EASY STOCKING STUFFERS
On top of holiday shopping this year? Prepared shoppers likely have a long list of what to buy, but stocking stuffers are often forgotten until the last minute, when useless items — often marked-up for just this reason — are grabbed in the checkout line out of desperation. Don't end up with gifts no one really wants by making that money-wasting mistake. Here's a list of stocking stuffer ideas that may not be as fun as a bit-coding robot but won't trash the budget or end up in the trash.
THE ORIGINAL SLINKY
Some toys are so timeless they never need to be updated, rebooted or made over to stay in style forever. An American-made original, the Slinky literally never gets old, and if you've got a kid on your shopping list — and if that kid has access to a staircase — you've got the perfect stocking stuffer for $3 on Target.
In a survey by the National Retail Federation, gift cards have been the No. 1 item on holiday wish lists for 10 years running. Gift cards fit easily in a stocking and usually can be bought in small denominations. For multiple stockings, consider buying in bulk. Costco offers members below-face-value prices on gift cards, such as two $50 gift cards to P.F.Chang's for $80.
A movie pass to a nearby theater chain is another good gift to buy in bulk from a warehouse club such as Sam's Club, where members can get a two-pack of AMC "black" movie tickets (they're good anytime and never expire) for $21. The ticketing site Fandango charges a $2 fee to send a physical gift card (and some "convenience" fees may follow), but a printout of the fee-free email version also fits nicely in a stocking.
BURT'S BEES TRAVEL ESSENTIALS
All natural and never tested on animals, this pampering travel kit from Burt's Bees contains cleansing cream, body lotion, hand salve, foot cream, and lip balm — all for less than $9 from Amazon.
Most everyone has some sort of protection on their mobile devices already, but swapping cases can be like switching eyeglasses or nail colors — a fun way to accessorize. One of Cheapism's top picks among cheap iPhone cases is the Incipio NGP, starting at $11 on Amazon in several color options for the iPhone 8. Cases for older models are available, too.
If practicality is the goal, you can't do much better than keeping cold things cold and hot things hot. That's exactly what the Contigo West Loop travel mug does. Stainless steel with a 16-ounce capacity, it's got you covered no matter what you're sipping.
Are you shopping for a coffee drinker this holiday season? Then you don't have to think too hard about the perfect stocking stuffer — and it doesn't have to be fancy to be good. A 36-ounce bag of the original Eight O'Clock coffee can be yours for $15 at Walmart.
CHARCOAL CLEANSING SPONGE
Made from bamboo charcoal, the Konjac facial sponge is 100 percent biodegradable and can be used with or without a cleanser. Right now, you can pick up one from Amazon for $11.
JOURNAL OR NOTEPAD
For jotting down notes or making a quick to-do list, a stylish notepad makes a good alternative to a phone or tablet. Give recipients the satisfaction of physically crossing off each item as they go. Look for cover designs that reflect their interests and style — perhaps a Van Gogh notebook ($2 on Amazon).
Don't let loved ones get caught in the dark if the power goes out in a snowstorm. There are lots of mini-flashlight options out there for $15 or less, including REI's keychain Nite Ize BugLit model for $13, which comes with legs that can prop up the LED light or attach it almost anywhere. A four-pack of highly rated BYB mini LED flashlights (batteries not included) is available for $10 on Amazon.
SCRATCH ART RAINBOW MINI NOTES
People have been stuffing packs of sticky notes into stockings since humans first learned to put glue on little pieces of paper. But you can up your sticky note game with Scratch Art Rainbow Mini Notes from Melissa & Doug. A 125-pack from Amazon, complete with wooden stylus, lets you scribble, jot and doodle in multi-colored style for $8.
TRAVEL SEWING KIT
It may not be an obvious item to add to a shopping list, but this gift is so practical that it's bound to inspire gratitude. A travel sewing kit, small enough to slip into a purse or pocket to save the day when a button comes loose or a seam pops, is about $4 at pharmacies such as Rite Aid or online at the Organization Store ($10) and other retailers.
Most New Year's resolutions have something to do with fitness. But instead of splurging on the latest celebrity-endorsed exercise contraption, stuff the stocking of the fitness enthusiast in your life with a tried-and-true adjustable speed rope, which has been whipping athletes of all stripes into shape for generations. This one from Target will run you $5.
