Right, so Santa's sorted the big-item presents (or is working on it – eep!) but what fun little toys are going to get stuffed in those Christmas stockings?


Unpacking their stocking is often the first thing your child rushes to do on Christmas morning – usually quite a few hours earlier than we parents were hoping for! It's key to bringing the Santa magic. So, among the little reindeer socks, the chocolate coins and the regulation satsuma at the bottom, it’s wise to stash your child's stocking with some well-chosen, pocket-sized toys that'll keep them happy and busy while you stagger out of bed and find your festive sparkle.

We've scouted the shelves for great stocking filler toys for toddlers to preteens – in a range of prices – looking for the ones that really stand out for play potential and value for money. And we’ve found some brilliant, budget-friendly buys, including some that are so good, they've won MadeForMums Toy Awards...

Best stocking filler toys at a glance

Best under £5

  • Scrunchems Squishy Neon Scented Bears, £3.99
  • Sambro Marvel Bops N Tops, £1.99
  • Rex London Sharks temporary tattoos, £1.95
  • Pinky Promise Royal Carriage 3 pack, £4.99
  • Squishmallows 2" Squishmallows Blinds, £4.99
  • IKEA Uppsta Building Beakers, £4
  • Large Rocket Baff Bombz, £4.99
  • Petooties Mini Plush, £3.49 each

Best under £8

More like this
  • Character Options Simbrix Alphabrix Pack, £5
  • HGL Push Pop Suction Caterpillar with lights, £6
  • SnoBall Battle Pack, £5.39
  • Marvel's Spidey and His Amazing Friends Disc Dashers, £6.99 each
  • Pop-A-Tops, £7.99 each
  • Orchard Toys Pigs in Blankets, £6
  • BigJigs Safari Animal Cube Puzzle, £5.99
  • Hot Wheels 5-Car Pack Assortment, £6

Best under £10

  • Eugy Chameleon, £8.99
  • Sea-Monkeys Ocean Zoo, £10
  • Elf HQ – Puzzle Post, £9.99
  • Bubiloons Confetti Party, £10
  • Hexbug Junkbots Dumpster Assortment, £9.99
  • Unicorn Squeeze Popper, £9.99

And one for £10.95

Here’s our pick of the best stocking fillers for boys and girls of all ages – all (but one) £10 or under

best under £5

1. Scrunchems Squishy Neon Scented Bears, £3.99

Scrunchems Squishy Neon Scented Bears tester picture and product shot

Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: 5 | Size: H6.5cm | Batteries: None | Awards: Editor's Choice, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2023

Thanks to their fruity scent, your child will smell these cute little bears through the wrapping paper before they open them! They're a great sensory toy at a very reasonable price point and come in a range of hot neon colours.

Our child tester Ammara, 5 (pictured above), said, "I like that it's squidgy and it smells like orange juice." Her mum Raheema said that despite the price it felt like a good-quality toy.

"It didn't burst even though my daughter gave it a good squeeze, pull and stretch!" she said. "The smell is nice and strong when initially opened and lasted (but lessened) for about 2-3 days. The squishy texture is great and it's great as a fidget toy and calming like a stress ball as it can be pulled and squeezed comfortably and squished in hands."

The Scrunches Squishy Neon Scented Bears come in 4 fragrances: strawberry, blueberry, lime and orange.

Available at: Sensory Toys 4 U and Curious Minds

2. Sambro Marvel Bops N Tops, £1.99, 3 packs £4.99, 5 packs £6.99

Sambro Marvel Bops N Tops tester picture and product shot

Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: 5 | Size: Not specified | Batteries: None | Awards: Gold, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2023

Collectable, playable stationary in the shape of everyone’s favourite Marvel characters? Marvel fans will be sure to love Sambro Marvel Bops N Tops, a collection of character-shaped toys that are also stationery.

There are various instantly recognisable characters to collect including Spider-Man, Captain America, Rocket, Thor, Black Widow, Ghost Spider and Groot. Each one can be played with as figure toys. They can then also used as an ink stamp – each character has a unique design – or as a pencil topper.

