Does this sound familiar? First, you hang stockings by the chimney with care in early December. Next, you realize you actually have to put something in them by Christmas Eve morning. And so finally, you rush to your nearest drugstore to grab whatever fits in said stockings, while vowing to do better next year.
Well, next year is here. But don’t worry, you still have time to spoil your loved ones with totally on-the-mark mini-gifts. We’ve hunted down the best stocking stuffer ideas that delight the senses and are clever and useful, from VSCO girl-approved lip glosses to spicy honey.
We’re thinking outside the box (well, actually, the stocking) here. Whether you need the one gift to open on Christmas Eve that won’t steal the next day’s thunder or a little extra present to gift someone special this holiday season, you’ll find it here for $15 or less. If you’re looking for some more substantial presents, we’ve got guides for the best gifts for her, gifts for him, gifts for pets and top-rated Amazon gifts, too.
Anthropologie Lola Blossom Jar Candle ($14; anthropologie.com)
This retro candle, made in the US, reminds us of the ones grandma had — but in the very best way. The soy candle inside the opalescent vessel smells of citrus and sweet gardenia and will burn bright for 25 hours.
Greenomic Good Hair Day Pasta ($12; neimanmarcus.com)
Pasta lovers will smile at this box of octopus-ink spaghetti. It’s made in the Umbria region of Italy with the traditional process. This is the good stuff. (If you’re not so sure about octopus ink, you can also get classic spaghetti.)
Finchberry Grapes of Bath Soap ($10; ulta.com)
Handmade with shea butter, olive and coconut oil — oh, who are we kidding? Yeah, the ingredients are great, but you’re buying this because honestly, who ever saw such gorgeous soap?! It looks like a slice of glorious frosted plum cake with sparkles.
Customizable Notebook ($13.20 with code CNN15, originally $16; minted.com)
How many gift cards can one educator get? Your kid will stand out in the teacher-gift crowd by presenting this cool customized notebook. Useful, personal, and different, it brings a ton of bang for your buck. (Lots of nonteacher designs are on offer too.)
Welly Human Repair Travel Kit ($8.99; target.com)
Anyone and everyone can make use of this compact boo-boo busting kit. They’ll stash it in their car or carry-on so they’re ready for the inevitable cuts, bug bites and stings of life. Even gross airport touchscreens are a nonissue, since hand sanitizer is included.
British Rose Delights Bag ($11.25, originally $15; thebodyshop.com)
For the pamper-worthy on your list, consider this ensemble of indulgences. The shower gel, hand cream and body butter are sweetly scented by roses picked in Herefordshire, England.
Oxo Good Grips Avocado Slicer ($9.99; amazon.com)
Mashed atop toast, morphed into spicy guacamole or sliced onto sammies, avocados seem to be everyone’s favorite fruit. But pulling the pit out with a steak knife is less than ideal. Enter this handy-dandy tool, which makes short work of removing the pit and slicing the avocado up evenly.
Dreamer Sleep Mask ($7, originally $10; soma.com)
Whether your giftee works nights and sleeps during the day, has a roommate who’s up at all hours, or often needs to catch a snooze on long flights, a soft, light-blocking sleep mask is a boon. This one gets bonus points for the cute design.
Milk + Sass Macaron Travel Hairbrush ($12.99; amazon.com)
This petite brush disguised as a French cookie treat detangles wet hair and smooths dry hair in a snap. The cover pops off to reveal a mini mirror for fast touch-ups.
Genius Music Playing Cards ($9.89, originally $10.99; amazon.com)
This is a cool little gift for the music fan in your life. Each card features a portrait of a pop, rock, country or soul icon. Genres are grouped by suit, so all the rock cards are spades, and so on.
Bushwick Kitchen Bees Knees Spicy Honey ($14.99; amazon.com)
Foodies will get a kick out of wildflower honey laced with chili peppers — literally and figuratively. A squeeze will work wonders in barbecue sauces, dips and even cocktails. Try swapping it in for sugar in holiday hot toddies.
Murdock London Lip Salve ($10; nordstrom.com)
Winter-worn lips get serious soothing with this shea-butter-based balm. It heals cracks and smooths away flakes without looking shiny or feeling sticky. It has a nice light mint flavor, too.
Wurkin Stiffs Collar Stays ($15; amazon.com)
Dress shirt collars curling up at the ends is a common problem that can get really annoying day after day. Keep dapper dudes looking sharp at the office with these magnetic collar stays.
Rapid Beard-Grooming Kit ($13.97; amazon.com)
Beards are a thing again. It’s a great look — if the guy stays on top of it. Keep your hirsute honey from looking shaggy by gifting him this kit of grooming essentials.
Woodland Holiday Bar Trio ($13.50; seattlechocolate.com)
If you need a present for someone you don’t know all that well (think kid’s coach or secret Santa), chocolate can’t fail. The bar format, artwork by Frida Clements and flavors elevate these treats above the same-old. He gets one each of Toffee Sea Salt, Winter Orange Spice and Holiday Spiced Nuts.
Mpowerd Luci Core Solar-Powered Utility Light ($14.95; amazon.com)
What will gadget-obsessed guys (we all know one) get excited about this year? This cleverly designed little work light. It charges on sunlight, then lights up for 13 hours. It has three brightness settings, plus a flashing mode. It’s perfect for puttering around the garage or taking on road trips in case of emergency.
