There are many, many Christmas stocking origin stories, but perhaps the most famous goes something like this. A poor man was struggling to find the cash to pay for the weddings of his three daughters and wouldn’t accept any help. So, kindly St Nicholas popped some bags of gold down the poor man’s chimney where they landed in stockings hanging up to dry, changing the family’s fortunes. Hence, children hang stockings up hoping the big man will fill them with bounty.
Today, there are literally thousands of options for filling children’s stockings, but we wanted to ensure that all the items in this round-up are small in size and relatively low in price (sub £30, with one exception that has a very good reason for being so).
Some might argue that the whole point of stocking fillers is that they are filled with inexpensive, whimsy, pointless trifles, but we wanted to steer clear of single-use plastic or anything that might be construed as, for want of a better phrase, cheap tat. We wanted to only recommend things that could be used again and again, were well made, and in many cases eco-conscious.
We think socks, toiletries, books, games and jewellery all make brilliant stocking fillers. We haven’t included an entry for a tangerine, but obviously, every stocking needs one of those too.
How we tested
Given the broad scope of the items in this round-up, it’s impossible to test like for like in any sort of controlled way. So, what we did was examine each product ourselves for quality, size and ease of use before giving it to a child of relevant age to use, too. We wanted to see their eyes light up with excitement or interest before using, wearing or playing with it easily, happily and with joy.
The best stocking fillers for children for 2021 are:
- Best overall – Rowdy Kind hair & everywhere bar: £10, Rowdykind.com
- Best bulk buy – Build Your Own mini build bundle: £33.97 for four, Buildyourownkits.com
- Best accessory – Enamel weekday hair slides: £12.50, Merimeri.co.uk
- Best for older children – Moleskine Hello Kitty notebook: £23.99, Moleskine.com
- Best baby book – ‘Peekaboo Moon’ by Camilla Reid and Ingela P Arrhenius, published by Nosy Crow: £7.99, Nosycrow.com
- Best for bakers – Colour Works round cookie cutters: £4.49, Littlecooksco.co.uk
- Best for creative kids – Janod llama pom poms: £9.99, Popsyandpeanut.com
- Best portable game – Hape Gone Fishin’: £4.10, Yesbebe.co.uk
- Best for babies – Critically Endangered ocean baby socks: £13, Criticallyendangered.co.uk
- Best for cute factor – Le Toy Van forest stackers: £14.95, Letoyvan.co.uk
- Best for fashionistas – Mimi & Lula diplodocus handbag: £16, Kidly.co.uk
Rowdy Kind hair & everywhere bar
This little bar smells completely luscious: sweet and clean but its fragrance is only a fraction of its charm. Plastic-free and housed in a smart refillable tin, this soap is eco-friendly for use from top to toe and designed for sensitive children’s skin. This is the perfect practical but fun stocking filler.
Build Your Own mini build bundle
Best: Bulk buy
These Built Your Own kits are brilliant for adventurous children who like to solve problems. Yes, these are over £30 but there are four of them, perfect for dividing between stockings. We think children aged seven or below might need an adult to help them out but three of our testers, aged from 5 to 11 years old, were completely engrossed in the task of building a ladybird, a bumblebee and a dragonfly respectively. The parts – all plastic-free and made from sustainable cardboard and paper – come in a flat box and must be assembled without needing glue or any other adhesive. Once built, children will love pulling the tab to make the wings move.
Enamel weekday hair slides
Fantastically kitsch, these hair slides will be a welcome addition to the jewellery boxes of any young fashionista. Made from gilt brass, we think they’re best for children aged seven or over, as younger children might struggle with placing them in their hair. We thought these were awesome and kind of want them for ourselves!
Moleskine Hello Kitty notebook
Best: For older children
Grown-up luxury stationery brand Moleskine has launched a collection of beautiful limited edition notebooks for children featuring themes including Hello Kitty, The Little Prince and Pinocchio. As well as having all the usual features of Moleskine pads, including lots of space on quality paper on which children can jot down their thoughts, plans and lists, there are stickers, illustrations and a story card included.
‘Peekaboo Moon’ by Camilla Reid and Ingela P Arrhenius, published by Nosy Crow
Best: Baby book
The latest book from Ingela Arrhenius is full of gorgeous illustrations, hidden slides and even a shiny mirror. It’s built to last with thick durable card pages and boasts bright, clear colourways. Detailing nightly rituals including bath time and bottle time, babies will love the familiarity of what they find in Peekaboo Moon.
Colour Works round cookie cutters
Best: For bakers
Every star baker needs their own cookie cutters and this multi-coloured set of six gets our vote – inexpensive, pretty and able to cut through dough easily and safely (thanks to their lack of sharp edges). With circumferences from 5cm to 10cm your little baker will be able to choose how big or small their bakes are. A lovely affordable introduction to working in the kitchen together.
Janod llama pom poms
Best: For creative kids
For little ones – aged four and older – who can’t get enough of llamas, this crafty activity will keep them occupied for hours. There are three boards, with a llama-related scene illustrated on each as well as some 200 colourful pompoms and threads to add a 3D element. Cute, fun and compact – this is a superb stocking filler.
Hape Gone Fishin’
Best: Portable game
Stored in a tiny tin are eight numbered fish and a rod – each with magnets stuck to them. Players must take it in turns to “catch” a fish. When all the fish have been caught, each player adds up the numbers – the player with the highest total wins. It’s a super simple game, perfect for younger children working on their fine motor skills and maths.
Critically Endangered ocean baby socks
Best: For babies
Socks are a stocking filler favourite and these baby socks are not only bright and super soft, thanks to being made from 80 percent organic cotton, but they are also part of an important cause. Ten percent of the sales of these packs of four – featuring designs of an orca, a kemp’s ridley sea turtle, a sea otter and a Singapore freshwater crab respectively – will go to the World Wildlife Fund UK.
Le Toy Van forest stackers
Best: For cute factor
These nine wooden toys shaped like woodland animals including a hedgehog and a mouse are ideal for little ones to stack up and watch tumble down. Coloured using non-toxic paints, these are bright and cheerful, with an old-fashioned feel and are easy to travel with thanks to a small fabric bag the shapes can be tidied away into. If woodland animals aren’t your little one’s favourite creatures there are a few other natural world themes in this stacking range to choose from.
Mimi & Lula diplodocus handbag
Best: For fashionistas
Who wouldn’t want to accessorise with a diplodocus-themed handbag? This chic little number can fit in a few pennies, some gems and jewels or perhaps even a snack. Perfect for dressing up, festive parties and everything in between.
The verdict: Stocking fillers for children
It’s really difficult to choose an overall best when there are so many varied products within one round-up. However, we think Rowdy Kind’s hair & everywhere bar makes for the best stocking filler on so many levels. It works for any age and is gentle on skin. It is also fun, smells great, is inexpensive and physically small in size ideal for stockings. We also think you can’t go wrong with the Build Your Own kits or the Moleskine notebooks.
For the latest discounts on kids’ clothing, try the links below:
If you’re looking for the perfect gift for your baby this Christmas, have a look at our gift guide for newborns, including rockers, sleepsuits, cuddly toys and more
IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.
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