Gift guides are taking over again — gift ideas for him, gift ideas for her, and suggestions for every ultra-specific person in between seem to be everywhere you look. But one thing that’s often left until the last minute? The beloved stocking stuffer.
Whether you’re gifting on a budget, have a spending limit within your gifting circle, or need a tiny-but-expensive gift to add as a surprise, small stocking stuffers are a necessity.
But let’s be clear: Just because stocking stuffers need to be small in size doesn’t mean they should be dinky and worthless. Fake poop or an emergency clown nose are technically cheap and technically fit in a stocking, but we doubt anyone was dying to open those. Sure, it’s funny for a minute and you’ll be the class clown for the day, but you know it’ll end up in their junk drawer. Your friends and family will appreciate a Bluetooth tracker or wine stain remover way more.
We’ve asked around and done some research to pull together 50 of the best *useful* stocking stuffers out there. Some will be limited by price, some will be pricey but small enough to fit in a stocking, and some will be a mixture of both — while all will be sure to please.
The Apple AirPods
Is there anything more beautiful than the gift of street cred? Apple’s AirPods offer stellar sound for how small and inconspicuous they are, plus seamless pairing for anyone with an iPhone 7 or later. Your gift recipient will just have to make sure they don’t lose one, since there’s no “Find my AirPods” app — yet.
A set of Bluetooth trackers
There’s nothing like losing something you had in your hand 30 seconds ago to make you feel like the world’s biggest dipshit. Ideal for that one person who loses everything, Tile Mate Bluetooth trackers help to keep tabs on phones, wallets, keys, and more. The app tracks where an item was last seen and can make a phone ring even if it’s on silent. The new-and-improved Tiles also have replaceable batteries to make things even easier.
Remember when you were a kid, that moment you realized you got *the* coolest new toy except your mom or dad forgot to buy batteries, so you couldn’t even play with it? That was the worst. Now that you are the mom or dad, make sure you always have extra batteries on hand. Better yet, drop this multi-pack of AA batteries by Duracell into everyone’s stockings and be the holiday hero.
A 3-in-1 avocado slicer
Asking for guacamole and having to pay extra at every restaurant just isn’t fair. Make an avocado lover’s dreams come true with this handy 3-in-1 tool. They’ll be able to slice, pit, scoop, and whip up avocado toast like the best Instagram food bloggers out there, and then throw it in the dishwasher after the prep is done. It’s normal to carry around spare guac, right?
A stylish lint roller
Having pet hair (or people hair) on your clothes isn’t exactly stylish — but these reusable lint rollers are. Available in a ton of colors and patterns (including classy marble), Flint rollers offers a less grandma-ish alternative to traditional tape lint rollers thanks to a collapsible body and refillable cartridges.
Red wine stain remover
White wine drinkers are pretty much in the clear, but red wine drinkers are really risking it when it comes to white shirts, furniture, or carpets. Instead of having to deal with Stanley Steamer or a machine that doesn’t work, this well-reviewed bottle of Wine Away can remove new and dried wine stains as well as coffee, ink, blood, juice, and more. It’s especially great for people with messy kids — or in-laws.
A Darth Vader self-stirring mug
Best for the Jedi masters and Sith lords in your life, a self-stirring mug with Darth Vader on it is an obvious choice. At the press of a button, they can activate “The Force” and watch their latte, tea, or blue milk swirl into the black hole. The mug comes with a lid to keep contents from splashing (as it does seem to stir at lightspeed.
A silk pillowcase
For anyone who’s more protective of their hair than they are of their family members, a silk pillowcase will be a perfect addition to their routine. The natural fibers in real silk allows hair and skin to slide freely and avoid static electricity and dust mites, leading to the prevention of knotted hair and bed head as well as facial wrinkles. Choose from eight colors to match their room’s decor.
A portable charger
Do we even need to explain this one? Dead batteries in any device — whether it’s a phone, camera, tablet, or something else — is a universal annoyance, and can even get a little scary if you’re depending on the device to find a person or a place. Anker’s infamous portable chargers are said to be able to charge an iPhone almost twice, and their small lipstick size allows them to fit almost anywhere.
