holiday gifts 2022

64 Non-Boring Stocking Stuffers Under $25 (That You Can Buy on Amazon)

Photo-Illustration: Courtesy of the retailers

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Stocking stuffers can be a tricky prompt — they should be thoughtful, useful, and just a little cheeky, plus small enough to fit in a holiday-themed novelty sock. They’re also supposed to be cheap, but you don’t want them to feel cheap. We did the hard work for you and rounded up Strategist favorites (and some deep cuts from our archive), many of which we’ve tested and loved ourselves. There’s something for anyone on your list, from kids to pet parents — and all these stocking stuffers under $25 are available on Amazon. If you need even more holiday inspiration, we have plenty of guides for everyone on your list, from your hard-to-shop-for husband to teen boys to new homeowners.

Self-care and beauty

For the father-in-law who nurses dry hands all winter

Help him heal cracked knuckles with this top-rated cream that can soften the toughest, most calloused hands.

For the sister-in-law who’s about to go on vacation

Supergoop makes dermatologist-approved, Strategist-favorite sunscreens — Sylvan Esso’s Amelia Meath calls their products “‘science sunscreen’ because they melt into your face in a really weird way that usually shocks people I share them with” — and this SPF 50 glow stick provides an extra shimmer for a midwinter getaway.

For the sibling already planning their next vacation

This small folding toothbrush is “the platonic ideal of a travel toothbrush,” according to former Strategist writer Lauren Levy. It folds down into thirds, with a chamber that protects the bristles from debris without trapping moisture.

For the mother who has a hyperspecific weekly bath ritual

For a more ritzy routine, this Marie Antoinette–esque soap definitely beats a Dove bar. It features a blend of sweet ambrosia and mossy forest notes. Plus, every purchase of the soap supports the New York Botanical Garden’s conservation and education efforts.

For the teen who’s expanding their skin-care shelf

Teens told us that these Instagrammable star-shaped hydrocolloid pimple patches are one of the many beauty gifts they actually want.

For the sister who can’t resist popping a zit

$12

Lala Kent of Vanderpump Rules told us about this drying lotion, which she bought after she heard that Lisa Vanderpump uses it. “This drying lotion completely saved me,” she says. “It just zaps the blemish. I’m completely obsessed.”

For the grandma with glowing skin

Weleda’s Skin Food moisturizer has been recommended frequently by celebrities and makeup artists alike as a multipurpose, superrich staple. Actor Hari Nef says “it’s like your face is having a meal,” and Sweetbitter author Stephanie Danler says she’s used it “to heal scrapes and burns while camping; to calm frizzy hair; and to spot-treat cuticles, elbows, and heels.”

For the best friend with a multistep evening skin-care routine

$22

This glossy, berry-scented lip mask contains vitamin C and hyaluronic acid to plump and heal lips. It’s intended to be used as an overnight treatment, but some fans — including actor Storm Reid and Strategist writer Tembe Denton-Hurst — wear it as a lip gloss.

For the friend with a minimal skin-care routine

Meena Harris, the CEO of Phenomenal and Reductress, is “extremely particular about lip products.” This Jack Black lip balm meets her criteria: “It feels natural, is pretty much unscented, and so moisturizing. It gets the job done and is very effective.”

For the sister-in-law obsessed with French-girl skin care

If you want French pharmacy products, you don’t have to go far: Amazon is full of them. Glossier brand strategist Emily Ferber tipped us to it in our guide to the best face mists. It’s “excellent for keeping cool and refreshing, particularly if you’re not looking to add more product to your face,” she says.

For the college student flying in from finals week

This gel roller takes the cooling, calming joy of the classic jade roller to the next level. Cool the head in the freezer and roll under puffy eyes and irritated skin — bonus: It’s big enough to treat sore muscles, too.

For your mom who’s finally giving the flat iron a rest

If they’ve been rocking their natural wavy or curly hair lately, this brush is what Denton-Hurst uses to detangle — preferring it over combs or Denman brushes. “It detangles without ripping and helps curls clump together, which is ideal for defining and stretching my curls,” she writes in our guide to newly natural hair-care essentials.

For the friend who never remembers to wash their face post–night out

Photo: Retailer

This set of hyaluronic-acid sheet masks from K-beauty brand Tonymoly will restore their skin in no time.

For the boyfriend who won’t stop futzing with his hair

Hasan Minhaj uses this pomade for his perfect pouf — he was first introduced to it by the makeup team for The Daily Show.

For the brother whose quarantine beard is now part of his personality

Gift him our best-in-class beard oil, which has a “solid but simple list of ingredients” that includes jojoba oil and soothing tea-tree oil.

