Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween / Blogaversary Tomorrow!

First of all, Happy Halloween! My husband and I really enjoy Halloween, even though we don't have kids. Last night we went to the last of our five weeks of Friday-night hip-hop classes learning the dance routine from Michael Jackson's Thriller video. We all went in costume and they video-taped it for us so we'll have a memento of how good we were. Or, you know, not! But no matter how good or bad we were, it was great exercise and a lot of fun.

Tonight we have a Halloween party to go to, although we're going to wait until after the trick-or-treaters have been by. We usually get over 100 in our neighborhood! Right now my husband is carving a pumpkin and we're working on decorations. So I'd better get back to it, but before I go...

Tomorrow is my one-year anniversary on Amy's Stocking Stuffers! I made my first post on November 1, 2008, and I haven't missed a single day since! Just in time to head into the true stocking stuffer season, and to celebrate, I'm going to be doing weekly stocking stuffer giveaways during the month of November. The giveaways will be announced each Tuesday beginning November 3, the entry periods will run through each Friday, and I'll draw the winners randomly each Saturday. Each giveaway will be for a different selection of stocking stuffers, but that's all I'm going to say for now!

Thanks for reading, be safe as you celebrate Halloween, and be sure to come back to check my weekly stocking stuffer giveaways in November!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Doctor Who Tardis USB Hub

For today's luxury Friday stocking stuffer: The Doctor Who Tardis USB Hub! Just as the tardis is Doctor Who is much larger on the inside than on the outside, this tardis hub lets you connect more USB devices to your computer than you otherwise could. At 4.5 inches high, it should fit into a stocking, and with the revival of Doctor Who in the last few years, it's perfect for both sci-fi fans and computer geeks!

(You might try shopping around to see if you can find a better price on this -- it's bound to be carried by lots of other companies too.)

What: Doctor Who Tardis USB Hub
Where: Gifts for a Geek website
How much (as of today's post): $29.99 (plus shipping)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Free Halloween Coloring Pages from Land O'Lakes

Free is always good, right? And things on the internet are great for those of us who leave things to the last minute! So here is a link to the Land O'Lakes website, which has several free Halloween coloring pages that you can download as PDF files. These have so many possible uses!

  • Something to keep your own kiddos busy on Saturday when you're rushing around trying to finish up errands before trick-or-treat or party time.

  • Something you can tie up in a scroll with black or orange curling ribbon, to surprise your kids with at the breakfast table on Saturday.

  • And last but not least, if you're a stamper or crafter, you might utilize portions of these pages as digital stamps, to color in yourself for cards, tags, or Halloween treat bags. I especially like the page with the three little trick-or-treaters dressed as a witch, a cat, and a pirate. These little cuties aren't quite as adorable as the Anya and Ian stamps from the Greeting Farm, or Bella and Bronte from Mo's Digital Pencil Too, but they're really pretty darn cute and I can just see them on cards!

[NOTE: I first came across these freebies at Nicole's Nickels. Also, please note these images are copyrighted, so make sure you credit the Land O'Lakes site and don't send them around willy-nilly -- send people to the Land O'Lakes website instead!]

What: Free Halloween Coloring Pages from Land O'Lakes
Where: Land O'Lakes website
How much (as of today's post): free!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Licorice Black Cats

What says Halloween more than a black cat? These black licorice cats make a slightly out-of-the-ordinary Halloween food gift, although you'll want to make sure the recipient really likes black licorice since it's such a specific taste! You can find these at various places online, but since time is getting short for Halloween, your better bet at this late date would be to find a speciality candy store and buy in person. Done up in a little glass jar with some black and orange ribbon (or orange, purple, and green), these would make a classy little Halloween gift.

Question of the day: How many of you have already bought candy for trick-or-treaters, and how many of you have already opened one of those bags?! We get about a hundred trick-or-treaters each year, and we really look forward to it. We bought our candy a few days ago, and for once we've managed to stay out of it so far!

What: Licorice Black Cats
Where: Candy stores
How much (as of today's post): (varies)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Party Manners Coasters

Since these coasters are made of paper and are essentially for one-time use, they are a little pricey, but you have to admit they're funny, and would make a cute little gag gift in a hostess basket, or a stocking stuffer for your family member who loves to entertain. After all, what hostess doesn't need to occasionally remind her guests not to: 1) double dip, 2) eat all the shrimp, or 3) pick through the nuts? I have definitely had a few guests in my home over the years that could have used some gentle reminders....

