I learned how to fill a Christmas stocking from a master. In my house, the Christmas stocking was not an afterthought; every year, my mom came up with an inspired mix of gifts—maybe a wooden hairbrush, wallet, tiny flashlight, nail polish, ceramic mug, or pair of earrings—each individually wrapped and buried in a trove of foil-wrapped chocolate.
The perfect stocking stuffer is small, relatively inexpensive, and not destined for the garbage can. Think: tiny treasures that are fun, useful, and a little more extravagent than what the recipient would buy for him or herself.
To make sure we've got everyone on your list covered, we're posting a new gift guide every weekday from now until Christmas. See all of the Gift Guides to date in our archive.
Above: This Rosewood Tape Measure has been on my stocking wish list for a while. It's a tiny 2-inch square but measures up to 6 1/2 feet and would be a delightful alternative to the clunky tape measure I often tote around; $14 from Spartan in Austin.
Above: Though I scoffed at my mother's suggestion of a nice pen as a gift for a love interest, I myself am a sucker for pencils. Left: From Germany, an Adjustable Brass Pencil Sharpener that creates three points: sharp, medium, and rounded; $22 at Canoe. Right: Cedar Pointe Pencils are made of California incense cedar by a New Jersey company founded in 1889; $5 for a set of twelve at Canoe.
Above: The Midori Grain Memo Pad is filled with ruled sheets for writing and plain white sheets for drawing, and is covered in recycled Spanish leather; $8 from Vetted.
Above: I know few people who would buy $11 French toothpaste for themselves, but it makes for a great stocking stuffer. Botot Toothpaste has a wintry clove and anise flavor and displayable old-school packaging; $11 via Amazon.
Above: These pins from Ancient Industries are daily luxuries. Above L: Red-headed Spanish Lace Pins are made by the oldest pin factory in Spain and are useful as thumb tacks; $12 for a box of 200. Above R: Black enameled Entomology Pins are suitable for mounting butterflies, and for pinning delicate fabrics; $10 for a box of 100.
Above: Mexican-style Taza Chocolate is stone-ground in Massachusetts and ideal for drinking, eating, and cooking. A set of three flavors—guajillo chili; cinnamon; and salted almond—is $16 at Shed in Healdsburg.
Above: Danish Hudsalve lotion was originally developed for military use in the 1950s. An all-purpose healing salve with a vanilla scent, it's still made in Denmark; $12 at Mjölk. (Photo at right via PlejeShoppen.)
Above: Anyone who likes to draw can always use a set of Conté Crayons. A limited-edition tin of six sketching crayons is $5.19 at Blick.
Above: Well-designed hardware is always appreciated by design aficionados. These powder-coated steel Wall Hooks by LA's Scout Regalia are available in orange or navy-gray; $18 each.