Stocking Stuffers for an 18yo?
December 14, 2021 11:32 AM   Subscribe

I am drawing an absolute blank while searching for a few small, fun things to stuff into a stocking and I decided to outsource this to you guys. Parameters inside.

I am looking for small items I can actually put inside a holiday stocking. The giftee is:
-- an 18yo college freshman
-- doesn't like sweets
-- loves tech & gaming
-- loves Futurama, Psych, chess, Radiohead and also did I mention gaming
-- is about to experience his first Real Winter at college (though I already got him wool socks)

Send me your gift ideas, please!
posted by BlahLaLa to Shopping (34 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Toe warmers! You can never have too many toe warmers in your stocking.
posted by juliapangolin at 11:40 AM on December 14, 2021

Small form factor USB battery for charging phone & relevant cable. At least 5000mAh but the more the better.

Quality gloves. Or fingerless gloves.

If there's snow, polarized sunglasses if he doesn't have any already.
posted by Seboshin at 11:40 AM on December 14, 2021 [3 favorites]

An Anker Nano charger.
posted by essexjan at 11:44 AM on December 14, 2021 [5 favorites]

Best answer: Travel chess game
Lotion+chapstick (winter=so dry).
Fancy charging gadgets/multi USB dock
Terabyte backup drive
Salty snacks or jerky if he likes those
posted by emjaybee at 11:47 AM on December 14, 2021

Why get a USB power bank when you can get a combo power bank / hand warmer?
posted by Winnie the Proust at 11:48 AM on December 14, 2021 [5 favorites]

Best answer: Long johns/tights for wearing under his pants. Makes being outside much more comfortable.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 11:49 AM on December 14, 2021

Seconding power bank, seconding comfy long underwear/leggings/tights.

Maybe also the best flashlight according to Wirecutter, which I have and like a lot, and which is the kind of household item nerdy college freshmen might not have and might hugely benefit from.
posted by All Might Be Well at 11:51 AM on December 14, 2021 [3 favorites]

How much does the 18 year old cover his own bills? Because this is basically the time and age where you actually really appreciate a bottle of shampoo and body wash in your stocking if you usually pay for it yourself. Same with razors (they are expensive!). Being on campus all day means snack pack of nuts/jerky etc are often appreciated as are phone chargers and battery packs.

Quarters for the laundry machine. Detergent.
Gas gift card
posted by raccoon409 at 12:04 PM on December 14, 2021 [4 favorites]

YAKTRAX or similar over-show snow/ice traction devices.
posted by nickggully at 12:04 PM on December 14, 2021 [10 favorites]

Best answer: Carhartt beanie in his choice of colors.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 12:13 PM on December 14, 2021 [2 favorites]

If he drinks coffee throughout the day, having decent instant stuff in serving-size packets (Starbucks Via, for example, or Trader Joe's sells some though I find theirs too sweet) means one can get the much cheaper cup of hot water at campus cafes. Alternatively, or additionally, tea sachets.
posted by teremala at 12:13 PM on December 14, 2021 [2 favorites]

InCharge X or InCharge Max Cable.
posted by dobbs at 12:15 PM on December 14, 2021 [1 favorite]

posted by bruinfan at 12:21 PM on December 14, 2021

When I was a college freshman, I would have liked any of these things in my stocking:

Little bottles of ibuprofen, cold medicine, Pepto-Bismol, Tums, etc., as well as some Band-Aids and Neosporin. It sucked to have a stomachache or papercut and have to knock on doors in my dorm to see if anyone had medicine. (Or, worse, to trek to the drugstore.)

A deck of cards. (Mostly I used mine for drinking games tbh.)

Snacks like little bags of trail mix or jerky. Freeze dried fruit is good, too.

Lip balm.

A membership card to AAA.

A nifty multitool. We were always having to do little repairs to our loft beds, the crummy dorm furniture, etc.

Pepper spray.
posted by champers at 12:29 PM on December 14, 2021 [4 favorites]

Frixion Pens and Highlighters, they're a little more expensive than standard grade, but are MAGIC (they write like normal but are completely eraseable, seriously, the nicest to use).

I'd also look for a couple of blind bags/boxes related to his interests; 18 yes you're an adult but it's still fun to get something fun in your stocking!

Farkle is also a great tiny game that would fit in his stocking if he likes board games (you can find it in like, film canisters if you look around).

A disposable camera could be fun at a time of big changes, and would let him show all of you back home his new world at college.
posted by Sweetchrysanthemum at 12:31 PM on December 14, 2021

Best answer: Novelty socks (I recommend the Star Wars ones on this page)

Multiple cheap beanies (because he's going to lose them)

Is he in the dorms? Microwave multicooker and some Kewpie Mayo, and then you can ship him care packages of ramen, mac & cheese, Rice-a-Roni, and spam. These are also really good for making eggs in the microwave. (It's a large stocking stuffer, to be fair.)

One or more little digital kitchen timers, which are really handy for Pomodoro (and other timed study/chore) sprints, nap timers, laundry reminders etc. (Link to a 6-pack if you have additional stockings to stuff - can confirm these are loud and easy to read.)

Battery charger with AA and AAA batteries, for random stuff that still uses those.

Headlamp, which may be more manageable than a flashlight.

