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 previous years, because we are all about the classic quality toy, rather than the flash in the pan, one year wonder.
1. Something cute, small and fluffy.
I don't care how old you are, we all love to cuddle. We are very taken with these mini Highland Cows. Beautifully made. Wonderfully soft. Poking out the top or hiding at the bottom.
2. Something to work off all the turkey / nut roast.
If you are going to skip, choose a wonderful skipping rope. A good one can last you all your life. This Ice-Cream Skipping Rope has wooden handles and is bright and colourful. Perfect for the ice-cream lovers (and lets face it, the ice-cream lovers had better learn to skip to offset dessert).
3. Something to play.
I am not sure if you noticed but we currently have a rather impressive array of Dobble on our site. If you have somehow managed to not play a game of Dobble before (where have you been? Mars?) then delay no further. Dobble is simply brilliant. You can explain it to your Auntie Jan in minutes, and then beat her repeatedly across the festive break. It is incredibly addictive, even if you don't win. Personally, we love Dobble Minions, but there are versions for Pixar, Princess and Gruffalo fans too (whilst stocks last!). Comes in a compact tin which is great for storage, entertainment on the go, and for fitting in stockings!
4. Something useful (and cool)!
A generous category this one. I am going to suggest the humble pencil set (bear with me). Pencils are always useful. It is also cunning to have some that are clearly yours (for when siblings and school mates decide to 'borrow' them). We love these 'Bookish Pencils'. Pack of 6 HB pencils each with a slogan printed on them. Because let's be honest, nine times out of ten, the book WAS better. Peace, Proud and Storyteller pencils also available.
5. Essential way finding kit (enhance those Geocache walks)
Compass. 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 . . .
If you know me at all you may have noticed I am rather partial to marbles. 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 (Big Top 16mm featured). 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. 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. Something to make everyone laugh.
Now some toys are incredibly overhyped. And then some games are such a wonderful dose of silliness, they deserve (and survive) all the ridiculous over promotion. We are pleased to report that Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza is more than just a ludicrous title. It has been thoroughly played all year in our house, and it is still incredibly popular, and no less silly. Essentially very cute snap, with a wacky mantra thrown in, plus some special cards with special actions. Just to keep you all on your toes. Quick to learn. Hugely enjoyable to play. Perfect compact fun. And unofficially, a brilliant drinking game when the kids are in bed.
8. Keep things Minty Fresh this Christmas
These tiny mint tins are inspired. Easily tucked in pockets and stockings. With Mistletoe everywhere take no chances (Brussel sprout breath, be gone). And the tin is way too cool not to reuse when all the mints have been enjoyed. We have several varieties but feel Before The Kiss Peppermints are especially perfect for teens.
9. An adornment
Buying for teens and tweens will never be easy. But it is possible to keep gifts unplugged and still hit the mark. These lovely necklaces are modern and fresh. The funky packaging provides perfect storage and ensures the chain remains tangle free. There are several designs. We love the Colourwheel Pendant (which has the added bonus of going with everything!).
10. Fire their imagination
We love a toy that is open ended and sparks imagination. Rory Story Cubes are a great way to provide a prompt to children to take them on a storytelling adventure. There are several varieties. This Heroes version comes in a handy tin for easy storage, on-the-go fun and is just the right size for a stocking. Stocking on the small side? Rory Story Cube Mix contain 3 dice for even more compact fun.
11. Get creative with your stocking
These Colour - In Christmas stockings are a very cool idea. Another clever innovation from the team at Eat Sleep Doodle (we are big fans). Christmas colouring in on one side, and a Christmas list on the other. Can be used year after year (includes set of washable pens) and then passed on to younger siblings. Machine washable.
12. Finally, 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.
So there you have it, a few festive suggestions from us. Of course there are plenty more options on our site.
May your stockings bulge pleasantly (unless it is due to varicose veins, then you have our sympathy) and your children respond magically to your inspired present choices.