If you have a large family, you might find that stocking stuffers — despite being small — add up quickly. This list of cheap stocking stuffers will help you out if you’re on a budget. Even if you have a larger budget to work with and don’t need to find such inexpensive stocking stuffers, these can help round out your haul when mixed in with more expensive choices.
Prices will vary, of course, from store to store and region to region. In general, though, all of the stocking stuffers on this list can be found for a dollar or less (US), without necessarily relying on the dollar store as a source. That is, these are all items you can pick up at the grocery store, office supply store, pharmacy, Amazon, etc. as you go about your regular business. (That means you can use the dollar as an additional source of cheap stocking stuffers, on top of this list!)
Pencils come in a wide variety of colors and patterns to make them fun. And almost everyone needs them. Pencils as a stocking stuffer can be anything from a single pencil with a fun theme, relevant saying, or fancy iridescent finish, to a mechanical pencil (or refills), to a whole box of pencils for a prolific writer. You can even change this up by getting the extra-thick variety for a preschooler or drawing pencils for an artist or potential artist.
Whether one sticker or many, these come in a variety of styles, for a variety of applications. Children love stickers. So do scrapbookers. They’re also useful for jazzing up day planners. And don’t forget about the larger decals often placed on suitcases, guitar cases, or laptops. A similar, more unexpected option, is googly eyes.
Gum used to be limited to bubble gum or the classic 5-stick packs. Those are still not a bad option for tossing in a stocking, but there are so many more options! With a variety of brands, flavors, and even styles, you’re sure to find something for almost anyone. (Don’t overlook the possibility of buying a larger package from the candy aisle of the grocery store and splitting it up.)
4) Rubber balls
The classic quarter-sized rubber bouncy ball makes a great stocking stuffer! Although they’re obviously not suitable for babies, they’re often appreciated even by adults. Where I live, we can sometimes find these in a gumball-type dispenser. Depending on your sources, you may also be able to find other balls for under $1, such as stress balls or hacky sacks.
5) Glow Sticks
I don’t know about yours, but my children love glow sticks. The glow sticks are inexpensive and the kids have a blast with them. Bonus: glow sticks are consumable, so they’re one Christmas gift Mom and/or Dad don’t have to make a place for in the house.
6) Tissues – travel
Travel packs of tissues fit well in a stocking, as well as in purses, diaper bags, briefcases, and pockets. Nowadays, there are fun printed options as well as the basic white tissues. These personal-sized packages of tissues make a great stocking stuffer for the teens and adults on your list, not just the kids.
7) Cotton Swabs – travel
Perhaps a little less universally-useful than tissues, cotton swabs also come in travel packs. They are probably not a good choice for children’s stockings, since children might poke their ears, eyes, or noses with them. However, they can be a perfect fit for the stockings of frequent travelers or for ladies who use them to apply makeup.
8) Nail Polish
Nail polish can be fairly pricey; however, some brands are available for under $1. Nail polish is a particularly suitable stocking stuffer for the tween or teen girl on your list. (If you’re stuffing a stocking for a little girl, you might prefer a peelable polish to those that require nail polish remover.)
Nuts, seeds, and trail mix are frequently found at gas stations as a quick snack for those on longer trips. These are a perfect size for adding to stockings. Bonus: when it’s midnight on Christmas Eve and you realize you forgot the stocking stuffers, you can probably still find a convenience store open to grab these.
Candy bars may be an obvious choice for adding to stockings, but don’t overlook other candy options. Fruity candies make for a change from chocolate. There are also some “luxury” candies, like specialty truffles or gourmet lollipops, that feel “special” to receive as gifts, but are inexpensive as individual candies.
Bookmarks come in so many styles they really deserve their own post. If you really want to be frugal, you can even make your own. Suffice it to say there are numerous options available for stuffing stockings with bookmarks.
12) Cookies, Crackers, or Chips
Candy usually gets top billing when it comes to edibles in the Christmas stocking, but there are other snack options, too. Cookies, crackers, and chips all come in snack- or individual-sized packages that are typically under a dollar and fit well in a stocking. The choices here are really only limited by the preference of the recipient. Whatever his (or her) favorite snack, there’s a good chance it’s available in a small, stocking-worthy package size.
