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65+ Stocking Stuffers that aren’t Junk, Waste, or Clutter

Unique Kantha Stockings

If you’ve been around Shop Good a while, you may have gotten a sense that I have a mini passion about no “junk”, especially when it comes to toys and knick-knacks. In our house, we are less-than-average housekeepers, and having little bits & pieces journeying around the house (thanks to our 3 young kids) just adds another layer to the never-ending (and losing) battle of tidyness.

However, I’m not committed to full-on minimalism (or even half-on minimalism), and kids just seem to love little “things”. It’s a real-life tension!

The other problem when it comes to this time of year is that I LOVE stockings and always have. My big ole stocking was always a highlight and what I looked forward to at least as much as the “red ribbon” gift under the tree. Now that I am the one filling them (on behalf of my white-bearded friend, of course), it is definitely a part of the holiday process to which I give serious consideration (and budget).

Stockings must, by nature, be filled with small things, and, ideally, things that are FUN, too! So, what’s a gal to do?

Well, gift-giving and shopping are an art, not a science, so I can’t make any claims to hard-and-fast rules about what should go in a stocking. But, generally, I like items that are practical/useful, consumable, or legitimately valuable (in my definition, this would include items of good quality, items with longevity, items that will delight because they are specifically related to the recipient, etc.). Having little traditions that carry on year-after-year is great, as well.

Check out the list below for some starting points, and get to the end for some items to be wary about, if you (like me) are afraid of junk. 

Practical or Useful Stocking Stuffers:

I did not grow up with a practical stocking at ALL, so the idea of a Christmas sock full of shampoo & underwear is hard for me to wrap my head around. But, I do think that on a budget, it is a fantastic way to kill 2 birds with 1 stone: fill a stocking full of items they will be excited about AND restock missing, needed items. I also love that a stocking gives regular, everyday items a place to upgrade to something incredibly special or fun (with only a minor tweak or a holiday theme). 

  • Socks (upgrade: holiday or fun pattern)
  • Toothbrush (upgrade: lights up, fun design, or electric)
  • A mug, a bowl, a plate, utensils, etc. (upgrade: fun design or personalized to their interests)
  • Hairbrush, elastics, headbands, bows
  • Grooming/manicure set
  • Soap, lotion, loofah
  • Lip balm
  • Hand sanitizer or containers
  • Earmuffs, headband, toque, beanie, mitts
  • PJ shorts or pants, boxers
  • Notebook or To-Do List pad
  • Tech cords, pocket charger, fun cases
  • School or art supplies like markers, pencils, or crayons (upgrade: metallic or smelly markers, holiday pencils)
  • Flashlight or booklight
  • Bandaids (upgrade: fun patterns or characters)
  • Water bottle
  • Hand warmers (if you are in a chilly climate)
  • Shoelaces
  • Exercise accessories, like slides, loops, gloves
  • Wool or needles/hook for a knitter or crochet-er (? Is that a word?)  

Questionably useful:

If this thing will actually be useful, great! If it has a strange design, isn’t something you would practically use, or you envision it in a forgotten corner, don’t do it!

  • Quirky contact lens case
  • Bottle opener
  • Sticky notes
  • Keychain
  • Bookmark
  • Luggage tag
  • Stationery or blank cards
  • Sleeping mask
  • Ice pack in a fun shape, design, or character
  • Nail polish
  • Sunglasses
  • Slippers

List continues below... 

Consumable Stocking Stuffers:

These items will be enjoyed & gone before you know it, so no clutter. Yay!

  • Fancy tea or coffee
  • Bubble bath
  • $5 gift card for frozen yogurt, coffee, etc.
  • Pass or punchcard to your local pool or gym
  • Movie pass
  • Temporary tattoos
  • Stickers
  • Candy
  • Individually packaged hot chocolate mix
  • Bubbles (if you can use them outdoors)
  • Drinking straws
  • Astronaut ice cream or other unusual snack
  • Unique spice or specialty ingredient to cook with
  • Special jam, honey, or spread (yes, Nutella counts)

Legitimately Valuable or Delightful Stocking Stuffers:

Use your discretion! Will it delight? Will it last? Do I like it? Will they like it? These sound like obvious questions, but easy to lose sight of in the abundance of stocking-ready gifts (that may not, in fact, be all that great for your stocking) as well as the stress of filling.that.thing.up.

  • Airplane flyer
  • Whoopee cushion
  • Jacks
  • Parachute man
  • Harmonica (if you are crazy!)
  • Hot Wheels
  • Spinning top
  • Fold-up flying disc
  • Playing cards
  • Uno
  • Sports or trading cards
  • Rubik's Cube
  • Puzzles (jigsaw for kids, wooden or mind puzzles for adults)
  • Pocket "board" games like Farkel, Hive
  • Spring/Summer sporting related, like golf balls, badminton birdies, sweatband, jump rope (delayed gratification!)
  • Magazine
  • Sudoku, maze, crossword, or other puzzle mags
  • Paperback or classic novel (great value as they are in the public domain and are constantly being reprinted and subsequently discounted)
  • Glow in the dark stars or wall decals  

Year-after-year Stocking Traditions:

  • A specific treat (Toblerone, Chocolate Orange, Kinder Surprise)
  • Magazine
  • Ornament
  • Obvs: Orange, Candy Cane


Items I would caution against:

That sounds really dramatic, as though something bad would happen if you bought these items. Nothing will, except they will potentially haunt your countertops and junk drawer and corners of your room & cause you to curse spending any of your valuable money on them.

Products that are near the checkout that are clearly devised to go in your stocking. Sometimes these items are awesome and sometimes they are terrible. It all depends on how good the curator is and what they consider to be a good gift. Remember: Do I like this? Do I want this in my home (or whomever's it will end up in)?

Mini versions of things. It always seems like a cute idea – a tiny notebook & tiny pen! – but in reality, they just do not accomplish the purpose for which they are designed! There is a reason for the original size… Frisbees just do not work when they are 3 inches wide.

Shaped Erasers. If you find that you (or the stocking recipient) do a lot of erasing, then by all means, buy away. But, in my experience, when I need to erase something, I still reach for the white, useful eraser, while the small hamburger or flower shape are what I find mysteriously under my pillow or in my shoe.

Candles. Candles are a very easy gift to purchase, because they are a great size, good price point, and you don't have to know anything about the person for whom you are buying it. If the one receiving it is someone who actually lights candles, then go for it! If not, pass.

Quirky versions of something that makes you think it would be a perfect stocking stuffer. Yes, my husband wears glasses, but really, why do I need another bottle opener, just because this one is in the shape of glasses? I have fallen for this a number of times in my quest to fill the man's stocking. It's so hard! We already have, like 3 bottle openers shaped like things. So unneccessary!  

“Desktop {something}”. Because men's stockings are notoriously difficult to fill, there are all kinds of products created to fill the gap. They are so fun & quirky! And, often, ridiculous... Like the "mini" things above, if something is a "desktop" activity (bowling, billiards): proceed with caution (or maybe just a little discernment).

What about you? Any great hits or misses of stockings past? Share in the comments below.

Shop Our One-of-a-Kind Stockings:

“I love these stockings! They're beautifully stitched, and each print is unique. When they hang from the mantle, they're casual, warm and cozy, which is exactly how I feel Christmas should be! And what better way to celebrate the season than by helping to give dignity to someone else?”

— Julie

Stocking Stuffers that aren't Waste: Great Ideas to Shop Good This Holiday


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