You can buy the Marvel Bops N Tops as single packs, 3 packs and 5 packs. The single packs are blind bags, so there’s no guarantee about which character you will receive. But the larger packs do let you see at least one of the characters in the pack.

Our testers thought these were reasonably priced for character-themed collectible toys and would make a good treat or small present. Our 5-year-old child tester Kyle (pictured above) was excited to open them. “I love blind bags and I love Marvel, so I really love the Marvel Bops N Tops," he said. "I was very happy I got Groot, who is my favourite. I liked the stamps.”

His mum Caroline was also happy, and said, “It's a great toy to play with, as they are well known and loved characters. They can be played with as a figure toys, and then as pencil toppers or stamps. Parents love the idea that one toy can have multiple uses.”

Available at: Instore at ASDA and B&M

3. Rex London Sharks temporary tattoos, £1.95

Sharks Temporary tattoos tester picture and product shot

Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: 4 | Size: Various sizes | Batteries: None | Awards: Silver, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2023

A fun shark-shaped gift for kids who love our oceans' bigger beasts, these unique temporary tattoos are ideal as plastic-free stocking fillers.

There are 9 species of sharks featured, including the great white and hammerhead, as well as the lesser-known salmon and sandbar sharks.

Each pack contains 2 sheets of tattoos, made from realistic, hand-drawn designs. This makes them ideal for tweens and teens, or anyone who doesn’t like anything too cartoony. Facts about sharks are also included.

And what about the tattoos themselves? They are easy to apply and can also be removed with soap and warm water. Our child tester Rex, 5 (pictured), said, "The shark tattoos are really good and fun. I like them because they look good, and I like these sharks. I will do them again when these come off.”

Available at: Rex London

4. Pinky Promise Royal Carriage 3 pack, £4.99

Pinky Promise Royal Carriage 3 pack tester picture and product shot

Age suitability: 4+ | Best for age: 4-6 | Size: L8cm x W6cm x H8cm | Batteries: None | Awards: Bronze, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2023

The Pinky Promise Royal Carriage feels like a party bag, with collectible characters, jewellery and accessories in a range of colours and designs. Each carriage comes with 3 characters, 2 hairslides plus stickers and a collector guide. Our child tester Dolly, 5 (pictured above), was in love with it!

Her mum Laura said that in the crowded collectibles market, this toy stood out. "It's a good size, and the Pinky Promise Royal Carriage serves a purpose after opening, unlike other collectibles that have throwaway packaging. So you feel you get good value for money."

There are more than 80 Gemmy Friends to collect, in 5 families. Some characters are rare or ultra-rare, and there's one unique Queen character in the collection, adding a layer of excitement to the opening process.

Available at: Amazon and Toy Street

5. Squishmallows 2" Squishmallows Blinds, £4.99 each

Squishville by Original Squishmallows 2" Squishmallows Blinds with child tester Charlotte

Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: 4+ | Size: H5cm | Batteries: None

Inside your brightly coloured, cat-eared plastic 'egg', you find a mini Squishmallow surprise – plus a little fashion accessory for them to wear. There are 24 in total to collect and each one is sweet, squishable and has its own unique character.

"It's so cute and I love it," said our child tester Charlotte, 6 (pictured above). "I can't wait to get some more!"

"These are absolutely perfect for a stocking filler," said her mum Caroline. "Charlotte hasn't put this toy down since receiving it – she takes it everywhere. I've already purchased 5 more for Christmas."

If your child is a big fan of these cute cuddly toys, check out our roundup of the best Squishmallows too.

Available at: Smyths Toys

6. IKEA Uppsta Building Beakers, £4

IKEA Uppstå Building Blocks

Age suitability: 6 months+ | Best for age: 9 months+ | Size: 8cm (base diameter) x H34cm | Batteries: None

This colourful set of 7 8cm-high plastic beakers can be stacked into a tower (and then knocked down).

We love the happy face with a hat you can see when they're stacked into a tower. We've found they make great pouring and splashing bath toys, too. They’re pretty indestructible and also really easy to wipe clean.

