(This post is chock-full of affiliate links so that you can easily find the items listed. If you click a link I might make a few pennies off of it, but that’s about it. Blah blah blah legal disclaimer blah blah please read my full afilliate statement at the bottom of the page if you’re bored and read all the cereal boxes already.)
I looked at the calendar before writing this post – it’s 57 days until Christmas. I won’t lie – just counting the days off raised my stress levels a little. So, in an attempt to help YOU keep your stress levels low, I’m writing up this post to help give you some ideas. Assuming that you celebrate the holidays and do the whole gift giving thing.
My family LOVES Christmas stockings. I love them too, because they stave off the “I want to open the gifts” whining that starts at about 5 a.m. if I’m lucky. I have good memories of Christmas stockings – of making things for my siblings, the ritual of putting them in (don’t look at what’s already in there!) and the joy of the little things.
As a parent, I hate the materialistic, consumeristic crap marketed as stocking stuffers. We’re not poor, but we’re not rolling in cash either – stocking stuffers have to be affordable. I can’t pay $30 for a single item for one kid – that’s insane. So all of these ideas are unique, affordable, and kid-tested. Most of the items are for the mid-age-range, and are fairly gender neutral because my kids all want what the others got.
Here are 40 different, unique stocking stuffer (and gift!) ideas for your quirky kid.
1. Break your own geodes
Make it a little kit – include an old sock, a geode, a bag to hold the shards, and a little print out about how geodes form. If you trust your kids more than I do, include a little hammer with it. If, like me, you end up with a ton of shards that your kids have no idea what to do with them, also include a project idea on how to use them. We’ve used our geode shards in mineral collections, as terrarium decorations, and as fish tank decorations. If you get super ambitious you can make a Christmas tree ornament or snow globe with them too.
2. A make-your-own snow globe kit
This is a good idea for older kids because of the glue involved. Make sure you have a bottle of distilled water on hand to fill the globe with. I’m linking the globe part, but you’ll want to include E-600 glue, glitter, and globe decorations that are personal to the kiddo. Little lego kits, superhero action figures, and fairy village accessories make great snow globes! Just make sure you measure first because the interior of the globe is actually rather small.
3. Tiny Lego kits
Lego knows they make great stocking stuffers. I recommend the bag variety that you’ll find at the registers in stores like Target, but the little box kits and blind bags work well too. Other Lego ideas include assorted Lego parts from the Pick-a-Brick website for specific parts they want, or Legos sold by the pound.
If you’re short on money this year, put together some DIY kits from Legos you already have. You can print out directions from the Lego site for kits, or you can find directions for community-designed kits. This gift isn’t about money, it’s about the time spent to find all those super annoying little pieces that migrate to the bottom of the box.
4. Glow-in-the-dark stars
Don’t get just any stars – make sure you get the super glow ones. Or better yet, make a little kit for the kids to make their own stars with glow-in-the-dark paint, star and planet shapes, and a paintbrush.
5. Rory’s Story Cubes
This is a sneaky homeschooling tactic. Rory’s story cubes are great for getting the creative writing ideas flowing, and they’re a lot of fun too! They have multiple different sets, so you can do a set for multiple kids without buying the same one.
6. Bananagrams, Pears in Pairs, and Bananagram Jr.
This is another sneaky homeschooling tactic. Even my little kids love Bananagrams – we use them to build words, play games, and just mess around with letters. I don’t think we’ve actually played the real game yet, honestly.
7. Marbles. But not just any marbles
We have more marble tracks than we can shake a stick at – and our marble collection just keeps growing and growing. I’ll admit – it’s partially my fault. They’re so pretty!
8. Hand-held microscope
This is one of the more expensive items on the list, but it’s well worth it. We love ours – the kids beg to take it on nature walks, and they will spend hours looking at the plastic slides we got them to go with it. Plastic, because glass and my kids don’t mix well. The plastic slides are surprisingly good, and they come in a set of 4 boxes that will each fit into a stocking too.
Not just any rocks – cool rocks. Polished, raw, or cut – whatever fits your budget. I love getting a bulk box and splitting it up into those little fabric gift bags. If your kids are looking for something more impressive than the bulk box of dyed stones, check out a local museum’s gift shop for collection worthy stones like bismuth, agate, or fossils.
10. A functional telescope
This little keychain telescope actually works – you could also buy the larger version, but sometimes tiny is better. It might not have a far range, but it’s fun and cool and functional.
11. A working compass
Make a little kit for map making. Include fun paper, a pencil or nice pen, stickers for the little bunch, and a sample map. Add in a little treasure if you have multiple kids so that they can all make maps for each other.
12. A geocaching kit
If your kids are into geocaching, make up a little kit for them to create their own geocaches to leave. Little art canvases, jewelry making supplies, small sketch books, or a few rocks to paint. If they’re just getting started with geocaching, print out the rules and directions, and set up a practice geocache location in your own area.
13. Art supplies
Kids love little art supplies. Something about tiny canvases and miniature colored pencils are more fun than the regular variety. If they’re accomplished artists, look for art pens, special brushes, and small sketch books or canvases for them to stock their art kit with. Fair warning, some of the art pens and markers are quite expensive, so shop sales if you can.
14. Art kits
Look for something new. Have the kids tried cyanotype yet? What about Shibori dying? Maybe an embossing kit would be fun, or gelatos. Give them something new to try, with the materials that they will need.
15. A crystal growing kit
You can purchase a kit that includes all the materials, or you can make a DIY kit with materials like alum, food dye, a container, and directions. Either way, it’s a fun science project that they can do mostly without adult supervision (not in my house. Food dye is a controlled substance!)