(And if you're crafty, or even just environmentally concerned, you could probably find a way to make something similar yet reusable, perhaps with customized sayings!)

What: Party Manners Coasters
Where: Spoon Sisters website
How much (as of today's post): $9.95 for set of 12 (plus shipping)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Jo!e Small Fry Mini Pan

On Saturday, I posted about my trip to Bed Bath & Beyond, and said I had found one thing so cute that I wanted to save it for its own post. Here it is: the Jo!e Small Fry Mini Pan, which is just big enough for one egg, and just small enough to fit in a generous-sized stocking! I wasn't able to find the exact dimensions online, but I could tell from looking at it in the store that it would just fit in the size of Christmas stockings my husband and I use. Is it not the cutest thing you've ever seen? It looks like a doll-sized pan!

In any case, I think this would be a terrific stocking stuffer for an adult who cooks for one, a college student in their first apartment, or even someone who is married but only one of the spouses likes eggs, which is the case with me and my husband. The pan was $7.99 at Bed Bath & Beyond, which is quite a good price for an unusual and useful stocking stuffer. I did see it for sale at various places online, but listed for $9.00 or higher, so I'd be inclined to just pick it up at the store. There's also a similar mini omelette pan, but it's slightly larger and would be more difficult to fit in a stocking.

What: Jo!e Small Fry Mini Pan
Where: Bed Bath & Beyond or other kitchen stores
How much (as of today's post): $7.99

Sunday, October 25, 2009

DIY Patterns for Felt Halloween Candy, Cookies, & Jack O'Lantern

It's the last Sunday before Halloween, so for my Etsy post, I thought I'd feature a Halloween item that you can either do yourself if you're quick and crafty, or give the patterns to the crafter in your life as a little Halloween gift. Etsy seller Umecrafts sells lovely patterns and tutorials which she sends via PDF file on e-mail, which means you don't have to pay or wait for shipping. This particular set is an adorable jack o'lantern that you fill with a set of Halloween cookies and candies.

If you're crafty but not quick enough to do these in time for Halloween, be sure to check out the Gingerbread house and cookies set for Christmas, or take a look at her wide selection of other food and cake patterns. Honestly, some of them look good enough to eat!

What: DIY Patterns for Felt Halloween Candy, Cookies, & Jack O'Lantern
Where: Umecrafts (an Etsy shop)
How much (as of today's post): $5

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Stocking Stuffers at Bed Bath & Beyond

Today I took a little trip to Bed Bath & Beyond because I needed a new, more airtight container for cat food. So I thought I'd do a little stocking stuffer scouting (try saying that five times fast!) at the same time. I actually found one thing so adorably cute that I'm going to save it for its own post on Monday, but in the meantime, here are a few of the tidbits I found:

  • Oxo mini silicon spatula for $6.99. These came in black, green, and purple.

  • Paperhouse magnets for $1.99. These are essentially magnets made from photos and cut to the exact shape of the object. There are flowers, cats, dogs, butterflies, holiday items, and more.

  • Li'l Lewis animal luggage tag for $9.99, including pandas, ladybugs, and others. [Updated 10/25/09 -- The Container Store carries this same brand of luggage tags for $7.99!]

  • Travelon toothbrush covers, $2.99 for a set of two.

  • Boo Boo Buddy flexible ice packs for kids, including sports, pets, cars, and farm and jungle animals, for $4.99 apiece.

  • Apara Jammies aloe hydrating socks, pack of two for $9.99

This doesn't even touch upon all the cute measuring spoon sets, mini kitchen appliances, and a whole row of sample-sized toiletries. So basically, it would be possible to completely stuff a stocking just by visiting Bed Bath & Beyond once!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Edward Gorey "Cat on a Unicycle" Pin

I know I've posted before about an Edward Gorey cat pin -- his "cat on books", to be precise (see here) -- but considering the herd of cats I have at home, I don't think I can be held responsible for my feline weakness when it comes to stocking stuffers! Allowances must be made!