Available at: IKEA

7. Large Rocket Baff Bombz, £4.99


Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: 3+ | Size: 1 x 110g bomb | Batteries: None

This white rocket-shaped bath bomb fizzes around the tub, leaving a bubbly trail of red, yellow and orange in its wake. And it's actually pretty exciting to watch.

It also has a quite a pleasant, sweet smell (supposedly strawberry but we're not sure we got that) and, our child testers' parents report, even softens the bathwater a bit (it does contain some bicarb).

And best of all, you just pull the plug when it's all over – no mess to clean up.

It's also biodegradable and stain-free.

Available at: Amazon and Tink 'n' Stink

8. Petooties Mini Plush, £3.49 each

Petooties Mini Plush

Age suitability: From birth | Best for age: 2+ | Size: H10cm | Batteries: None

These super-soft, super-cute toy animals comes in 17 designs, including dogs (pictured), cats, rabbits, cows and even unicorns.

All of the pets in the range are very cute – and very cuddly. We have a special soft spot for the reindeer and the penguin.

Our child testers really liked that each one comes with its own name and birthday.

Available at: Smyths Toys

best under £8

9. Character Options Simbrix Alphabrix Pack, £5

Simbrox Range tester picture and product shot

Age suitability: 5+ | Best for age: 6-9 years | Size: Various | Batteries: N/A | Awards: Gold, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2023

If you’re looking for a gift for the creative in your house, then the colourful Simbrix construction range is a great place to start. The simple interlocking pieces come in a wide array of colours and can be arranged into almost any 2D or 3D pattern your child can dream up.

The real selling point for the Simbrix range is its simplicity. Unlike other construction toys, Simbrix pieces are all the same shape and size, placing the focus on what your child wants to create as opposed to the complexity of the construction process itself. Each set also comes with a tray to sort and organise the pieces making for remarkably mess free play.

We tested sets of different sizes in the MadeForMums Toy Awards 2023. As parent tester Charlotte noted, “My daughter is 7 and was thrilled when she received her toy to test – getting it out almost before the postman had left the path! In particular, she loves the range of colours and the fact it's reusable means she can do different designs again and again — however she's kept most of them!"

Available at: Amazon

10. HGL 3D Push Pop Suction Caterpillar With Light, £6

HGL 3D Push Pop Suction Caterpillar With Light tester picture and product shot

Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: 4 | Size: L26cm x W5cm x H4.5cm | Batteries: None | Awards: Gold, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2023

Fans of fidget toys will love to get their hands on the HGL 3D Push Pop Suction Caterpillar With Light. As well as having mini lights inside the toy, it is also covered in popper bubbles for popping and suction cups for sticking to a variety of surfaces.

Perfect for restless fingers, the toy offers a variety of play options as well as several sensory elements. Parents of our child testers noted that it would be good for car journeys and keeping kids entertained when they need to sit still for long periods. They also felt the lights added an extra dimension of fun.

Our child tester Isaac (pictured above), 4, was a big fan, saying, "It's amazing!! It's my favourite toy. It lights up in the dark and sticks to the doors, I can pull it off too!” His mum Amy agreed, adding “The caterpillers are nice and bright so it gets children's attention. It's nice and robust so will handle being played with a lot.”

Available at: The Entertainer and Gift Giant

11. SnoBall Battle Pack, £5.39

SnoBall Battle Pack

Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: 4+ | Size: W13cm x H20cm (pack); snowball size customisable | Batteries: None

Want more of the white stuff? Here's how to get some – without the cold fingers! Each pack contains 4 sachets of Gelli Snow powder that you mix with water to create mouldable 'snow'.

The mixture is stain-free and 100% degradable powder and each 20g sachet contains enough to make around 15 snowballs.

Huge fun – but do be careful if you have your snowfight indoors: as some of our child testers found, it can make the floor pretty slippery.