13) Playing Cards
Playing cards are so versatile everyone should have at least one deck! Keep them stashed in the car, your travel bag, and even your purse or briefcase and ensure you’ll always have entertainment handy — either for a game of solitaire or for any number of people. That same versatility makes playing cards an excellent stocking stuffer for all ages (except the babies, who are mostly inclined to chew them).
Jerky is another edible alternative to candy. This is an especially good choice for a diabetic or someone on a paleo diet, where the protein is preferable to sugar. It’s also a good choice for campers/hikers, and can add a more masculine feel to a man’s stocking.
Bubbles are an obvious choice for children, but many adults enjoy them, too! Bottles of bubbles come in a variety of sizes and styles. If you’re having a hard time finding small, inexpensive bottles of bubbles in more typical sources, try looking for bubbles intended as wedding favors.
My kids go through sidewalk chalk like water goes through a sieve, which makes this a perfect thing to put in their stockings. Other types of chalk make good stocking stuffers, too, though. Regular white chalk, colored chalk, and chalk markers all have potential, depending on whose stocking you’re filling.
17) Nail Clippers (or File)
Do nail clippers go missing around your house like the matches to socks? They do at my house — which means everyone can always use another pair of nail clippers! The older kids/teens often like to have their own, either to keep in their rooms or to carry in their purses. We adults just like to have enough of them around the house that when one goes missing there’s still a pair handy. Basic clippers can usually be found for under a dollar, although if you want to spend a little more, you can get fancy with this option.
18) Ramen Noodles
Individual packages of ramen noodles are a fantastic size for a stocking stuffer. Although college students living on ramen is a bit of a joke, these actually can be useful gifts for college students home for the holidays, as they may not have the ability to prepare much else in their dorms.
19) Small Notebook or Notepad
Small notebooks or notepads come in an array of options. There are spiral-bound notebooks, mini composition books, notepads with tear-off pages, etc. And don’t forget about sticky notes! Any of these are stocking stuffer-worthy up to about a 5×8-inch size.
20) Granola Bars
If you’re looking for a slightly healthier alternative to candy bars, consider granola bars. Chances are, you don’t want to throw a whole box in a stocking (although if it’s a large stocking, you could), but you can easily toss a single bar or two into the stocking. These are a viable option for almost everyone, from toddlers on up.
21) Cord Wraps
With the proliferation of electronics this century, we also have a proliferation of cords. Cord wraps for earbuds, laptop cords, etc. are a practical option for older children, teens, and adults. Depending on the style, these can even be quite classy and “special” — like snap-shut leather ones.
Kids like whistles because they’re fun. Teens and adults can use whistles for personal safety, when camping/hiking, or for sports. There are even variations, such as warbling bird whistles and train whistles, if you want to change this up.
23) Hot Cocoa Packets or Tea Bags
With Christmas falling right after the official start of winter (for those of us in the northern hemisphere), it’s a good time to focus on ways to stay warm and toasty — like having a hot drink. Hot cocoa packets and tea bags fit nicely in a stocking. Better still, they’re a great choice for both children and adults. (Be sure to get individual packets or individually-wrapped tea bags, not bulk powder or loose tea.) This can be a fun way to try new flavors.
24) Hand Sanitizer
Christmas is also, unfortunately, the heart of germ-spreading season. Help your recipient stay healthy through the winter by including a small bottle of hand sanitizer in his/her stocking. This isn’t a good option for very small children, who might suck on their fingers, but can be an excellent addition to the stockings of older schoolchildren, who are exposed to a lot of germs during the week, but have limited opportunities to wash their hands. Adults can appreciate this gift, too.
Looking for a Natural Version?
25) Coins or Cash
Of course you can put actual money directly into the stocking. Younger children are often excited to have coins of their own. “Fun” coins, like state quarters for those working to collect all 50 (or 56, if you’re including DC and the U.S. Territories) can make this just a little more special. Or exchange them for coins from another country.
A dollar bill may not be much fun on its own, but if you learn just a few dollar bill origami figures, you can add some pizzazz to this stocking stuffer option. If you just want to learn a couple basic figures, you can find instructions online. If you’re a little more invested, you can buy a whole book of dollar bill origami.