A motion-sensing toilet light
Not to be dramatic or anything, but having to get up and pee in the middle of the night without blinding yourself from overhead lights is the worst. The IllumiBowl 2.0 is a genius light that clips onto the toilet and lights up a soft, radiant glow (with five brightness levels to choose from) when it senses motion. It even changes colors, so they’ll be avoiding stubbing their toe in style.
A deodorant-removing sponge
There’s not a person in the world who hasn’t had this problem at least once or twice (unless they’re just not wearing deodorant, which is a whole other problem in itself). Keep your friend from showing up to work in a classy black shirt with embarrassing white deodorant stains across it with this deodorant removing sponge. When the stain is so stubborn that the dryer sheet trick won’t work, this sponge will be a life saver.
The Echo Dot
A smart home isn’t complete without an Echo — and the newest Dot makes it easier than ever to add the convenience of Alexa to any room. The third generation Dot is the cutest yet, complete with better sound and microphones than earlier ones. They can control smart devices like lights or blinds, become a household intercom, order pizza or an Uber, and more. You’re basically gifting an easier (lazier) life, and who wouldn’t want that?
Air plant magnets
Why gift regular magnets when you could gift magnets that double as decor? These pineapple pot air plant magnets are an adorable addition to the plant-loving hipster’s kitchen, and will work to do a bit of air filtering as well. They’re big enough to act as that one heavy duty magnet that every fridge needs for the heavy stuff, but can also be hung on walls to give any room a tropical pop.
A wine vacuum saver
First things first: It’s not likely for a wine lover to leave much left over in the bottle once it’s opened. But on the rare occasion that they’re saving some for next time, help them ensure they’re not wasting a single drop with a wine vacuum saver. The pump sucks air from the bottle and gives an air-tight seal to keep reds and whites fresh for an extra week.
A DIY glasses repair kit
Whether it’s actual glasses, sunglasses, or fake hipster glasses, it’s nearly impossible to avoid wonky hinges and missing screws at some point in life. No one wants to go to the store to get them fixed. Luckily this handy DIY kit is full of different-sized spacer nuts, a screwdriver keychain, and measurement instructions to make most repairs an at-home project.
A pocket blanket
Regardless of how “one with nature” your outdoorsy friend or family member is, they can admit that rain, soaked blankets, and obnoxiously big backpacks aren’t awesome. This water resistant blanket literally folds into a tiny square and can fit in your pocket, complete with ground stakes and a satin finish to guard against rocks, twigs, and other objects underneath. It’s a must-pack for all camping trips or picnics where you only have so much room.
A clip-on selfie light
Everyone knows that natural light is the best light for selfies, but that’s clearly not always possible to get. This clip-on ring light gives off a white glow that’s much more flattering than a bathroom’s yellow light, and can also be helpful for shooting videos in the dark. It’s basically like having a professional follow you around.
A portable essential oil diffuser
Self care is a huge thing right now, and everyone deserves to be in on the action. A portable essential oil diffuser could truly be someone’s ticket to a headache-free day, offering soothing scents to release anxiety, stress, and more. It can be kept on their desk, cramped nightstand, or even in the car. Its color changing bulb could also double as a night light for kids.
A bath bomb
The combo of stress and so-cold-it-hurts weather is almost unbearable. As you’ve probably seen all over social media, one solution (that also happens to be extremely Instagrammable) is a bath bomb. The fizzing balls of soap offer relaxing, anxiety reducing fruity or floral scents. These ones from Da Bomb even have a fun surprise inside once they dissolve.
An odor rub-away bar
While we will forever be questioning why garlic and onions are the world’s most stubborn scents, this stainless steel “bar of soap” has been proven by reviewers to eliminate stench like magic. All you have to do is rub it as you would with a real bar of soap, with or without water. It’s also dishwasher safe.
Phone camera lenses
A real DSLR camera is sick and all, but isn’t always convenient to lug around on adventures. For your artsy Instagram photographer friend, these HD cellphone lenses add professional-looking effects to the average shot and can be stored in a pocket. Included are a super wide angle lens, a 10x macro lens, and a 180-degree fisheye lens, all sure to beef up the average camera.
A hydrating face mask
Anyone who’s into masks and skincare will know that Glam Glow is *the* brand to buy — and will be psyched that you even knew this was a thing. Glam Glow formulas are insanely helpful for hydrating, cleansing, and filling lines before makeup, regardless of age or skin type. Some of the masks are even glittery or shiny, making them look good before you even take them off.
