I keep my head in the sand pretty effectively when it comes to the weather, the news, and current trends — my family knows that if a tornado was headed my direction, they better call or text because I’d have no idea! I’d much rather spend my reading time learning about my kids’ dust allergies and how to manage them.
My husband helps keep me just barely in the know, so that when the viral Christmas jammies video comes up socially, I don’t look like a total idiot. 😉
A few years back, he called me over to his computer just before Thanksgiving to catch me up on the latest popular Christmas gift: The motion-activated, color-changing, toilet light.
He thought they were hilarious and announced he wanted one.
Of course Santa obliged, and we also got one for his dad, who thought it was super practical. 😉 Unfortunately, before a few months had passed, the lights started to be inconsistent, and then fizzled out entirely. He spent an hour fiddling with it before finally trying to get a new one from the company.
They sent one, and the same thing happened.
We think of that toilet light and the guilt we felt finally throwing in the towel (and throwing them away), whenever the next “popular gift idea” comes along. Novelty gifts sound fun, until you have to put them away in an already overstuffed drawer — or feel horrible about throwing them away. Then they’re a burden, and that’s certainly not what I want to give people when I’m the gift giver!
Our culture demands that there are some instances where a person simply must get a small gift for someone you might not know very well: Teachers, coaches, youth ministers, Secret Santa gifts at word, and even stocking stuffers for your loved ones.
Marketers spend a ton of money convincing you that they’ve found “the perfect gift” for that “person on your list.” But getting something for a person just to get something…can become a burden for them.
Some of those ideas are great — unless you already have a dozen, right?
Hot tip on what not to get anyone over 30:
- Coffee mugs
- Christmas towels
The older I get, the more grateful I am for consumable gifts that aren’t more Christmas cookies or candy packed with white sugar that no one needs, or perhaps the one thing that no one has thought of giving (or buying for themselves).
Useful Stocking Stuffers and Gifts for that “Person on Your List”
A few years ago I bought a bunch of variety packs of reusable grocery bags from different companies so I could give them away as “stocking stuffers,” and it’s been nice to have them on hand for other gift-giving opportunities.
Teachers have enjoyed them, and all of our hosts received one this summer on our 6-week tour of the US. Laura from my team here at Kitchen Stewardship texted me a photo a month or two later with the note:
“These bags are the best! Thank you! I can’t believe how many library books it holds!”
The pic was her reusable grocery bag, stuffed to the gills with books for her girls. I keep two in my purse and use them constantly, either when I forget a reusable shopping bag from my van, or most likely, when I underestimate what I’ll buy and fall just short with what I have in the cart.
Here are some tried-and-true winners on Amazon:
- My original is made by Envirosax and it looks like you can get 5-packs, singles, or slightly smaller versions with an inch shorter handle like this one in a Sesame Street pattern here. They’re more pricey than some of the other brands I found, but this has lasted years for me, and when I use it, I fill it. We also like it on vacation, like to Disney World, for carrying towels and sunscreen to the pool or lunch into the park, especially because it can double as a wet bag once everything is out of it – it dries in minutes.
- BeeGreen quickly became a favorite brand, with a few patterns here and here, and animal prints here.
- EcoJeannie is HUGE and really durable, good reviews, and the carry bag is drawstring.
- This set from Jalousie includes produce bags as well, and the bag to fold into attached, which is handy. After a few years of use, this is the first one showing signs of weakness, fair warning.
- I didn’t try these from HOP, but they have a nylon zippered closure with pockets, so they’re sort of the “step up.”
If you buy a multi-pack, you can see that each bag will end up typically below $5!
Even people who aren’t in the kitchen very much can always use an Ove Glove — they get gross even if someone already has a set!
We feature these in our Kids Cook Real Food eCourse because the individual fingers make them easy for kids to use, and I have trouble managing regular oven mitts after using these for a decade! Come to think of it…my first pair was a Christmas gift from my Mom years ago! Smart Mom again! 😉
Not for everyone, but for a budding chef or Keto-wanna-be, this mini spiralizer is the perfect bridge to zoodles without taking up much space in the cupboard or taking a big commitment.
We love ours — you just twist a zucchini like you’re sharpening a pencil, and out comes perfect zoodles. Comes with a little drawstring bag and everything!
I saw a friend on Instagram waxing poetic about how she finally did not have to choose between charging her phone and diffusing essential oils, and while I was cracking up at how very excited she was…she has a point. There are never enough outlets!
We are collecting more devices as our kids get older, like it or not (I don’t), and we need better cord/plug management.
This is the start! I’m not sure which of these is best but enjoy shopping around!
- Oviitech 6 outlets with 4 USB ports
- Mifaso 6 outlets with 2 USB-A ports and 1 USB-C (with phone holder)
- AmazonBasics 6 outlets + 2 USB ports (USBs on top)
- OneBeat 6 outlets and 2 USB ports (with phone holder)
Consumable Stocking Stuffers Everyone Can Really Use…Again, and Again, and Again!