There are many occasions to send thank you notes, get well cards, or birthday greetings throughout the year, so it's smart to have some ready. Pick up a box or package of blank cards at the dollar store or snag a 10-pack of pretty cards at Target starting at $4. The dollar store can also be a good place to snag other gifts, too.
The epitome of practical, the multi-tool is what handy people carry around if they can only fit one tool in their pocket or purse. This Stanley 12-in-1 tool, which comes complete with holder, is constructed from stainless steel. You can pick one up for the habitual DIYer in your life for under $14.
In many parts of the country, winter arrives in force in December. Gloves, hats, and ear warmers are much appreciated in freezing temperatures. Grab a three-pack of toddler mittens ($5 at Bed Bath & Beyond) so little kids have spares, just in case. Thin, air-activated hand-warming packs (there are foot-warmers, too) are cheap to buy in bulk and divide into individual stockings. A 20-pack is $8 at Bass Pro Shops.
Readers have been reading for centuries — and virtually all of them were limited to the two options of sunlight or candles. You, however, can brighten up your bookworm's stocking with the Mosaic by French Bull duo reading light for under $10. It's got dividing heads to change light settings and you can concentrate light by connecting with a magnet.
Whether it's for the artsy-craftsy person on your shopping list or you're buying for teens who just can't express themselves fully with regular ink, AmazaPens will definitely not go unused. A bright, bold, glittery statement comes with every swipe of the pen, and, you can score a 20-pack on the company's website for $18.
THE GRATE GRILL SCRAPER
Christmas doesn't exactly conjure up images of backyard grilling in most of the country, but barbecue season will be here before you know it. When it arrives, whoever's stocking you stuff will be happy you got them the Grate — the universal, non-damaging brass cleaner that works for all gas grills. Amazon is currently unloading them for less than $15.
If someone on your list has a dog, and that dog has a neck and a head, a leash like this 16-foot retractable one for big dogs from Flexi, is the perfect stocking stuffer. You can grab one at Walmart for $16.
When you stuff a stocking with the Insignia 4-Device Universal Remote ($30), you give the gift of total control over multiple devices. You can upgrade a lucky someone's home theater system with a remote that works with more than 150 televisions.
Give the gift of organization this year, with a large 2019 daily planner and appointment bookfrom Staples. You can keep the entire year in order without a single missed appointment for $33.
MAGNETIC TOOL WRISTBAND
When the handyman or woman in your life attaches the Magnelex wrist band, it catches and holds screws, nails, nuts, bolts and anything metal. This way, your favorite DIYer can keep both hands free without holding nails between their lips, which is gross and probably not safe. Amazon is selling them for less than $17.
In the winter, there are two types of people: Those who have chapped lips and those who got lip balm as stocking stuffers. With eos' pomegranate raspberry organic lip balm, you can make sure the person you care about falls into category No. 2. It's 100 percent natural and contains no petroleum — plus it comes in an awesome little tub.
For under $6, you can score a 10-piece measuring spoon and cup set from Mainstays for the cook on your shopping list. They're made of durable plastic and are dishwasher-safe.
From TVs to computers to streaming devices, a good set of HDMI cables will never go unused. This 4-foot Rocketfish 4K Ultra HD cable can bring all kinds of high definition to all kinds of media devices.
Everyone needs a toothbrush, and electric versions that bring oral hygiene to the next level can be found for a range of prices. Some cost $10 or less on Amazon. Even kids might get excited about a toothbrush if it has cartoon characters on it, like an interactive talking Minions version from Colgate ($10 on Amazon). For someone who already has an electric toothbrush, consider stuffing a stocking with the correct model of replacement heads.
No matter who it's for, no matter what their taste, no matter what else is stuffed in their stocking, the people you're buying gifts for are bound to get something with a "batteries not included" sticker on the box. You can solve that problem with a 48-pack of Insignia AA batteries for $11.
Connect all kinds of gadgets crying out for a charge to a computer with a USB hub. These handy accessories come in many sizes and prices. A hub from Sabrent ($8 on Amazon) makes one USB 2.0 port into four, each with its own power switch.
