My two favorite places for stocking stuffers are A Toy Garden and Stubby Pencil Studio. A Toy Garden has a special section devoted to "little things" and stocking stuff. Stubby Pencil Studio has a large selection of eco-friendly art supplies, toys and a selection of gifts under $10. Both stores make it possible for Santa's elves to bring smiles on a budget.
So, let's stuff an imaginary stocking. Ho, ho, ho! The rule is nothing over $10.
1. Wild Cards Bugs ($9.95)
Arielle and her daddy love reading books about animals. These cards are printed with beautiful buggy photographs and educational facts. They can be used to play three different card games: Memory, Old Maid, and Go Fish. They are suggested for ages five and up. There are two other sets available, North American mammals and Who's hiding? (camouflage).
2. Play Silk ($7.00)
Who doesn't love play silks. A Toy Garden's silks are made in the USA and are available in 24 different vibrant colors. They are 36x36 inch, hand-hemmed, home-dyed, thick (8mm) play silks.
Becky, a blog reader, emailed recently to tell me about how she uses play silks. She bought some some suction cups with hooks and expandable curtain rods to hang on the hooks. So she can hang a rod in a corner or between some chairs, and then she attaches the play silks with clothespins to make a temporary playhouse. The rods can also be set up in a hallway or a doorway to make a puppet stage. Thank you, Becky, great idea!
My girls use them as doll blankets, dress up clothes, and lately they like to blindfold each other and spin around. These are very versatile toys.
3. Washable Markers ($3.95)
We always need markers. Arielle uses hers every day. And, they must be washable because Linnea can't always be trusted (and washable marker wipes right off ultrasuede with a damp cloth). These markers are made in the USA from 25% recycled plastic. The packaging is 100% post consumer recycled.
If you give your child an ornament each year, they'll have the start of a nice collection when they grow up.
I went shopping with the girls this morning and every ornament we saw was made in China - and not particularly well made. And of course, my kids get their hands all over them and in their mouths and up their noses... If you search on "ornament" at A Toy Garden, there is a great selection of inexpensive ornaments, made in the USA and Germany or that handmade fair trade items from other countries. Here are a couple I like from Germany.
Ladybug Ornament ($4.95)
Puppet Theater Ornament ($8.95)
5. Finger Puppets ($9.95)
These fair trade puppets are hand knit in Peru, so no two are the same. They come in sets of five, so you can split them between your kids. We love puppets here. Whenever we go on a car trip, the girls fill their purses with finger puppets, and they play with them while I drive.
6. Mini Animal Set ($9.95)
These are not for kids that put things in their mouths - they are teeny - only 1/4" to 1 1/4" tall. Arielle loves itty bitty little animals like this and will sit for hours making up stories and adventures. The set includes a deer, rabbit, pig, dog, cat, frog, hummingbird and snake.
7. Tie-Up Shoe ($7.95)
Eventually, even velcro-lovers have to learn to tie shoes. It's much easier when the shoe isn't on your foot. Five-year-old Arielle is getting one of these. I'm sure Linnea will try to string beads on the laces. She's silly.
8. Starlight wand ($5.95)
Tap the wand and it plays a note. The wands are fun for both boys and girls and are made in Mexico. Arielle and Linnea have never seen these, but my older kids tried some out at a fair when they were little, and they were fascinated.
9. Snifty Gingerbread Pen ($2.00)
My girls love ballpoint pens and mine are always being snatched away. These pens are made in the USA, are nontoxic and cute and are seasonally scented (like gingerbread - yum!).
10. Wood Tea Bags ($9.95)
or treats from Haba. These are cute, sturdy and made in Germany. They will get years of play. But, the treats are doll-sized, so they are not for children who like to mouth their toys.
11. Made By Me Bug ($4.00)
I think I've mentioned these a lot. That's because the girls love them so much and they are such a good deal. All you need is a hammer and some art supplies. Your child attaches the wheels and then decorates the wooden vehicle. Voila! A personalized toy. And, they will be so proud. I'm putting more in Arielle and Linnea's stocking this year.
12. Ladybugs In A Pot ($9.95)
Our very favorite!! These were Linnea's favorite toy last year and she still plays with them almost daily. She uses them as ingredients in soup, for counting and sorting, as little pets, and today she was wrapping them in a play silk and giving them to me as a gift.
And now for your holiday surprise. One very lucky reader will win a $25 gift card from A Toy Garden and another will win a $75 gift card (with free shipping) from Stubby Pencil Studio. That can stuff a whole lot of stocking.
How do you enter? Go to both sites and then post a comment suggesting one stocking stuffer from each site that I haven't mentioned. There are so many good things on both sites, that this should be super easy. It doesn't have to be under $10.
I'll announce the winners on December 12th, so there will be just enough time for shipping.