Available at: Amazon

12. Marvel's Spidey and His Amazing Friends Disc Dashers, £6.99 each

Marvel Spidey and his amazing friends disc dashers with child tester

Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: 3+ | Size: L16cm x W13cm x H10cm (vehicles vary slightly) | Batteries: None

This little toy vehicle with its Marvel and Spidey-character driver has a slot in the bonnet where you load a 'web disc' (2 are included). Then you can press down on your driver in and the disc shoots out. "Awesome!" as our child tester Caleb, 3, said.

The car rolls along smoothly and the disc-loading mechanism is simple and effective, but do note that the driver doesn't come out of the car. It's a robust car for the price: Stella, mum of our other child tester, Damian, 3 (pictured above) confirmed that the car's strong enough to handle being dropped multiple times.

There are 5 vehicles in the range, with drivers ranging from Hulk and Ghost Spider to Spidey himself, but you may not be able to choose which one you get when you buy.

Available at: Smyths Toys and Toys 'n' Tuck

13. Pop-A-Tops, £7.99 each

Pop a Tots with child tester Aanya

Age suitability: 6+ | Best for age: 6+ | Size: 10cm (base diameter) x H12cm | Batteries: None

These dinky games come contained in a small tin with a see-through lid that you press down to roll the dice. Choose from Match-a-Martian (pictured, above right), Bake-a-Cake (pictured above left with our child tester Aanya), Dino Scores, Pet Factor and Best in Snow.

The games are fun, fast-paced, require almost no set-up and are fantastically portable. We also like that you can't lose the dice!

Our other child tester Kieran, 7, said, "I liked playing these games as I love winning! My favourite was the dinosaur game – it was a bit like Top Trumps but better, and I learnt some good dino facts. My brother liked the Martian game: he was very speedy at it. We loved playing these and are going to play them regularly at our family games nights!"

For 2 players or more.

Available at: Amazon and The Works

14. Orchard Toys Pigs in Blankets, £6

Pigs in Blankets game with child tester Gregory

Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: 4+ | Size: L14cm x W15cm (box) | Batteries: None

This mini-matching-pairs game on a Christmas theme features 32 cardboard pig shapes tucked up in differently patterned festive blankets.

It's beautifully made in sturdy cardboard and the Christmas theme is great fun – although it's not so overpowering that you couldn't play the game all year round. Laura, mum of our child tester Gregory, 4, (pictured above) was impressed that it "craftily combines memory, matching and turn-taking skills, while still being fun to play with".

Gregory's verdict? "It's really good fun to play – I like the pigs and want to match them all so that I can win!"

For 2 to 4 players.

Available from: Amazon and Orchard Toys

15. BigJigs Safari Animal Cube Puzzle, £5.99

BigJigs Safari Animal Cube Puzzles

Age suitability: 10 months+ | Best for age: 18 months+ | Size: L10.5cm x W10.5cm x H3.5cm| Batteries: None

The 9 wooden puzzle cubes can be arranged in 6 ways to reveal different safari animal pictures.

It’s colourful, cute, well-made and very portable. And the cubes are nice and chunky for toddler hands to hold and turn. Our toddler testers were all drawn to the bright colours and the animals' friendly faces.

For a wooden toddler toy puzzle, it's really not bad value at all.

Available at: Wooden Toy Shop, Bigjigs and Mulberry Bush

16. Hot Wheels 5-Car Pack Assortment, £6

Hot wheels 5-pack

Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: 3+ | Size: L7cm| Batteries: None

These 1:64-scale die-cast toy cars have sporty detailing, bright paintwork and are all slightly different, meaning you can build up a grand collection.

And 5 cars for just over £1 each really is great value, as all our child testers' parents agreed.

All you need to add is your best ‘vroooooom’ voice…

Available at: Amazon and Smyths Toys

best under £10

17. EUGY Chameleon, £8.99

EUGY Chameleon tester picture and product shot

Age suitability: 6+ | Best for age: 8 | Size: L7cm x W5.4cm x H7.5cm | Batteries: None | Awards: Bronze, MadeForMums Toy Awards 2023

If you’re searching for a toy that combines collecting, crafting and sustainable credentials, take a look at the EUGY Chameleon. It’s a unique craft collectable where children assemble a miniature animal figure in the shape of a cute keepsake chameleon.