CREDIT CARD CHIP BLOCKER
If you have a credit or debit card, chances are you recently received a new one with a little chip to for extra security. But where there's extra security, there are criminals who figure out new ways to get around it. This RFID chip blocker prevents new-age data thieves from swiping your chip info no matter what kind of device they wield — and you can get one from Amazon for $13.
SEATBELT CUTTER AND WINDOW BREAKER
This holiday give the gift of preparation with an emergency tool that the stocking stuffee will hopefully never need, but will certainly be glad to have if the situation calls for it. Get a four-pack for less than $18 and stuff multiple stockings.
DIGITAL VOLTAGE TESTER
Quickly and safely troubleshoot electrical issues at home or in the car with this digital multimeter from AstroAI, which measures voltage, resistance, continuity, and more. Amazon is selling them for around $10.
It's likely that the list of things duct tape can't fix is shorter than the list of things it can. Although it's hardly the sexiest gift in the world, a roll of good duct tape, like this Duck Tape brand basic strength roll, will absolutely come in handy. Pick up a roll at Staples for less than $5.
Turn one standard outlet into six and protect your home's power supply from annoying and potentially dangerous shorts with this power strip and surge protector, which you can get at Staples for under $17.
Few items are more frequently needed — and more easily lost — than a regular old ballpoint pen. A single pack of pens, like this 36-pack of Bic Round Stic Grips, is going for under $8 at Staples — and it should last until at least next Christmas.
It's not going to win any awards for holiday spirit, but if you're going for practicality, deodorant is a can't miss stocking stuffer. You can score a two-pack of 6-ounce Old Spice sticks for $4 from Target.
CONTACT LENS SOLUTION
Like deodorant, eye drops aren't going to be the wow gift of the year, but if you're looking for a stocking stuffer the contact lens wearer in your life will definitely use, look no further. You can pick up two 12-ounce bottles of multipurpose solution from Target's Up & Up brand for $7.
Make whoever's stocking you're stuffing this year think of you with gratitude every morning — or at least whenever they take razor to skin — when you give the gift of shaving cream. This 11-ounce can of Gillette foamy cream for sensitive skin is just under $3 from Target
Some of the best stocking stuffers are the ones that help the people who receive them stock up their medicine cabinets. Headache medicine isn't glamorous, but it's necessary and practical. Scoop up a 100-count bottle of Advil tablets for $9 from CVS.
Thin enough to fit in a Christmas stocking, shoe inserts like Fab Feet Footwear Cushion Petals from Target will evoke gratitude with each and every step. You can score a pair from Target for $16.
DIGITAL TIRE GAUGE
A thing that helps you maintain appropriate tire pressure might not seem like a glamorous gift, but your recipient will thank you every time a tire gets a little droopy and no guesswork is needed to figure out exactly how many know PSI are needed to get them out of that dark corner of the gas station by the air pump. This light-up digital gauge from Slime will run you less than $10 at Target.
WET/DRY ELECTRIC TRIMMER
The rechargeable Norelco OneBlade works just as well both wet and dry. Whoever finds this in their stocking will be able to trim, shave, shape and edge with ease, both pre-shower and post.
From hippie to hipster, yogi to yuppie, just about every category of human has something that requires tea candles. If they don't, they should — and you can light their fire with a 12-pack of vanilla caramel-scented tea candles from Chesapeake Bay. You can score them right now for under $5 at Target.
Even in the era of digital everything, there is one universal truth at the holidays — everyone can use some stamps. U.S. Flag Forever Stamps cost 50 cents and come in books of all sizes.
One side is sticky. The other side is smooth. Tape isn't glamorous, but it works. Scotch Magic Tape costs $3 for a three-pack at Target. It's not really magic, but it can make two paper halves whole again, and that should make every gift recipient smile.
SCREEN CLEANING WIPES
Your friends and loved ones live in the modern world, which means they have screens — probably a whole bunch of them. If they open their stockings and see Innovera screen cleaning wipes, they might not explode with excitement right away, but at some point in the ensuing days, weeks and months, they'll silently thank you while wiping finger oil sludge off their phones, tablets and convertible laptops.