In any case, don't you just love this whimsical cat on a unicycle, with his scarf blowing in the breeze? (I wonder whether the number "31" on the scarf has any special significance.) Made of sterling silver, the pin measures approximately 1 x 1.75 inches. It makes me happy just looking at it.

What: Edward Gorey "Cat on a Unicycle" Pin
Where: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston online store
How much (as of today's post): $54.00 regular price / $48.60 member price (plus shipping)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Talk to the Hand Sticky Notes

As the Perpetual Kid website says, "Oh no you di-n't!" That is, you didn't just put these "talk to the hand!" sticky notes in your teenager's stocking, did you? Actually, I think they would be cute for teens, and I think college students would enjoy them for leaving notes on each other's dorm room doors (assuming they still do that -- or is it all about the texting these days?!). Or maybe your chick-flick buddy (i.e. your best friend, if you're a woman) would like them.

The pad of 300 sticky notes measures 3 inches wide by 6 inches tall -- plenty of room to get your message across!

What: Talk to the Hand Sticky Notes
Where: Perpetual Kid website
How much (as of today's post): $6.49 (plus shipping)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Daily Extra / Follow-up: Bananagrams

Way back in December, I posted about the Bananagrams game that I'd seen all over the place for last Christmas season: in Hallmark card stores, in department stores, in this little game kiosks they set up in the mall.... Well, now that I've actually played it a few times, I wanted to mention it again because it really is a very fun game! My husband and I went to the World Science Fiction Convention in Montreal back in August, and the hotel we were staying in gave us so many Happy Hour free drink coupons that we could have spent the entire trip tipsy. Instead, we invited our friends who were in other hotels to come over for Happy Hour. One of them brought Bananagrams, and because it requires no pencils, no paper, no nothin', we played right there in the bar while drinking wine and munching on cheese and crackers.

Lots and lots of fun. I definitely recommend playing with at least three people, though. You can play with two, but it's just not as fun.

I've also noticed that there are imitators waiting in the wings for this Christmas season -- at least two games in little apple-shaped pouches (Appletters and Scrabble Apple), and even a green pear-shaped game called Pairs in Pears! Me, I think I'll stick with the bananas for a while.

I won't bother listing where to buy this, because you're going to see it everywhere this holiday season. I even saw a Spanish version on Amazon!

Pecan Pumpkin Butter

We've finally had a few days of cooler weather -- for the first time since about last March, I was able to (gasp!) turn off the air conditioning and open the windows! I love autumn, and I miss having a real one here in Houston. But I'll count my blessings for any day under 80 degrees.

Today's Wednesday food stocking stuffer seems very autumn-like, and very appropriate for Halloween: Muirhead pecan pumpkin butter from Williams-Sonoma. One 13.5 ounce jar makes a 9 inch pumpkin pecan pie, or if you prefer you can use it as a spread on quickbreads and muffins. For pie, you just blend with eggs and cream -- the spices are already there.

Mmmmm..... I can smell the pie baking already!

What: Pecan Pumpkin Butter
Where: Williams-Sonoma website or stores
How much (as of today's post): $9.95

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

80s Cube Clock

I grew up amidst the Rubik's Cube craze, and even (after reading a how-to book) learned to solve it. So this 80s Cube Clock from Vat19 gave me a wave of nostalgia! It's a little pricey for a stocking stuffer at just under $20, but it's both fun and functional, and would be cute for kids, teens, college students, or geeks of any age. You rotate the top to change modes from clock to alarm to calendar to temperature. It's three inches high and requires one AA battery. Pretty clever, don't you think?

What: 80s Cube Clock
Where: Vat19 website
How much (as of today's post): $19.95 (plus shipping)

Monday, October 19, 2009

Charlie and Lola Halloween DVD

Charlie and Lola are two of my favorite contemporary children's book characters. Way back in January, I posted about the Charlie and Lola Go Fish Game as a potential stocking stuffer, and just this weekend I picked up some more Charlie and Lola books at Half Price Books. Although I knew they had DVDs, I have never really paid attention to them, but the other day I came across the Charlie and Lola Halloween DVD on The Dirty T-shirt blog. How perfect at this time of year!

Whether your children already know Charlie and Lola or not, they're sure to love seeing their animated adventures. Lola is an exceedingly imaginative child, and she's always getting into little scrapes that her patient big brother Charlie helps her out of. This DVD is two hours long, with eight other parts unrelated to Halloween in addition to the "What Can I Wear For Halloween?" segment. Oh, and since these books are from a British author, I understand the characters have British accents!

