49 Stocking Stuffer Gifts for Kids and Teens


Hear ye! Hear ye! My favorite guide to make all year–the 2016 STOCKING STUFFER GIFT GUIDE. This is my thing, guys. I LOVE tiny shit. I study it, collect it, take notes throughout the year and spend hours collecting ideas for unique stuff kids will love. This year, I included a separate gift guide for teens with a little help from my teen nieces. While I collect a few treasured small shop items and handmades for stocking gifts, because we buy a lot of little stuff, I don’t like to pay shipping. So, most of these are from Amazon (no shipping for prime) so you can fill a box without paying extra. Opening stockings are also one of my favorite moments Christmas morning. We do ours before the gifts, and we take a long time going through each and every gift. Little treasures are so much fun. (Does your family put the orange in the toe of the stocking? We always had one growing up.)


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1. Body Doodlers. Washable face and body crayons. Now your kids can create all the tattoos they want, and they’re completely erasable. Great shower and bath entertainment.

2. Planet Bouncy Ball KitEverything you need to create up to 6 bouncy planet models along with a little science lesson about how the balls form and why they bounce.

3. Cow and Pig Mismatched Farm SocksA super cute way for kids to keep their toes warm this winter!

4. Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Heat-Sensitive Glow-in-the-Dark Thinking Putty. Brand new color from this company. Emerald sky hyper color changes from blue to green when it senses heat. We are obsessed with Aaron’s Thinking Putty over here. It’s so much fun to play with.

5. Galaxy Planet Earring SetThis earring set is (wait, here it comes the cheesy pun) out of this world! A tad iridescent, these simple round studs capture the magic of outer space with swirly galactic colors.

6. Me Too Elephant DollWe have a tradition of a new plush peeking out of our stockings, and I love finding the perfect one every year. The Me Too dolls come in a variety of animal characters, and are adorably dressed.

7. Color Changing Hanky Magic Trick. Impressive magic tricks are always a hit with kids, especially if they get to be the magician.

8. Cat StaxCat Stax is a puzzle game that challenges you to arrange and stack up the 12 included cat pieces so they all fit in the grid–kind of like Cat Tetris.

9. Magic Color Changing Straws. A great way to make mealtime fun throughout the holidays.

10. Hexbug Scarab moves at lightning speed across the floor. Dash is going to LOVE this. For a little cheaper Hexbug, try the Nano cat toy–it’s basically a kid toy with a cat thrown on the packaging to expand the market.

11. Seedling Little Jump Frog Game. A classic game for all ages, this one comes packaged in a cute little jar that can be slipped to the toe of the stocking.

12. Boon Jellies Suction Cup Bath Toys. Best bath toy ever and great for all ages. I even find myself popping these off the wall and reattaching them when I’m taking a shower.

13. Clown Fish Water Wiggler. Remember these from when we were kids? Kids will love the challenge of keeping it in their grip (those slippery little devils can wiggle!), and the little Nemo fish makes it even cuter.

14. Space Torch. Nicely priced and great way to add some fun to bedtime. This little torch projects space scenes on the wall or ceiling in a dark room.

15. Creatibles DIY Erasers. All those fun mini erasers your kids love? Now they can create their own with this eraser clay.

16. Love Chic Fragrance for Little Girls (or Little Boys). New toiletries are great for stockings, and this soft sweet fragrance is made just for little people.

17. Perfume Atomizer. Up the ante on the above perfume and slip a fancy perfume atomizer in the stocking. It will look chic on any little girl’s dresser, and they’ll love the act of spritzing their fragrance like all the fancy ladies.

18. Worry Eaters. I discovered these this year and fell in love–not only a great tool for stress/anxiety therapy for kids, but also a fun communication tool. The zipper mouth on these plush critters creates a safe place for kids to tuck their worries. Kids are encouraged to write or draw their worries and place them in the worry eater, and he’ll hold them for you. Also great for love notes between parents and kids. Plus, they’re adorable–check out the entire line.

