With the holiday season fast approaching, you're probably thinking about gatherings of family and friends, planning a big meal or three, and – a big one – gifts. A nice, simple way to give gifts is via stockings, one of many fun holiday traditions everyone can get on board with that doesn't have to break the bank.
If you're on a budget, check out this guide to the best cheap stocking stuffers under $10 for adults, teens, and kids. There's something here for absolutely everyone on your list.
Best stocking stuffers for adults
Personal care or beauty products
Whether your giftee uses aftershave, makeup, hairspray, or anything in between, there are plenty of decent personal care and beauty products available for under $10. You could go for a moisturizing lip balm, small face cleanser, or any other number of products from natural brands or even your local pharmacy.
We can all benefit from a good book, regardless of genre or format. Pick up the latest mystery, fiction, or non-fiction read from your friend or family member's favorite author. With affordable paperback, e-book, and audio formats, there's something for everyone.
While you certainly won't find a fancy pair of wireless headphones for under $10, you can find handy accessories to go along with them. From cleaners to cases, your gift recipient will appreciate the small things they may have forgotten.
Best stocking stuffers for teens
Hair accessories or hats
If the teen in your life is fashion-forward, athletic, appreciative of low-maintenance grooming, or any other number of things, they'll surely benefit from a hair accessory, beanie, or cap. From sporty or dressy to casual, neutral, bright, or dressy, it's easy to find something for every mood, occasion, and preference.
Socks are one of those apparel items that everyone needs for practical reasons, yet they run the gamut in terms of style and appeal. If the teen on your list is a fan of certain characters or shows, chances are there's a pair of socks to match. Or, maybe they like corny jokes or sayings – there's sure to be a pair of socks for them, too.
It's no secret that teenagers eat a lot. Why not encourage some healthy snacking by tossing some nuts, trail mix, dried fruit, or an oat bar or two in their stocking? There are many flavor choices, including gingerbread, perfectly themed for the holidays.
Best stocking stuffers for kids
Compact or pocket games
This one's as much a gift for you as it is for them since keeping kids occupied is challenging at the best of times – much less when they're home for the holidays. Compact games of all sorts, like Rubik's Cubes or Mad Libs are especially helpful since they can grab them and go.
Arts & crafts activities
Another fan favorite when it comes to occupying the little ones is a fun craft activity they can focus on. Try a color-by-numbers book, popsicle stick houses, finger puppet kits, or any number of drawing supplies like pastel crayons, watercolors, or stencils.
An opportune time to steer your kids' energy away from the task at hand is bathtime – something many kids resist. Bath toys like squirt animals, glow-in-the-dark cubes, or nested multicolored pails. Don't forget the bubble bath to make their time even more fun.
Stocking stuffer FAQs
Why do we put gifts in stockings?
Nobody knows for sure where the tradition originated, but a popular theory about giving gifts in stockings is about a widowed father who couldn't afford to buy gifts for his three daughters. When Santa heard about this one Christmas and noticed the girls had hung up their stockings to dry, he tossed coins down the chimney to fill their stockings up. Today, stocking stuffers are an easy and fun way to give to our loved ones without the hassle and expense of shopping for larger gifts.
What can I put in my stockings instead of candy?
If you're looking to gift your family or friends with tasty food items in their stockings, there are many healthy alternatives to candy. For example, trail mix, nuts, dried fruit, or oat snacks like gingerbread oat bars and peppermint brownie oat bites are delicious options, perfect for the holidays.
How much should a stocking stuffer cost?
There is no right or wrong amount that a stocking stuffer "should" cost. The beauty is, there's a great stocking stuffer out there for anyone on your list, whether your budget is $5, $10, $50, or $100+.
Should stocking gifts be wrapped?
A great thing about stockings is that they automatically hide what's inside – no wrapping needed. That said, if you're feeling creative, nothing's stopping you from prolonging the suspense on gift-opening day with another layer of mystery!