Small Gift Ideas for a Teen Girl's Advent Calendar -- AKA Stocking Stuffers
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You wouldn't think that finding 24 tiny little gifts for a teenaged girl would be hard, would you? Well, maybe you would, since you're here at this web page. I know it's hard! I think I should start on December 26th every year, instead of waiting until October, when the panic sets in.
Three main issues, starting with size. My Advent calendars were purchased (during an after-Christmas sale, mind you -- dang, those things are expensive) from Garnet Hill. One is a garland of knitted mittens and one is a garland of knitted stockings. They vary in size, but they aren't big, and the mittens/stockings only stretch so far! Basically a Chapstick fits perfectly, but 24 Chapsticks will not work for my little darlings.
Which brings me to the next issue: variety. I don't want to do too many of the same thing (one year, I gave my older daughter way too many lipsticks and she doesn't even wear lipstick. She was nice about it, though). 24 different tiny little gifts? Harder than it sounds.
Especially if you're cheap. Not breaking the bank on this project is difficult. One negative about writing this page is that I'm probably going to realize just how much I spend on these things every year. I'm not crazy about spending the money, but I'll have to say that the calendar is truly enjoyed -- it is just a fun way to add to the holiday spirit. I wish I had started doing it when my kids were much younger.
A side note about the calendar itself. As I mentioned, mine are a knitted garland from Garnet Hill. It does give you a little more flexibility for gift size/shape than say, a wooden box styled calendar, but it gets super-heavy. I drape mine over my kids' dressers, because I'd need serious nails in the wall to hold it up. If I had to do it again, I might buy or make the wall hanging style.
On the other hand, before I had these, I was a little more creative. One year, I used a 24-Cup Mini Muffin Pan just like this with taped-down holiday themed paper covers over each hole in the tin. Cute, cheap, and put away easy after Christmas! You'd need very small gifts, though -- those were the years when my daughter liked to make bead earrings. I put the instructions, the findings, and the beads into each little hole for her to make holiday earrings. They also have a red silicone 24-cup muffin tin, but I couldn't find a green one . . . yet.
Don't forget to check out easier and possibly cheaper options if your kids are younger or just into it; the pre-made Lego and Playmobil calendars are fun, easy, and (relatively) cheap:
- A Playmobil Santa's Workshop. My younger daughter got a different Playmobil Advent calendar for years. They come out with new ones, like a Playmobil Christmas Ball Advent Calendar or a Playmobil Christmas Toy Store Advent Calendar and they have not-so-Christmassy ones like Playmobil Horse Farm Advent Calendar and Playmobil NHL Road to the Cup Advent Calendar.
- A LEGO Star Wars Advent Calendar. This links to a Star Wars calendar (nothing says the holidays like product placement!) but they have un-branded LEGO Advent calendars, too, like LEGO Friends Advent Calendar.
- The Advent calendar fillers from Garnet Hill. However, they're expensive and only a few would work for my girls. I think they might work for boys, though, and their reviews are great.
Here's a list of links to (mostly Amazon-provided) possibilities. Don't forget to wander through Target or other "real" stores. The toy area in Target has tons of little items that would fit. And check-out counters at stores are lined with small items to tempt the impulse buyer. And without further ado, here is my list of Advent calendar filler items for teenaged girls:
- Candy, which might be the very easiest item if your child likes candy. One of mine does; one of them is neutral, but there are some candies she likes. Both of mine get a little chocolate Santa from See's. The size is perfect for my calendar, looks adorable peeking out of the mitten/stocking, it doesn't have to be wrapped (did I mention that I wrap all of these items? Yes, I am a masochist) and the chocolate is delicious. Other candy items included a pack of Trident gum, a little container of holiday-themed Jelly Bellies, and a small container of Newman's own licorice. The candy possibilities are endless -- it just depends on what your kid likes and how much (or little) candy you want to provide.
- Cash. I plan on giving my kids their year's allowance, and then I'll never have to hear "you didn't give it to me last week/month" again.
- A Chapstick. My older daughter gets this one from Honeybee Gardens and my younger daughter is going to get a similarly shaped one from EOS.
- Home made coupons. Ideally, these would be for non-expensive "experience" type treats. Here is a PDF like the ones I use, for things like a batch of cookies, eating out at somewhere not-so-expensive, getting pizza, going to Starbucks or to a local coffee shop or bakery or ice cream shop, going to a favorite place, movie night, etc. One of my daughters likes to play Monopoly (but nobody else does), so I think I might give her a coupon for a game of Monopoly this year. Free and she'd enjoy it -- perfect. Print them onto cardstock, fill out an experience that works for you, cut them out, and there you have it.
