“…and the stockings were hung by the chimney with care.” Still, it’s sometimes tempting to consider stocking stuffers a formality before moving to the “good stuff” under the tree. Truth be told, and writing as a Mom who shops for the aforementioned stocking stuffers, they’re sometimes an afterthought even for me. With that in mind, we’d like to bring some joy and creativity back to the stockings! (afflinks)
Although we have loads of fun ideas for gifts on our Holiday and Toys & Games pages, here are our family’s top picks for stocking stuffers for kids (and kids at heart). They’re simple. Fun. QUIET (bonus for highly sensitive kids and parents alike!). They’re reusable or recyclable, so they’re better for the planet. And for extra points, they don’t break the bank.
1. The classic Slinky.
What we love about it: everyone in the family wants a turn with this low-tech, old-fashioned goodness. And
long after the other presents lose their novelty, this one is still slinking around the house (sorry, not sorry). I don’t know anyone, young or old, who tires of seeing how far it can stretch and whether it’s going to get stuck on the stairs. It’s a sure winner in the eternal fun category for stocking stuffers.
2. Fake mustaches.
What would you think if I told you one of my favorite memories is my entire extended family
putting on fake mustaches together? My cousin’s baby kept trying to eat hers from her upper lip, so her Mama turned it into the most hilarious baby-unibrow, instead. My then-three-year-old mostly looked concerned about the facial hair everyone had spontaneously sprouted (but seemed unconcerned with her own). To be clear, wearing goofy things isn’t something my family would typically do. That’s part of what made it so funny. Before you judge me too harshly, might I suggest you try your own? Handlebar or pencil-style, there’s something for
3. Mad Libs.
Remember these? They’re pretty much the ultimate awesome stocking stuffer for word lovers and aspiring grammarians. I remember one night of playing Mad Libs when the entire family’s noun of choice was “pickle.” You can only imagine. We were all crying tears of laughter by the end of the game. What a fun way to connect!
4. A good book.
(Click the heading for our full list and an easy way to browse.)
Big or small, books are good for developing brains. With all the time we spend on electronics, there’s something really special about snuggling up and reading together. What makes our book list different from many others, though, is that we specifically chose these books because they’re “safe” (as my sensitive five-year-old decided). They don’t scare anyone in our house, and they have only positive messages, like this one.
Like that one, others like Rosie Revere, Engineer and It’s Okay to Be Different build self-confidence and acceptance (and even address the perfectionist in all of us, like –Ish and The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes). They help us relax and make friends like Scaredy Squirrel did. Some of them have made us laugh with Amelia Bedelia, or think with The Berenstain Bears Big Book of Science and Nature. Some warm our hearts like Mama Seeton’s Whistle Others connect us emotionally; my daughter wanted to read what she called “the loving book” at every scrape, bump, and meltdown, for years.) And personally, Zoey & Sassafras is one of my favorite series of books because it covers all those bases. Truth be told, I’m a book snob, and these are the ones that are on my “good list.”
And of course, reading The Night Before Christmas has become part of our Christmas morning tradition. Santa would approve!
5. Small puzzles.
Although we list some of these in our travel products (they’re great for traveling with kids!), we play with them year-
round in our house.They’re a solid stocking stuffer idea because they’re a wonderful activity to keep kiddos still for awhile, or a great way to play when somebody’s tired or under the weather. They’re great for building concentration. Plus, I love how reusable they are.
These 3D wooden puzzles are SUPER cool, as well.
They’re great as stocking stuffers, and they also worked great in an advent calendar for us a couple of years ago (we use a “surprise” system for items that are too big for the compartments). Our
kiddo had a fantastic microscope, so we let her STEM skills soar by giving her some new things to examine. Plus, we delivered them in increments rather than all at once, so they lasted awhile. Still now, years later, she looks at them under the same microscope. These were a great investment for us, and in her education.
7. Colored pencils and stickers.
Although these are a bit more “standard” when it comes to stocking stuffer ideas, they’re universally entertaining. Plus, they’re great options for the advent calendar, too.
8. The infamous Cube.
If my child (or my spouse) is going to spend hours lost in staring at something, I’d vote to replace electronics with something like the classic Cube puzzle! I’ve never solved it personally, but I watched a man sitting next to me on an airplane do “time trials” where he repeatedly solved it in less than a minute. It was incredible to watch. Can you do it? If so, how fast? How about a family challenge?
These are great for when I’m having trouble reading something small (I mean…cough, cough, not me). Seriously, though, I had no idea how much use these would get in my house. You’d be amazed how often my child has “had to look at something more closely” and goes to fetch these to help her. She might go for a couple of weeks without using them but ALWAYS remembers them and comes back to them. They were a solid purchase for our house!
10. Kinetic sand.
Looking for some moments of zen in your playroom (or your kitchen or anywhere else)? This stuff is transfixing in the very best way. We all end up playing with it for hours on end. It’s a great calm-down activity when it’s time to relax post-Christmas hype.
No matter which you choose, these stocking stuffers are sure to bring smiles to kids of all ages.
Now, if only I can get my husband to share with my child…we’re working on it.
And just in case you’re counting days, here’s the official countdown. May your Christmas be merry and bright!