For the mom who thinks Baccarat Rouge 540 is too strong

Photo: retailer

This roll-on has a cult following among scent experts, including writer Tracy Wan. The perfume oil doesn’t have an overpowering amber smell — it’s more of a musky note with an undertone that Wan compares to clean laundry.

For the teen growing out their hair

$7

This set of dusty pink velvet scrunchies — a favorite of Sex in the City author Candace Bushnell — will complement their ’90s fits.

For the husband who can’t get centered before bed

Strategist contributor Sara Gaynes Levy describes this scented stick as Ambien without the side effects. It helped Levy fall fast asleep in the hectic months after her daughter was born.

For the friend who wants that Christmas-tree smell all year

Arts-and-crafts

For the grandma whose fridge is a photo album

For baby photos, elementary-school doodles, and wedding candids, this teacher-approved roll of magnet tape will keep everything in place.

For the pro scrapbooker

This nontoxic, solvent-free Italian almond-scented glue stick is one of our favorite gifts for stationery nerds.

For the grandpa who always helps you DIY

Photo: Retailer

Handy people can always use an extra pocketknife. This one by French company Opinel comes recommended by fourth-generation butcher Cara Nicoletti — she’s owned hers for over nine years and says it’s “the cutest knife I own.”

For the artist in the family

These brightly colored pencils “write on everything,” says artist Peter Shire. “They really come in handy when I’m making stuff — like if I’m working on glazed ceramic or glass or marking metals for cutting.”

For the middle-schooler on their first makeup palette

This paintbrush is ideal for watercolor, oil, or acrylic paints, and makeup artist Niko Maragos told us about another use for it: he uses Princeton brushes to apply makeup, which he likes for their price tag and precise control. He has four in his makeup kit, but this one is his top pick as “it can nicely and precisely place the color on the outer half of the eyelid or the inner half.”

For the uncle who never forgets to send a (handwritten) birthday card

This classic pen came in second in the fountain-pen category in our 100-pen ranking (it was closely beaten out by one over six times its price).

For the college student getting into calligraphy

The Pentel Arts Sign is “a calligraphy brush dressed up as a pen,” according to Strategist editor Margaret Rhodes. It’s also a favorite of event planner Bronson Van Wyck, who likes that “it’s a marker, but it’s thin enough that you can write a letter” and still “add flourish.”

Food and drink

For the sibling who knows the best omakase spots

They’ll love a bottle of yuzu koshō, a yuzu and chile paste condiment that photographer Dylan James Ho serves at yakitori parties.

For the uncle who’s training for a half-marathon

$21 for 4

These cult-favorite electrolyte-replenishing tablets help stave off muscle cramps and headaches after a long run. Plus, according to former Strategist senior writer Karen Iorio Adelson, “they just taste really good,” especially if your giftee hates sugary sports drinks. “I remember first trying it out and being impressed by how sweet it was not.

For the tinned fish collector

Photo: Retailer

These piri-piri-spiced sardines are a favorite of Odeon executive chef Andy Xu. “They’re lightly smoked, so there’s an added depth of flavor,” he says.

For the dad just starting his sustainability journey

Let him enjoy his iced coffee (in a reusable tumbler, of course) guilt-free with metal straws that won’t end up in the ocean or a landfill.

For your kid who always has a cavity

Candy is a classic stocking stuffer, and this bag of low-sugar gummies will satisfy their cravings while protecting their teeth.

For the grandparent who loves old-school candies

“I love the taste of these C. Howard violet candies that were popular in New York City in the 1940s,” says actor Debi Mazar. “I used to get them at dime stores or any place that sold candy and cigarettes.”

For the grandparent who makes the best Christmas cookies

Bakers swear by Guittard chocolate wafers: “You get a much wider distribution of chocolate throughout the cookie, and by adding a few on top before baking, you’ll get those delicious pools and puddles of chocolate on top,” says Gage & Tollner pastry chef Caroline Schiff.

For the mom who says she’s serious about cutting down on caffeine

Strategist senior manager of audience development Mia Leimkuhler loves this Japanese barley tea: It’s “deeply toasty, a little sweet, and a little bitter,” she says.

For the kid who leaves half-empty mugs in every room in the house

Areaware Table Tiles
$15

Help them protect their furniture with these coasters, which can be arranged to act as a trivet.

For the co-worker whose bakes would earn a Paul Hollywood handshake

For the baker who loves both A Christmas Story and The Great British Bake Off, these vintage leg-lamp-shaped cutters will be a big hit.

For the cousin who orders a Negroni sbagliato with Prosecco in it

Expand their repertoire of chic orange-flavored cocktails with Regan’s bitters, which includes notes of cardamom and coriander.

