The most memorable stocking stuffers are rarely extravagant or expensive, but rather small, simple gifts that make people laugh or challenge their minds…without requiring batteries or an Internet connection. These twelve vintage stocking stuffers fall into that category – classics that will never go out of style.
“It walks down stairs, alone or in pairs…everyone knows it’s Slinky!” For decades, Slinky lovers have delighted in watching these helical springs hop, skip, and jump down step after step. When climbing up and down flights of stairs becomes exhausting, Slinkys can also be used to make music, as radio antennas, and for zero-gravity physics experiments. Talk about a multi-purpose stocking stuffer!
Magic 8 Ball
“Will Santa bring me a new bike? Will I get asked to the prom? Will I pass my calculus final exam?” Whatever the question, the fortune-telling Magic 8 Ball always offered an answer. Except, of course, when it frustratingly responded, “Ask again later.”
In the late 1980s, slap bracelets appeared seemingly overnight on the wrists of almost every child, pre-teen, and teenager. Bright colors and garish patterns gave wearers the opportunity to flaunt their personal style, and the unique design kept wearers entertained. The popularity of the bracelets waned slightly in the 2000s (several schools banned them because they kept students a little too entertained), but their recent comeback makes them perfect for stuffing in stockings.
At last, game pieces kids (and adults) will willingly pick up off the floor! Though the exact history of Pick-Up Sticks is unknown, the game likely originated hundreds of years ago in China and earned its English name from the nursery rhyme, “…five, six, pick up sticks.” Pick-Up Sticks require a basic level of physical and mental skill, but the game is easy to teach and easier to learn, making it the perfect game for Christmas house guests to play together.
Leg Lamp Ornament
Thanks to the 1983 holiday comedy A Christmas Story, the fishnet stocking-clad leg lamp has become one of “the most iconic and recognizable movie props of all time.” For those who adore the cult classic film but might consider an “indescribably beautiful” life-size leg lamp a bit too gaudy, a Christmas tree ornament version makes a perfect stocking stuffer.
Next to the ice cream truck, there is no more anticipated and exciting vehicle, certainly for children and perhaps even adults, than the Oscar Mayer Weinermobile. In 1952, Wienermobile drivers began handing out hotdog-shaped whistles. Sixty-four years later, these now world-famous Wiener Whistles still resemble hot dogs (though the design has changed slightly to prevent choking) and play the four-note “OS-CAR-MAY-ER” tune. Who does not want to hear that melody first thing Christmas morning?
Music lovers, or anyone who enjoys starting Christmas morning off with a cacophony of sound, will rejoice when they find a kazoo (along with a Wiener Whistle, of course) stuffed inside their stocking. Some question if the kazoo deserves its musical instrument moniker, given that the buzzing timbral quality it adds to the player’s voice does not always please the ears. However, this toy is easily played by anyone and so it remains as popular today as it was when released in the 1920s.
Invented in 1974, the Rubik’s Cube has found its way into hundreds of millions of dexterous, puzzle-loving hands. With 42 quintillion possibilities and only one correct arrangement, solving the 3-D combination puzzle can seem impossible at first; with a little help from an expert or YouTube, however, even novices can crack the cube. Just do not commit the most egregious Rubik’s Cube faux pas: removing and replacing the stickers!
Since 1960, artists of all ages have been creating and showcasing their masterpieces on thick, flat, gray screens surrounded by red plastic frames. From the most basic horizontal and vertical lines to elaborate cityscapes and portraits, Etch-a-Sketch art has been all the rage for more than 50 years. While a full-sized Etch-a-Sketch might not fit in a stocking, a miniature version would slip inside perfectly, and the miniature size still offers hours of creative fun on Christmas morning and beyond.
Mention clay animation to anyone born after 1950 and one character comes to mind: Gumby. This bright green humanoid character teamed up with his sidekick, a talking orange pony named Pokey, to entertain kids and adults through two television series and a feature-length film’s worth of adventures, eventually earning recognition as a cultural icon. In recent years, Gumby returned to the small screen, making Christmas the perfect time to stuff lovable and bendable Gumby into your loved ones’ stockings.
With origins tracing back to 500 B.C., originating in ancient Greece and Egypt, the yo-yo boasts a widespread and lasting popularity, unlike any other toy, across cultures and generations. Its simple but dynamic design lends itself to both basic play and more advanced tricks like the Sleeper, the Elevator, and Walk the Dog, all of which will surely impress the guests at Christmas dinner.
Last but not least, slip a piece of old-fashioned ribbon candy beneath the rest of the stocking stuffers. When the gifts have been opened and the chaos of Christmas morning has settled down, family and friends can sit back, relax, and enjoy the sweet taste of nostalgia.