16. A STEM kit
One year I went to the hardware store and bought a selection of nuts, bolts, and washers. I went to the Dollar Store and found a set of little tools. Add in some string and wire, and you have an amazing STEM kit for the kids to start creating. Other ideas include popsicle sticks, battery powered fairy lights, and straws. If your kid needs a jump start, print out some directions for a few projects to include with them.
17. A bristle bot kit
You can buy a premade kit if that’s easier, but the components are pretty easy too. You’ll need a small motor, a few pre-cut toothbrush heads, glue dots or adhesive foam, and watch batteries. Googly eyes and chenille stems for decoration and balance. Make sure you keep a few extra boxes around for bristle bot mazes and racetracks.
18. Folding binoculars
These don’t have to be super expensive, but they do have to work. My kids haven’t perfected the art of using binoculars, but they love playing with them!
19. Suncatchers and prisms
My prism makes me happy. Every morning it fills my kitchen with rainbows. Who doesn’t like rainbows?
20. A solar system bracelet kit
A DIY kit is really only a good idea if you have multiple kids. You’ll have to buy the individual beads, string, and bags, split them apart, and sort them into kits: instructions can be found here. If that’s too much trouble, check out this pre-made kit for $12 created by a scientist.
21. A fire starter
Just in case we need a legal warning here – fire starters should only be used under adult supervision, with common sense, and all that implies. There are several varieties – we own the credit card sized ones because they’re flat and I need easy storage. A flint spark kit is next on my list for the survival kit anyway, I may as well make it a stocking gift.
22. Magnifying glasses
Not just any magnifying glasses – sturdy, useful ones. Kids love looking at things up close – and so do I now that I’m getting older and my eyesight sucks.
23. Pocket sized field guides
I love the idea of taking our field guides on nature hikes. In reality, they’re pretty heavy and annoying. These pocket sized guides are the most helpful when you narrow it down to your region. For multiple kids, get different guides: my top picks are trees, birds, and mushrooms, with flowers a close runner up.
24. A track casting kit
Do you have a child interesting in nature? Do a humorous twist on the “leave only footprints’ mandate and let them take the footprints home! You can use a kit like this one, or you can DIY one with a few basic supplies: plaster of Paris, a small mixing bowl, a cast form (cut a 2″ ring off a sturdy, clear plastic bottle) a plastic spoon, and a trash bag (leave no mess behind.) Include a printout of common animal tracks found in your area, and directions on how to use it.
25. Walkie Talkies
This probably works best in families with 2 kids – put one walkie talkie in each kid’s stocking. For multiple kids, look for sets that can be combined or work on the same channels. Avoid toy walkie talkies and look for the real thing.
26. A gyroscope
These things are just cool. Actually, there are a lot of science “toys” that are cool too, but they tend to be pretty fragile.
27. Science stuff
Test tubes, tweezers, petri dishes, graduated cylinders, lights – you name it. Just make sure you wrap anything glass so that it’s protected – or purchase plastic test tubes for younger kids.
28. A fingerprint kit
Fingerprints are amazing – turn the holidays into a forensic investigation or a who-done-it with a strategically placed fingerprint on each gift instead of a name tag. Have the kids figure out who gave them their gifts through scientific investigation.
29. UV reacting beads
These are fun to play with – make jewelry that changes color in the sun! UV reactive pony beads can be used in place of regular pony beads, but make sure you test them before gifting. Even the best suppliers end up with a few duds in them.
30. Tape measures
For some reason, tape measures make the coolest toys. Plus you can actually use them to measure, doncha know? Make sure you don’t buy the metal variety for little kids, as it can cut them when it retracts quickly.
31. Flash lights or finger lights
My kids love to turn all the lights off in the winter evenings and have a dance party – flash lights, finger lights, and loud blaring music in the dark. The neighbors probably think we’re nuts, but the kids love it!
32. Fun plant seeds
We love starting plants in the winter just to watch the roots grow. Bonus points if you do it in a test tube! They don’t usually last long, but it’s a fun activity that helps while away the winter blues.
33. A tornado tube
These things are fun – they create a vortex in a bottle, two bottles actually. Make sure that you have empty bottles on hand so they can test them out. I recommend liter bottles rather than 2 liter, because it’s easier for little hands to hold.
33. A lab coat
Kids love being official – and a “real” lab coat is as official as you can get for a scientist. Our lab coat is being used this year for a Halloween costume, along with a beaker and test tube. Multi-use!
34. A mini glue gun
Chances are you already have a glue gun in your house. Still, there’s something about having a personal glue gun that’s special – even more so if you include the glitter glue sticks. Those are just plain fun!
For kids with sensory issues, theraputty is both needed and fun. For younger kids, add some buttons or small toys into the mix so they can find them. We love the buttons that come in interesting shapes and designs – they add some fun that the regular buttons don’t.
36. Fidget toys
I don’t mean fidget spinners, because you probably already have a ton of those laying around your house. There are some really fun fidget toys that make great gifts, plus they’ll keep your kids busy on road trips.
37. Plus plus tubes
These are really best for older kids, but younger kids will love playing with them too. We tend to lose them rather quickly, so it’s a reoccurring gift item. Like the fidget toys, they’re great for road trips and they’re small enough to pack into a purse or backpack for those moments when the kids get bored in the grocery store.
38. A calculator
Don’t ask me why, but this is considered a toy in our house. Sometimes they are used for math. Sometimes.
39. Kid sized safety glasses
These are practical and fun – and they’re a great idea to go with the lab coat and test tubes if you’re doing a science theme for your stockings.
40. An hourglass
Like the calculator, my kids think these are toys. They’re a fun visual aid if the kids are learning about time, but they’re also just plain fun. And small. Which is good for stockings!
Whew! That is a LOT of links! I hope that gives you some ideas for unique gifts this season.