12 Stocking Stuffers They'll Actually Use
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 make that money-wasting mistake this year. Here's a list of stocking stuffer ideas that may not be as fun as a Sky Viper drone but won't trash the budget or end up in the trash.
Related: 50 Unique Holiday Gift Ideas for Everyone Priced Under $50
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 a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles version from Colgate ($5.50 for Amazon Prime members). For someone who already has an electric toothbrush, consider stuffing a stocking with the correct model of replacement heads.
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 CVS or online at the Organization Store and other retailers.
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 $9 on Amazon in six color options for the new iPhone 7. Cases for older models are available too.
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 a $25 iTunes gift card for $21.50.
A movie pass to a nearby theater chain is another good gift to buy in bulk from a warehouse club such as BJ's Wholesale Club, where members can get a two-pack of AMC "black" movie tickets (they're good anytime and never expire) plus a $10 concessions gift card for $31. Buying directly from AMC costs $28, but that doesn't include the $10 to blow at the concessions stand. 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.
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).
Most people probably have a set of earbuds, but they tend to get lost or broken, so a backup pair is always good to have. For anyone who hasn't entered the wireless iPhone 7 era, one of Cheapism's top picks among cheap headphones is the JVC Gumy Plus in-ear headphones (starting at less than $6 on Amazon). Prices vary by color.
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 gloves ($5 at Target) 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 24-pack is $10 at Bass Pro Shops.
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.