Lip Balm and Hard Lotions Bars
Every year I wax poetic about Renee’s MadeOn Hard Lotion – I buy multi-packs of lip balm (under $5) and pocket bars (usually just over $10) and always get raving reviews from teachers and family members!
One aunt says every year, “Oh I’m so glad you brought these again! I always have one with me!” This year she admitted she had made an order herself mid-year. 😉
A cousin was smitten with the Vanilla Dust (it sparkles!) and many people love the tinted, saying they add a little color like lip balm but without the typical drying out of lipsticks and balms.
Consumables can be re-used as gift ideas every year — no thinking on your part! Score!
Another new favorite here at KS is Mike’s magnesium lotion — I bet you could think of at least 3 people right now who either struggle with sleep as an adult or have children who aren’t good sleepers.
The gift of sleep is priceless! But with magnesium lotion, it’s pretty affordable and a great size for the stocking. 😉 Read this Facebook post for how one of my friends IRL did a blind test on one of her kids — and it worked!!
Soaps and Body Butters
It seems like every time I open a cupboard I see something from Earthley!
See my full review here and why I’m so impressed by the company! Spoiler: 100% natural at super affordable prices!!!
This time of year, Santa at our house purchased quite a few pieces of the Christmas Cookie scents. Our stockings are going to smell so good! This line seriously has the best and strongest scent I’ve EVER smelled, and my daughter swoons over the whipped body butter!
Plant Therapy is my favorite place to shop: affordable, well-sourced, and aromatherapists on their customer service line. Plus they tend to have deals every day of December and always free shipping!
If someone has never used essential oils, get them something really basic like lemon, lavender, or peppermint, and include a short list of ways to use them properly.
For parents, KidSafe is important — here are my favs:
- Immune Boom roll-on
- Sniffle stopper roll-on
- KidSafe Germ Destroyer
- Frankincense (Note: Frankincense is literally labeled by the batch for KidSafe; some are, some aren’t depending on harvest and processing. PT takes care of our kids!!!)
- If you don’t have enough diffusers for every bedroom in the house, this is the time of year to get another!
Roll-ons are a little pricier but may be more practical for a newbie because you can’t possibly mess up the application. 😉
MyGreenFills Dryer Angels
For the person who already has everything, cleaning supplies with a purpose.
MyGreenFills gives deaf women in Jamaica good jobs making these cute dryer angels, and they come with 2 refills of essential-oil scented dryer sheets alternatives. Each one freshens 30 loads and is a great way to help wean someone off the chemical scents for the laundry. PLUS Dryer Angels fund safe houses for women and children rescued from human trafficking in Asia.
If you go to a Christian school, I’m sure teachers would appreciate the service aspect on both ends of the economy!
MyGreenFills also has stocking stuffer ideas that include soap and fabric softener (get unscented if you’re sensitive to odors, but the scented are again a fabulous bridge from conventional toxic stuff).
For the coffee lover, why not something with a healthy twist? Four Sigmatic incorporates healing mushrooms in their coffees! Take 15% off with our special code “Kimball.”
Grab some Reishi for sleep and Lion’s Mane for alertness plus chaga for immunity. Although you know I’m not a huge convenience food person, when it comes to impeccably sourced organic coffee with beneficial mushrooms, I’ll take instant and a mug of water in the microwave! Our full review here.
Think it’s too late to make homemade vanilla extract?
Yes, it’s supposed to take around 4 months…but with this faster homemade vanilla method you can be bottling to give away in about 2 weeks!
Vanilla is SUPER expensive right now, so it’s a double gift to make it much less expensively (buy beans in bulk for sure!) and share it with others.
Homemade Spice Mixes
We teach our littlest chefs how to make homemade herb/spice blends over at Kids Cook Real Food. Pictured above is ranch dressing mix and a homemade dip, and they also learn gluten-free taco seasoning.
It’s so good that when one of our first graders made some as Christmas gifts for his teacher and grandparents last year, he got the best compliment a cook can ask for!
His teacher asked him for the recipe when she ran out a month later. You can imagine the beaming face when he came home with that story for his parents!
We’re happy to share the ranch dressing mix with you in a free eBook 10 Snacks Kids Can Make. Be sure to involve the kids if you make these so that they can feel that pride when your recipients love the gift!
Mini Honey Jars
Choose a super cute baby jar of Beekeeper’s Natural honey that anyone would love, or for the foodie in your life, try raspberry blossom, buckwheat honey (it’s super dark!), or B Powered with royal bee jelly, propolis, and bee pollen (a natural vitamin).
My 8-year-old John is the adventurous chef in the family, and he loves to try all of them at once on a crepe or piece of toast. He’ll even take honey crepes for lunch at school! They’ll definitely fit in a stocking. 🙂
Go a little more edgy with CBD honey sticks, great for tea or stressful travel. These are a little pricey, so you gotta love your gift recipient a lot! Get a better price with the code Katie15 for 15% off!