What: Charlie and Lola Halloween DVD
Where: Charlie and Lola, Vol. 9: What Can I Wear for Halloween?
How much (as of today's post): $11.99

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Hardwood Peg Ink Stamps from Etsy Seller Norajane

Here's a type of ink stamp I've never come across before: tiny images mounted on hardwood pegs that are 3 1/2 inches long. Not only are these images from Etsy seller Norajane adorable and perfect for creating borders and patterns, they're easy to use and are therefore suitable for beginners, including children, as well as experienced stampers. The prices are also terrific: as low as $2.00 for some stamps, and only $6.00 for some of the sets, such as the package with a bow you see above.

As often happens when I post about Etsy sellers, the hardest part is choosing which images to show! Pictured above are holly leaves, the box and bow set, and the pumpkin, all lovely seasonal choices. To the right are the tree frog, pine cone, owl, and ladybug. What I haven't pictured are the candy cane, poinsettia, apple (great for making teacher appreciation cards or gifts), starfish, cat, button, pocket watch, rabbit (suitable for Easter), antique phone, and a large selection of birds, flowers, branches and vines, and leaves. It's difficult to choose, but with such low prices you can get several without breaking the bank.

And of course they're the perfect size for stocking stuffers!

What: Hardwood Peg Ink Stamps
Where: Norajane (an Etsy shop)
How much (as of today's post): $2-$6 (plus shipping)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Stocking Stuffers at an Art Supply Store

If you have an art supply store near you, it is probably a treasure trove of stocking stuffers! Today I went to my local store, Texas Art Supply, and here a few of the things I found there:

  • Pocket Posh mini-puzzle books from the Andrews McMeel Publishing Company, including sudoku, sukendo, word search, brain games, logic puzzles, and more.
  • Mrs. Grossman's Stickers, which is a brand I've not seen before. My favorite were the Eric Carle stickers from A Very Hungry Caterpillar
  • Strathmore supplies for artist trading cards, including ATC-sized envelopes, and mini paper suitable for watercolors and acrylics already cut into the right dimensions
  • Yasutomo Fold 'Ems origami paper -- the smallest size, 4 and 5/8 inches square, would fit nicely into a stocking, and a book on origami would make a great paired gift for under the tree
  • Stuart Houghton ceramic monogram mini seals and wax
  • assorted ink stamps (including an adorable polar bear I bought for myself)
  • Copic markers (in case you're stuffing a stocking for serious crafter)
  • Dover miniature sticker, activity, and temporary tattoo booklets

And this is just a drop in the bucket. So don't just stick to dollar stores, grocery stores, and drugstores for your stocking stuffers!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Silk Jewelry Roll

Here's a lovely, luxury, Christmas stocking stuffer for a daughter, wife, sister, or mother who loves jewelry and pretty things: a Thai silk jewelry roll for transporting jewelry so that it doesn't become tangled. The roll comes with one large pocket and three smaller zippered pockets; it rolls up and ties with the attached string for security. It comes in red or black, and can be monogrammed with up to three initials. It looks to me as if the monogram is included in the $24.95 cost, but it's not 100% clear, so I would be inclined to order this with Customer Service over the phone rather than ordering it online.

What: Silk Jewelry Roll
Where: Red Envelope website
How much (as of today's post): $24.95 (plus shipping)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

"Sign & Seal" Pen and Holder

Here's a cute little guy who will keep track of a desk pen: a seal who balances the black ballpoint pen on his nose, and who can even hang on to it while it's spinning! The seal base is 3.25 inches high, and it uses magnets to hold the 4.5 inch long pen.

I know that I like having some office toys on my desk to play with while I'm on the phone. This guy would fit right in with my collection of Happy Meal toys, magnetic sculptures, and action figures (including Nancy the Librarian!). It's a great small gift for someone in the office, or a cute stocking stuffer for anyone with a desk job.

