Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Gifts - Stocking Stuffers

When it comes to stocking stuffers I have no qualms calling myself an expert. My research, as I call it, is extensive, spans decades, and quite possibly may culminate in  a doctoral thesis if institutions of higher learning allow people to earn one for this discipline. I am a self-proclaimed authority on how to stuff someone's Christmas stocking. The possibilities are vast and this list will be broken down and even revisited. I do believe I can always learn something new, even in this department. If you have ideas, suggestions, and success stories you'd like to share/impart, please do so. If you are looking for some good ideas, for young, old, and anyone in between, please follow along. You may just want to print the entire blog before you go out to shop!
I want to begin by explaining that the most reasonable way to overstuff a Christmas stocking is to begin acquiring items all year long. Whereas it is too late to do that now (Christmas is eighteen days away), it is a good idea to keep that in mind starting December 26th! There is still much to do, and still stay well within a budget, to stuff Christmas stockings.
For Anyone:
Candy, especially chocolates - foil wrapped Santas, reindeer, Angels, and snowman look festive, but large bars of the recipients' favorite candy bars are also nice treats; don't forget gold-foil-wrapped chocolate coins, this recalls the gifts given in stockings drying by the fire by the true St. Nicholas in 3rd Century Myra
Gum, mints - Whether you choose a single pack or go for a value-sized amount, nothing is better than fresh breath
Nuts - healthy snacks that are sometimes overlooked; throw in a working Nutcracker if the nuts aren't shelled!
Lottery tickets - one or several, the $1 scratch off kind are a fun little bit of excitement Christmas morning to see if you won something
Mittens, gloves - for anyone living in colder climes, these items are necessities and, if bright, warm, and new, make getting "bundled up" more tolerable
Small picture frames - bonus points if you add a picture
Other gourmet foods - jellies, mustards, cookies, chocolate covered anything, cereal in small boxes, hot sauce, Rice Krispie treats, fudge, summer sausage, etc.
Best selling novel - paperback versions should be rather reasonable, especially if it was a best seller from a previous year
Christmas ornaments - find something that fits the person's personality, hobby, vocation, etc. Or just pick the cutest Santa/Snowman/Angel out there
An orange in the toe - or clementine or grapefruit; this is a traditional addition to the stocking
A box of thank you notecards - everyone should write thank you notes. Everyone.

For Babies:
Baby Tylenol and Baby Motrin - store brands are fine, but one of each for the upcoming cold and flu season; no parent wants to be out in the middle of the night when a baby spikes a fever!
Rattles - with lights, color, etc. Just make sure the sound is not annoying to baby or parents
Bibs - try to get thirsty, easy to wash, large versions that really protect clothing
Mirrors - for the crib; safety mirrors set in crib toys, etc. are fascinating to babies
Socks - there are such adorable versions out there, just make sure to get the correct size

For Children:
Hot Wheels/Matchbox cars - in our family we look for real models of cool cars and these great items, still well made, are often on sale this time of year for less than a dollar ($.77 just this week where I shop)! They are also neat 'fantasy' models
Silly Bandz - whatever the brand name of these ridiculous colorful and shaped rubber band bracelets, they are now priced far less than a year ago. I bought four packages for $1 Although banned in many schools, some children still enjoy wearing them during the weekends/free time. They are harmless and an interesting novelty
Lego Minifigures - introduced this year in a single non-see-through package, these items (about $1.99) are mysteries; you get one of 12 different designs and you don't know what you get until you open them. If other kids in the neighborhood get them, let the trading begin if duplicates occur!
Barbie/American Girl/ Build-a-Bear outfits - if the young lady or man in your life has one of these (are all of these) toys, than a new outfit is most certainly appreciated; the same holds true for accessories for these toys
Magic tricks - depending on age, get your child a single or several magic tricks and bring out a new side to his/her personality
classic books - Little Golden books, Judy Blume, Roald Dahl, AA Milne, EB White, Beatrix Potter, etc.

