The phrase “good things come in small packages” may be a sappy cliché most of the time, but in this case, we’re defending it. Stocking stuffers are the unsung heroes of the holiday season, so often getting the short (sorry) end of the stick. Whether this is because they’re the first thing you open morning-of or because they’re generally less eye-catching than the main event, we can’t say—but we’re here to make the argument for changing how we view them. Some of our favorite designers and artists feel the same way: There’s nothing unremarkable about the embellished velvet slippers and glittery butterfly barrettes (more on those later) that top their wish lists—or the presents they still think about years later.
Caitlin Mociun, founder of Mociun
I’m obsessed with miniatures, so friends often gift me tiny objects. They’re all over my apartment and desk—miniature animals carved from stone, handmade worry dolls, crystals. They remind me of loved ones and good memories.
Joyce Lee, head of design at Madewell
I love Jane D’Arensbourg’s beautiful glass rings. I have one that my daughter calls a “marble” ring and she has already called dibs on it for when she’s a teenager. I discovered D’Arensbourg’s pieces at Quiet Storms, a jewelry store in my neighborhood, and a few of the women in my office are also fans. We all gush about the colors and shapes of her creations.
Josh Young, fine artist and designer
The best stocking stuffer I’ve ever received was the design book Entryways of Milan/Ingressi di Milano by Taschen. What made it so thoughtful was my own personal connection to it—I lived and studied in Milan for more than six years—but for any design lover, it’s a great way to get a feel for the city without it being a typical guidebook.
Ali Kriegsman, cofounder of Bulletin
I am absolutely obsessed with Le Bonne Shoppe, a Los Angeles–based apparel and accessories brand that just started selling through our wholesale marketplace—its socks look so ridiculously perfect for post–Christmas dinner lounging. I have yet to own a pair myself, but besides having the coziest stuff ever, the brand is female founded and minority owned, and its products are ethically produced and made in the U.S. If anyone’s listening (mom? boyfriend? anyone?), please buy me these mulberry cloud socks stat!
Ellen Van Dusen, founder of Dusen Dusen
My parents used to fill my stocking with all the important necessities they’d need to buy me anyway—pencils, toothbrushes, etc. I’d say the best stocking stuffer I have received is a set of Band-Aids that look like pickles. I use them when I run out of regular ones, and it’s super-embarrassing when people notice them. It’s a long con; my parents getting one over on me from a distance, and it always makes me laugh.
Christiane Lemieux, founder of The Inside
Our Scalamandre Coral Zebra napkins: I want to get them, and I want to gift them. They mean a lot to me personally; Margot Tenenbaum is one of the reasons that I fell in love with the pattern. The original Red Zebra print has so much history—it dates back to the 1940s—that to style these napkins, I’d play up a traditional vibe with an old-school nod to formality: white porcelain plates, wine and water glasses, as much cutlery as possible, and a dramatic floral centerpiece that brings out the red hues, along with taper candles.
Ali Arain and Greg Coccaro, founders of Beam
Arain: Louis Vuitton’s Tokyo City Guide. I’m going to Japan for two weeks at the end of the year for some major art and design inspiration—and lots of sushi. As a retailer, Japan has been on my bucket list for a while because of its unique culture and amazing shopping.
Coccaro: My best friend gave me a Walk On flip clock by artist Yoshitomo Nara because she knows I love Pop Art, and I use it every day to get moving in the morning. I much prefer the analog clock to my iPhone, because I get to see a new illustration every time I glance at it.
Clare Vivier, founder of Clare V.
On my last trip to Paris, I wandered into my favorite apothecary, L’Officine Universelle Buly à Paris. I always covet its curated collection of treasures, and I had my eye on the Conciliator rake comb, which can be monogrammed—one of my favorite elements of customization. I didn’t bring one back with me last time, but I’d love to find this little indulgence in my stocking this Christmas.
Andrea Hill, founder of Tortuga
Katie Kimmel, ceramist
I had one of Susan Alexandra’s butterfly barrettes gifted to me, and it is the most magical, happiest item on my head (and sometimes in my bathroom drawer)! I am determined to collect all the colors.
Shelly Horst, founder of Room Shop Vintage
This year, I’m dreaming of footwear from Llani. Alana, the designer, is a friend and local to Philadelphia. She makes everything mindfully, working in partnership with the individuals crafting her products. These embellished velvet slides or these cozy slippers look so beautiful, and I know I would get a lot of use out of them.
Rebecca Atwood, designer
At the top of my list is a By Humankind shampoo bar. I haven’t tried it yet, but the fragrances sound amazing, and I love that it reduces single-use plastic. You can buy individual bars, but it also has a multipack with a bunch of fragrances so you can test them all out. I love the idea of buying the set and giving them out to family members and friends.
Nisha Mirani, founder of Sunday/Monday
I was once given a set of reusable Baggu bags, which are so useful but also fun! As a textile designer, I appreciate the variety of colors and playful patterns. I usually keep one on me just in case, since they are so lightweight and great for grocery shopping and packing picnics.
Colin King, stylist
I had just returned from my first trip to Denmark shortly before Christmas, and then I received these Frama candleholders. Their low profile and proportion make it feel as though the tapers are just freestanding on the surface. I also love that they came as a set of three, since I have a thing for odd numbers. Each time I light them, they bring a bit of that cozy Nordic charm into my little apartment a world away in Brooklyn.
Connie Matisse, founder of East Fork
I’m hoping there’s a new scent in my stocking, but I’m still stuck deciding between Falls or Cacti from Régime de Fleurs. It takes me forever to decide on a scent; I’ll smell the same bottle in the same store for two years before biting the bullet. Yesterday I was at Sid & Ann Mashburn in Atlanta, and one of the store associates whom I know and love was like, “Connie, you’ve been over here sniffing the same four bottles for 45 minutes, what the hell?” Anyway, these two I both found at Maryam Nassir Zadeh in New York. I’m leaning toward Cacti, which has amber, mate, heliotrope, black tea, shiso, aloe vera, jasmine sambac, cucumber, watery notes, and bergamot.
Carly Nance, cofounder of The Citizenry
Not surprisingly, my wish lists are usually filled with items from my favorite destinations. When I was in Japan with the team, we fell in love with the serenity of the country and mindfulness of the culture, so this year I’m craving a brass incense set to bring all the restorative, zen-like vibes into my space.
Shannon Maldonado, founder of Yowie
I’d love to get Corey Moranis’s knot keychain. I’ve been a fan of Corey’s work for a while, and this particular deep green is a favorite color of mine lately. I usually carry a huge tote with half of my life in it, so anything that will help me quickly locate my keys is a plus!
Sara Berks, founder of Minna
My birthday is very close to Hanukkah and Christmas (it’s in early January), so I often get “lumped together” gifts. I think the sweetest present I ever received was a framed screen-printed weaving by Rachel Domm, from two of my best friends. I haven’t seen anything similar in recent years, but Marleigh Culver and Maureen Meyer are artists whose work I’ve been interested in lately and would love to be gifted.
See more gift ideas:
This Personalized Art Is at the Top of Jeremiah Brent’s Wish List
All Eva Chen Wants for Christmas Is This Planner and a Fountain Pen
The Unexpected Holiday Gift Everyone Is Buying on Etsy