What: "Sign & Seal" Pen and Holder
Where: Office Playground website
How much (as of today's post): $10.99 (plus shipping)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Pumpkin Pie Truffles

Are these pumpkin pie truffles from Etsy seller Vintage Confections not the most mouthwatering Halloween (or Thanksgiving) treats you've ever seen? Each large (.75 oz) pumpkin pie truffle is filled with pumpkin pie ganache, made with real pumpkin, nutmeg, cinnamon, cream, salt, and clove. An order of eight truffles with milk chocolate shells is $12, and you can also inquire about availability of white or dark chocolate shells.

For other Halloween treats, look for the skull lollipops in the store's novelty/party favor section, or the solid chocolate pumpkins with an orange-colored shell. But don't limit yourself just to Halloween -- there are other flavors of truffles, a variety of handmade gourmet marshmallows*, some caramels and nougats, and even solid chocolate wedding cake favors.

(*See the same seller's Vegan Marshmallow Etsy shop for vegan marshmallow options.)

What: Pumpkin Pie Truffles
Where: Vintage Confections (an Etsy shop)
How much (as of today's post): $12 for 8 large truffles (plus shipping)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Pimp My Pumpkin Mini-Kit

Hmm, I'm beginning to wonder if Tuesday should be "tacky Tuesday stocking stuffer" day! Today's Halloween "stocking stuffer" (pumpkin stuffer?) is this little Pimp My Pumpkin mini-kit, which I found while wandering around Barnes & Noble last weekend. You've seen those little miniature books/kits in the spinning racks at the front of the bookstores, right? I've been given some as gifts before, like the Crazy Cat Lady magnetic sculpture, and the Harry Potter sorting hat, and the Nancy Drew's Guide to Life.... Most of these are put out by a Running Press Miniature Editions, and I have to admit that they're funny.

So here's a Halloween version: Pimp My Pumpkin, a little kit that according to the product description contains "a fedora, feather, gold paint, and a paint brush, feather boa, 2 pieces of bling, and a 32-page pimp style book." Given the subject matter, it's obviously not for kids, but it does make a cute gag gift for adults!

What: Pimp My Pumpkin Mini-Kit
Where: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Borders, etc.
How much (as of today's post): $6.95

Monday, October 12, 2009

Magnetic Alphabet

One of the simplest things you can get for your child's stocking, that will be good for hours and hours of fun, is a plastic magnetic alphabet, the kind that comes in many colors and can be purchased at drug stores, grocery stores, and even dollar stores. As long as your little one is old enough for the magnets not to be a choking hazard, it doesn't matter if he or she is big enough to read yet -- the earlier a child becomes familiar with the alphabet, and (more importantly!) considers it to be a fun thing, the better!

And most of these alphabets come in small enough packages to fit nicely inside a decent-sized stocking. Clear some space near the bottom of your refrigerator and let your little one discover the wonder of letters and words as early as possible.

What: Magnetic Alphabet
Where: Grocery stores, dollar stores, drugstores, etc.
How much (as of today's post): varies

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Handsoaps from Etsy Seller Foliage

Take a look at the photo above -- gives new meaning to the term "handsoap", wouldn't you say?! These little soaps (see picture below for scale) are perfect for the Halloween season, either in the bathroom or as a little Halloween display in your home that you can put to good use later. I think kids would get a big kick out of them!

Esty seller Foliage states that each set will come with at least 10 soaps, totaling about 100 grams of soap. The soap is natural vegetable glycerin with a light scent, and come in a variety of shapes and skin tones packaged in a little bag.

While you're at it, check Foliage's Etsy shop for something called "wrist zips" -- another wonderful stocking stuffer, especially for those of you in cooler climates.

What: Handsoap Set
Where: Foliage (an Etsy shop)
How much (as of today's post): $18/set of 10 soaps (plus shipping)

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Dollar Merchandise at Michaels

I'm sure most people who shop for stocking stuffers keep an eye out in the dollar stores, but don't forget that mainstream stores such as Target and Michaels regular keep dollar sections these days, usually towards the front of the store. As with general dollar stores, the selection can be pretty hit and miss. For instance, much of the dollar merchandise at Target tends to look like leftovers made in China. At Michaels, though, the nicely organized dollar items look like Michaels went out and bought them on purpose rather than getting them dumped on them to get rid of.

