Socks, gift cards and tree ornaments aren't the only gifts that will fit in your loved ones' stockings. Trendy miniature gadgets, do-it-yourself kits and tasty treats are among the stocking stuffers suburban businesses recommend giving this holiday season.
Here are some unique items under $50 that are small enough to be hung by the chimney with care.
For tech lovers:
Smartphone accessories, such as a portable solar charger or a camera lens, are small in size and in high demand. Stacey Politis, social media manager for Brookstone, suggested roughly $40 items such as wireless surround-sound earphones or a seven-in-one car charger, which includes a USB port, a LED flashlight and other safety tools, such as a seat belt cutter and car window hammer.
For those who joined the fidget spinner craze this year, Politis said, an app-controlled version of the toy pairs with a mobile device and allows the user to play games.
Mike Simon, owner of The Little Traveler in Geneva, said kids and families who love trying out new gadgets would enjoy miniature devices, such as the World's Smallest Remote Controlled Helicopter, or Space Flyers figures that hover on their own and light up.
Put a twist on a popular stocking stuffer -- winter-themed snacks -- by shopping locally for unique, artisan food items you might not be able to find elsewhere. Lisa Opfer, owner of The Uncommon Palate in East Dundee, suggests locally made toffee and roasted cinnamon pecans, organic Christmas teas, mulling spices or a bucket of (chocolate) coal.
Her store also sells small bottles of organic olive oil and balsamic vinegar infused with fig, pomegranate or Tuscan herbs -- all of which are produced by small family farms, Opfer said. Most items are under $10.
For someone who loves to cook, Simon of The Little Traveler recommends multifunctioning utensils, such as the $12 Supoon, which scoops, measures and scrapes the bowl clean.
A wine bottle thermometer, whiskey glasses with an ice ball maker, and unique beer bottle openers are great ideas for those who enjoy the occasional drink.
Brain teaser games and novelty toys are some of the most popular gifts for children this year, said Kate Erickson, marketing specialist for Beat Street Toys and Gifts in Arlington Heights. Rubik's Cube-like games with a unique design or shape, smelly stickers, and containers of slime are all entertaining and come in small packages, she said.
Squishies -- slow-rising toys of various shapes costing $5 to $8 -- and unicorn-themed accessories have become some of the most desired collectibles for young girls, Erickson said, and both are the perfect size and price for a stocking stuffer.
For boys, she recommended bendable superhero action figures and travel-size versions of board games.
For crafty and creative kids, shop owners pointed to miniature do-it-yourself projects, such as Metal Earth Mini Model Kits sold at The Little Traveler for $11 to $18.
From multiuse tools to accessories for combating the cold, suburban businessmen and women say practical items are always a safe bet when it comes to filling a stocking.
A pocket knife with multiple tools, for example, can be handy in an emergency and is small enough to fit in purses and wallets, Simon said.
Smartphone-friendly mittens, like those sold for about $30 at Brookstone, have a zippered pocket for holding the phone and allow users to free their fingertips and thumbs to use a touch screen in cold weather, Politis said.
Self-care products, such as facial masks and bath salts, are also unique, sensible and often small enough to hang above the fireplace.
Simon suggested The Little Traveler's cupcake-shaped bath bombs and miniature candles to match the theme.
Other general ideas include lottery tickets and PopSockets, which act as a cellphone grip and stand.