Alyson asked me on Twitter about stocking stuffers for kids and husbands, and I was answering right along when I realized I was having a lot of fun, which made me think I should bring it over here. I’m going to basically cut-and-paste, which will be a little dull for those of you who already read it in Twitter format.
When the kids were littler, I kept an eye out all year for clearances in the party-favor aisle: kazoos, little plastic cars, rubber balls, those curled-up blower things, stickers, punch balloons, temporary tattoos, silly glasses/headbands, mini slinkies, mini flashlights, toy tops—really it didn’t matter what the things were, the point was to find lots of trinkets.
I’ve also had good luck with clearances in the toy section, though not as many because toys tend to be bigger. But Rubik’s cubes or similar handheld puzzles, card games, little stuffed animals, and those overpriced packets where you get one surprise tiny Nintendo figure or whatever.
And just kind of clearances all over the store. When the summer stuff cleared out, I’d get them new swim goggles, sidewalk chalk, water balloons. When the fall/Halloween stuff cleared out, I’d get them glow bracelets, new water bottles, new crayons. And so on.
One year there was a good deal on inexpensive electric toothbrushes (like, $5 each), so I bought everyone one of those.
I also put in tons of candy, and some novelty candy like Pop Rocks, Nerd ropes, chocolate in the shape of a dollar bill, chocolate coins, tubes of mini M&Ms, weird flavors of Hershey Kisses. And granola bars, and those cute little single-serve packets of Pringles. I go to the snack aisle and buy those dipper snacks: there are bread sticks or crackers or pretzels to dip in cheese dip, or Oreo sticks to dip in frosting. I get the snack-packs of things like Teddy Grahams and mini Chips Ahoy. Oh, and Pez dispensers, with refills. Lots of the kinds of things that caught their eyes when they were shopping with me.
I get them stuff that I would have just bought them anyway, like new socks or new gloves. Basically if they need something in November or December, and it’s not an immediate need, I get it for the stocking. Or I’ll get them things that are mostly practical but cost a little more because they’re fancy: character underwear, cute socks, fun bandaids.
For Paul, I get candy and snacks. We have a beer store near us, so I get him one single fun expensive beer. Sometimes I get a few of those little tiny bottles of liquor. Last year after Christmas there was a 70%-off clearance on an ice scraper with a built-in mitt, so I got him that and put it aside for this year. I get him an inexpensive kitchen gadget, like a dough docker or a squash scraper. If during the year I hear him cursing because he can’t find his duct tape or tiny screwdrivers or utility knife or hex keys or other inexpensive tool, I’ll get a new one and put it in his stocking. I usually give him a Google Play gift card for his phone.
One year a toothpaste company came out with three weird new flavors, and they had sample sizes available, so I got him those. Sometimes I put in a new toothbrush, even though he could just reach into the bathroom closet and get one out of the box. He mentioned needing a portable toothbrush for work, so I got him a folding one from the travel section. One year I gave him a silly contact lens case.
I generally get him a new Big Ass Brick of Soap, and this year I also got him bar shampoo and an old-fashioned deck of cards, because I needed a few things to get up to the free-shipping deal. And on Black Friday, the ACLU had a $10 t-shirt deal so he’s getting one of those in his stocking, and so am I.