Good old Santa: as well as those longed-for, big-item toys, he does like to include some pocket-sized bits of toy fun in those Christmas stockings.
And we reckon this year he’d be wise to super-heap his sleigh with these genius, great-value stocking fillers for boys and girls of all ages…
Here’s our pick of the best stocking fillers, as tested by kids…
What it is: An 11.5 x 8 x 3cm microscope, which comes with an in-built light and can zoom whatever you put underneath it to make it 40 times larger. Comes with 2 specimen slides, a cloth to keep it clean, and full instructions. Batteries are already inside.
Why we love it: It’s really portable, small enough that you can take it anywhere, and magnify pretty much any thing. parents note how much their little ones love using it to look at everything from household objects to insects, and that it’s designed so it doesn’t do any harm to the creatures they’re learning about.
An educational, informative and useful toy, at a brilliant price point.
Available from: Natural History Museum
What it is: A metal ice cream truck (8cm high, 7cm deep and 16cm wide) that boasts interactive features including opening side doors, lights, sounds and pull out blinds. You’ll need 3 LR41 batteries for this one, but demo batteries should be included.
Why we love it: Classic children’s toys make for perfect stocking fillers, often they’re just the right size for the fluffy red boot hanging in our homes.
This ice cream van is well priced, can take a few drops on the floor (pretty much a guarantee with little ones), it’s easy to get the interactive features going, and it can be incorporated into existing car collections for added fun. A winner all round. We know parents have called this toy good value for money.
Available from: Wilko
BRONZE winner, Best Stocking Filler, 2018 MadeForMums Toy Awards
Age: 3 +
What it is: A tub filled with fake earth, made from all natural non-toxic materials, and two hidden plastic bugs that kids can rummage about for.
Why we love it: This really is good clean ‘dirt’ fun for days when outside play is off the menu. Do be warned that the bugs are in a plastic bag, so you may want to unbag them and rebury them before handing the jar over.
What our child testers made of it:
- ‘The jar is great size for a stocking filler, and the bugs are large and colourful. Finley says the play dirt feels “eeeew!” He also enjoys hiding coins in the dirt and pretending it’s buried treasure!’ Donna, mum to Finley, 3
- ‘It’s a fun toy, especially if your little one likes bugs. Eoin is always in the garden digging for worms, so this was great for him.’ Rachel, mum to Eoin, 4
Available at: Smyths Toys
What it is: A stylish set of 6 pirate-themed wooden skittles, each 8cm high, and a wooden ball to knock them down with.
Why we love it: Stocking fillers are supposed to be fun – and keep you occupied over the Christmas period. This wooden skittles game is always a good one to play. It involves physical activity, co-ordination, and can be used to teach younger siblings (who might be watching) counting skills, too.
Available from: Wooden Toy Shop
What it is: A 25.5cm big Shopkins-themed pod, which contains a mini world inside. Comes with 1 Shopkin figure. There are 6 characters to collect.
Why we love it: Firstly, your child has to open the lock, using a secret map, to unlock the world. Once they’re inside, there’s plenty of opportunity to play. Parents say its a must for Shopkins fans, they like that its portable and that it’s also a decent size.
Available from: Argos
What it is: A pack of 51:64 scale die-cast vehicles that work well as car toys on their own, and also work with the (sold separately) Hot Wheels Volcano Blast.
Why we love it: Unlike a lot of collectibles, you get more than 1, so you’ve immediately got a little collection. Of course, there are more to collect if you want to. We also like the fact there are a few, so siblings can play cars together at no extra cost.
Available from: Smyths Toys
Age: 5 to 12 years
What it is: An 88-piece LEGO set with 3 mini figures, a crocodile, a speedboat and a tree with a secret door for storing treasure.
Why we love it: This is a lovelylittle construction set that should spark lots of imaginative play.Not too complicated to make, so it won’t take all of Christmas Day, either!
Available from: John Lewis and Amazon
What it is: An 8.5 cm mystery ball containing 7 surprise layers, in which you find a LOL Surprise pet (could be one of 35 different ones), a secret message sticker, a collectible sticker sheet, a water bottle charm, a scooper, 2 accessories and a LOL Surprise pet (could be one of 35 different ones) in its own litter box.
Why we love it: It’s one of the cheaper LOL balls on the market – and isn’t so doll-y as many of them. But there’s still the same unwrapping thrill: will you get a puppy, bunny, kitten or hamster?