A mini arcade game
All gift guides of the past few years only mention new games, new consoles, and new characters. The upgrades are exciting, but sometimes, throwing it back to childhood is just plain comforting. These handheld arcade games feature Pac-Man, Skee-Ball, Tetris, Asteroids, and more. And of course, they come complete with authentic ’80s sound effects and animation.
An electric toothbrush
Adulting gets in the way of so many little responsibilities — flossing and swapping your old toothbrush out are two big ones. For the person in your life with two many brain tabs open, the rechargeable Oral-B Pro 1000 will remind them it’s time to update (and could possibly save them a few nasty trips to the dentist). If anything, they’ll at least have nicer breath.
The Fitbit Charge 3
The workout enthusiast in your life is probably expecting socks, a water bottle, or cheap headphones in their stocking — so naturally, blowing their mind with a Fitbit is the way to go. The new Fitbit Charge 3 rocks an OLED touchscreen, looking much more sophisticated than others in its class. Its personal fitness score, improved heart rate monitor, tracking abilities, and seven-day battery will help to keep your active pal motivated.
A Funko Pop
How to get a geek to geek out: Funko Pops. These things are everywhere, taking the best characters from TV, movies, and video games and turning them into the cutest decorative figurines to deck out a desk. This one is Eleven from Stranger Things, but they have characters from every show or movie you can imagine: Disney, Harry Potter, Marvel, the NFL, and too many more to count.
A mini sriracha keychain
For people who are big into flavor, ordering at a restaurant only to receive bland food is the biggest bummer. This mini sriracha keychain is a totally necessary addition to any foodie’s keychain or bag, so you’ll never have to hear “it’s not spicy enough” again. The actual sriracha isn’t included, but you can easily grab that from the grocery store.
No matter what, some people will always refuse to do number two in public — or when anyone is home, for that matter. A 2-ounce bottle of Poo-purri is small enough to carry in a bag, keep in the car, or store subtly in the bathroom. All they have to do is give the bowl a pre-business spritz and Poo-purri’s essential oils and natural masking compounds will stop the odors (and the anxiety) before they even start.
A Fire TV Stick 4K
A must-have for any avid TV watcher, the upgraded Fire TV Stick is ready to make life 100 times easier. Released in 2018, the upgraded Fire Stick now features 4K streaming, a built-in Wi-Fi antenna, and immersive Dolby Atmos sound for a movie theater experience (without people talking over the movie). With the help of an improved Alexa experience, they can search 500,000 titles and browse Netflix, Hulu, HBO Go, and more.
Dunder Mifflin t-shirt
Fans of The Office (so, basically everyone), will undoubtedly appreciate a Dunder Mifflin shirt to support the people person’s paper people, which is available in an assortment of colors and perfect for casual Fridays at work. You could also add on a “World’s Best Boss” mug for extra laughs — if they don’t have one already. It even comes with a free Dunder Mifflin sticker for their laptop or car.
Cards Against Humanity pack
Hold onto your Furbies — Cards Against Humanity is throwing it back to the days when Nirvana lyrics weren’t considered vintage. If you’re gifting to someone who sorely misses the good ol’ days, the ’90s Nostalgia pack puts a retro twist on the NSFW game. The deck has 23 white cards and seven black cards, so it can be played alone or as an expansion to the original.
All-purpose moldable glue
They say the only thing you can count on is death and taxes but we’ll add another to the list: random stuff breaks all the time with no real, practical way to fix it. Sugru moldable glue sets by turning into silicon rubber, is waterproof and cold and heat resistant, and is one of the internet’s best hidden secrets. Use it with DIY projects to fix, bond, seal, and mount stuff — Sugru even comes in multiple colors to make the fix blend in.
Herbal tee for sleep
When you can’t seem to catch some Zzzs, everything is off. Since you can’t fit a new mattress into their stocking, this well-reviewed herbal tangerine tea offers a natural sleep remedy for the person you know who can’t even stay awake with an IV of coffee. Tea also offers more relaxing “me time” than just downing a melatonin pill, which everyone could use.
Rick and Morty socks
Socks as a gift have gotten a bad rep. The one time it’s cool to receive socks is when they’re Rick and Morty themed, especially so if your friend is the type to get schwify and roll up their pants specifically to show off their socks. It’s also a nice way to tide them over until the new season.
