Small kid, big stocking

We wish we were so easy—and cheap— to please

It’s cosmically fitting that the smallest among us get the fattest stockings come Christmastime. Even better, the littler they are, the easier they are to please. Accordingly, $20 buys a veritable sleighful of gifts for a wee boy or girl, while his or her older sibling can’t even snag a video game at that price tag.

For our hypothetical little cuties, we first hit Target. Besides unveiling a line of upscale candies (“Choxie”) this holiday season, the department store devotes several aisles to Christmas goodies. There, we picked up a star-topped cylinder full of Little People and accessories for $4.99. (Fisher-Price, incidentally, sells Hanukkah Little People play sets online.) We also took home a wind-up doggie, $1.99, and other animal choices included monkeys and kangaroos, all suitable for kids 3 and up. And don’t miss Target’s “Dollar Spot,” which has everything from stuffed kitties to socks and even DVDs for your stocking-stuffing pleasure.

Next, shop locally with a cuddly friend from Woof ’n Poof. There’s a nice selection at Made In Chico, but did you know there’s an outlet store at, based in Massachusetts, with great deals? You can get a super-cute baby bib with a truck, frog snowman or other decoration for $5, or pick up a similarly adorned wash mitt for $6.

If there’s a future wildcat in your house, don’t forget Chico State University’s A.S. Bookstore, which this year has a shop in the Chico Mall. Kids’ T-shirts start at $8.95, and there are tons of cute stuffed animals, with Chico State-attired froggies, bears and more for $7.95.

Any gaps in the stocking are easily filled in with random candies, nuts and a trip to the Dollar Tree. Sure, a lot of this stuff is plastic, choking-hazard crap, but if it keeps the small ones occupied long enough for Mom and Dad to toss back some egg nog, who are we to complain? Plus, it’s cheap. Any young boy (or girl, we don’t mean to be sexist) 6 or older would thrill at the sight of the see-through model of the human body ($1, obviously), complete with heart, brain, lungs, stomach, liver, intestines (no naughty bits; sorry) and the fingerprints of the poor Chinese laborer who assembled the thing.

For the budding artist on your list, pick up a Jumbo Coloring & Activity Book, with themes such as winter on Sesame Street. The thick book is a great deal at a buck.

Have a little biter in the house? Soothe those gums by placing a Little Golden Book water-filled teether in the stocking. If the Poky Little Puppy can’t help those poking-out molars, nothing will.

Finally, round out everyone’s stockings by splitting up a 12-pack of Dum-Dum candy canes. If you want to get clever, add a ribbon.

And there you have it: a ton of gifts to fill kids’ stockings for under $20. Now you’re set—till next year.