25+ Stocking Stuffers for the Whole Family

Nov 24, 2017

When I was growing up, one of my favorite things about Christmas was my stocking. I loved hanging it up on the mantle right after Thanksgiving, but not before sticking my hand into its depths and seeing if I'd accidentally overlooked anything the Christmas before. It was thrilling to run downstairs on Christmas morning and see all of the stockings bulging with unknown treasures (our stockings had little bells on them, and sometimes we were sure we could hear them jingling on Christmas Eve as Santa filled them up). And then there was the excitement of taking out each item one at a time to the curious oohs and aahs of the rest of the family who were being made to watch (there was no unceremonious dumping in my family). Most of the time, the stocking was filled with the same items as the years before: a toothbrush and toothpaste, a candy bar, a couple of candy canes, etc. But sometimes, there was something so unexpected and delightful, it etched itself into my memory.

As a mom, the stockings have continued to be one of my very favorite parts of the season. I'm always on the lookout for little, unusual things that won't turn into junk within the first five seconds. I thought I'd share some of my more successful ideas in case you're still looking. (Don't forget, I have five boys, so you're not going to find anything too pink or frilly on this list, but many of these items are totally gender neutral.)

1. Socks
You're probably thinking, She said she was going to share fun and unusual ideas, and she starts out with socks?! But I'm not talking about filling up the stocking with an 8-pack of standard white Hanes. For my boys last year, they each got a new pair of soccer socks in a fun color. I received this pair of library card socks (that I may or may not have purchased for myself when it went on sale). There are so many different options for non-boring socks (or tights).

2. Rubiks Cube
Aaron received this one last Christmas, and it has been solved over and over again. (He has also taken it completely apart, which is just what he does, but it speaks to the quality of this particular one that he could easily put it back together and resume playing with it, just as before.) I love giving my kids classic toys--something that Henry Huggins might just as easily have received in his stocking in 1965.

3. IQ games
We own this one and this one, and both have been played with hundreds of times (in fact, they saved us on our long road trip this summer). Each one comes with a book of puzzles. You set up the board in a certain configuration, and then you have to manipulate and move around the rest of the pieces until they all fit. It is not unlike the game Rush Hour, which I mentioned in my gift guide last year, and which would also be an excellent stocking stuffer (depending on the size of your stocking). The IQ Puzzler Pro is especially fun because in addition to the puzzles that are worked flat on the board, it also has a bunch that have to be constructed into a pyramid shape.

4. Musical Instruments
One of my favorite Christmas memories from my childhood was the year we all received a harmonica in our stockings. It wasn't a cheap plastic one. It was metal and came in a case (similar to this one) with a folded paper of instructions for how to play it. I still have it. Last year, Clark received a few egg shakers in his stocking. I also think these wrist bells would be fun. Or you could get a variety set and divide it up amongst the stockings (although some of the pieces wouldn't fit), and at the end of Christmas morning, you'd have your very own musical band (which you might regret).

5. Music or audiobooks
We are still old school and have two CD players that are in use every day--they are just so user friendly for little hands. So I love giving my kids music or audiobooks on CD for Christmas. Plus, they're just the right size to tuck into a stocking. (But if you've managed to phase out of CDs, a piece of paper with a digital code is even more space efficient.) This year, Clark is getting the Frances audio collection in his stocking. Santa might also slip in one or two of Emily Arrow's albums (she's our new favorite--she takes children's books and turns them into songs!). I could do an entire series of posts on great audio collections, but I'll just mention a few more here: Mercy Watson, Henry Huggins, Scripture Scouts, any Laurie Berkner album, and Here Come the ABC's.

6. Pocketknife 
What is it with boys and pocketknives? They think they're the most useful tools in all the world (maybe they are). Aaron asked for one last year (he was eight then), and I was hesitant to give him one because I was worried about him hurting himself or one of his brothers. But we ended up getting him this miniature Swiss Army one that has a really small blade, and it's been fine (for the most part--it's only been taken away from him a couple of times). It was the last item to be pulled from his stocking and was a happy surprise at the end.