- Craft supplies. If she beads, then beads and findings are a click away at someplace like Fire Mountain Gems. Does she stamp or scrapbook? Go to Michael's and peruse the aisles. Does she like to make friendship bracelets? Craft supply stores have cord and embroidery thread galore. Knitting is harder because a skein of wool doesn't fit into an Advent calendar mitten, but knitting does have tiny little accessories like stitch markers and row counters. All available at Michael's or any craft store.
- Items from the dollar store. I don't go to the dollar store often because I always feel like I'm standing in a pre-landfill. I plan to go this year, just to see if I can score anything. This would be an inexpensive way to fill up an Advent calendar. I don't want to buy junk, but if I'm careful, there are definitely budget-friendly possibilities there. Update: I went yesterday and I didn't buy anything. If you have a younger kid, or they're into something currently popular like Star Wars, or you have a boy, I think the dollar store is probably worth a look. For my kids, I didn't see anything. A few years ago, Matchbox-sized cars, glow sticks/bracelets, some pop culture items all would have worked and they had them. Off-topic: they had a ton of decent-looking Halloween costume accessories.
- Electronica. A cute thumb drive? A six-foot iPhone cord? An SD card? Pink ear buds?
- Hair bands, barrettes, and pony tail holders. Last year I gave my teens those Elastic Hair Ties that were very popular at that point -- my younger daughter wore them as bracelets sometimes. You can find them in sports or hobby themes on Etsy. I bought keyboard-patterned for my piano player. This year I bought this Sparkly Soul Headband, which is expensive, but will fit beautifully in the calendar, got good reviews from online runners, and is something my kids need and will wear. The same headband is available in other colors, in a sparkly finish, etc., but I just got plain black because I'm boring. Neither of my teens ever wear barrettes, but if they did, I would get cute ones for the calendar.
- Jewelry. Tiny little stud earrings fit perfectly and you can go cheap or expensive. A little initial charm? A trendy bracelet? Lots of different jewelry items will fit.
- A lanyard. At my older daughter's school, the kids wear their keys on a lanyard around their neck (probably to brag that they drive to school). I got a cute lanyard at a craft fair, but she prefers a sports-themed lanyard.
- Makeup. Nothing fits into an Advent calendar better than a tube of lipstick, a mascara, a nail polish. Trial-sized shampoos or body washes fit, too. Makeup brushes, perfume samples, eye liners, again the possibilities are endless if your teen likes to wear makeup and you like to see her wearing makeup :). This year, I bought some essie nail polish minis, which I used for four days of my calendar. If you search for "mini nail polish," I predict you'll find something.
- Pop culture. Last year, I got my younger daughter a couple of Character Building Doctor Who Micro Figures. The figures are tiny; the bags need to be folded over to get them into an Advent calendar. The one negative is the price -- this is highway robbery for what you get: smaller than a Playmobil person. If your teen is into any pop culture genre, search Amazon or the store Hot Topic for that genre (I wonder if including the words "micro" or "mini" might be helpful). If she likes something that's really obscure, try Etsy where people are ignoring copyright issues and creating pop culture souvenirs right and left.
- School supplies. A pen, a pencil, an eraser -- nice ones that they'll actually use. Here are the three I bought: a mechanical pencil (I hate mechanical pencils, but my kids love them), an erasable pen, and a regular pen. I did not go to an office supply store this year, but I probably should have.
- A scratcher -- a scratch-off lottery ticket. They are available in a lot of denominations in my state -- I get the $1 holiday themed ones. Honestly, 24 days of scratchers would be kind of fun for me, but perhaps gambling isn't what we want the holidays to be all about for our kids, so one might be enough.
- Socks. Last year I bought Vans No Show Socks like these, but I got them at the Vans store, where they had a rack of different patterns to choose from. I bought the three pack and rolled up each pair individually -- nice and small. Also, if your teen exercises, socks like these are small enough to roll up the same way: ASICS Women's Intensity Single Tab Socks (3-Pack). And socks do get worn, so these are actually a useful item! You just have to get the right (thin) socks to fit into the calendar.
- Stickers. They stick them onto their laptop cases and probably a lot of other spots. Last year, I ended up buying a bunch from Redbubble but they're available from a lot of places.
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