Here at After Alice we are hugely appreciative of a well hung Christmas stocking. However big yours are (and lets face it, size can vary a lot) to us, they are vessels of wonder and joy. There may be something bigger and officially more impressive waiting under the tree, but it is those Christmas mornings in bed with an oversized sock that we remember mostly warmly.
So here are some stocking suggestions, from us to you. We unapologetically include some favourites from last year, because we are all about the classic quality toy, rather than the flash in the pan, one year wonder.
1. IAmElemental Action Figure Series II.
We do bang on about these, but that is because we think they are really REALLY good. Well priced for such an awesome action figure and the perfect size to fit snug in a stocking. She may be small (4" high to be exact) but she is mighty. Your only difficult decision is which one to go for - Creativity, Mastery, Logic, Bloodymindedness . . .(okay I made that last one up).
Started by an enterprising American mum who wanted to see realistic female heroines on the shop shelves and who wasn't afraid to take on the big toy monoliths. We are delighted to support such audacity and were proud to be the first UK stockist of this brand.
2. Fabulous Fabbies.
Can you really resist? Everyone has their favourite. The small size are ideal for peeping out of the top of a stocking and they won't widdle on your shoe, or make vile smells from behind the sofa. Pug, Scottie Terrier, Bassett Hound and Daschund all available.
You can find them on the Conran Shop Website for £15 + £5.95 postage, or you can buy them from us for substantially less.
3. Watercolour Pencils by Djeco.
If you are like me and your heart sinks when your child asks 'can I do some painting?' these brilliant pencils are a godsend. No squirty paints to faff around with or get all over your festive tablecloth. This is about as simple and mess free as painting can possibly get.
This lovely little set of 12 quality art pencils is made for a stocking. Can be used as a pencil, or add a paintbrush and water for watercolour paints. (Also available in larger pack of 24)
Vintage perfection from the swinging sixties. Forget all the high tech electronic amusements, this little game will keep your Christmas guests entertained with quick wits and fast reflexes.
Whip your coloured mouse away before it is trapped under the cat's cup. Find out who in your family makes the trickiest Tom and quickest Jerry. This little gem reduces my daughters to delighted outrage in minutes.
5. Magnetic Personalities Finger Puppets.
Joan of Arc. Queen Elizabeth. Cleopatra. Marilyn Monroe. We have such a fun variety of wonderful women to waggle on your finger. A great way of introducing girls to historical role models you feel they would benefit from knowing about. Plus you can stick them to the fridge. Random but true. What's not to love?
You may have noticed I am rather partial to these too. I really think a little bag of these exquisite globes cannot be beaten. Give a child some of these to jangle in their pocket and they will be a happy little soul. The handmade ones are a delight to behold and well, hold. If you are looking for a bargain we have a real range (starting from 10p each). If your budget allows, we love the Crystal World Map Marble or Colour World Map Marble (altogether now 'she's got the whole world in her hand'), and for Roald Dahl Twit fans we have some eyeballs for horrifying the unsuspecting and frail of mind. T
There are so many games to enjoy once you have a handful of marbles. Get down on the floor and remember what it was like to be young and nimble (until your knees/hips/lumbago tell you otherwise). And don't get me started on homemade marble runs - simply a perfect Christmas afternoon pursuit.
7. Tatouage Temporary Tattoos
A tattoo set for the more discerning child or teen, looking for more than a skull & crossbones. These are beautiful designs inspired by the animal kingdom - over 100 tattoos, from birds, beetles and butterflies to seahorses and ladybirds. We love the wonderful mix of colourful designs in a variety of sizes and shapes, presented in a stylish book. For the flora lovers, Tatouage: Blossom is also available.
Perfect for parties and play dates, with just the right hint of rebellion (and non of the regret). A lovely treat during the school holidays when your child just wants to let their hair down and go wild.Each tattoo is non-toxic and transfers easily, leaving a vibrant design that will last a few days. Also includes art print keepsakes of the designs - a nice touch to last after the tattoo has faded.
8. Moomin Story Cubes
This is a nostalgic version of Rory's story cubes for Moomin lovers everywhere. The sweet illustrations are faithful to Tove Jansson's original creations and the 9 cubes allows umpteen picture combinations and hours of fun. If Moomin valley isn't your happy place but you love the idea of encouraging story telling we have a full range of story cubes including wooden versions too. All perfectly sized for even the slinkiest of stockings.
9. Doodle pillowcases.
One of our best sellers this year is the Doodle Pillowcase. A simple yet brilliant idea whereby the generous cotton pillowcase can be decorated, illustrated and written all over with the colourful double ended pens.
Ideal for little folk who aren't quite sleepy enough yet, and need a relaxing bedtime pursuit. I have found this works wonders with my daughter who can at times be an over-thinker, and finds it difficult to fall asleep. Some nights, she chooses to doodle, rather than read and it really seems to help her unwind.
The best bit is, all the ink washes out on a machine wash, ready for the next masterpiece. Also available with one side illustrated (world map or dinosaur).
Full range of doodletastic products can be seen here.
I refuse to say any more. Apart from this. If you cannot see how perfect a compass is as a stocking filler, you are possibly on the wrong site . . .
11. French Skipping Rope.
We are a big fan of low-tech fun. Plus this particular gift will get everyone moving after eating too much Christmas dinner. Far better than groaning on the sofa.
The colourful, elastic cord for skipping, jumping fun is traditionally played with 3 people but the ends can be stretched over chairs to enable one person to play too. Show your child how it is done. Remember those old playground rhymes, or make up some new ones.
Comes complete with stretchy storage band and sparkly shape to tie it back neatly together.
12. Christmas morning isn't really Christmas morning without that toy that produces a really irritating noise, and makes you instantly wish you hadn't bought it. A kazoo is a really easy way to achieve this. A harmonica in the wrong hands/mouth can also be pretty terrible, but at least you didn't get a violin. Wooden Train whistles and slide whistles are infinitely more friendly on the ear, which isn't to say that after the 40th blow you won't be ready to chuck it out the window.
So that is it (well we have a whole Christmas Stocking section if you are hungry for more)
May your stockings bulge pleasantly (unless it is due to varicose veins, then you have our sympathy), your children respond magically to your inspired present choices and you find some fancy way of serving sprouts that mean your guests might actually eat them.