So what's at Michaels right now for a dollar? Yesterday I found:

  • Notepads in the shape of letters
  • Coasters
  • magnets
  • mini-calendars (the ones that measure about 4 inches square)
  • mini-keychain-calendars (measuring about 1.5 inches square)
  • packets of note cards
  • packets of Christmas cards
  • miniature Christmas tins (which are terrific for stockings!)
  • ink stamps (both clear acrylic and rubber)
  • decorate binder clips

Now, that's just everything I remember off the top of my head -- I'm sure there was more. And another nice thing is that many of the items coordinate with each other, so the design on the magnets might be the same as the design on the binder clips or notepads. That means you can put together a nice little selection of school or office stocking stuffers, for instance.

Where do you like to shop for stocking stuffers?

Friday, October 9, 2009

Mini Pocket Monocular

I have always had trouble using binoculars -- I cannot look through both lenses at once, no matter how many times I try and how close together I adjust them. So I'm intrigued by the idea of this mini pocket monocular from the National Geographic online store. I'm always closing one eye and trying to look through with the other, so this makes perfect sense for me. And I think it would make a nice "luxury" stocking stuffer, especially for men (who like gadgets anyway) who enjoy sporting events or even the opera or ballet.

The product description says that the monocular is lightweight and has a near-focus of 13 inches, making it great for close-ups of insects and other little tidbits -- so it's almost a microscope too! The magnification is 7x, it's 3.5 inches long and about 1.5 inches in diameter, and it weighs less than 2 ounces. If that doesn't say "stocking stuffer", I don't know what does!

What: Mini Pocket Monocular
Where: National Geographic Store website
How much (as of today's post): $35.00 (plus shipping)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Ballet Socks

Is your daughter the next great prima ballerina? If so, here's a cute stocking stuffer for her: ballet socks (or booties, for infants) decked out like ballet slippers, complete with ankle ribbons. The booties are 75% cotton and 25% stretch nylon, while the children's and adult socks are 75% acrylic and 25% stretch nylon. They're machine washable, of course (a must, in my opinion!).

What: Ballet Socks
How much (as of today's post): $6.95 childrens/$7.95 adult (plus shipping)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Pumpkin Parmesan Pasta Sauce

How's this for a Halloweeny food gift? Williams Sonoma has an exclusive new product: their Pumpkin Parmesan Pasta Sauce, made from (according to their website) "slow-roasted pumpkin, gently simmered with heavy cream and aged Parmesano-Reggiano cheese." I'm having trouble figuring out if I would like it or not, in part I love tomato sauce so much that I almost can't bear the thought of pasta covered with anything else! But I have to admit, this does sound elegant. At $15, I find this a little pricey, so I'd only be inclined to get it for someone who I know really likes pumpkin a lot. But if you have such a person in your life, what an elegant and unusual gift!

Oh, and bonus points to Williams Sonoma for not giving this sauce a fake bright orange color! Bravo!

What: Pumpkin Parmesan Pasta Sauce
Where: Williams Sonoma website or store
How much (as of today's post): $15.00

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Gloom Game

Here's a game you can play any time of year, but that seems especially apropos in October! Subtitled "The Game of Inauspicious Incidents & Grave Consequences", Gloom is a game in which you seek to have the most horrific events happen to you, and if a happy event comes up in the deck, you try to impose it on one of your opponents. In flavor it's very much like Lemony Snicket's "A Series of Unfortunate Events", and it's fun for adults as well as kids. What's also neat is that the cards are made of plastic that are transparent in strategic spots so that you can pile cards on top of one another and some elements of the cards underneath are still visible and in play. It's really quite clever. We occasionally have friends over for games night, and everyone enjoyed this one. The recommended age is 8 years and up, and that sounds about right to me.

The original Gloom game comes in a little box that's about as wide as two decks of cards, and there are also expansion sets (one deck each) available: the Unwelcome Guests (think Typhoid Mary) expansion, the Unhappy Homes expansion, and so on. You can easily find these online or ask at your local game store. The original game has a suggested retail price of $24.95, but it's available on Amazon for $16.90 plus shipping.

Go forth and be miserable!

What: Gloom Game
Where: Amazon or any game store
How much (as of today's post): $16.90 (plus shipping)

Monday, October 5, 2009

Earth Friendly Jump Ropes

The EcoChoices/EcoToyTown website offers Earth-friendly, non-toxic toys for infants to adults. These eco-friendly jump ropes, made of 100% cotton rope and 100% recycled plastic handles, caught my eye because I recently listened to the audio book of My Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. The Secret Garden is one of my childhood favorites, and I love the part where Martha, the Yorkshire maid, gives contrary little Miss Mary a jump rope, and the girl has no idea what to do with it!

