Top 5 Traditional Stocking Stuffers

By: Jessica Brown & Melanie Radzicki McManus  | 
Stockings hung up
Stockings are an added bonus to the presents stacked around the Christmas tree, so stuff them good. Jose Luis Pelaez/Getty Images

Much like the yearly tradition of decorating a Christmas tree or tacking a sprig of mistletoe overhead, hanging stockings by the fireplace signals the Christmas season has arrived. The stocking tradition is thought to stem from a legend about St. Nicholas, a Greek bishop who lived during the third century and was known for his fondness of children. According to one story about the man, also admired for his devotion to those in need, St. Nick helped three poor daughters without dowries by throwing bags of gold through a window in their home. The bags just happened to land in their stockings or shoes that were drying by the fire.

While most children won't wake up to find gold in their stockings this holiday season, many will find treats and presents instead. In this article, we will explore five traditional stocking stuffers. First, let's look at stocking stuffers that are sure to cure anyone's sweet tooth.


5: Sweet Treats

The most popular stocking stuffer is most likely candy. Who doesn't like it? While any kind of candy is likely to be appreciated, tradition dictates you purchase the holiday-themed and specially decorated candies confectioners produce every year.

Reese's, for example, rolls out candies shaped like Christmas trees and Santa's face as well as wraps its regular peanut butter cups in red, green and gold foil. Kit Kat bars might come covered in festive wrappers and flavors, like mint or gingerbread. And over the years, Hershey's has produced its signature Kisses in various holiday flavors, including candy cane, hot cocoa, sugar cookie, mint truffle and cherry cordial crème.


In addition to chocolates, candy canes are a must. The iconic red-and-white peppermint candy has been a favorite Christmas stocking stuffer for decades. Today's candy canes come in a wide array of flavors, including blueberry, cherry and cinnamon. You can even purchase canes flavored like Oreo cookies, Sour Patch Kids and bacon.

For those who like to have fun, candy coal is another great choice. You'll find it fashioned from licorice, bubble gum and even Butterfingers.

4: Books

mother and daughter reading book
Books are gifts that keep on giving. FatCamera/Getty Images

Christmas stories such as "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens and "A Visit from St. Nicholas" by Clement Clarke Moore are favorite holiday tales. So a Christmas book is another great choice for a stocking stuffer. A book is truly a gift that keeps on giving, because it can be re-read and handed down.

You can select a Christmas favorite, such as "Little Women" or "The Polar Express," or a book by the recipient's favorite author or illustrator. Activity books such as sticker books or coloring books are also good choices, plus are ideal to bring on holiday trips. If you prefer that your gift fits into the stocking, consider selecting related items such as bookmarks, a folding book light or a small journal.


3: Games

Games are another popular stocking stuffer. Many manufacturers now offer travel versions of favorite games, some of which are small enough to fit into a stocking. Blurt!, Scrabble, Trouble, Simon and Perfection are a few examples of popular games that now come in shrunken versions. Electronic handheld games are another option. Some of the most popular handheld electronics include games focusing on the brain and memory; a top-rated handheld device by Beijue offers 100 retro video games covering sports, memory, math, logic and puzzles. For those going for a truly nostalgic twist, yo-yos, bouncy balls, marbles, jacks and a Rubik's Cube are solid options. While not actually a game, bubbles can provide hours of fun. Some varieties are even scented or come with odd-shaped wands to produce different bubble shapes.


2: Action Figures/Collectibles

Nutcrackers add to every Christmas collection

While games may require a friend to play, action figures or collectibles can be enjoyed alone. Most action figures targeted at kids are plastic or wooden, and many are themed after characters in television shows, movies or even comics. Some of the most popular action figures were the Marvel Avengers, Superman, Batman and the Transformers. Some action figures are sold with coordinated homes or environments for additional play options. Minecraft, for example, sells a set containing a Steve action figure, sword, pickax, workbench, chest and bed.

Since these are stocking stuffers, though, you may wish to look for Christmas-themed figures. You can purchase two-inch characters from the popular holiday movie "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," for example, or figures from "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" and "A Charlie Brown Christmas."


Collectibles are the grown-up version of action figures. Some are made of plastic, but more often they'll be crafted from finer materials such as porcelain or ceramic. In the 20th century, Hummel and Precious Moments figurines were popular. Today, some of the top brands are Lladró (ceramic), Swarovski (crystal) and Royal Doulton (china). Swarovski, by the way, is also known for its Christmas ornaments, another possibility. Adults may also appreciate receiving collectibles from their childhood, such as Hot Wheels cars or Lionel Train pieces.

1: Bath and Beauty Basics

Travel-size bath and beauty products make perfect stocking stuffers. Think bath beads and bombs, body lotion, lip balm, even hand sanitizers. While year-round products work, such as cherry lip balm or lavender-scented bath soap, many leading bath and beauty product manufacturers unveil seasonal scents every year.

Chap Stick, for example, produces a fun candy cane lip balm every Christmas, while Bath & Body Works offers winter candy apple shower gel and lotion every year. The Body Shop, Macy's and Ulta are just a few other places offering bath and beauty products in festival holiday packaging featuring snowflakes, reindeer, confetti and more.


Naturally, there are plenty of holiday-themed products out there for kids, too. Rural Mercantile sells cute rubber duckie soaps, where the duckies are decorated as Santa, reindeer, snowmen and more, then encased up to their necks in red glycerin soap. You can also find kiddie bath bombs fashioned as snowmen, scoops of ice cream, dinosaurs and more, plus specially scented and packaged nail polish, shampoo, lotion and bath gel.

Lots More Information

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  • Cates, Print. Director of Franchise Operations, Powell's Sweet Shoppe. Personal interview. Sept. 11, 2009.
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