19. Egg Splat Ball. I admit, my inner kid comes out when I see these splat balls. Throw them on the ground, and they spread out flat before quickly taking shape again.

20. Girls Adjustable Fashion Ring Pack. 36 adjustable jewel rings for $5.99 means you can afford to lose some (which, let’s be honest, is what happens to all rings for kids).

21. Cat & Jack Panda Necklace. All hail Cat & Jack–makers of the cutest affordable clothes and accessories for kids, at Target. This little panda necklace is right on playful, colorful and right on trend.

22. Elmo Fork & Spoon Set. They might even eat the brussel sprouts with this cute silverware set.

23. Flash Rocks. 2 quartz rocks with piezoelectric properties–they spark and glow in the dark when you rub them together

24. UV Touchable Bubbles. Durable bubbles you can touch and hold–and they glow under a black light!

25. Folding Metal Spoon Trick. Pranks are the perfect gift–boys and girls both love them, and nothing makes a kid happier than tricking an adult. Just remember, you’ll be the brunt of the joke real soon.

26. Kanoodle Game. Award winning brain-teaser solo game, and perfect for car/plane holiday travel

27. Detergent Eraser SetLainey takes after her mama in loving tiny trinkets. The holy grail of tiny trinkets lies in the stationery world, and there isn’t a kawaii treasure we haven’t fallen in love with. These little detergent erasers? Be still my heart.

28. Folkmanis Mini Panda Finger Puppet. The little ones in our house love puppets, and Folkmanis has been one of our favorite puppet makers for years. Their line of mini puppets is to die for–inexpensive, well made and the perfect size to tuck in stockings.

Honorable Mention: Get thee to Forever 21. They have tons of inexpensive accessories–hair stuff, jewelry, socks, plus all those bins by the checkout–lip glosses, eye masks, cute brushes, sunglasses, makeup cases–are great for stocking stuffers.


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1. Nose Pencil Sharpener Whether they’re sharpening a new eyeliner or a pencil for their midterm, up the nostril is the only way to go. That sharpener is a real crowd pleaser. (see what I did there? Mannequin Challenge song? Didn’t catch that? I’m trying too hard? Okay, thanks.)

2. Money Toilet Paper. While they’re saving their babysitting money for something cool, they can spend these 100s as fast as they want in their bathrooms.

3. Brown Eggs Succulent PlantersOkay, so maybe these are a little too big to shove in a stocking, but I couldn’t leave them off the teen list because teens like cool bedroom stuff, teens are aware of what’s on trend, and succulents so are. So there. Love these. I might just snag one for my own dresser.

4. Edgar Allen Poe Tattoos. Make that American literature class they’re taking come alive with these awesome Edgar Allen Poe tattoos.

5. Would You Rather Card Game. A teen favorite, this card came is full of dilemmas that you have to choose from. Such as: Would you rather have to tweet honestly about your life every ten minutes or (wait for it) have your parents tweet about theirs? OH MY GOD, CHOOSE THE FIRST. The opposite player predicts what you chose to rack up points. A fun game for all ages at holiday gatherings.

6. Bath and Body Works Sleep Aromatherapy Pillow Spray Teens needs a lot of sleep for their growth spurts. Make it sweeter with some relaxing pillow spray. We spray this “sweet dream” spray on our pillows every night, and we love it.

7. 6-color Retractable Pen. Remember 4-color pens that were all the rage when we were kids? Enter the SIX color pen. One pen, all the colors.

8. My Audio Pet Mini Bluetooth Speaker A little over the normal stocking stuffer budget ($25), but you could fill the rest of the stocking with wadded paper, and they won’t care. This cheeky little speaker is small enough to keep with them wherever they go and wireless, so they can pump up their phone tunes no matter where they are–the beach, the ski hill, the bathroom while they’re getting ready.

9. Tiny Copper Twinkle Lights. So, here’s a way to find out if this is right for your kid. 2 questions: Do they have a bedroom? And do they have a soul? According to the by-laws of Enjoying the Small Things Happiness Makers, if you answered yes to both of those questions, then twinkle lights are right for you.

