Holiday Shopping Guide 2010: Trinkets, Stocking Stuffers, And The Little Things

ABSURDITY OF ALL ABSURDITIES: a gift guide (aka glorified wishlist) a month early, before department stores have even ruined "This Christmas" for you another year in a row? Why, Sam, why? Why must you discuss winter holidays like some corporate drone before Thanksgiving has even passed? Why don't department stores play Hanukkah music? Is there Hanukkah music? Why can't I own a Canadian?

BECAUSE! If you're ordering handmade or online or international, you probably want to order now. (Support handmade! Or if you don't want to support handmade, at least support your local businesses. Or if you don't want to do that either, at least don't just give everyone Border's gift cards.)

My family celebrates Christmas, but we don't do stockings, so I decided to pick only stocking stuffers (or "things that fit in a shoebox") for this wishlist guide because a) I have a deep-rooted need to fill the stockingless void in my life, and b) I like most things that fit in a shoebox, including shoes but excluding severed body parts.

Inspired by the craftster forums, I have divided this post into four parts: something you want, something you need, something to wear, and something to read. Also, I usually look to gift guides for gift inspiration, not specific items, so I've decided to cut down on images in this post.

  • music money, movie money, textbook money, rent money (money is great, but money for a specific use is even better (and less restrictive than a gift card). Coffee money, anyone?)
  • Pop Rocks, spendy/splurgey chocolate (I highly recommend Alter Eco's Dark Chocolate Mint), loose tea (I am particularly fond of brown rice tea, but not everyone drinks tea), cookies (do they sell Girl Scout cookies this time of year?)
  • weird Asian (probably Japanese) snacks (note: if your recipient is Asian, they have to be really weird. Pocky doesn't count unless it's some really exotic flavor like... Kobe Wine), chocolate mints, candy canes, peppermints
  • art prints (anything from The Wheatfield or MonsterGallery, although I have my doubts about whether these would fit in a shoebox or stocking)
  • A Harry Potter Quidditch helmet (I had a hard time deciding if I should put this one under "need" instead of "want," but after calling 267-436-5109 and being told I was a Muggle, I thought I should give up my hopes of becoming an internationally famous Quidditch player.)
  • What would you do with this tiny red fox figurine? I have no idea, but isn't it cute?
  • Extra random ideas (that's additional ideas that are random, not particularly random ones): peacock feathers, stickers (from Japanese stationery stores?), nice playing cards, chunky knit scarves, fake jewels (why not?), miniature cupcakes
  • DIY ideas: find an old hardcover book with gilded pages and turn it into a book safe, or crochet some ice cube cozies (these won the Cozies with IRONY challenge at craftster), or put together a mix tape (no really! When's the last time someone gave you one of those? Maybe not a real mix tape on a cassette, but what about a mix CD? A mix playlist?)
  • hand moisturizer (assuming your recipient has no allergies... I like Aveeno and Vaseline, but Neutrogena, Burt's Bees, and Philosophy are supposed to have really good ones)
  • a knit hat with earflaps (or a trapper. You can probably get these at Urban Outfitters or any outdoorsy store (or etsy, if you are so inclined, but get the knit ones, not the crocheted ones).)
  • cute umbrellas (Because who couldn't use one? I would try ModCloth for these.)
  • convertible mittens (Forever21 and Urban Outfitters usually have them online and in-store this time of year)
  • Rosebud Perfume Co. Rosebud Salve (I know, I know, but it's that good, and I'm sure you know someone who considers it too spendy to buy for him/herself. So indulge them a bit. And if you really can't stand the tin, it comes in tube form now. Hallelujah!)
  • nice pencils, pens, and notebooks - the kind you wouldn't normally justify spending money on because they're slightly too expensive (think Moleskines and Faber-Castells, not Mont Blancs)
  • Staedtler erasers, the Holy Grail of all erasers
  • printer ink (possibly boring, but c'mon... who likes buying printer ink?)
  • (Recycled) drinking glasses from YAVAglass - I can't be the only one who finds these both adorable and beautiful, can I?
These Transformers shot glasses are by GoodGuyComics on etsy, but stencils really aren't that hard to cut. It just takes patience. And tiny scissors.