Something else you can spread around multiple stockings if you want - reusable grocery bags in the unstructured or structured style. They make good laundry bags, trash bags, the soft ones are really good for segregating clean/dirty in a gym bag or gym clothes/shoes in a backpack.
posted by Lyn Never at 12:31 PM on December 14, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: There's some fun stuff in the Radiohead Kid A Mnesia store.
posted by jabes at 12:33 PM on December 14, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Lottery tickets!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:33 PM on December 14, 2021 [1 favorite]

Sharpie S-gel pens are great
Stamps for writing home
Black nail polish?
Face wash
Hair product
Very long phone charger cable
Kinder eggs
Transit fare card or tokens
Tiny LED flashlight for keychain
Swiss Army Knife
posted by nouvelle-personne at 12:43 PM on December 14, 2021 [2 favorites]

A little bottle of hot sauce
A portrait of Andrew Jackson (i.e. small plastic photo frame with a folded-up $20 such that the portrait is the face in the frame)
A decal for his laptop
A telescoping pointer (why? I don't know, to poke people with?)
posted by dywypi at 12:59 PM on December 14, 2021 [1 favorite]

Thought of some more:

Combo flashlight/glow stick (useful for being visible to cars while walking at night or just goofing at your friends)

Hot Hands hand warmers

Ear plugs (if he's in a dorm or other group living environment). Also an eyeshade.

Hot cocoa packets

Extra gloves, those get lost
posted by champers at 2:10 PM on December 14, 2021


You already know some of their interests. Try searching for “gaming stickers” or “Futurama stickers” on somewhere like Etsy. Easy to re-gift to friends if they don’t want to use them.
posted by Drosera at 2:44 PM on December 14, 2021

Gift cards in small amounts for Steam IF he games on PC - there are small games on there that are under $10, he could easily get something fun and simple. Otherwise, if you're looking for a $20 gift card or something game related, you can't go wrong with Amazon or Gamestop (they'll have a lot of what he might want).

Insert Coin has video game branded clothing, including socks

Does he play Nintendo games? There are Amiibo figurines that double as codes that generate loot in games like Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Only works if you know what games he plays/on what platforms.
posted by Geameade at 2:56 PM on December 14, 2021 [1 favorite]

A good hardware store has lots of good stocking stuffers imo - mini flashlight, metal straw for drinking, the aforementioned hand warmers and multi-tools, carabiners, an ice scraper (if first time in actual winter) and myriad other amazing things you might never have thought you or your giftee wanted before. Could be a one stop stocking shop.
posted by rdnnyc at 2:58 PM on December 14, 2021 [1 favorite]

Dice, dice, dice! Twenty-sided dice!

I'm also a huge fan of those clicky erasers that are shaped like fat pens.
posted by yarntheory at 3:46 PM on December 14, 2021

Response by poster: So many great ideas! Keep 'em coming!
posted by BlahLaLa at 4:57 PM on December 14, 2021 [1 favorite]

I think a portable charger is the clear winner here, but at that age I really appreciated a good quality mechanical pencil and at a later age I appreciated a good pocket notebook; it’s a good combo.
posted by sjswitzer at 5:09 PM on December 14, 2021 [1 favorite]

Phone gloves or glittens for using a phone outdoors in the cold
Lotto tickets/scratch-offs
Socks (or other accessories/doodads people have suggested here) with pineapples on them (that's a thing in psych)
Unusual to him chips/nuts/crackers from your local international market
Etsy is a treasure trove of weird Futurama trinkets (stickers, pins, figurines), but shipping in time for Christmas might be a challenge
posted by snaw at 5:35 PM on December 14, 2021

Sounds weird, but a multi outlet power cord. I know they've come in handy for me, living in a house with not enough outlets in certain rooms. In fact, they will be stocking stuffers in both of my (grown) sons stockings. Plus it would protect their equipment against power surges!

Edited to add: bottle(s) of multi purpose body wash/shampoo. My kids love them, and it's something he'd certainly use!
posted by annieb at 6:14 PM on December 14, 2021 [5 favorites]

If they have a car on campus, get them a good ice scraper. This brass ice scraper is so much better than ones with plastic edges, and has never scratched my windshield
posted by advicepig at 6:56 PM on December 14, 2021 [3 favorites]

"Chopper" mittens, Tide pen, Netflix gift card, compact 3-plug power strip with USB ports (be the king of the lecture hall or library or common room!), Cusa instant coffee packets, Clif bars, gift cards for XBox or Steam.
posted by wenestvedt at 7:48 PM on December 14, 2021 [2 favorites]

Searching Amazon for 'futurama bender' yielded these results, among which are some enamel pins, some vinyl decals for car windows (or other windows I suppose), and some stickers all of which are small enough to qualify as "stocking gifts"
posted by TimHare at 11:15 PM on December 14, 2021

My sister's college-age son was so happy that she went to the drugstore and bought a load of crap he doesn't like to buy for himself - nail clippers, shaving cream, emery boards, lip balm, etc. Just roam the aisles and fill up a basket.
Also, a multi-screwdriver can be a life saver.
posted by Enid Lareg at 2:52 PM on December 15, 2021

Response by poster: Thank you! We went with wool socks, lip balm, lottery tickets, 2 beanies (because yes he will lose one; he has already lost the one he went with in September), a Radiohead item, and money. I also favorited "long johns" because it made me remember to tell him to pack his to take back with him.
posted by BlahLaLa at 5:13 PM on December 26, 2021 [1 favorite]

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