A mini camera drone
Drones were a 2017 hot item and are back again this year. We would have said “toy,” but let’s be real — adults have just as much fun with these things. The well-reviewed DBPOWER X400W RC Quadcopter Drone with Wi-Fi is compatible with most VR headsets and offers 3D split-screen display and FPV real-time transmission. What the drone sees, they see — including aerial views, sweet sunset pictures, and more.
A heated ice cream scoop
Attempting to scoop straight-from-the-freezer ice cream makes for achy wrists. Give your frozen treat-loving friends a break with a heated ice cream scoop. Using biodegradable liquid to transfer heat from the handle, they’ll get perfect scoops every time without melting. It doesn’t use electricity, so it’s safe in the drawer and the dishwasher.
A brand new Switch game
We can guarantee that the veteran gamer you know has been waiting (not so) patiently for the new Super Smash Bros and all of its new fighting moves and characters. This bundle features a gray Switch, themed Joy-Con controllers, and a specially designed dock featuring fighters from the OG game. The actual game comes in the form of a download code that will be playable after Dec. 7.
Smart homes are taking over the world, and we are so okay with that. This TP-Link Smart Plug allows control of outlets via the Kasa app — AKA peace of mind and saving on energy bills. Whoever you gift to can keep bad guys away by turning lights on even when they’re not home, or turn bedroom lights off when they’re too cozy to get up. They don’t need an Echo or Google Home to use it, but it’s even easier if they do.
An automatic jar opener
A jar that will absolutely not open is one of life’s most underrated pains in the ass, especially when there’s no outside help. An automatic jar opener is one gift they won’t know how they lived without before. With the push of a button, this little ditty opens everything from large sauce jars to tiny seasoning jars, totally hands free.
Mini Lego sets
For any future engineers or kids at heart in your life, a badass mini Lego set will have their eyes lighting up immediately. A current fan favorite are the architecture sets, which, when finished, make a 15-inch detailed replica of world-famous skyscrapers in NYC, Chicago, Dubai, and more. Along with a booklet to infuse some history into the process, the brain juices are sure to get flowing for kids and adults alike.
A plain old phone charger
There’s literally no iPhone user who will turn down a new charger — these things get put through hell. Show them you totally get their Apple fandom and buy one backed by the tech giant. (Plus the cheap fake ones always break faster). This will be clutch if they were putting off getting a new one or if they need an extra to keep in the car or at work.
A mini Bluetooth speaker
For music obsessives, going even a few hours without their current favorite album is basically a layer of hell. They’ll love you forever if you gift them a portable Bluetooth speaker from Bose: This waterproof one works exceptionally well outdoors for camping or beach trips, cutting through external noise to give impressively booming bass for such a little speaker. With a 6-hour battery, 30-foot range, and Google Assistant, they won’t have to go anywhere without music.
Being vulnerable isn’t our first instinct. We’re human after all, which means most of the time we’re shamelessly stubborn and independent in the hopes of appearing strong and put-together.
This is especially true when we’re in the throes of unemployment. The thing is—and you know this—when we let our pride go and admit we need help, we usually surprise ourselves with the outcome.
Take Farah Patel. Earlier this year, she was laid off from her sales position due to company downsizing. Because she’d relocated to San Diego for the role four months earlier, she found herself unemployed in a new city with no personal connections.
So, she turned to the one platform she knew would reach the people who mattered:
“I started using LinkedIn 10 years ago, when I first started as a recruiter in New York in 2007. I rarely posted updates on LinkedIn, but I had written a couple of articles and found it was a good way to keep in touch with business contacts. A few minutes after being laid off, I got into my car and posted a couple of sentences through the mobile app about my need for a new opportunity, and included my background.”
In response, she received an overwhelming number of comments. Some were from recruiters or hiring managers asking to meet with her, others were from contacts and friends recommending positions and tagging employers, and even more were personal stories and notes of encouragement from people who’d also been laid off in the past.
“I was surprised by how many people were genuinely supportive and willing to help a total stranger,” she told me when I reached out to learn more about her story. “I was so touched by the kindness of strangers that I responded to every single email I got.”