10. Lokai Bracelet Set. Apparently these are all the rage with teen girls. Throw six in their stocking, and you’re the cool mom.

11. Talking Bubble Sticky Notes Talking bubbles are fun to add to photos, pencil in inappropriate messages or stick to the fridge with messages “MOM! WE NEED MILK!”.

12. NASA Graphic Tee. A teen can never have too many funky graphic tees. Enough said.

13. Ear Buddies Ear Phones Less than $6, these funny ear phones are sure to garner a laugh. I mean, they’re EARS you stick in your ears.

14. Shakespearean Insult Bandages. “Thy breath stinks with eating toasted cheese.” I mean, these are perfect. And no one will have cooler BandAids at school. The days of putting BandAids on imaginary boo boos just came back.

15. Blue Q Jumbo Zipper Pouch I’ve expressed my love for Blue Q many times on this blog before (they are very committed to hiring people with special needs and creating an inclusive work community), and when it comes to Christmas and that uncle/cousin/niece you don’t know how to shop for, they’re your answer–super fun conversation pieces that don’t cost much–socks, makeup cases, tin banks, soaps, etc. This jumbo zipper pouch works great as a makeup case for teen girls.

16. Round Mirror Sunglasses: Less than $8 and comes in a little case, these retro round sunglasses will score you some major points with your teen daughter (those cute selfies!).

17. Beach Break Mini Sandbox. Teens like the beach. Teens get bored. This little sandbox attends to both of those needs and is a great pick-me-up for frigid days up north. For their desk, for their dresser, this tiny beach has everything they need.

18. Emoji Suction Cup CharmsTechnically, these are cup identifiers, but they’ll stick to anything–the bathroom mirror, the inside of a locker door, windows. And they’re super fun for teens.

19. Polaroid Clip-On 3-in-1 Lens for Phone (fish-eye, wide angle and macro)

20. Moon Night LightMoons are cool with every crowd, so this nightlight is sure to be a hit.

21. Handerpants Don’t ask me why your kid needs handerpants, but trust me, they do. Especially if they’re in the formative years of figuring life out (aren’t we all there?). I mean, underwear for hands?! Who knew. You could very well earn the favorite mom award with this weird yet hilarious gift that will at least make for some great holiday photos and entertain grandparents and little cousins for Christmas dinner. You might have to draw the line somewhere though–like maybe when your son goes to reach for the gravy and he’s still wearing them. “Mikey! That’s enough! Handerpants OFF!!”

24 of the Best Children’s Holiday Books for Advent Countdown


When Lainey was about two years old, one of my friends had the brilliant idea of hitting Barnes & Noble the day after Christmas to scrape up as many kids’ holiday books we could get our hands on, for 75% off. The goal was to stash them away in a closet and pull them out each night in December the following year. I started a great collection that year and have since expanded our compilation slowly so that we now have 24 of our very favorite winter and Christmas-themed books.

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This year, our advent calendar is going to be focused on reading together before bed–books that celebrate everything we love about the season. Even though the kids have already seen several of the books, I wrapped each of them up to add the excitement of surprise and opening a gift together. To bring a little more fun to the tradition, several of the books have added treats and instructions on where and how the book should be read…

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Hot cocoa and a fort for one…

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Popcorn under the stars for another…

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And a S’mores kit for a reading session under our twinkle lights on the lanai.

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Since 24 books can be a hefty cost (we built our collection over the years), a few tips if you’re interested:

*Buy paperback books if available: much cheaper, and they shouldn’t get too much wear and tear if you tuck them away after the holiday to save for next year.
*Buy used books: While it might take a little longer to receive and cost you a few dollars for shipping, it often still works out to be a great deal–many used books on Amazon cost literally only pennies.
*Rotate books: Find a few mom friends who want to join the tradition and each commit to buying 4-5 different books and rotating them at the end of the week. Let your kids wrap them up for the next recipients.
*Check them out at your library. If you’re a regular library visitor, check out 7 each week, and swap them out every Friday.

