Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Christmas Stocking Stuffers: 50 Easy, Frugal Ideas

     I love filling my family's stockings with unusual and useful items. They seem to love it, too, that Mom (and Wife) has been paying attention to their predilections and favorites.

     Here's a list of 50 that have worked for me. (Actually, there are several more than just 50.)

I look for them all year round online, at sales, during trips to the thrift shop (or on vacation). I'll also poke around at garage and estate sales, check the shelves at grocery stores (our Friday/Saturday store is a favorite) -- and even make things. 

1.  Flashlight.  Especially those tiny maglites that fit in a purse or on a keychain.

2.  Chapstick.  A holiday flavor like peppermint is nice.

3.  DVD.  Favorite sources: Wal-Mart's Black Friday sales (which were extended online this year), garage sales or our library's used book/video sale room. I just snagged Seventh Heaven's Season 4 -- for a buck!

4.  Gingerbread man. Make it a big one, iced with their name on it. Or one of the iced/frosted goodies here.

5.  Single truffle -- either homemade or purchased, nicely wrapped.  (Mozart Kugeln or Rocher chocolates are good, too. Small boxes of Whitman chocolates ae nothing to sneeze at, either.)

Did Mozart savor these? No idea...but I wouldn't be surprised if he did.

6.  Can of black olives. Or a jar of pickles.  This one is a favorite of both daughters, as well as our new son.  Beef jerky and 'slim jim'-type beef sticks have also been a hit.

7.  Gummy worms or bears. Or Swedish fish.  Our girlies always liked goldfish and animal crackers, too.

8.  Small box of a favorite cereal.  (This is especially nice for young kids who raid their stocking before you get up. They can have breakfast...and you can sleep in a bit longer.)

9.  Headband or hairbands.  Barrettes, hairpins. Or a small hairbrush.

10.  Pocket knife. Or a good kitchen paring knife. (Just make sure the cutting edge is well-wrapped to minimize any accidents.)

11.  Farmer's Almanac -- the latest edition.  They'll be able to compare the almanac's predictions with what really happens.

12.  Animal brush. For the puppy or kitty-lovers in the house.  Add a new collar for their pet, as well, if you've got room in the budget.

13.  Paint, color or charcoal pencils, or pastels. Combine with a small pad of art paper, for additional impact.

14.  IOU for time spent with you: lunch, a movie, a hike up your favorite mountain. Whatever.

15.  Christmas socks. Mr. Bean had it right:

16.  Small change purse.  (And/or a handful of quarters or dimes for laundry or the parking meter.)

17.  Bottle of cooking sauce: Vietnamese, Thai, Mexican. Or a bag of specialty coffee.

18.  Small bag of pretzels.  Or nuts, crackers, chips. It needs to be something they prefer.

19.  Blank writing journal.  Or decorative paper pad for making lists. Many years, I've also included a pack of thank-you notes. (Hopefully Daughters #1 and #2 have used them.)

20.  Book of stamps.  Come in handy with the thank-you notes...

21.  A single rose. Wrap its stem in damp toweling, or slip a holder on its end to keep it fresh. Miniature rose stems or a small flowering plant are nice, too.

22.  Candle.  (Our local dollar store had wonderful coffee-scented candles, presented in tiny decorative cups and saucers.)

23.  Gift card -- or promissary note -- for a new phone app. Something they've wanted, but didn't want to pay for.

24.  Microwave popcorn -- their favorite flavor. Or:

25.  Homemade caramel corn. A good recipe's here.

26.  Tiny bottle of liquor.  Our local establishment was selling everything from Smirnoff's to 'Kinky' for a dollar.  I bought minature bottles of wine in Michigan for the same price.

27.  Pint jar of moonshine.  Easy to make...and delicious. Recipe's here.

28.  A pack of cards. I'm partial to this Bigfoot set from Players:

29.  A small Bigfoot figure... so you can pose him peering through the window, making himself at home in your Nativity scene, or poised in your terrarium. Like this one, via Pinterest:

Fine -- this also works with toy dinosaurs, deer or other animal figurines.

30.  A fat quarter of fabric...for a sewer or quilter. 'Jelly rolls' or sampler packs are nice, too.

31.  A yard of lace or wide ribbon -- for decoration, or a choker.

32.  Bubble gum or jawbreakers.  Or their favorite candy bar...or a pack of mints.

33.  Handkerchief or bandanna.

34.  Comic book.  Or a Sudoku puzzle book. 

35.   Devotional...or another small inspirational book.

36.  Paper clips, binder clips or decorative tacks. Bright, happy colors preferred.

37.  A jar of jam. Preferably their favorite flavor -- I'd kill for wild black raspberry. (It's not easy to find, either.)  This apple pie jam is excellent.

38.  Miniature screwdriver set.  Good for fixing glasses, electronics or working in tight places.

39.  Tin of sardines.  Or crab, shrimp, smoked oysters.

40.  Permanent markers or pens. Or highlighters. Mechanical pencils. Whatever floats your recipient's boat.

41.  A pickle. Our Friday/Saturday store had fat garlic dills, packaged individually in plastic, for about 60 cents each. Really! Buy a jarful, and bag yours, instead.

42.  Unusual rock specimen -- like this Ethiopian opal. Package it in a small box for extra decorative impact.

43.  CD of favorite music.  Daughter #2 made me samplers, which were especially appreciated. (Except for reggae, that is. Bob Marley can keep his bouncy ways.)

44.  Aftershave or perfume, bath soap, body lotion. Or a:

45.  Bath bomb.  These are surprisingly easy to make. 

46.  Spatula -- either a rubber one for mixing, or a metal version for using on the grill.

47.  Jar of Paula Deen's house blend seasoning. Easy to make, looks outstanding in a decorative shaker.
     Recipe's here.

48.  Bag of raisins or dried apricots.  The Mama is partial to dates; they were a regular fixture in her holiday stocking, as a kid.

49.  Movie, game or concert tickets. Or a gift card to their favorite fast food stop..

50.  An orange or tangerine, in the very toe. A banana hanging out the top, along with a foil-wrapped chocolate Santa. No use bucking tradition!

Don't forget to include your love. It's the best stocking stuffer of all.

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