Picks

The Most Fun You Can Give for Less Than $30

An olive spoon.
Photo illustration by Slate

In search of the perfect gift? Read more of Slate’s holiday gift guides here.

In the holiday rush, we often round out gifts and stockings with meaningless tchotchkes that are quickly relegated to the junk drawer. But these little tokens are different! Here, we’ve gathered our favorite, actually-good stocking stuffers to help you wrap up your shopping with delight and style.

Have you ever found yourself mixing the perfect Martini at the end of a long workday (or at the beginning of a sparkling holiday party!), only to have the otherwise elegant ritual marred by having to jab your … fingers … into a jar to obtain your olive? Save your loved ones and yourself such indignities in the future with this elegant olive spoon, perfectly designed to scoop up your garnish while leaving the brine behind. It also works wonders for maraschino cherries, capers, and similar floating friends, making it the rare “special” kitchen utensil that truly earns its keep.  —J. Bryan Lowder

If you’re going to put socks in a stocking, make them these: the softest, warmest, most durable ones I own, at a great price for a merino wool blend. Anyone could make good use of these lightweight socks, which are as suitable for lounging around on the couch as they are for a brisk walk on New Year’s Day. For outdoorsy loved ones, go for the midweight version, which miraculously kept my sodden feet warm through a daylong hike in the New Hampshire snow. —Christina Cauterucci

I think I found this lip gloss from an Instagram influencer, so it would be a great stocking stuffer for teen girls (or in my case, a woman in her 30s). It seems like clear gloss is “in,” and this doesn’t get too sticky—I buy Color 002 ICE, which has a little bit of sheer pink tint, and it doesn’t get all over my face. —Elisa Cecere

Sara Happ lip gloss feels amazing and lasts a very long time. It has a mild cotton candy smell and taste, which is a fun bonus. This set can be given as a gift or broken up as stocking stuffers. —Erika Anderson

This delightful medium roast from Rise Up Coffee Roasters is always a crowd pleaser when I have it in my kitchen. I’m anticipating quite a bit more gathering this holiday season than last, and this is a good, rich, slightly sweet brew to share. It tastes great when brewed hot in a French press or as cold brew. —Madeline Ducharme

They won’t quite fit in a stocking, but you can get two of these Activ Flyer frisbees for $14. They’re really great for younger kids because they’re very easy to throw without a lot of force, and they’re super sturdy. They’re also made in the U.S. so ideally won’t suffer too much from shipping delays this season.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Another great stocking stuffer is the iFixit Minnow Driver kit. Keeping one of these multibit screwdriver sets in a drawer in your kitchen will save you a hundred trips to the toolbox/shed/closet. IFixit has bigger and bigger sets if you find yourself attempting any kind of larger electronic repair, like replacing your MacBook battery. Every time I wonder if I’ll have a bit that fits a screw, I seem to find it in the little iFixit set. —Greg Lavallee

The Honest Beauty Lip Crayon has become my go-to during the pandemic. It’s moisturizing, adds a touch of color, and makes me feel a little more dressed-up behind my mask when I’m tired of just wearing ChapStick. Feels great, looks good. Plus: no parabens or phthalates!  —Lili Loofbourow

I’ve found the perfect little present—custom stickers! They’re small, inexpensive, and highly personalized. I’m making some with my teen boys’ faces on them, but you could memorialize a child’s scribble, make a fun personal logo, add a family motto. These are perfect for sticking on water bottles, lunchboxes, skateboards, school folders, or even as gift tags on presents to other people. —Holly Allen

It’s hard to gift a book to a book lover because you never know what they’ve read. But a Virginia Woolf votive? You can bet they don’t already have one of those. It even comes with a prayer—“O St. Virginia… Help extirpate the patriarchy!” What’s not to love? Admittedly on the larger side for a stocking stuffer … but I think that just means less space to fill. —Zoe Giannotti

This cream is a game changer for anybody with dry, winter skin. It’s extremely thick and a little goes a loooooong way. Smells great, plus the little green bottle looks cute and is easy to spot in the bottom of a dark tote bag. —Madison Malone Kircher

Someone sent me this fragrance (Dead Sexy) a few years ago in a gift exchange (who were you? I love you), and it changed my life. —Dahlia Lithwick

I love a hard-boiled egg, but have always struggled a little to get the yolk exactly to my liking. So I was thrilled when someone told me about egg timers that sit right in the pot, changing colors to indicate the level of doneness. At just about $7, they’re super cheap—and these from NobleEgg are super cute, too. They’ll fit right in any stocking. —Torie Bosch

I think this little jade bonsai tree is beyond adorable. And who didn’t get into plants at some point during the pandemic? It can’t exactly be thrown in a stocking, but it makes a great “keep it around in case I get an unexpected gift and need something on hand to give back” item. And if that doesn’t happen, I’d totally keep it. —Jenée Desmond-Harris

I come from a big games family, which means we pretty much own all of the classics. So, I was pleased to discover these tiny trivia tins: 50 questions, adorably packaged in a pocket-size parcel. The questions may not be Jeopardy! quality, but they’ll do the trick. There are even other categories—charadesriddlesconversation starters—if trivia isn’t your thing. They’re perfect for taking on road trips or bringing to a game night as a delightful digestif. —Abby McIntyre 

Being gifted socks was a major letdown as a child, but I have come to treasure them as an adult. Especially special socks like these, which always put me in the holiday spirit. Slipping on a pair reminds me of being cozied up next to a fire, drinking hot chocolate, and watching a Hallmark movie that is both cringey and comforting. Don’t shy away from giving your loved ones socks that are festive and even a little bit ugly. Snowflakes or candy cane stripes add to the charm. —Meredith Moran

I am the first to admit that I have a notebook hoarding problem. But I’ve been trying to use up my old ones lately, if only to make room for anything by Rifle Paper Co. Their notebooks have such lovely and calming patterns, and the heavy paper doesn’t smudge. They’re a great indulgence, and wonderful for everything from making lists to writing the next great novel. —Cheyna Roth

Growing up, my parents put candy in our stockings—typically chocolate coins and Haribo Goldbears. I’ve always had a particular fondness for Haribo’s gummy bears. They felt like a real treat then, and they still do to me now. Also, it wasn’t until recently that I realized the green gummy bear is strawberry. You might think it’s the red one, but it’s not! —Stephanie Snyder