If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it is the infiltration of cheap plastic junk into my home. It comes in the form of birthday party favors, Dollar Store impulse purchases, Easter baskets and stocking stuffers.
So this year, I’ve come up with some ideas for practical stocking stuffers. I want to make sure that what I’m spending my hard-earned money on is going to be something my family will use and appreciate.
Please note: Practical doesn’t mean boring. It just means that your stocking stuffers will have a bit more usefulness than 90% of the rest of the ones you’ll find on the market.
Practical Stocking Stuffer Ideas for Kids & Teens
Hot Wheels or Matchbox cars. A classic stocking stuffer for boys or girls (I got a car in my stocking well into my tween years!) – you can’t go wrong with the inexpensive and durable die-cast vehicles.
Crayons, markers and mini notebooks. Hopefully you stocked up on extras during the amazing Back-to-School sales. New art supplies or notebooks can inspire your child to create (and give you a few minutes of quiet time!).
Mini LEGO sets. You can’t go wrong with anything LEGO. Seriously.
Christmas ornaments. Once again, look for these at the after-Christmas clearance sales and store them away until it’s time to fill your stockings. The more personal the ornament, the better. If you didn’t shop in advance, you can make your own ornaments or shop at discount stores for deals.
Gloves or mittens. I’m pretty sure my kids are not the only ones who lose gloves or mittens on a regular basis. Add to your mitten reserve with a couple of pairs in the kids’ stockings.
Socks and slippers. Funky socks or warm comfy slippers can be quite welcome on cold winter nights.
Small puzzles and card games. Small puzzles and card games fit nicely in the stocking and are inexpensive boredom-busters.
Pop (or soda, depending on where you’re from!). If your kids don’t drink much soda, consider putting a bottle of Coca-Cola or a nice Rootbeer in their stockings as a special treat.
Candy, snacks and treats. Every Christmas stocking needs at least one sweet treat, so don’t forget the candy. My kids love cookies, snack crackers and fruit snacks, but I don’t buy them very often. I’ll put the individually wrapped packages of these types of items in their stockings. They think it’s a treat, and I’ve covered snacks for awhile!
Ear buds. Most teens would appreciate a new set of ear buds for their MP3 player, and you can find them at a wide range of prices to suit your budget.
Lip gloss, body wash, or nail polish. If you’ve got a girly-girl in your house, they’ll love getting pampered with a few beauty items. Consider buying a larger set and splitting it up among more than one daughter (or daughter and mom!)
Gift cards. Save the $5 gift cards you get from Target whenever they have one of those buy X number of s certain product get a free $5 gift card deals. You won’t spend any extra money out of pocket, but your kids will have a little bit of spending money for your next Target visit. You can also earn free gift cards to Amazon, Walmart, iTunes, Starbucks and more from Swagbucks. No gift cards? Cash works, too! (Or quarters for the freshman college student with laundry to do!)
Movie tickets or Redbox rentals. Score free movie tickets and game rentals through mail-in rebate offers, My Coke Rewards, and Swagbucks. Giving the gift of entertainment is always appreciated.
Practical Stocking Stuffer Ideas for Grown-ups
Many of the practical stocking stuffer ideas on the kids list make great ideas for grown-ups, too! Gift cards, candy, socks & slippers, gloves & mittens (especially the kind that let you use your smartphone without getting frostbite!), and movie tickets and Redbox rentals are all fabulous fillers for adult stockings.
Here are a few other practical stocking stuffer ideas for grown-ups:
Towels and oven mitts. I’m the type of person who uses oven mitts and dish towels until they are nothing but ratty old shreds of fabric. Tuck a new oven mitt or some nice microfiber dish towels into the stocking for a useful gift.
Kitchen utensils. Sometimes I joke that I want to get married again just so that I can have another bridal shower. Kitchen tools and serving utensils always seem to wear out or disappear. Pick up a few nice kitchen utensils for the stockings. (Dollar stores can have surprisingly decent selections.). Got a guy who loves to grill? Pick up cool grilling tools for a steal at the end of the BBQ season.
Flashlights and small tools. Why is it that you never can find a flashlight or a screwdriver when you need one? Consider picking up some of these items on sale (or with a mail-in rebate) to put in a stocking.
Batteries. You can never have enough batteries. Really. Shop the sales and use coupons to save on this practical stocking stuffer.
Free samples. Watch websites like Freebies 4 Mom and Hey, It’s Free! all year round for great free samples you can get. I’ve stuffed stockings with free beauty products, coffee samples, and more and I love that it didn’t cost me a cent!
Health & beauty items. Use coupons to get items for free or cheap. A great-smelling new shampoo or body wash or a personal grooming kit can be nice to get in your stocking on Christmas.
The idea behind these practical stocking stuffers is to spoil your family while sticking to a budget. You can use the holiday as an opportunity to treat them to things they wouldn’t normally get, but that they would almost certainly use. And you won’t have to worry about cluttering your home with useless, disposable junk.
Mary Jane says
I really enjoyed your post. Like you, I despise plastic trinkets and like to both give and get practical gifts. Here are some other stocking stuffer ideas to add to your list: razors, toothbrushes, contact lens solution, glasses caeses, jewelry, dedordant, air fresheners and the list goes on….
Christina Brown says
Yes! Those are great practical gift ideas, too! When I was a kid Santa brought me those things, but I never really appreciated them until I was away at college! :-)
Amy @ a new old house says
Great post! I definitely prefer practical gifts.
Here are a few more…
Battery powered toothbrush with child’s favorite character on it.
A pretty change purse (maybe with an itunes gift card in it!) for teen or mom.
Hair clips / bands for girls.
New cases for mp3 players or hand held games.
Hand warmer packets for outdoors men/women (or someone who works outside in the winter!)
Christina Brown says
Excellent ideas, Amy! After waiting with the kids for the school bus this morning, I am now hoping Santa brings me some hand warmers!
Great ideas everyone. Another thought about gift cards is to check out the ones at Target if you shop there. I’ve bought gift cards that came with all sorts of “freebies” in the past including a barbie dress, Legos, squirt gun, balsa wood airplane…and you only need to put a minimum of $5 on a gift card. When my kids were little they would get pacifiers, baby food and board books. My preschooler is still happy with toothbrushes and Band Aids. One gift my son is getting is a battery charger with rechargeable batteries (gotta keep those flashlights lit). As for me…I’m partial to interesting earrings and chocolate. Not exactly practical, but appreciated.
Christina Brown says
Good point! I have seen the Lego Target gift cards, but didn’t realize they had other neat ones, too!
I think it’s good to have a few impractical gifts in the stocking, too. It IS Christmas, after all!
Santa (& the Easter Bunny) is in cahoots with the Tooth Fairy in our household and brings everyone new toothbrushes. Although this year I made washcloth travel pouches for everyone, so mommy is giving it to them.
I also try to put in things like a fun pair of socks, lip balm, and some gum in a flavor the kids want. I tend to put quite a few practical things in the stockings, but I think to make them designs or flavors I might not usually buy.