Best Stocking Stuffers

Updated November 2021
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Buying guide for Best stocking stuffers

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house … people were furiously wrapping stocking stuffers to have them ready for Christmas morning. It would be nice if Santa really did all the holiday shopping and wrapping for you, but unfortunately, you're on your own.

Main presents tend to be easier to pick out, but stocking stuffers can be tough and are often left to the last minute. You'll need to think about the age of the person you're buying for since this makes a huge difference in the type of small gifts they might like to receive. Also consider their personal interests, since this can open up a huge range of options for you.

I1 
Christmas shouldn't be a competition about who spends more on gifts. Kids will be perfectly happy with a couple of small stocking stuffer gifts and some candy.

Key considerations

Interests

To help you buy presents the recipient is truly pleased to receive, consider their interests. Everyone has individual tastes, likes, and dislikes, so there isn't a single set of stocking stuffers for everyone. Somebody who loves coffee, for instance, might like to receive a reusable coffee cup, a bag of luxury coffee beans, or a box of coffee-filled chocolates, but a tea drinker or somebody who doesn't really enjoy hot drinks wouldn't be as enamored by these gifts. If you know your child loves horses, a range of horse-themed stocking stuffers are likely to go down well, but that doesn't mean the child would also like unicorn-themed items. Interests can include hobbies, favorite school subjects, work pursuits, sports, favorite TV shows, favorite books, and animals.

Recipient age

Stocking stuffer ideas for babies

It's natural to want to give your baby plenty of gifts on their first couple of Christmases, but remember that they're too little to understand the concept of Christmas and often enjoy the shiny paper more than the present itself, so there's no need to go overboard. These are some of our favorite stocking stuffers for babies.

  • Baby-safe soft toys
  • Teething toys
  • Rattles
  • Chewable bracelets
  • Bath toys

Stocking stuffer ideas for kids

As children get older, Christmas becomes a big deal, and they may even believe Santa brings their stocking stuffers, so now's the time to put in a little more effort. Your choices will vary depending on your child's age and interests. Below we've listed a range of stocking stuffer ideas for kids.

  • Small plushies
  • Collectible figures
  • Slime
  • Bubbles
  • Yo-yos
  • Finger puppets
  • Playdough
  • Candy
  • Playing cards or card games
  • Crayons or coloring pencils
  • Bath bombs
  • Stationery

Stocking stuffer ideas for teens

Teenagers probably know the truth about Santa by now, but there's no reason why you should stop your stocking tradition. When buying stocking stuffers for teens, we like a mixture of fun and practical gifts. All teens will like different stocking stuffers, but you might find some ideas here.

  • Wireless earbuds
  • Toiletries
  • Journal
  • Rubik's cubes or other puzzle toys
  • Gift cards
  • Inexpensive jewelry
  • Compact power bank
  • Sunglasses
  • Smartphone cases
  • Enamel pins
  • Tote bags

Stocking stuffer ideas for adults

You might consider adults too old for stockings, but many partners make stockings for each other, and some parents continue buying stocking stuffers for their adult children. As with teens, it's nice to opt for a mixture of useful gifts and some silly and fun options. If you're stuck on stocking stuffers for an adult recipient, you'll find some ideas below.

  • Portable reusable drinking straws
  • Socks
  • Shower speaker
  • Smartphone holder
  • Hand cream
  • Face masks
  • Small retro toys
  • Novelty bookmarks
  • Keyrings
Dyk1
Did You Know?
You can buy dedicated Christmas stockings, but some families prefer to use pillowcases or even an extra-large sock.
Staff
BestReviews

Features

Size

Stocking stuffers, by definition, must be relatively small so that you can stuff them in a stocking. The exact size limit of a stocking stuffer depends on the size of the stocking you'll be putting it in. If the stocking is fairly small, you'll be more limited than if the stocking is large.

Practicality

Think about whether you want to give the recipient practical stocking stuffers that will be useful throughout the year or fun stocking stuffers that don't have much of a purpose. Examples of practical stocking stuffers include socks, toiletries, earbuds, and portable chargers. Fun stocking stuffers include toys, novelty items, and TV or music memorabilia, such as pins or totes. Most people like to give a mix of practical and fun stocking stuffers.

Durability

Stocking stuffers should be relatively durable to withstand being shoved in a stocking with other items on top of them and possibly lugged around or dropped by the recipient while retrieving their stocking. If you must put fragile gifts in a stocking, place them gently on top, and try to make sure they won't fall out.

Some families with young children like to leave a snack out for Santa Claus and his reindeer, which adds some extra magic to the tradition of Santa bringing gifts.

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Accessories

Christmas stockings: Kurt Adler 20-inch Knit Reindeer Stockings
You'll need Christmas stockings to hold your stocking stuffers. These traditional knitted stockings have a classic reindeer design.

Wrapping paper: Hallmark Sustainable Kraft Holiday Wrap
You can feel good about using this holiday gift wrap, which is made from kraft paper with limited ink coverage so it can be recycled. Not only is it an environmentally friendly choice, it looks great, too.

Stocking stuffer prices

Inexpensive: Most people don't want to spend too much on stocking stuffers, so you can find a range of options between $1 and $10.

Mid-priced: If you have a little more to spend, you can find some excellent stocking stuffers between $10 and $20.

Expensive: Anyone with a large budget for Christmas gifts might prefer to buy more extravagant stocking stuffers. Although traditionally inexpensive, anything small enough to fit in a stocking can be a stocking stuffer. Expensive stocking stuffers can cost anywhere from $20 to $200 plus, though we're mainly focusing on more affordable options.

Dyk2
Did You Know?
The tradition of putting an orange in a stocking may come from the legend of St. Nicholas putting gold in stockings, or it might simply be because oranges used to seem highly exotic to anyone living north of the southern states.
Staff
BestReviews

Tips

  • Use your imagination. Although we've listed some solid stocking stuffer ideas to get you started, they're just a jumping-off point. You know the recipient best, so you can probably come up with some excellent ideas if you think hard enough.
  • It's up to you where you hang Christmas stockings. Some people hang them on the mantle, others on their door handle or the foot of the bed. When filling stockings for kids, think about how easily you can retrieve the stocking, fill it, and return it without disturbing the child.
  • Don't stress too much about getting your stocking stuffers just right. Spending time with loved ones is much more important than gifts. When buying for kids, they'll likely have forgotten what they received in their stocking by New Year's Day, but they will remember having a fun day.
I2 
Check whether any of your chosen stocking stuffers require batteries. It's disappointing to receive a gift and not be able to use it on the day it’s received.

FAQ

Q. Why is it traditional to hang Christmas stockings?

A. Legend has it that the original Saint Nicholas dropped three bags of gold down the chimney of three sisters from a poor family, and each landed in one of their stockings, hung by the fire to dry. This story is slightly different depending on the culture it comes from, but the gist of it is the same. This legend has transformed into the story of Santa Claus and is the reason we hang stockings at Christmas and fill them with gifts.

Q. Should you wrap stocking stuffers?

A. There's no right or wrong answer here. Some people like to individually wrap each gift in a stocking to make opening them last longer and feel like more of an occasion. Others see the stocking as the wrapping and leave the gifts inside unwrapped. If you like the idea of wrapping but are concerned about waste, use brown packing paper or another recyclable kind of paper. Note that thin paper with a satin finish cannot be recycled.

Q. What time of day should you open Christmas stockings?

A. Again, there are no rules about this, as all families have their own traditions. Some people like to open stockings first thing in the morning, then wait until after breakfast or lunch to open the presents under the tree. Some open both stockings and presents under the tree right after waking. Others leave stockings to be opened later in the day.

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