New ideas for interesting or useful stocking stuffers
November 25, 2018 11:07 AM   Subscribe

Every year I give my mother, my aunt, my mother-in-law, and my father-in-law Christmas stockings with a wide variety of gifts inside. I try to give them a good balance of actually useful stuff (mini flashlight that fits on keyring, reusable shopping bag that collapses down to a little pouch, etc) and unusual stuff (tiny collectable Japanese cat toys, bizarre finger puppets, etc). I have thoroughly plundered the prior AskMe questions for previous years' stockings. Please give me any new suggestions you have!
posted by bookish to Shopping (23 answers total) 52 users marked this as a favorite
Kikkerland has fun stocking stuffers! I like their thumb massagers and just purchased some for friends. They also have matchbook-size notepads, and shipping is free for most items in the US with no price minimum.

Enamel pins are really trendy now, and Etsy has quite a collection as well as other sites online.

If you have a nice local chocolate or candy maker, including one fancy piece of chocolate or candy would be nice.
posted by shortyJBot at 11:16 AM on November 25, 2018 [5 favorites]

I'm always popular when I give tubes of shea butter hand lotion. For fun stuff, I like giving things that you can twiddle with--polished stones, mini slinkies, silly putty.
posted by angelchrys at 11:30 AM on November 25, 2018 [1 favorite]

I’ve gotten more use out of my chain fidget than I was expecting, even knowing myself to be a fidgety person.

Local soaps, candies, tiny containers of maple syrup or honey, rare earth magnets, are all things I get a few of here and there over the course of a year and distribute at holiday time. If you have a local museum (art or science), there are usually bins with small odd doodads.
posted by tchemgrrl at 11:46 AM on November 25, 2018 [1 favorite]

I always go to the dollar store for stocking stuffers. It's a task I look forward to every year, because it's fun to see what I can find, and I always manage to find a range of useful and enjoyable things. Packages of fancy paper napkins, or of cute paper muffin cups. Boxes of beautiful Christmas cards, or generic cards. Candles. Calendars and small notebooks. Small Christmas decorations. Decorative tin or pasteboard boxes. Makeup sponges and wipes, cotton balls. Hand cream. Nail polish and remover. Razors. Gardening gloves. Fridge magnets if you should happen to find something that's just to the taste or the kitchen of the intended person. The dollar store even has some books, which usually run to cookbooks and other how-to type books, so I've given my mother and sister some useful cookbooks. I also give everyone their favourite candy or chocolate. One of the most fun things I ever found was a packet of gold and silver temporary tattoos. I gave it to my sister, telling her that the elaborate back tattoo in the pack must be saved for some very special, very classy occasion. My sister, who has been known to wear stick-on tattoos for the fun of it, snickered muchly over it. Er, you probably won't want to give a tattoo pack to any of the people on your list, but it's just an example of the perfectly apropos off-beat things you can find if you look.
posted by orange swan at 11:54 AM on November 25, 2018 [1 favorite]

I think this multi-tool hair clip is really cool. The Dreams Cable Bite toys are super cute; here's the shark variety. Also, everybody can use a cuticle nipper.
posted by neushoorn at 11:54 AM on November 25, 2018 [3 favorites]

If it wouldn't offend people's religious sensibilities, little icons of a relevant saint! My son is an electronics test engineer who works on lamps, and breaks his phone screen at least every two-three months, so he got the patron saints of lamp-makers and telephones. Another time my dad, who drove his Suburban into every pole and parked car in Florida, got a dashboard shrine to Ganesha (destroyer of obstacles).
posted by pH Indicating Socks at 12:27 PM on November 25, 2018 [4 favorites]

If they live in a place that might get freezing rain on windshields, this is the very best ice scraper.
i have a Cigaret Lighter Flashlight, and use it often.
I often see beautiful socks in lively colors that you buy in 3s; they are all a bit different. I like those.
and Lego minifigs.
posted by theora55 at 1:26 PM on November 25, 2018 [1 favorite]

”Worlds smallest multi-tool”
posted by ersatzkat at 1:30 PM on November 25, 2018 [1 favorite]

Phone Loops or pop sockets, for people with phone cases. My understanding is that pop sockets are more popular with the young people. (If anyone from my family reads this in the next month, please wipe it from your memory.)
posted by The corpse in the library at 1:35 PM on November 25, 2018 [1 favorite]

Two things that are always a hit with my friends and family: china markers and Industrial/Pro Sharpies. They get use all year, especially in the kitchen (labeling frozen foods and bottles of cold brew and weird culinary experiments). The china markers are also great for labeling wine glasses at parties.

