Does anyone else think that stocking stuffers are more fun to buy than big, expensive gifts? Maybe it's because opening the stocking is so fun; pulling out treat after tiny treat, always hoping there's just one more thing buried deep down at the toe. Thinking about the fun and anticipation of opening stockings makes shopping for those gifts that much more enjoyable.
There is another reason to stock up on little stocking-appropriate items at this time of year: The Last Minute Gift. Whether it's for your office Christmas party, a White Elephant party, or an unexpected guest at your own holiday soiree, these little items make throwing together a last-minute gift a breeze.
Gifts for Her
The least expensive item on this list is about two dollars; the most expensive around $35 (or more, if you want to go crazy at Drybar).
• EOS Lip Balm Eggs ($3.50, Target and various drugstores): They really are as amazing as everyone says, and the lemon flavor has SPF 15. P3-Free, and gluten-free, for what it's worth. • Pixi brand cosmetics are available at Target, and are of shockingly good quality. Grab fistfuls of the Endless Silky Eye Pen ($15 each) and give them away with abandon; the Tinted Brilliance Balm pencils ($16 each) are almost as good as the discontinued Bobbi Brown version (the gold standard). Too pricey? Check out the e.l.f. brand of cosmetics (also at Target), which offers incredible quality considering the prices, which start at around $2. • Vintage jewelry: Pins, necklaces, bracelets--you name it. You can get some cute, fun, vintage fashion jewelry for practically nothing.
• Sally Hansen Salon Manicure Cuticle Eraser + Balm ($7, drugstores) plus cuticle sticks: The best cuticle remover on the market, and it's only seven bucks. HEB double-ended cuticle sticks are the absolute best, but any will do. Buy a bunch of nail polish--pick an affordable cult favorite like Essie 'Madamoiselle' ($8) or Butter London 'Yummy Mummy' ($14)--to round out a gift bag. • Drybar Gift Certificates and/or products: A little pricier, but these are nice treats for your office pals, or The Toe Gift--you know, the best present that smart stuffers of stockings put in first so it's found last? The Toe Gift. Anyway, a trip to Drybar certainly feels festive.
Gifts for Him
Some of these border on unisex, but I also included a few unisex suggestions at the end, so keep reading.
• The Art of Shaving Pre-Shave Oil ($16, 1 oz.) in Sandalwood: The Sephora reviews for this product's performance are amazing; women report stealing it from their husbands. • Cigars: Okay, maybe it's not PC to suggest cigars (or to suggest them just for men; some ladies love 'em) but a cigar on a special occasion--like Christmas Day, with some egg nog, while still in your PJs--sounds pretty cozy. Visit a local cigar shop for advice on what to buy. • Kiehl's Ultimate Man Body Scrub Soap ($15): Not only is this an amazing bar of soap (it is), but then you get to tell stories about how you once bought a fifteen dollar bar of soap. Fifteen dollars! Win, win.
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• Toys and Games: Playing cards, yo-yos, harmonicas, Matchbox Cars--anything that has an old-school, nostalgic vibe; plus, they're super cheap at the dollar store. • Travel mug: The trick to gifting a travel mug is to make sure you put extra presents inside it, like candy or movie tickets.
• Hit the gift shop at museums and bookstores (one of Houston's favorite indie booksellers, perhaps) for notebooks, stationary, pencil cases, magnets, and other tiny treasures that would be easy to gift to a man or a woman. • Jack Black Lip Balms ($7.50, Sephora): SPF 25, plus yummy scents, plus they are under eight bucks. Stock up (and keep at least one). • Flavored toothpicks: Yes, seriously. For whatever reason these are crazy popular as stocking stuffers. A friend started giving them out years ago, and we've come to expect them. Or pick your own weird, random item to make your "signature stuffer."