60+ Stocking Stuffer Ideas for Toddlers/Preschoolers
A conversation started recently in an online group I frequent and someone asked about stocking stuffer ideas for 1 to 3 year olds. I happen to have a couple of those, so I quickly posted her a list of what is going in my kids’ stockings this year or has in the last year or two. Some of these ideas would work for slightly older kids. The under toddler crowd in this house has typically gotten a new cloth diaper, small stuffed animal or toy, a teether or some other small toys like baby keys. Some items on this list may also work for infants, but probably not many. I have two boys but tried not to make a boy-centric list. After all, I *used* to be a little girl and I’ve always ADORED opening my stocking!
Finger puppets (or other small puppets)
Small note pads for doodling
Crayons, markers, colored pencils, chalk, pastels, etc.
Flashlights (small, kid-safe)
Small dolls or newborn baby dolls
Wooden trains or accessories (like street signs, trees, connecting pieces of track, etc.)
Small containers (store-bought or homemade) of playdough (or other “dough” type toys like Moon Sand, Play Foam, silly putty, slime, flubber or whatever else.)
Playdough accessories such as small rolling pins or cookie cutters
Craft store packets of foam stickers, googly eyes, pony beads, ribbon, tubes of glitter, etc. for the crafty kiddo
Kid-safe (plastic lens and handle) magnifying glass
Packets of seeds (great if they are indoor-sprouting things that can be grown in the windowsill starting right after Christmas!)
Kid-friendly chopsticks (my young kids LOVE theirs and are so great at using them for all kinds of foods!)
Apple, orange, popcorn ball, nuts in shell
Typical Christmas candies (I particularly like candy that is or includes a small toy, like a Santa Pez dispenser or the M&M toy filled with candy that seems available every year.)
Movies on DVD
Small plastic animals or other figures
Small musical instruments like kiddie harmonica, recorder, finger cymbals, maracas, etc.
Inexpensive, small and safe jewelry for children (harder and harder to find these days, seems it all gets recalled for choking hazards or lead paint…)
A few coins (my guys LOVE “money!”) especially special ones like 50 cent pieces or silver dollars.
A crazy pair of socks (not Christmasy, but something colorful and zany that can be worn all year. Stripes, fuzzy, weird colors, etc.)
Package of thank-you notes with their name or initials printed on it for Christmas and birthday thank-you card writing (Paper Moon Shop has TERRIFIC kid-styles of stationery at reasonable prices!)
Non-candy kiddo snacks (like CLIF Kid Z bars or GoGo Squeez applesauce packets)
Kid-safe fingernail polish (like Piggy Paint)
Funny shoelaces to replace plain old white ones in their sneakers
Rubber stamps and a non-toxic ink stamp pad
Sheets of stickers
Homemade bottle of “monster spray” or “fairy dust” or any such other potion that might apply to your child’s needs/desires/interests
Batteries (this one’s kind of dull, but I seem to remember that I’d get batteries in my stocking as a kid and then I’d KNOW something I was about to get took THOSE batteries!)
This sort of goes with the above, but if you have some crazy, mysterious or otherwise benign “piece” of one of their gifts that might not completely give it away, you can put it in their stocking as a teaser.
Barrettes, ribbons, headbands or other hair accessories for girls (or a boy, like mine, with super long locks…haha!)
Personalized tchotchkes you find at various places this time of year, tree ornaments, tiny license plates, sticker books, jelly band bracelets, etc.
Those crazy rubber band shape things all the kids like that I don’t get
A few pieces of Legos, a new Lego figure or Playmobil figure
Any kind of “guy.” My kids like GI Joe and Army men and these little outdoorsy men someone got them at Cabela’s
Small photo album either pre-filled with pics of family they don’t often see or one you can fill up together after Christmas and family snapshots get taken and printed
Sippy cup, water bottle or other liquid-holding vessel
Balls (baseball, bouncy, whiffle, etc.)
Rubber duck or other small bath toys
Small bottles of a soap, shampoo, bubble bath, lotion or other thing they like (My boys don’t give a rip about any of this, I imagine some girls might have preferences for these things…)
Marbles, jacks, tops, yo-yo’s and other small kinds of toys it seems like children don’t play with much anymore but should
Novelty erasers in various shapes, colors, etc.
Keychains or other things with a hook or clasp to hang from their backpacks, jackets, etc.
Hats (stocking caps, baseball caps, etc.)
Miniature versions of larger toys, like mini slinky, mini Mr. Potato Head or mini etch-a-sketch
“Practical” things they might both need AND want, like mittens, underwear, etc. (bonus points in this department if they are wacky or zany…right?)
Refrigerator magnets (letters, animals, etc.) And it is true, someone mentioned to me in an email that Melissa and Doug make GREAT wooden refrigerator magnet sets of letters, animals, vehicles, dolls, etc.