And you know, I can't remember the last time I saw a child with a jump rope! It's a great way to promote exercise without being too obvious about it. I think these pastel color choices (pink, purple, and light green) are being aimed at girls, but there's nothing wrong with jump ropes for boys too -- just tell them that Rocky Balboa used one to get in shape for his boxing matches! In any case, they would make a somewhat out-of-the-ordinary stocking stuffer. The product description says they're appropriate for ages five and up.

What: Earth Friendly Jump Ropes
Where: EcoChoices website
How much (as of today's post): $9.95

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Whimsical Cats from Susan Faye

Here's a wonderful Etsy stocking stuffer: whimsical cat treasure tins/tea light holders and magnet sets from artist Susan Faye. You may have come across Susan before on her 365 Cat Ladies blog, where she posts a cat lady portrait each day. (I'm proud to say that Susan has done a portrait of my cat family here -- I gave the original watercolor to my husband for our anniversary, and several members of my family will be receiving magnet versions as stocking stuffers this year!)

Even if you don't do a portrait, Susan has plenty of goodies that will serve as stocking stuffers for the cat lover in your life. She's turned her whimsical cat paintings into lovely little treasure tins that can also double as tea light holders. She also has lovely magnet sets, and all sorts of other goodies in her shop. (There are even plenty of Halloween portraits!)

What: Whimsical Cats from Susan Faye
Where: Susan Faye (an Etsy shop)
How much (as of today's post): $7.50-12.50 (plus shipping)

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Saturday Night at the Ballet

Tonight we are going to see the Houston Ballet. We have season tickets, and I really have come to love it. Thankfully, we are not seeing Elmo and his friend Zoe at the ballet! (Although this does look like a cute board book, alas, it is too large for a stocking, at 7 x 7 inches.)

In any case, it is actually possible to find stocking stuffers at the ballet! In the atrium, they have a little kiosk set up with ballet souvenirs that they sell to support the nonprofit organization. The last time we were there, my husband bought me a little moose-in-tutu ornament, and a black-kitty-in-tutu ornament. They're little tiny stuffed animals with real tulle tutus. I'd hoped to find them online to share with you here, but haven't been able to. So if you go to the ballet or to the theater or symphony, keep an eye out for unusual stocking stuffers you may not be able to find elsewhere!

And enjoy the rest of the weekend!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Sterling Silver Earwrap

I always want to avoid having too many jewelry items as "luxury Friday" stocking stuffers, but I think I can get away with this one because it really is quite different! I mean, it's definitely not a bracelet, ring, necklace, or earring, after all! As you can see from the ear visible underneath the earwrap in the photo here, it wraps around the entire ear. The Pyramid Collection sells these singly for $39.95. I think it's actually quite lovely, and definitely the thing for women with unusual taste in jewelry.

What: Sterling Silver Earwrap
Where: The Pyramid Collection website
How much (as of today's post): $39.95 (plus shipping)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Glow-in-the-Dark Corporate Zombies

I hadn't really planned to start mentioning any Halloween-related "stocking stuffers" until later in the month, but here it is October 1st, and I just can't wait! So instead of having my "seven days of Halloween" running precisely from October 25 to October 31, I'm going to sprinkle little Halloween tidbits throughout this month, interspersed with the usual stocking stuffers.

First up: This set of four glow-in-the-dark corporate zombies from the Archie McPhee website. The product description says that these poor zombies "spend their days staring blankly at computer monitors and shuffling through the cube maze, occasionally grunting something about brains." (Wait a minute, that's not just Halloween, that's every day, right?!) So these little 2.75 inch poseable figures can work for Halloween or for an office gag gift at any time of year. The set is $13.50 plus shipping, but if you have several co-workers you want to give them to, you can give them one apiece at a much lower price per person. Don't you think it would be funny to have these show up on desks unannounced, right around Halloween?

What: Glow-in-the-Dark Corporate Zombies
Where: Archie McPhee website
How much (as of today's post): $13.50/set of four