7. Watch
Bradley, Maxwell, and Aaron all wear a version of this watch. I love that it's waterproof, so they don't have to take it off to shower or go swimming. They use it for keeping track of their reading minutes, timing each other, and being aware of the time so they can be responsible.

8. Flashlight, headlamp, or reading light
We've done all three, although I don't think we've put the reading light in the stocking before. Aaron has a big metal one that wouldn't fit, but Maxwell and Bradley both just have this little one from Ikea that would slip in without difficulty. It has held up remarkably well for being so inexpensive (and we were pleasantly surprised because we had already tried a couple other little ones that hadn't survived more than a few months). My kids also love flashlights and headlamps for games in the dark and for helping them find things. (If I'm being honest though, I kind of hate them because my kids always seem to want to take them apart, and then I find little flashlight pieces and batteries strewn all around the house.)

9. Sudoku or crossword puzzle books
Last year the three older boys each received one of these crossword puzzle books in their stockings. They brought them along on our family vacation in January, and they were a great little road trip activity. They've also been getting into Sudoku puzzles this year, but I've just been printing off a few pages here and there. This year, I think I'm going to get them an actual book of puzzles so they can just work their way through them. This one looks promising.

10. A piece of fruit
If you were a child in 1873, getting an orange in your stocking was all the rage. Now you might think it would be a bit of a letdown. But would it surprise you to hear that Aaron is actually asking for avocados this year? He loves slicing them in half, sprinkling with salt, and then scooping them out with a spoon. And although we often have avocados, I usually already have plans for them. So he wants his own that he can eat whenever he wants without having to ask permission. I can also see my kids getting excited about a pomegranate or maybe something unusual like an artichoke or cactus fruit that I wouldn't normally buy.

11. Altoids or Icebreakers or Tic Tacs
I think my kids love these for the case they come in as much as the candy itself. It's just so fun to snap it open, take or shake one out, and snap it closed again. Plus, they find all sorts of uses for the case after its empty.

12. Necktie
This one is a tradition for us. Mike and all the boys each get a new tie for Christmas. Because they each wear a tie every Sunday, they're usually in need of a new one by the end of the year. Aaron moved up to real ties a couple of years ago (last year, he received this one, which he adores), and I'm hoping Maxwell can do the same this year because the real ties tend to last much longer than the ones with a clip or zipper.

13. Card Games
Not a day goes by without my boys pulling out a game to play with each other. They love games. So nothing could make them happier than finding a new game tucked into their stocking. I think if they had to choose one favorite card game from this past year, it would be Skull King. I'm not exaggerating when I say they've played that game hundreds of times (it's a variation on the trick-bidding card games). Other favorites include Five Crowns, Monopoly Deal, Cover Your Assets, Coup, and Sleeping Queens. And although not card games, we also love the small games, Tenzies and Pass the Pigs.

14. Pens or Pencils
Christmas is a perfect time to restock our writing utensils, and I like to do it with pens or pencils that are unique or maybe a little more of a splurge (although, for me, I'm always perfectly happy with a big pack of blue Bic pens). One year we did these Lego pens. I've also divided up a pack of Fineliners. And my kids never say no to a multi- color pen. For journal writing, I love the Pilot Precise V5 pen. And of course if you get pencils that need to be sharpened, you might want to also get the best little pencil sharpener in all the world.

15. Craft or art supplies
Clark has loved using markers lately, but he is terrible about putting the lids back on (we're working on it), so I know he's going to be getting some new markers in his stocking. He might also get a new set of watercolors. This is our favorite watercolor set, although it could be a tight squeeze in a stocking. My kids love getting new Perler bead boards (you could divide up a pack and put in one per stocking), or split up a stamp set among everyone.

16. 3-D Crystal Puzzles
We have both the skull and the shark, and they're pretty fun to put together and really cool to look at once they're finished. There's a large selection, and my kids love dreaming about which one they want next.