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I can easily gush about children’s literature–kids books are one of my great loves–and I’ve included a list of the favorite Christmas books in our collection at the end of this post, but first: a few ideas to bring a little holiday sparkle to your book ritual.

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*Buy an extra copy of one of the books (preferably an inexpensive one) and have it sent to a family member or friend far away. On the evening that book is opened, include the instructions: “For tonight’s book, Grandma is waiting for a FaceTime call. She will be reading you the story while you follow along.” I had one sent to my mom in New York and can’t wait to hear her read it to the kids while we’re snuggled together looking at the pictures.

*Have fun with changing up where the book is to be read and who reads it. Beds are cozy and an obvious choice for bedtime reading sessions, but kids will love the excitement of changing up the instructions: “Take a flashlight and a blanket outside, and read this book under the stars.” “Get a bubble bath ready. Mom will read this one to you while you’re in the tub tonight.” “Dad reads tonight, but build a blanket fort in the living room first. He’ll meet you there for the story.”

*On the outside, tape snacks or treats to be enjoyed while you read–cocoa packets, microwave popcorn, Hershey’s kisses.

*Try the audio version for a couple (especially longer/wordier stories). You’ll love quietly relaxing while you listen with your kids (don’t fall asleep!), and if you’re lucky, you might get a great reader (see James Earl Jones for one of them below!).

*Include a fun activity: “Run around the house two times before the book tonight.” “Make up a dance to Jingle Bell Rock.” “Cut these sheets of paper into snowflakes and hang them over your bed before the story.” Or, my personal favorite: “Warning. Tonight’s story will be read in a British accent.”

Also, very important: Skipping activities or anything extra is just fine because BOOKS ARE MAGIC JUST AS THEY ARE. And even more magical? Snuggling together to read them in a huddle.

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Cue Drummer Boy’s pa-rum-pa-pum-pum…
Our 24 Favorite Christmas books

1. A Winter Story, Brambly Hedge. I’ve expressed my love for Brambly Hedge on social media before, but truly these books are magical and, sadly, many out of print. You can easily find them used on Amazon though (see third-party sellers), and you’ll be happy you did when you open the book to find Jill Barklem’s enchanting miniature fantasy land of mice. This cozy story will take you inside the tree home of the mice during a snow storm and make you wish you were attending their Snow Ball. Your kids will get lost in the illustrations and surely dream of the magical Brambly Hedge at Christmas.

2. Christmas in the Big Woods (Little House picture book) Whether you’re a Laura Ingalls fan or not, this sweet picture book version of Christmas at the Ingalls cabin will bring out all the good feels.

3. The Polar ExpressA holiday classic, this one is a great book to be followed by the movie. All aboard!

4. Splendiferous Christmas (Fancy Nancy). Expand your Christmas vocabulary and get your fancy on with this favorite.

5. Almost a Full Moon. Newly published this year. The illustrations capture all the enchantment of winter, and the simple text of a winter gathering story is perfectly combined to evoke warm feelings of togetherness.

6. The Jolly Christmas Postman. If you’ve read the original Jolly Postman, you’ll know the fun that’s tucked inside this book–tiny envelopes that open and reveal pull-out treasures. Follow the Christmas postman as he makes his mail journey, delivering holiday letters to all our favorite fairy tale characters.

7. The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree. I found this book at a little cabin store nestled in the mountains of North Carolina, and the illustrations took my breath away. Every time we read it, I remember that little shop and how the illustrations in the book represent that cozy setting. It’s a bit of a longer story, but my kids love it, and we stop at every page to point out all the winter magic in the pictures.

8. Eloise at Christmastime. The Plaza Hotel in New York City. Christmas. Eloise. A trifecta of holiday fun.

9. The Snowy Day. A little boy in the city and all the possibility that lies in the first snowfall. If only we could read this in Florida and dream of waking up to school canceled from our first snow.