For Teens:
iTunes gift cards - let's face it, I want one, why wouldn't a teen enjoy this kind of music/media buying power?!
Diary/journal - encourage him/her to write his/her innermost thoughts; a lot less expensive than therapy!
Pens/pencils - students ALWAYS need these supplies, just try to make some of them fun with novelty looks
Tee shirt - from their favorite store at the mall
Wallet - with some cash or a  gift card inside; teens want to be independent and want their own buying power
Their own set of keys to the family car - you're on your own with this one!
Popular teen novel - go online, ask the town librarian, ask your kid's friends privately to find out what would be well recieved

For Young Adults (College-aged or Newly on One's Own):
A roll, or several, of quarters to do laundry at the laundry mat - priceless
Handkerchiefs - embroidered with an initial or design; the sign of a true lady or gentleman
Gift cards - restaurant gift cards are a nice way to "treat" the person who may not have much money to go out
Grooming kits - manicure sets, travel-sized necessities
Big tins of popcorn, pretzels, etc. - staples to keep these people going long after the tree is taken down
A classic board game - a great way to entertain and start their own collections
A proper deck of cards (2 in one container) - for Bridge, Hearts, or Poker (or every game in between)
Poker chips - if they don't own them, now they do!

For Parents - with young kids at home all the way through to "empty nesters":
Homemade gift certificates for babysitting - parents want to get out, they just cannot always afford to, baby-sitting service is invaluable!
Movie gift cards - force them to get out and see the latest blockbuster or Academy Award nominated film
Restaurant gift cards- even a small denomination is a great way to honor mom and dad and get them to treat themselves to a night out
Pictures of you, their kid - and your siblings if you have any; in frames or without if they have hundreds lying around
Gas gift cards - especially if you always borrow the car and leave the tank empty
Netflix subscription - for the parents who haven't seen a movie in months (years) b/c of raising the kids
Refrigerator magnets - strong ones that hold construction paper masterpieces, the monthly school calendar, or anything else requiring attention; bonus points if the magnets are from cool places that have been visited by you or them
Holiday pins, earrings, and other jewelry - moms may like having these items to spice up their holiday wardrobe allowing them to leave the Christmas sweater in the dresser.
Some item with pictures - ornament, mug, tee shirt, notepad; these items can be made with personal pictures from places like Snapfish and WalMart

For Grandparents:
Flashlight with batteries - lightweight but bright, for when they have to navigate to the restroom while visiting you or any other travels they may be going
Pictures of the grandkids - any way, on anything, as many as can be gathered
A digital camera - if they've never updated or if theirs is older technology; get a sleek, lightweight, and higher mega pixel version; yes, it's expensive, but they're worth it! Go in on it with mom and dad and your siblings. If  it's just you, give what you can comfortably afford
A coupon for a day out with you - time with you is the best gift
A coupon for a meal(s) with you - you cook and spend some quality time


I have many more suggestions so I'll continue this topic another day. Look for bargains at your local Dollar Store, craft stores like Michael's or AC Moore, and discount stores like WalMart and Target. Scour your favorite stores at the mall (or their favorite stores) and look at the sale racks for merchandise at deep discounts. Don't forget craft shows, school and church bazaars, or the consignment shops. Army surplus stores are also great places to look. You are limited by your imagination and budget.  A little planning, a pile of ideas, and a desire to stuff those Christmas stockings to the top is all you need to succeed. Good luck! More ideas to follow in the days to come...

4 comments:

  1. Nuts, matchbox cars and Winnie The Pooh ! Sounds like Christmas made in heaven :-)

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  2. How about a #48 hat. Time for me to give JJ some props.

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  3. We actually have a stocking tradition in our family that I have carried on. The Lifesaver Storybook! Each of my kids get one from me and from my mother, who sends "stockings" (a small gift bag of goodies) to the kids each year.

    I always take the opportunity to restock essentials in stockings. New toothbrush, tube of toothpaste, deodorant for the 13 year old BOY. He will actually be getting a new razor this year. YIKES!! Cologne or perfume (ala Love's Baby Soft) for the two older kids. Maybe a new brush or comb.

    This year my daughter got her ears pierced, so she'll get some earrings.

    Since all three kids are into reading they will also be getting a book light to read by if we are out after dark. :)

    iTunes gift cards will probably be in ALL of their stockings, as will their favorite gum.

    Still haven't figured out extras for the youngest. He isn't into Matchbox cars or Legos. I'll probably try to find something science based for him.

    I tend to go overboard on the stockings, I will do better this year! :)

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  4. A walk through a dollar store can fill a stocking quickly and still leave money for the gifts you put under the tree.

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