During the holiday shopping rush, stocking stuffers often become second-tier gifts, obligatory trinkets. We think that’s the wrong approach. (Smaller gifts often get used the most!) Here’s our list of smart, fun, and useful presents that will fit in socks hung above the fireplace and make anyone happy on Christmas morning—and well afterward.
UCO Titan Stormproof Match Kit ($ 10)
This waterproof case holds 12 matches, so it’s perfect for the backcountry skier or winter camper on your list and should live in their safety kit at all times. Once they’re lit, they’ll burn for up to 15 seconds, which is handy for starting fires during emergencies or in suboptimal conditions.
Printworks Classic Dominos ($ 32)
We’re all spending more time inside nowadays, so games have taken on a new importance. If you’re tired of playing cards, Scrabble, and Monopoly, pull out these beautiful wood dominos to create hours of entertainment for the entire family. Practice your skills, then do your best impression of Ice Cube from this classic movie clip.
Field Notes National Parks Three-Pack ($ 13)
Keeping a journal often helps me during hard times. Writing down your thoughts and feelings—both the good and difficult ones—makes them easier to process. These notebooks are a great starting point, because they’re small enough to go everywhere with you and beautiful if they just sit on your desk at home.
Voormi Everyday Gaiter ($ 35)
This is currently my most used piece of gear. Designed to be an everyday COVID mask, it’s a high-quality wool neck tube with ear loops to ensure it stays up. When you’re driving or between stops, it conveniently rests around your neck. I’m also excited to use it as my main face covering for warmth and safety this ski season.
Huckberry Beanie ($ 28)
Made from an acrylic-wool blend, this beanie is ideal for cold walks with the dog or even backcountry skiing, but it’s not too thick or warm that I can’t wear it to stay cozy while working from home. Made in Japan and available in a ton of colors, it looks great on everyone and goes with nearly any outfit.
Jacobsen Salt Co. Habanero Salt ($ 11)
Jacobsen produces the best salt I’ve ever tasted (it’s hard to use anything else once you tried this brand), and this version adds a nice kick to a number of dishes. Sprinkle it on your eggs in the morning, add it to the rim of a cocktail in the afternoon, and eat it on your grilled chicken at dinner.
Urban Agriculture Grow Your Own Christmas Tree ($ 25)
Here’s a gift that truly keeps on giving. Thanks to easy instructions, you’ll have a spruce sprout in a couple months. After one year of indoor growth, it’ll be ready to plant outside. You can then leave it forever, or give it a handful of years and cut it down when you’re ready to celebrate Christmas around your very own hand-grown tree.
Cool Material Space Candle ($ 24)
Does space actually have a scent? Is that some sort of Zen koan? Either way, it’s a cool and ambitious idea to try and package what it might smell like out there. Give this candle to the space lover in your family, and they’ll be excited to light it up.
PhD Outdoor Ultra Light Grateful Dead x Smartwool Print Crew Socks ($ 27)
Fire on the Mountain, a short movie by Chris Benchetler that’s set to a Grateful Dead soundtrack, is by far my favorite ski film this season. It doesn’t try to impress us but instead just celebrates what it means to be outside. Along with the film, Benchetler also helped create a handful of Grateful Dead–inspired Smartwool products, including these lightweight socks, which are perfect for lounging around the house or for quick hikes on the trail.
Oura Ring Health Tracker ($ 300)
This is an expensive stocking stuffer, but it’s one that the right recipient will really love. As a ring, it’s less cumbersome than a watch and accurately tracks everything from your workouts to steps to sleep. I’m now completely addicted and also like the way it looks. My suggestion: go with the Heritage version in black.