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The Best Cheap Stocking Stuffer Ideas

My mother took stocking stuffers to entirely new heights. She frequently reminded me when she was young, her Depression-era parents gave her two pieces of fruit in an old sock. So I reaped the benefits of her Spartan Christmas memories with a gargantuan, embroidered stocking stuffed to the gills every 25th of December.

Maybe that was somewhat indulgent, not that I minded as a giddy 8-year-old. But don't ditch the tradition as a whole for some lame excuse of cheapness--opening a stocking of personalized goodies makes beautiful, sepia-colored memories and expresses your thoughtfulness.

Warm fuzzies aside, you still need to save money on the holiday budget, so your creativity needs to come from your brain rather than toy store marketers. Put the following items on the naughty list for stocking stuffers. They either have a huge markup or just add meaningless fluff to occupy space.

  • Candy: Kids don't need it. It rots teeth, makes them chubby, and won't they have enough sweets during the holidays without a stocking full of future diabetes?
  • Dollar Store Junk: Your children know the difference between Made-in-China plastic toys that bust after a week and the real deal. It may add quite a bit to occupy space, but they won't play with it.
  • Socks and Underwear: Gee, thanks Mom. Unless they're funny or colorful, skip the basics. If they are in desperate need, get them before or after Christmas.

Instead of these last-minute gift busters, start collecting goodies now for a memorable, personal stocking. If you can camouflage much-needed household items -- toiletries, tools, cooking supplies -- by all means, go for it. The key is to make it seem like a present.

Cheap Stocking Stuffers for Kids:

Cheap Stocking Stuffers for Teens:

  • Free Chore Coupons
  • Charity Money--Give them a set amount to donate to a charity of their choice.
  • Coal--Go for a gag with a hearty lump 'o coal in the stocking. Include a naughty list for added drama.
  • Miniature Bath Products--Stock up when they're on sale at dollar stores, Bed, Bath, & Beyond, and grocery stores. Wrap several in cellophane with a bow to make it look like a gift bag.
  • Colorful Band-Aids--Get fun shaped and themed Band-Aids for your teen. No, they aren't too old for them.
  • Phone Cover--Keep her cell phone protected with a trendy phone cover.
  • Novelty Pens--It's fun to write with a unique, funky pen.
  • Personalized Stationary
  • Magnetic Fridge Frames
Cheap Stocking Stuffers for Men:
  • CFC Light Bulbs--He might not want to make the switch to fluorescent lighting, but let him try it out with a couple of bulbs.
  • Sudoku Puzzle Book
  • Golf Balls
  • Pocket Knife--The kids have probably lost his favorite one by now. Splurge on a replacement.
  • Home Cooked Romantic Dinner--Type a fancy menu on colored cardstock with his favorite meal. Plan a night (without kids) to serve your tastiest fare by candlelight.
  • Restaurant.com Gift Certificate--Most offer $25 gift certificates for just $10.
Cheap Stocking Stuffers for Mom:
  • Kids Photo Album--You can create a really nifty photo book with just a few clicks at Shutterfly.com.
  • Cooking Spices--Get several small packets of unique spices to add to the kitchen.
  • Sticky Note Pads--The kind that stick on the fridge are the best. Buy the good magnets though as cheaply made ones just slide off the door.
  • Coupon Booklet for Chores
  • Mini Lotions and Scrubs--She probably won't buy them for herself. Gather several different types.
  • Paperback Bestseller--Pick up a copy of her favorite author's latest yarn.

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