You can find stocking stuffers in the most unlikely places, so don't stick to just the big department stores or online outlets when you're out shopping for gift ideas. Try aiming for something small and inexpensive your kids will actually use.
One example? Ticonderoga Noir pencils from Office Depot, of all places, appealed to me. I knew the kids would like the shiny-newness of the style, rather than the hum-drum yellow variety, and the shiny holographic print is eye-catching. And they're priced so low, you can pad out a few stockings with three or four each (Office Depot, 2.89/dozen).
Then there's Kooky Klickers, another fun twist on a staple your kids use every day. Each of these silly pens has a different "personality" and they're cute as can be, available in several varieties, with whole "families" of pen styles to choose from (available at novelty, specialty and toy shops nationwide, $3-5).
For kids with a great sense of humor, why not their very own PC as a stocking stuffer?! Only in this case, PC stands for Pencil Computer. With a "delete" end (the eraser) and an "input" end (the point), kids will get a kick out of having a PC of their very own--and one that fits in their pockets!
If you already have a real PC at home, you probably already need our next stocking stuffer idea--a big red Panic button for your keyboard, for those times when your screen freezes, your kids lose the homework paper they were *sure* they had saved on the hard drive--well, there's all kinds of applications! The Panic button won't actually solve your computer problems, of course, but it might help you find the humor in the situation. Also available is the Any Key, for those times when you're instructed to "Push Any Key" to continue (Pencil Computer, 2.99. Panic Button and Any Key, 1.00 each. All available at www.panicbuttons.com).
Head for the stationery rather than the pens and pencils, and you'll find surprisingly innovative ideas from Paradoxy Products. Paradoxy has a whole range of paper products with new and interesting twists, some of them thought-provoking (and when we can get our kids to think, that's a definite plus!):
FORTUNEPAPER is a simple but unique concept that comes with three different executions. All of these paper pads are designed for tearing, and the resulting pieces provide answers to your questions, thus 'predicting' your fortune.
- WISHPAPER--Give your kids a Wishbone of their own to tear in two--just like with a traditional wishbone, whoever gets the biggest piece is the winner in the paper version, too.
- DECISIONPAPER--If your kids are having a tough time making a decision, put the choices on the paper, tear it in two, and Ta DA! The decision is made for them!
- LOVEPAPER, for making romantic decisions, can help your teen decide thorny romantic issues, like whether or not to ask that special someone to the school dance.
If they don't need to make any choices, of course, they can just draw on the sheets of paper (each FORTUNEPAPER pad, 5.00, www.paradoxyproducts.com).
Paradoxy also offers the mind-bending Mozaniac Picture Puzzles (8.00), where the same six pieces can be turned in different directions to make four completely different pictures, and the impressive portable New Wave Chess and Checkers set (12.00) mentioned in our Games You Can All Play Together listing.