  • nail polish! Sephora by OPI is always good, but ELF has super cheapo $1 nail polish if you're not ready to make a commitment and just want a good time
  • makeup brushes (try ELF or Sonia Kashuk at Target... they have excellent reviews and are not pricey at all)
  • Jewel Alchemy/Ananda Organics lip balm - seriously the best balm/gloss combination I have ever tried, and it's both petroleum- and beeswax-free for you environmentalist vegans out there (the consistency in the tube is awkwardly grainy, but it applies so softly shiny and sheer)
  • colorful tights (I'd try Forever21 and H&M, though based on all the rave reviews, I assume We Love Colors is also a good place to buy)
  • glitter/metallic eyeliner (How festive and impractical! The makings of a perfect stocking stuffer! My main requirement is softness, so I recommend Urban Decay 24/7 Liner (super soft, super vivid, and doesn't budge) and Make Up Forever Aqua Eyes (I've only tried it in store, but it's super soft and super vivid too). If you're looking for some shiny on the cheap, ELF makes some very soft eyeliner too, although the gunmetal one isn't that vivid on my skin. But they cost $1. And they come with a sharpener. And I think you can find them at some Targets. What've you got to lose?))
Not gonna lie, the Urban Decay 24/7 Jackpot looks reeeeaaaaal good.
  • I Love the 90s: The Beets tour t-shirt ("Killer Tofu," anyone? This is from Doug, in case you missed the reference.)
  • Threadless t-shirts (I prefer searching by color, since the neutrals tend to be classier... but graphic tees aren't really a classy gift, so to hell with class.)
  • Sock Dreams sells the best freaking socks ever. Their O Basics have that intangible make-you-feel-good-when-you-wear-them quality.
  • You could also try Happy Socks. I've never worn their socks, but they are definitely aesthetically pleasing.
  • A necklace that says "I am the shit" from Locher's
  • 10% or 90% pigment lipstick from Lipstick Queen, or the black gloss (YSL anyone?) or gloss pencils
  • silkscreened t-shirts from isotope (I happen to be particularly fond of their use of color in their designs)
  • bobby pins and/or necklaces from Woodland Belle
  • sheet music (get this local! I bet your old-school music store needs support! I love pop, Broadway, and Disney because it's fun to play music you're familiar with (and that other people will recognize), but you could always go for holiday-themed stuff or ... classical or baroque or whatever. Different folks, different strokes.)
  • You can't read a blue whale, but you can sponsor one. If you aren't as enamored with blue whales as I am (I like whales, okay?), you can also sponsor a panda, a manatee, a koala, a giraffe, a snow leopard, or a duck-billed platypus, among lots of other animals. (The uglier it is, the more it probably needs support.)

  • DIY idea: highlight a dictionary with all the words that remind you of your recipient (I suggest buying a used one, not using the OED, and including a personalized bookmark)
  • Gala Darling's Love & Sequins! I can wholeheartedly recommend only #2 (The Smart Girl's Guide to Business) and #7 (Blogging 101), but since I've only bought those two, she's had a 100% success rate with me so far, and I'll bet #1 (Learning to Love Yourself) and #5 (Finding Happiness & Making It Stay) are just as good. (P. S. The podcasts are the best part. Gala's more of a reader than a talker in Love & Sequins, but I find that hearing her words is more effective than reading them sometimes.)
  • If you're in the area, a California Academy of Sciences Membership is a beautiful thing to have. (I still haven't been to the planetarium. Why.)
  • the xkcd "Height" poster. It continues up to 46 billion light-years, but here's the very bottom of the poster:
  • the Ender series boxed set :) For anyone who likes young adult sci-fi/fantasy.
  • Dubliners by James Joyce, in case you know someone who hasn't read it yet. They're short stories, so nobody can complain!
  • SET the card game (I think I'm addicted)
  • Polarity, the magnetic boardgame, from ThinkGeek (don't know if this is fun, but it looks cool and probably would be challenging... my kind of game (unless you're talking about Puerto Rico, which takes waaay too long to explain))
  • a mancala set
  • The Art of Manipulating Fabric
  • Kendi's 30 for 30 remix guide, which I haven't read, but if it's anything like her blog, it's probably both funny and practical
  • a donation to Wikipedia (though honestly I wouldn't recommend this or the WWF donation unless your recipient asks for "nothing" and you still want to get them something)
  • The Book of Awesome by Neil Pasricha from 1000 Awesome Things
  • any PostSecret books
I would have made this longer, but I ran out of breath.
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