For the kid who loves gimmick candies

They’ll love a variety pack of eFrutti gummies shaped like hamburgers, pizza, hot dogs, and French fries.

Tech and gadgets

For the senior who could become a TikTok sensation

Photo: retailer

As Strategist writer (and teen whisperer) Chloe Anello learned when she talked to TikTokers, mini-microphones serve as both a gag and essential. “I’m not tech-savvy at all, so this one is really easy. You just simply plug it into your phone and it works,” explained TikToker Christina Najjar.

For the younger sibling with a mobile gaming habit

When we asked people with exacting taste for the perfect gift, founder of Megababe Kate Sturino recommended this portable charger. “Nobody wants to buy a portable phone charger, but most people would use it every day,” she told us. And this charger “gives more than two times the amount of charge your phone needs, so you don’t have to be constantly scoping for your next outlet.”

For the dad who wipes his screens weekly

One side of this pen-size brush can wipe the camera lens on his phone clean while the other can sweep away crumbs on his laptop keyboard.

For the husband who works up a sweat while standing still

It doesn’t matter that it’s the dead of winter: He’ll love being able to cool down with a portable fan no matter the season.

For the chef who doubles the garlic in every recipe

$12

This “snow-globe-like” device allows Strategist writer Ambar Pardilla to mince bulbs of garlic quickly. “It’s refreshing to use a gadget that does one thing really, really well,” she writes.

For the aunt who spends all day in the garden

If she loves being outdoors but hates bug bites, this neat plastic doodad — recommended by Strategist writer Lauren Ro, whose blood “mosquitoes love to feast on” — can suck the venom from the bite and avoid an itchy, painful bump.

Kids

For the crafty kindergartener

Strategist senior writer Liza Corsillo writes that craft scissors are a “superlative tool for honing fine motor skills and improving hand strength” in young kids. This set of six scissors create fun, zany crimped edges, which they can use for all kinds of projects.

For the kid who’s also getting their first bike this year

Much more fun than the standard headlamp, this triceratops has horns that light up and make roaring sounds — and will keep them safe while biking at dusk.

For the tween who’s on cottagecore TikTok

A mushroom nightlight that will help them transform their bedroom into a Frog and Toad illustration.

For the kid who loves creepy-crawlies

$13

“I’m equally terrified and fascinated by insects,” says comedian Kate Berlant. This magnifier allows her to examine them at a safe distance and then release them back into the wild. “It has a long handle, so I can open the window and flick it out,” she says.

For the baby cousin who’s really into trains right now

City kids graduate from choo-choo-train-obsessed to MTA-obsessed quite quickly. Strategist senior writer Lauren Ro’s toddler, Augie, loves riding the subway. And when he’s not on the subway, he loves reading about it. This was his first book about the subway, serving as “the perfect introduction to the subterranean system” with “simple, rhythmic, and repetitive” language.

For the kid who’s making their own Barbie Dreamhouse

The crafty child in your life won’t be able to resist these mystery collectibles, which are among the top toys this year. These mini pantry staples are a big hit with the unboxing content-creator crowd.

For the niece who loves playing dress-up

This set of cute kittens comes with fancy removable clothing that they can play with and swap out. They’re a favorite of Catbird founder Leigh Plessner, who says she “bought a set for my 3-year-old daughter, Bluebell, but also for me.”

For the niece who loves pretending to be a dinosaur

They’ll love this durable, colorful seven-inch-tall velociraptor made by German company Schleich, which is “beloved by parents for its high-quality, realistic-looking animal toys,” says Corsillo.

For the elementary-schooler who scribbles on every wall

These washable crayons are designed to be easier for toddler hands to hold. Plus, the colorful container has a better chance of surviving tantrums than the standard Crayola cardboard.

For the sibling who’s into tabletop RPGs

Photo: Retailer

Actor and Dungeons & Dragons player Ally Beardsley calls this set of multicolored polyhedral dice “the most beautiful object I’ve ever seen in my life.”

Readers

For the father-in-law who’s finally finishing The Power Broker

Writer Molly McGhee calls this reading light a “true game changer.” She likes that the light is amber-hued rather than a cooler blueish white: “I don’t wake my partner up while I’m reading, and I can wind down without feeling like I’m staring at a screen.”

For the college student who’s over Milk and Honey

Photo: The Strategist; Photo: Retailer

As Strategist writer Kat Gillespie writes, “It can still be hard to reach beyond your high-school English syllabus without expert guidance.” Anonymous curator behind @PoetryIsNotaLuxury tipped us to famed San Francisco bookstore City Lights Books, which publishes its own series of poetry collections. These “are bound to have something for anyone’s taste.”