Non-Toxic Nail Polish
For ladies and little girls, how about nail polish that won’t stink up the house?
We personally tested almost 2 dozen brands with “safer” ingredients just to see how they actually performed in real life, and the results were surprising.
Better Than a Stocking Stuffer
Some people deserve a bit more than a little trinket or something consumable. If you want to help people in your life get healthier through your Christmas gifts, here are my top favs:
We’ve used these watertight stainless steel containers daily for a decade and they LAST that long! For anyone who packs a lunch, they’re the perfect size for yogurt, applesauce, cottage cheese, etc.
One year I got these for the whole Kitchen Stewardship team, and they were also part of the thank-you gifts for our neighbors who are in the Kids Cook Real Food videos.
They come in other sizes, too, but we puffy heart love the 8cm. I’ve lost count, but I think we have 8 of these and 4 of the next size up!
Sunrise Simulation Alarm Clock
I really should get one of these alarm clocks for myself. Every morning, my bed calls me so loudly!! I’m a terrible waker-upper.
We got one last year for our daughter and she’s definitely become the best waker-upper in the house, and a friend of mine says it’s like the equivalent of already having your first cup of coffee (if you’re a multi-cup kind of person). They’re very affordable and for the right person, this alarm clock that slowly brightens a light over 30 minutes before the actual alarm goes off may be just what they need.
The science behind it is that our circadian rhythm isn’t jolted into awake-ness unnaturally, but the clock acts more like a sunrise and even through our eyelids, our body begins to come into lighter sleep.
Everyone in our household got a salt lamp for the bedroom last Christmas!
We’ve tried a few brands and this one from Levoit is my favorite because of the on/off switch — most other brands have a dial that’s hard to turn, especially with lotion on my hands, and this one is a simple one-touch switch that you just hold onto to dim and brighten. So much easier!
If you want something a bit more stylish, there are baskets of salt rocks like this one that have more fashionable flair.
HeartMath Inner Balance Trainer
This little tool would fit in a stocking, but it’s not a normal stocking stuffer price.
However, if a loved one struggles with high blood pressure or has said they are interested in learning to meditate properly for stress relief, the tool we use for breathwork and heart-brain coherence is the Inner Balance. It’s pricey, but through December 31, 2019, it’s 25% off, and you even get a free online course to help you use it right! Here’s how the tool has helped our family.
Wholetones Christmas CD
Wholetones Christmas – You guys know I’m such a science geek, and I’m also a Christian, so when I heard about a Bible-based, science-backed system that improves sleep with gentle music – um, what??? I had to try it out. Wholetones2Sleep has been really cool to test out, and I’m excited to play the Christmas songs this December!
Let’s end where we began – with a light for the bathroom!
When the novelty color-changing toilet light was on my husband’s list, my mother saw it, interpreted her own expected meaning (that Kris wanted to see in the bathroom at night, not that he thought the toilet light was hilarious), and got him something she thought would work even better for the purpose.
We laughed a lot afterward about how uber practical my mom is, so much so that she couldn’t imagine getting something silly for a serious purpose.
The joke’s on us, and my mom once again gets the “smart shopper” award, because we’re still using our bathroom motion sensor nightlight years later in the kids’ bathroom, we pack it every time we go to a hotel room with kids, and I’m getting one for our bathroom now.
This LED motion sensor light plugs in to charge but can be cordless, and it goes on without question every time we’re up with a sick child in the night or the kids are just taking one of their many trips to the bathroom in the dark. It’s become one of my favorite things! Thanks, Mom!
And guess what? They now come in a color changing version, ha!
If you don’t love those styles, here are a few others that looked good on Amazon:
- This one looks more like a lamp.
- A 2-pack sounds perfect!
- Or even a 3-pack.
- Shop around at Amazon with this search…
You can stick them to the wall, but then you’d have to take them down to recharge every so often. I just prop mine on the back of the bathroom counter and always leave it plugged in.
I feel so much better about practical gifts than novelty ones — are you with me? I hope these ideas were helpful to you, although do you want to know what our own kids are getting?
They really are getting Earthley goodies and MadeOn, along with a few essential oils they love for sleep, but most of the stocking will be food consumables like organic hard candy, gummy fish from Thrive Market, and better-than-junk fruit snacks.
I just don’t want any more little “things” in the house and I know they’ll enjoy the treats because they don’t get things like this much!
If you’re looking for completely clutter-free gift ideas, we have over two dozen of those for you too!
If you appreciated the balance and depth of the review you just read, you will love my resources page, with REAL products that have passed my rigorous testing enough to be “regulars” in the Kimball household, plus some other comprehensive reviews. Updated at least once a year to boot the losers and add new gems!