at 4:15 AM on November 27, 2013

Bandaids/bandages! Choose them to match the personalities. Several online sellers but I also found them last year at various stores. Plus they are actually useful.
posted by maxg94 at 5:55 AM on November 27, 2013

It's not Christmas in our family without nail clippers/manicure sets in our stockings. I can never have too many of these.

Also in the can-never-have-too-many category is universal cell phone/gadget chargers.
posted by stampsgal at 7:26 AM on November 27, 2013 [2 favorites]

What about Christmas ornaments? Either find the tackiest things imaginable, or combine some things at dollerama to make ornaments. I was recently stuck in a Canadian Tire for an hour and ended up buying a huge amount of Debbie Travis ornaments.... Some were really bizarre (and thus irresistible).
posted by saucysault at 9:47 AM on November 27, 2013

Along the lines of joke teeth, my mom and her sisters cannot get enough of His and Hers Instant Weirdo Glasses or their Dollarama equivalent. I know they are out of stock on the Perpetual Kid website, but I'm sure there are a few places in TO that have them.
posted by nathaole at 10:03 AM on November 27, 2013

Animal Nose Masks. Years ago, when I was working on a trading floor, I bought a handful for the traders I worked with, a bunch of grumpy guys, and they fucking LOVED them. The beauty of this is that you can match the nose to the personality. The link is to the first purveyor I found, but I'm sure they're all over the internet.
posted by janey47 at 10:41 AM on November 27, 2013

Wind-ups! They come in all sorts of characters/animals, so you could specialize if you wanted, or give everyone the same thing. Also boxes of crayons. Jellies/Jams. Plastic Crowns. Hot Chocolate Mixes. Decks of Cards or Pickup Sticks. Pez. Oranges (we get oranges in our stockings every year). Eyeglass kits.
posted by julen at 1:34 PM on November 27, 2013

Whoopie cushion (invented in Toronto!). Plastic animals. Little flashlight thingamabobs from MEC (they have lots of useful stocking stuffers). Slinkies. Those "can you put this back together" puzzles.
posted by heatherann at 4:56 PM on November 27, 2013

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