The pack contains all the cardboard pieces you need to make the toy, as well as a mini pack of glue. Instructions are printed on the packaging, and it should take around 10-20 minutes to assemble. Once constructed, kids can read up on fun facts about chameleons included on the packaging.

EUGY aims to educate children and collectors about the world and animals via the collectibles, and each one is made from environmentally friendly, biodegradable card that is printed with natural eco-friendly ink and assembled with non-toxic glue.

Child tester Max, 8, said: "I liked sitting down on my own and being able to do it all with no help. I felt proud of the models I had made myself." His mum Kayleigh thought the toy was “fantastic value for money”, adding “Max absolutely loved being able to do the entire crafting process himself, due to the well-presented instructions and everything needed being included in the kit.”

The EUGY art and craft collectable range also includes other animals, including a narwhal and a shark.

Available at: Hobbycraft and Mulberry Bush

18. Sea-Monkeys Ocean Zoo, £10

sea-monkey ocean zoo with child tester Emile Rose

Age suitability: 6+ | Best for age: 6+ | Size: L7cm x W15cm x H15cm ‎| Batteries: None

This is a cleverly designed little aquarium with a moulded seascape bottom (which many of you may remember from your youth!) in which you can watch the Sea Monkey eggs hatch and grow.

The Sea Monkeys take about 3 days to hatch and the set includes a water purifier, a food pouch, a feeding spoon and nice, clear instructions. Once they hatched, you can continue to feed them and watch them grow and take care of them.

"It's amazing watching my Sea Monkeys hatch and grow!" said our child tester Emilie-Rose, 8 (pictured above). Her stepdad Brogan added, “Emilie-Rose loves to learn new things and she was full of facts about what she's learnt from this. She said, 'Did you know they can grow up to 2cm long?' and 'They are actually a species of brine shrimp and they are really alive! I'm going to have real live pets!"

Available at: Argos and The Entertainer

19. Elf HQ – Puzzle Post, £9.99

Elf HQ -Puzzle Post with child tester Mason

Age suitability: 6+ | Best for age: 7+ | Batteries: None

Inside a shiny red envelope are 6 paper-based puzzles to solve in order to unlock a secret Christmas message. The puzzles are well thought through and involve logical thinking, code cracking (elf writing), a word search, a maths puzzle and a (tricky) Spot the Difference.

The message your child unlocks can be personalised by you, although there is a standard one you can use.

"I loved playing this game with my brother," said our child tester Mason, 7, (pictured above). "We worked hard to solve all the clues and got it all right. Santa left us a message – how cool! He was so happy we helped him. My favourite bit was the Spot the Difference."

Available at: Puzzle Post

20. Bubiloons Confetti Party, £10

Bubiloons Confetti Party with child tester Olivia Rose

Age suitability: 5+ | Best for age: 6+ | Size: L12cm x W10cm x H13cm | Batteries: None

Open up one of these little cupcakes and (if you've shaken it before), confetti will fly out to reveal your mystery Bubiloon figure, mini balloons and a bubble blower. Stick the bubble blower in the Bubiloon's mouth and squeeze its head to blow up the mini balloons, which you can then roll about in confetti, decorate with accessories and display on special sticks.

Our child tester Olivia-Rose, 7, (pictured above) was absolutely entranced by this, much to her mum Isabel's delight. "I couldn't believe how much entertainment there was to be had with this toy," she said. "And I love the fact that even the case is great quality and will click closed to keep all the bits together until the next time she wants to play."

There are 13 Bubiloons to collect.

Available at: Argos and Amazon

21. Hexbug Junkbots Dumpster Assortment, £9.99

Hexbug Junkbots – Dumpster Assortment _

Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: 5+ | Size: L6cm x W13cm | Batteries: 2x LR44 (included)

Open up the plastic dumpster to find 24 pieces (some hidden in mini rubbish bags) that can be put together to create 2 Junkbot robots (there are 36 Junkbots to collect) that light up and move.