Packages you make yourself of “elf donuts” (Cheerios with glaze and sprinkles on them,) “snowman poop,” (mini marshmallows,) “coal,” (bits of licorice candy) or other funny things. Put them in small zip-top bags and make cute labels to staple to the top.
Thank-you letter from Santa for the milk and cookies
Christmas ornament, especially if your family gives each child a new ornament each year, it can go in the stocking
Apron (a frilly baking apron for girls, a tool-belt style apron for boys, or a crayon-holding apron for either. All can be rolled up quite small for the stocking)
Felt food (traditional stocking stuffers in felt would be especially fun: candy canes, apples, oranges, acorns, lump of coal, etc.)
Unusual small toys. This year I found in a catalog but did not purchase some very cool “Finger lasers.” I also found the teeny-tiniest headphone walkie-talkie things that seemed cool and were cheap enough if destroyed quickly…which I’m sure they would be.
Wrist-watch (both my kids LOVE wearing Daddy’s watches! I need to get them their own but didn’t this year. Maybe Easter baskets? LOL!)
Personalization stickers and bands to put on kiddo’s fave possessions
Paints (watercolor, acrylic, finger, tempera, paint pens, etc.)
Vanity set (handheld mirror, comb, brush)
Echo microphones (you know those inexpensive ones that kids seem to LOVE yelling into at 6am???)
Band-aids (cartoon or printed ones) or a boo-boo buddy (especially funny if they are accident prone…especially NOT funny if they’ve recently been seriously injured…)
Belt, neck-tie, small wallet or other “Daddy-like” items if you have a boy who wants to dress like Dad, as I do.
Lacing toy. Some lacing toys are small cardboard or plastic sheets with pictures on them and holes around, they come with a blunt wooden or plastic needle and a length of yarn, twine or ribbon. Other versions are a set of beads with a similar needle/thread set-up. GREAT for small hands around this age.
Steal a page from The Polar Express and put a fancy sleigh bell on a heavy piece of ribbon in your kiddo’s stocking.
Swim cap or goggles for the water baby in your life (or just to fun around with in the bath tub)
British? Then you already know to have some Christmas Crackers on hand for the special day. They’d be a perfect fit inside a stocking.
Another slightly dull but possibly quite useful one…do they need any new parts or pieces of existing games and toys? Would a new wheel keep his fave dumptruck from the trash? A new pair of shoes make a certain doll seem just like new? Or how about an upgrade to some existing toy? Download cards or new software for a LeapFrog game?
Play silks (small to large silky scarves typical in Waldorf play and available in many toy stores and in numerous catalogs.)
Kid’s music on CD. (I REALLY love shopping for kids music on the independent music site, CD Baby. Dan Dan Doodlebug and Nicolai Moderbacher are a couple faves around here.)
Face paints or crayons. (These Lyra face pencils from MightyNest.com seem especially awesome.)
Dover Little Activity Books for Children
Bicycle/tricycle accessories like a horn, handlebar tassels, spinner for the handlebars or wheels, etc.
Bubbles (store-bought or homemade.) I am not a big fan of blowing bubbles in the house because the store-bought ones have glycerin or something in them that seems to NEVER come off my wood floors and leaves them slippery, but in the winter they could be a bath-time activity…Also, they can be kind of fun to blow outside if you live in a very snowy/icy winter climate!
Kaleidoscope, prism, mini sun-catcher or other dazzling things to look at/through
Bath paints, bath crayons, or other fun novelty bath-time art supplies
Small wind-up or clockwork toys
Blow-up toys like beach ball, sword, animals, etc.
Paper dolls (or a boy-type version maybe? Check online or Etsy to possibly find interchangeable paper car or truck kits or something?)
Dice, standard or unique. Some have multiple sides that go up to 20, some have colors or shapes printed on the various sides. Would be good for making up a wide variety of games with toddlers/preschoolers.
Feel free to leave comments with ideas from your own family traditions! (Or just stuff you think sounds awesome that I didn’t include.) I will keep updating the post and adding the new items you all think of and put in comments so they’re all in one easy-to-read list.
As you can probably see from the length of this list, my boys often end up with more stuff than will actually fit in the stocking. I like to wrap a few of the larger pieces and lay them under and around the stocking where it lays in front of the fireplace waiting to be found Christmas morning.
Also please remember to use your own judgement when buying SMALL toys, games and items for Christmas stockings. I’ve got 2 kids who have never really put things in their mouths, so we can get away with little bouncy balls, small Lego men with tiny removable hair and hats, marbles and other such typical “chokey” kinds of things. Know your kids, obvi.
Another note: None of the items linked in this email were sponsored or suggested by advertisers. They are just products that I use or buy or that readers like you have suggested to me. I linked them only as a service to you last-minute shoppers.