Coffee Socks ($14; boldsocks.com)
You can never have too many socks. They get holey, disappear, fade and fray. If his motto is “But first, coffee,” then these dress socks will inject wit into a drawer full of plain black and navy.
Five Oceans Braided Rope Keychain ($10; amazon.com)
The nautical vibe of this handy keychain will see him through dreary winter days by inspiring thoughts of summer adventures to come.
Pals Cow & Pig Socks ($9.99, originally $11; amazon.com)
If you can’t beat ’em — buy ’em purposely unmatched socks. This brand offers scores of adorable sock designs for kids that are intended to be worn mismatched.
The Noodley LED Gloves ($12.95; walmart.com)
If your kid is forever losing gloves because she keeps taking them off, stuffing her stocking with these will end that problem. What kid wouldn’t want to wear these gloves, that light up in a rainbow design with LED, forever?
Cheesecake The Rainbow Fur Fuzzle Guinea Pig ($11.25, originally $15; neimanmarcus.com)
We told you there would be something on this list too cute for words.
Wooden Mini Camera ($10.99; amazon.com)
This petite preschool toy is made of natural wood and features a neat rainbow design painted with non-toxic paint. Your tot will love it because it’s a super-fun kaleidscope viewer.
Smash Mallows Hot Cocoa ($3.79; target.com)
Hot chocolate isn’t hot chocolate to a kid unless it’s topped with marshmallows. These are fat, smushy ones that taste like hot chocolate, but happen to be gluten-free. Pop ’em on their own, or float them on top of cocoa for a double-whammy of yumminess.
Sprout Pencils ($14.95; amazon.com)
Here’s a clever take on making a kid’s essential also be fun. When each of these pencils gets too stubby to use, plant it! They’ll grow into flowers or herbs.
WhizKids Lab Real Bugs Specimen Set ($14.99; amazon.com)
This may not be your favorite stocking stuffer option, but a kid who is fascinated by insects and arachnids will adore it. The critters are encased in clear blocks that allows perfect viewing of their anatomy. Hey, it beats having the kid trot home an un-encased bug in a backpack.
L.O.L. Surprise Fluffy Pets ($12.99; target.com)
L.O.L. dolls are among the hottest toys this season. The stocking stuffer versions are their fluffy companion animals, so much more portable. Fill the ball they come in with water, and you’ve got a glittery snowglobe.
Hello Bello Bubble Bath ($5.98; walmart.com)
A bubble bath is never a bad idea. Tuck this bottle of plant-based, lavender-scented frothy goodness into a stocking, courtesy of celeb parents and creators Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard.
Eos Lip Balm Holiday Set ($7.99; target.com)
What’s better than one of these iconic sphere lip balms beloved by VSCO girls and probably your own teen alike? Three of them in yummy holiday flavors. We’re talking Peppermint Cream, Cherry & Bright and Whipped Vanilla Frosting. You have permission to steal one for yourself.
Heyday Wireless Charging Puck ($9.99; target.com)
A dead phone?! Shudder. This USB charger needs no cables and comes in seven colors. It has a light that lets him know when his device is fully charged (which will be quickly, thank heavens).
Exit Escape Room Game ($10.29, originally $14.95; amazon.com)
Escape rooms, where a small group has to work together to figure out how to “escape,” are popping up everywhere. Here’s the home version.
Earthbands ($14; amazon.com)
The beads of these bracelets are made with the soil (or sand) of a myriad of places, including all 50 states, many regions within states and especially beloved family vacation spots. We can’t think of a better stocking stuffer for a college freshman who’s a bit homesick (or just really proud of where she hails from).
Sojourner Holographic Fanny Pack ($13.99; amazon.com)
You may be thinking, “A fanny pack? Really?” Yes, really. The It accessory of the ’90s is trendy with teens, especially when they’re going to theme parks, concerts or festivals. This line (there are lots more colors available) of packs is see-through, so moving through security is effortless.
Skinit Gaming Controller Skins ($14.99; amazon.com)
Gamers can festoon their controllers and show off their loyalty to their favorite sports team at the same time. These Skinit stickers have plenty of options to pick from, including Disney and Hello Kitty, for teens who aren’t really sports fans.
Get it Together Pouch ($14; bando.com)
Destined to hold pens, makeup and more with vivid flair, these zip pouches will be a daily reminder of what’s important at this age: Be nice. Work hard. Have fun.
Amped & Co Mini LED Desk Lights ($14.99; amazon.com)
Many teens are all about decking out their spaces in their own style. This modern accessory adds instant edge to a desk, dresser or nightstand. Aside from the star shown, you can also get it in cactus, moon or ice cream cone.
Artist Print Tin Candle ($12; urbanoutfitters.com)
A cheery, pretty candle from this top teen brand is sure to be assigned prime real estate in her room. Covered in original artwork from independent artists, they come in scents like gardenia, acai berry and more.
Inked by Dani Temporary Tattoos ($12.99; ulta.com)
High-quality temp tattoos (these come in a zillion designs) are a fun stocking stuffer for both girls and guys. And if you happen to have a younger teen who worships a tattooed college-age sib, these are going to be a huge thrill, trust us.
Note: The prices above reflect the retailers’ listed prices at the time of publication.