Dry-erase crayons are also a surprising hit. I like them for leaving love notes and reminders on the bathroom mirror. The kids in the family like them for scribbling all over literally every surface. Their parents like them for the minimal damage that causes.

For folks who are at all handy or DIY-inclined, Sugru is great.
posted by rhiannonstone at 1:45 PM on November 25, 2018 [1 favorite]

I love my Utili-Key. It's always handy on my key ring, and goes through airport security without a snag.
posted by lakeroon at 2:33 PM on November 25, 2018

This time of year, there are cheap-ass muti-tools at discount stores like Big Lots. They're great for leaving 1 in the car and 1 in the kitchen, etc. Usually @ 10 bucks, priceless when you have a stupid car problem or whatever and need a screwdriver or pliers.
posted by theora55 at 3:54 PM on November 25, 2018

On the off chance that you will be in NYC soon, I get all my stocking stuffers at Flying Tiger.
posted by pinochiette at 4:59 PM on November 25, 2018 [2 favorites]

I was just about to suggest Flying Tiger myself.
posted by praemunire at 5:17 PM on November 25, 2018

I like going to a high end grocery store and getting things like fancy salt, spices, tea, small bottle of some kind of infused oil/vinegar, etc.
posted by rozee at 6:16 PM on November 25, 2018 [2 favorites]

Novelty socks.
posted by elsietheeel at 7:08 PM on November 25, 2018

Tea, honey, maple syrup?
posted by pseudostrabismus at 12:23 AM on November 26, 2018

Fun and/or novelty items: you can't do better than Archie McPhee in Seattle. All items under $5 are here, and there are a lot. A Ruth Bader Ginsburg air freshener? Sure! A set of small glow-in-the-dark cats? Yep! Shakespearean insult gum? You betcha!

On the tea tip... if someone really likes good quality tea but tends toward bags rather than looseleaf, you can buy empty, stuffable tea bags with good quality looseleaf tea. Calabash in DC is my go-to, and their Blue Velvet tea is a sure bet for black tea lovers. They sell single-use empty tea bags too.

Throw in a set of strong, colorful fridge magnets from the SuperMagnetMan!

For the menfolk, especially: get a box of metal collar stays!

Adventurous eaters in your family? Buy a pack of snack-size bags of chips made from cricket powder, or perhaps some chocolate chip cookie mix with 20 crickets worth of cricket powder per cookie!
posted by duffell at 8:02 AM on November 26, 2018 [1 favorite]

I always hit the dollar bins a Target for lip balm, hand sanitizer, little packages of tissues. One year, I gave everyone those rescue hammers to you can break a car window if you go off a bridge or something. One year, I gave everyone condoms (may not apply).
posted by Aquifer at 10:55 AM on November 26, 2018

I'm tucking a pocket square from Tie Bar (free shipping today) into my partner's stocking this year. People who enjoy wearing blazers or suits might like something sharp or colorful!

Other stocking stuffers I'm gathering: a milk frother to experiment with lattes, DIY ball-bearing aromatherapy sticks (lavender to chill, peppermint for headaches), Tiger Balm, a zine-y cookbook about broccoli (many others available!), glasses cleaner and novelty cloths, a lucky coin (h/t MeFi!) plus lotto scratchers, DIY crocheted bookmarks, spicy instant ramen from Korea.
posted by tasseomance at 3:41 PM on November 26, 2018 [2 favorites]

Maths Gear in the UK has a lot of fun stuff--odd sets of dice, geometric puzzles, that sort of thing.
posted by duffell at 7:18 AM on November 27, 2018

Thank you for all of the wonderful suggestions everybody! I will be using many of your ideas to fill the stockings this year!
posted by bookish at 5:59 PM on November 27, 2018

I got a F'lint roller in my stocking one year and it was great. They come in all sorts of colors.

Fun socks are always great. I always give my husband socks. Joy of Socks has a good collection.
posted by radioamy at 11:19 AM on November 28, 2018

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