Farah received over 300 messages via LinkedIn and email, and at one point had 20 interviews over a period of just 15 days. For sales, she knew how important it was to work for a company and product she could stand behind, so one opportunity stuck out among the rest:
“I knew after my initial phone interview [with Vonage] that I wanted to keep moving forward in the interview process, and it only got better with each team member I spoke with. The possibilities of having a platform like [Vonage’s] are endless, and the culture was fresh and new and [full of] really smart, forward thinking people.”
Fast-forward through that interview process and she was able to post this:
There’s nothing wild and crazy about Farah’s job hunt—she didn’t craft an overly-designed cover letter, she wasn’t BFFs with the CEO, and she wasn’t breaking into a new field. What she did to land her job was simple: reach out to her network. And because of that, she’s now a Senior Cloud Solutions Sales Executive at Vonage.
If there’s anything you take away from this story, it’s that there’s nothingwrong with allowing yourself to be vulnerable and asking for help—in anything you do, but especially in your job search.
And it doesn’t have to be in a public place like LinkedIn. It can be as simple as reaching out to your network and telling them what’s going on. If one measly email can make your job search easier, why wouldn’t you send it?
- 5 Job Search Tips I’ve Learned from Helping Laid-Off Leaders Get Hired Again
- How to Fire Someone You Actually Care About
- 10 Cheap Classes That’ll Help You Break Into a Media, PR, or Marketing Role
- No, Really: It’s Never Too Early to Get Ready for Retirement
This article originally published at The Muse here
At his desk? Hmmm
Barclays has installed devices that track how often bankers are at their desks.
Managers were peppered with queries when investment bank staff in London discovered black boxes stuck to the underside of their desks in recent months, according to several Barclays employees who asked not to be identified speaking about their workplace. They turned out to be tracking devices called OccupEye, which use heat and motion sensors to record how long employees are spending at their posts.
There was a phased roll-out of the devices, and Barclays staff and the Unite union were notified before they were installed, although the bank did not send out a specific memo about them, according to spokesman Tom Hoskin. The Barclays employees said they dont remember being informed about the boxes, but spokespeople for the bank said there have been no official human-resources complaints.
The devices, made by Blackburn, U.K.-based Cad-Capture, are pitched as a way for companies to find out how they can reduce office space, providing a multicolored dashboard to show managers which workstations are unoccupied and analyze usage trends.
The sensors arent monitoring people or their productivity; they are assessing office space usage, the bank said in an emailed statement. This sort of analysis helps us to reduce costs, for example, managing energy consumption, or identifying opportunities to further adopt flexible work environments.
Hot-desking may appeal as a cost-cutting strategy to Barclays Chief Executive Officer Jes Staley, who has said there are tremendous savings to be made by reducing the banks real-estate footprint. In December, Barclays sublet office space in Londons Canary Wharf district to the government, saving about 35 million pounds ($45 million) a year.
Investment banks are increasingly using technology to keep tabs on how their staff spend their time. Barclays has introduced a computer system to track how much is earned from every client, allowing bosses to determine how much time traders, analysts and salespeople should spend with each customer.
We were given assurances that the boxes did not monitor individuals or their performance, Unite national officer Dominic Hook said in a statement. The union will keep a close eye on the situation to make sure that the sensors are never used to spy on staff or as a means to measure productivity.
Inquiries to ten other banks with operations in London found that Lloyds Banking Group Plc uses similar motion-tracking devices. OccupEye boxes have caused controversy elsewhere: the Daily Telegraph newspaper removed the devices the same day they installed them after complaints from staff and a journalists union about Big Brother-style surveillance.
Investment banks JPMorgan Chase & Co., Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Citigroup Inc. and Credit Suisse Group AG do not currently use any kind of desk monitoring in London, according to people with knowledge of the banks practices, who asked not to be identified speaking about personnel matters. Spokespeople for the four firms declined to comment.
U.K. peers HSBC Holdings Plc and Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc also have no similar desk monitoring system, spokespeople for the lenders said. Standard Chartered Plc, Deutsche Bank AG and Morgan Stanley didnt immediately respond to requests for comment.
Lloyds, like Barclays, has been trimming its London space, aiming to save 100 million pounds a year. Its important to keep office and working space under regular review, Lloyds spokesman Ross Keany said in an email. While we use motion sensors in some of our sites, we also make sure to engage colleagues and seek their feedback on what would work best.
This article originally published at Bloomberg here