Christmas is nearly here; do you know where your stocking stuffers are? If trying to come up with exactly the right gift(s) for the people on your list isn’t enough (#shopping is #agony) there exists the coup de grace of stocking stuffers. Gone are the old standbys of candy canes and Lifesaver books, especially if you have teenagers or health-conscious recipients like I do. And Heaven forbid you should hang just the stockings from the fireplace mantle for the “warm fuzzies” it invokes; those stocking had dang well better be stuffed or heads will roll come December 25th.
If you’re like me you determine the amount of money you will spend on Christmas and then ask your children for their Christmas list. And if you’re like me you stare at the truly unabashed gluttony on your kids’ lists and wonder who ever taught them that money grows on (Christmas) trees. After you huff and grumble under your breath for a bit you begin the shopping journey and slowly the presents multiply under the tree. As the holiday pieces begin to fall into place you wake up one morning in a cold sweat and realize that the stockings are conspicuously thin and you haven’t got an idea left in your holly-jolly brain. What’s more you’re not sure if you can bring yourself to run the gauntlet in the Walmart parking lot one more time before the new year.
I have a two word solution (brace yourself): Dollar Store. Consider this: your wallet is quickly seeing the light of day and store prices aren’t reflective of our tanked economy. Keep in mind that you’ve spent your wad on the loot under the tree. The stuff in the stockings is just that – stuff; junk, if you will. So get over any snobbery you might have about only spending a dollar per item and get creative about how to stuff those stockings to their sparkly seams.
Here are ten of my favorite/useful Dollar Store stocking stuffers – in no particular order:
Eyeglasses Microfiber Lens Cleaning Cloths
Even if everyone you buy for has 20/20 vision these are great for sunglasses. My family keeps a cloth with every pair of glasses so we never have to look around for one. Don’t ask me how but these little miracle cloths can get the dust and smudges off eyeglass lenses like my husband’s shirt tails or the bottom of my skirt never could. They are also a must for iPads, computer screens and camera lenses. They don’t scratch and – bonus – you can machine wash it about 100 times or so until it falls apart.
Striper Nail Polishes
If you have a male-only shopping list you can skip this one but if your gift giving extends to the fairer sex then read on. Since I have a teenage daughter I can vouch for the current trend of nail stripers. These are tall, skinny nail polish bottles of bold colors with very thin brushes. They are used to paint intricate designs/pictures on fingernails. Since these tiny works of art change as frequently as a teenage girl changes ideas the staying power of the polish is never an issue.
Believe it or not our Dollar Store actually carries the “As Seen on TV” ShamWow. They are all over our house. We keep a few in the garage with the car wash supplies, one in each bathroom to dry the shower down with and two in my son’s bowling bag. That’s right, my son – who has bowled on the Varsity team for the last 4 years – cleans his bowling ball with a ShamWow. It works so well that the others guys on the team wanted to borrow his cloth to clean their bowling balls with. Bonus: The ShamWow is big enough to cut in half and just like the aforementioned microfiber cloth, it is machine washable to reuse again and again.
Does it really matter if your clothes are clean and pressed if they’re covered with lint? How many high-powered executives do you know who come to work covered in pet hair? The fact is that lint is ubiquitous but you don’t have to succumb to it. Our Dollar Store sells mini-lint rollers which are not only cute but also fit everywhere. Think: glove compartment, school locker, gym bag, office drawer, suit case. You’ll be patting yourself on the back instead of brushing lint off of your shoulders.
Mechanical Pencils/Lead Refills
Let’s face it, these are not your father’s writing implements. Number Two pencils are yesterday’s news. No one in my family will even touch a pencil that needs to be sharpened the ‘old-fashioned’ way. Not only are mechanical pencils fun to click, click, click the lead out and push in again, they usually come with clips at the top to fasten over the top of a notebook or a loop in your briefcase or day planner. Since they never need to be sharpened, they always stay the same size (can I get an ‘Amen?’) and never get lost in the bottom of the pencil holder. Bonus: The lead refills are just a dollar too so you can click, click, click indefinitely.
Accordion Coupon Holder
This tiny, plastic file has a button/loop closure and comes in assorted colors. It is slightly bigger than an average coupon and fits perfectly in a purse, a briefcase or the glove compartment of a car. Since they have about five different slots, you can also store receipts, frequent shopper cards and your checkbook all in one place. Bonus: Start the new year without bank transaction slips or parking stubs stuck to your floor mats.
Lip Balm/Lip gloss
I love my family but nothing grates my cheese like seeing one of them swipe my lip balm over their cracked lips. Can you say Petri dish? Considering the fact that brands like Carmex and Chapstick (both of which are on the shelves at our Dollar Store) fit in anyone’s pocket or purse, I buy enough for everyone to carry their own. If they insist on swapping germs, the Dollar Store also sells vitamin C.
I can barely put my eyeliner on in the morning so I am continually amazed at the artistic ability of my teens. That being said I have learned to cut corners when it comes to supplies like color pencils, roller ball ink pens and photo safe glue sticks. For the really creative people on your list, check out the multi-colored pom pons, pipe cleaners, foam shapes and craft beads. Bonus: You can also buy any number multi-sized craft containers to keep all these goodies in. And, that’s right, they are all just one dollar.
We’ve all had the experience of being in public with a rogue button or dragging hem and nothing but a paper clip to save us from embarrassment. The size and weight of these sewing kits is so minimal they can be carried or stored anywhere. Unless your teen’s nickname is ‘MacGyver’ it only makes sense to teach them to walk through life prepared for the inevitable.
Water Bottle Flavor Packets
Before Mio there existed granulated flavor packets. In fact, Dollar Tree carries sugar-free Wyler’s flavor packets. Each box contains 8 packets and each packet flavors a 16.9-oz. bottle of water — just add the powdered flavor to the water bottle and shake it up. One packet tucks nicely into a pocket and at 12.5 cents per bottle, it’s a (healthy) steal. Bonus: Wyler’s makes six different flavors and you are still drinking water!
No pressure, but the Mayan calendar hype was wrong so Plan A of getting out of Christmas shopping this year has been dashed. That being said, there are precious few shopping days left. Get crackin’ and Merry Christmas.