17. Thinking Putty
I mentioned this in my gift guide last year, but it's still a favorite of my kids. They get it out a lot when I'm reading aloud (although I think we might be due for a couple of replacements).

18. Lego Minifigures
I'd be remiss if I didn't include this on the list since my boys have probably all received one in their stockings for the last five years. (Yes, we have a LOT of Lego guys at our house.)

19. Trader Joe's Chili Lime Seasoning
Have you guys tried this stuff yet? I put it on everything (eggs, pasta, roasted vegetables, etc.), and I can't get enough of it. I don't know that my kids would be thrilled to find it in their stockings, but I would.

20. Two-sided measuring spoons
We've had these measuring spoons for several years now (I think they were a stocking stuffer for Mike), and I love that I can measure both wet and dry ingredients without having to use a different spoon.

21. Tovolo Mixing Spoon
I heard Mel (from Mel's Kitchen Cafe) rave about a certain mixing spoon, and so I went to Harmons and bought one for Mike last year (notice Mike receives all the cooking and baking items). It turns out, it wasn't the same one she loved, but we have absolutely loved it nonetheless. A happy accident.  It has a silicone head, which makes it easy to use on any surface, but a metal handle, which gives it just the right amount of weight in your hand.

To round out this list, I'm going to share a few of the things that haven't been in our stockings before but which will be making an appearance for the first time this year.

22. Thank you cards
I feel like writing and sending thank you notes is becoming something of a lost art, especially for kids, and I don't want it to be. I think there is something really powerful in sitting down and writing out the words THANK YOU. As you do it, you actually become more grateful. I always have my kids write thank yous after the holidays, but they usually just use the cards I already have. This year, I'm going to put a few in each stocking so they'll be ready to go. Here are a few sets I think they would like: Animal Pun; Retro Chalkboard; Vintage Rustic Typeface.

23. Gift Cards for a Treat
This year I'm going to tuck a $5 gift card into each stocking. It will be to a frozen yogurt or ice cream place, and my plan is to then take them on one-on-one dates to redeem their gift cards. I try to have Mike or me or both of us spend quality one-on-one time with each of our kids, but sometimes the idea works better in theory than in practice. I'm hoping this will give us at least one date that is already planned (and already paid for), so it will make it easier for it to happen.

24. Sheet music
Aaron, Maxwell, and Bradley all play the piano, and they love learning fun solos. I'm going to get each of them a new song to learn and roll it up so that it will fit into his stocking.

25. Knitting notions
Ha! This one is for me, obviously. But I think anyone who crafts might appreciate a small notion like one of these. I have my eye on this gauge ruler, this pair of scissors, this notions pouch, or this cute tape measure. I think if I want any of these, it will probably be up to me to put them in my stocking myself. ;-)

What have been your most successful stocking stuffers? Please share!

For more gift ideas (not limited to stockings), visit last year's gift guide (which I still stand behind 100%).


  1. Do appreciate your Christmas ideas post, last year you 'saved the day' with your Wiggle Car recommendation, they loved those gifts, played all year on them, and all the visitors, old and young. I even have a picture of our young Priest playing on it ;-)
    So jotting down ideas from here to see what suits what child, thank you!

  2. Gift guides from trusted sources are one of my favorite things of the season! Thanks for sharing all these ideas.

  3. I love your idea about small-amount gift cards to be used on parent/child dates. We may have to do that one too.

  4. I get a 3-pack of pens with your name on them. Lots of places do them; I usually order from forteachersonly which has them at $1.09. There's a minimum order, but I'm also usually ordering other stuff so I make it. Lately I do cute catchphrases instead of names; this year I think I'll put the literal translations of their names (One son ends up as "slightly successful booze seller" which I should probably have researched before he was born).

    The other stuff is often bookmarks, a case of pencils (I still send PI day pencils in to math class in high school, although one is now in college, hmm), or whatever. I really like some of the other stuff on your list -- thanks for this post!


Proudly designed by Mlekoshi playground