Available from: John Lewis and Argos
What it is: A value pack of 6 tiny, squashy My Little Pony characters.
Why we love it: It’s a neat (and not too pricey) way to combine squidgies – still very much a playground ‘thing’ – with the iconic My Little Pony collectibles.
Available from: Very
Age: 6 months +
What it is: A pack of 5 small activity balls featuring different textures and colours, including a rattle, sound-maker and a spinner.
Why we love it: These are bright, mesmerising and fun for little hands to grab – and the sounds are nicely varied, too. A lovely baby stocking filler.
Available from: Amazon
Age: 18 months+
What it is: A set of 24 wipe-clean, chunky cards featuring parts of farmyard scenes. Your toddler can match them up or, when their older, play a simple game. For 1 to 4 players.
Why we love it: The cards are big and thick and just the right size for toddlers. A great-value stocking filler that will last a long while.
Available from: John Lewis and Amazon
Age: From birth
What it is: A snuggly soft 23cm version Iggle Piggle from CBBC’s In The Night Garden. You can also buy an Upsy Daisy version.
Why we love it: He’s super-soft and, when his stomach’s pressed, he can say 8 of his classic phrases from the show.
Available from: Amazon
What it is: A 4.5 x 6 x 6cm toy that your child can twist and turn into a variety of shapes, with your hands. Available in gold, yellow, pink and blue. Colour chosen at random when you purchase online.
Why we love it: It works well as a fidget toy, as well as stocking filler. No fuss, no batteries required, just some good old-fashioned fun getting creative and making shapes.
Available from: Science Museum
Age: 4 +
What it is: A mini unicorn toy which spits out rainbow-coloured pellets made of (soft) foam.
Why we love it: Yes, some kids might take this toy and run a bit riot – but all kids’ stockings need to include a bit of anarchic novelty factor, right? Right?!
Available from: Wicked Uncle
Age: From birth
What it is: An 11cm tall, pocket-sized, polyester fluffy bunny toy, that we think was practically *made* for baby’s first stocking. It’s hand wash only.
Why we love it: Jellycat are known for their quality baby toys, and this bunny is so cute we simply can’t resist. The fur is so soft, your baby either won’t want to leave it alone, or you can keep it pristine as a precious memento from your little one’s first Christmas.
Available from: Jellycat
What it is: A see-through gun that releases bubbles at the pull of a trigger, and incorporates some funky lighting to make for a bubble show. Needs 3 AAA batteries, which aren’t included. Comes with one bottle of bubble solution.
Why we love it: This is ideal if your child loves bubbles, but is rubbish at blowing them. Likewise, you could use it yourself to put on an entertaining show for the kids. The light/bubble combo is enough to mesmerise them for a good amount of time, parents say.
We also like that the gun is see-through, so inquisitive little ones can watch the bubble-making in action.
Available from: I Want One Of Those
What it is: Teeny-tiny (1cm x 2cm x1cm) models of the classic Tonka construction and emergency-service vehicles. Each one comes inside a stackable storage crate. Can be bought as 1 mystery vehicle or packs of 3 where 1 is a surprise. There are 22 to collect.
Why we love it: These are a perfect pocket-money toy. Bargain price, really portable and our child testers loved the surprise of opening the crate to see what vehicle was inside. A joint bronze winner in our 2017 Toy Awards.
Available from: Morrisons and Ocado
What it is: A 9cm-long wooden fidget toy that’s weighted at each end. It can be flipped, tossed and spun, either on its own or with others. Comes in 7 different colours.
Why we love it: This is a stylish, smooth, solid beech take on your average plasticky fidget spinner and, judging by the zillion videos on YouTube, there are umpteen cool ways to play with it. Our child testers had great time trying to perfect their flip n roll skills, naming it joint Bronze winner in our 2017 Toy Awards.
Available from: Mokuru
Age: TBC, but best for older kids
What it is: A memory game made up of 4 light-up corner panels, and 15 levels. You need to remember the sequence of flashing lights, and the sequence gets longer for each level you pass. It comes with the necessary batteries. Woohoo!
Why we love it: Older children will get a kick out of trying to out-do themselves and each other, as the game gets harder and harder. Its good for encouraging healthy competition, as well as concentration and memory skills… and it also helps that mum, dad, gran, grandad, and the whole family will want to take a crack at it, too.
Available from: Hawkin’s Bazaar
We’ve got more award-winning toys here…