Yes, it's a bit of plastic overkill but it's great fun digging through the dumpster and opening the rubbish sacks to find the pieces – and the little robots are rewarding to make. We also like that you can freestyle and fit the pieces together in other ways – especially if you collect other dumpsters – to make your own robot.

Zephy, 6, one of our child testers, said: "There is nothing I don't like about them. I made a robot that lights up by my own!"

Available at: Amazon and Kids Stuff

22. Unicorn Squeeze Popper, £9.99


Age suitability: 4+ | Best for age: 4+ | Size: H10cm | Batteries: None

This mini unicorn-shaped air-powered shooter fires soft balls from its nose when you squeeze its tummy. It comes with 6 rainbow-coloured foam balls, which can travel up to 20ft.

We're not going to lie: it's pretty daft and although the balls don't hurt when they hit, it has the potential to cause chaos. But that's why your child will love it of course. A cross between a cuddly toy and a (hilarious) weapon – you may want to get 2 so you can defend yourself.

Available from: Wicked Uncle and Amazon

And if you can stretch to an extra 95p...

23. Dinosaur Logic Game, £10.95

Dinosaur Logic Game with child tester

Age suitability: 5+ | Best for age: 7+ | Size: L8cm x W8cm x H2cm (box) | Batteries: None

The aim with this card puzzle is to place all 9 tiles in the correct order by matching up the dinosaurs' bodies to make a square. The rules are simple but completing the puzzle is not nearly as easy as it looks.

"The cards look and feel really nice and the game is fun to play although it was harder than I thought,”" said our child tester, Harley, 8 (pictured above). Her mum Jade agreed, "My initial thought was, 'This is too easy' but we soon found out it wasn't! I helped Harley complete the puzzle for the first time. Since then, she's done it alone several times and has really enjoyed the challenge."

Made with FSC paper, using vegetable-based inks and vegan-friendly glue.

Available at: Binky


Tips for filling kids' Christmas stockings

The MFM Team have several years of stocking-filling under our belts, and here are our top tips for success:

Focus on fun: Fillers needn’t be expensive or fancy, as for many children (especially those with additional gifts under the tree), opening the stocking is as much fun as playing with the contents.

Guess the contents! Include a mix of gifts of different sizes and shapes to create an intriguing series of lumps and bumps, and encourage your children to guess what might be inside before they unpack it.

Bulk is best: A packet of their favourite popcorn or crisps, or a fun bubble bath, can be a great way to fill up a stocking without spending a fortune solely on small toys.

Build in breakfast: If they plan to open their stockings before breakfast, pop in some fruit, raisins or a cereal bar to line their tummies before the chocfest begins (hey, we can try, right!)

Spread the cost: Adding a small item to your basket when buying more expensive presents can spread the Christmas cost, as well as avoiding extra paying P&P for each stocking filler you buy.

Dial up the Christmas: Stockings are great for small, Christmas-themed gifts like chocolate tree decorations (if you hang them before they big day, they'll probably just get eaten) and festive socks or slipper socks.

Don't overthink it: Inserting a theme or code into your stocking filler wrapping paper choices is more trouble than it's worth. They probably won't notice, and you'll have given yourself a lot of work for no reason.

About the author

Helen is Deputy Editor of MadeForMums, the author of Parenting for Dummies (Wiley, £17.99) and the Head Tester for our MadeForMums Toy Awards. She has written about parenting for Mumsnet, Pregnancy & Birth, Prima Baby, Boots Parenting Club and She Magazine and she's also been Consumer Editor of Mother & Baby. She has 3 boys and a heavy-duty washing machine.

We've more top toys, all tested and rated by parents and children...


Helen Brown
Helen BrownHead of Content Delivery

Helen is author of the classic advice book Parenting for Dummies and a mum of 3. Before joining MadeForMums, she was Head of Community at Mumsnet and also the Consumer Editor of Mother & Baby.