10. Charlie and the Christmas Kitty (Charlie the Ranch Dog). My kids love the adventures of the Pioneer Woman’s ranch dog, Charlie. This is Christmas version is one of Dash’s favorites.

11. Winter Poems. Snowy landscape paintings accompany 25 different poems of winter from the world’s greatest poets.

12. How Santa Got His Job. A cute story about how Santa met the elves and found his dream job.

13. A Very Marley Christmas. Another one of Dash’s favorites (rambunctious lab is his spirit animal).

14. A Wish to Be a Christmas Tree. An overgrown pine tree has his wish come true with help from his woodland friends. The illustrations make me want to book a ticket north, just to walk through the woods in the snow.

15. Room for a Little OneA sweet version of the nativity story, the simple text and warm illustrations of the stable animals are a delight, especially for little ones. “There’s always room at the inn.”

16. The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey a long story but a truly meaningful one that captures the importance of caring for others. This anniversary issue comes with an audio narration by James Earl Jones as a complimentary download. Let him read this one. In fact, anytime you ever have a chance to have James Earl Jones read anything to you, go with it.

17. Jenny’s Winter Walk: A Kids’ Yoga Winter Book. A fun winter story that will have you practicing stretches and yoga positions. Nella is going to love this one.

18. Snowmen at Night. What do snowmen do when we all go to bed? Why, they come alive and have fun. A kindergarten favorite.

19. The Mitten. My kids have heard me read this story so many times, but they never tire. The part they wait for? The giant, overly dramatic AH-CHOOOOOOOO!

20. The Sweet Smell of Christmas. Great for little ones, this book is full of scratch and sniff stickers that invite kids to experience the story with their senses–pine, cookies, peppermint, etc.

21. Madeline’s Christmas. Another classic, we like to read this story with our best French accent.

22. The Most Perfect Snowman A touching winter story about kindness and what perfection is truly about. We love this one.

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23. Owl Moon. A Caldecott medal winner, and one I save to the end because I love it so much. The illustrations, the descriptions (snow that’s “whiter than the milk in a cereal bowl”), the truth of finding magic in the simplest acts in nature. Jane Yolen dreamily captures the imagination with this winter tale that engages all the senses.

 24. The Night Before Christmas. A Christmas Eve tradition, but the real predicament is which version to choose? The Classic illustrated version or the sweet Holly Hobbie one?

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The countdown begins two weeks from today. We can’t wait to start our tradition and end our evenings cuddled up, lost in story.

Did I forget one of your holiday favorites? Do tell.

Trick or Treat: Halloween Memories


It was one of my favorite Halloweens yet, perhaps because it wasn’t 5 billion degrees, perhaps because we hadn’t seen Poppa since July and he arrived just in time for the evening’s festivities, or perhaps because I was extra aware of how special this is, caught in the little window between two worlds–watching Lainey run ahead with a friend and trick-or-treat without us while still holding little ones’ hands and reminding them to say thank you after KitKats were dropped in their buckets. Whatever the case, I love Halloween so damn much, and Monday night delivered.

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I give you Witch, Mary Poppins and Richard Simmons:

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Some favorites from the evening:

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(Dash doing his “Simmons Dance”)

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This KILLS me.

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This is Richard Simmons:

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And this is Richard Simmons on sugar:

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I think Nella’s favorite part of the evening was coming back to the house, slipping on her nightgown and manning the door for the rest of the evening. Every time the doorbell rang, she ran to push the button on the fog machine and grab the candy bowl.

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And the best part? Examining the loot.

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I hope you all had a fun evening. Scrolling through Instagram after a holiday is always so much fun–I smile until my cheeks hurt. I love seeing families making memories and flying their holiday freak flags. Makes me that much more excited. Now to get this ‘effin candy out of our house.

And you know where we are now? NOVEMBER!!! The next two months are my favorite time to blog. I get the holiday happies, my creative cup starts to runneth over, and this little space becomes a place to hold it all and share it. So many twinkle lights to come.