15 small gifts that people will remember
This is part of the L.A. Times 2022 Gift Guide. See the full guide here. If you make a purchase using some of our links, the L.A. Times may be compensated.
Growing up, my mom could curate a Christmas stocking like nobody’s business. There always seemed to be something sweet (a piece of maple candy or bar of chocolate), a fist-sized navel orange and, tucked into the toe of the stocking as the last item to be revealed, a tiny, memorable gift. Sometimes it was a gold or silver coin. Sometimes it was a tiny gadget or small condiment or seasoning jar (garlic salt was always a hit in our house), but it was always memorable and always special.
In the spirit of those first-in/last-out nifty gifts, here’s a roundup of smallish items — most clocking in at 3 inches long or under — perfect to stow in the toe of a stocking. (Pro tip: You’ll need to remove most of these items from their original packaging to make them fit. If that’s the case, set the packaging aside and hand it over once the stocking has been destuffed.)
Chrome Bullet Fisher Space Pen
On board NASA’s manned space flights since the Apollo 7 mission in 1968, Fisher Space Pens are appreciated for their ability to write on almost any surface in all kinds of conditions (including over grease stains, underwater and in zero gravity). The Chrome Bullet is a beautifully sleek and minimalist compact-sized writing implement that’s small enough to tuck into a pocket or purse, ensuring there’s always a pen within reach whether you’re making a grocery list for the family or signing autographs for the fans.
$27.20 at Amazon
Aventurine crystal pillow
Considered a good luck stone, this variety of quartz “brings optimism” and “stimulates renewal on the physical, emotional and spiritual levels,” according to the website for Open Eye Crystals, a metaphysical supply store in L.A.’s Carthay neighborhood. “When someone comes into the store and asks for an overall good stone for everything, I put this in their hand,” says the shop’s owner, Madison Young. That makes it a good option for the toe of the stocking for the crystal lovers in your orbit. Another option: black tourmaline, an “etheric vacuum cleaner” that helps clear negative energy and, as a stocking-stuffer bonus, happens to look not unlike a polished lump of coal. (Note: Because Open Eye Crystals is a local bricks-and-mortar business, this is a good option for last-minute shoppers who can swing by the shop on Pico Boulevard and do their crystal shopping in person.)
$22 at Open Eye Crystals
LACMA Chris Burden ‘Urban Light’ pin
What better way to tell someone “you light up my life” than to give them a tiny cloisonné enamel pin depicting Chris Burden’s “Urban Light” (2008) installation of 202 working streetlamps that’s become one of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s (and the city’s) most Instagram-worthy spots. LACMA’s pin offerings also include three individual lamp styles from the installation (with glow-in-the-dark lights), as well as pins based on other pieces in the museum’s permanent collection including “White Cat,” “The Great Wave off Kanagawa” and “Peony Still Life.” LACMA members save $1 off the listed retail price.
$10 at LACMA Store
Jabra Elite 75t True Wireless Bluetooth earbuds
These tiny earbuds, each one no bigger than a nickel, are as reliable as they are unobtrusive. Designed for the sporty set, they’re sweatproof, waterproof and designed to stay securely in your ears, no matter your activity level. Features include one-button active noise cancellation, 24-hour battery life and a charging/carrying case that’s small enough to stash in your pocket.
$199.95 at Amazon
AeroSpaced by Higher Standards 4-piece grinder
This pint-sized, milled-aluminum weed grinder doesn’t do anything spectacular. It just chews tiny nugs of cannabis flower into the kind of evenly ground herb that makes for a better smoking experience. What makes it special — and a good choice to gift to the traveling herbal enthusiast — is its super-small size; it stands at barely 1.6 inches tall and 1.6 inches in diameter. That makes it just big enough to shred a well-packed bowl or bong hit with just a few twists of the wrist. A magnet embedded in the lid closes the top with a satisfying thunk, and a second chamber collects even the smallest particles of pot pollen for future use.
$21.95 at Higher Standards
JINsoon Dew Nail Lacquer
Maybe you missed it, but neutrals are so hot right now. That makes this shade of nail varnish, described on the JINsoon website as a “dreamy sheer white reminiscent of organza fabric,” the perfect on-trend stocking stuffer. And, like the rest of the 60-plus hues in founder Jin Soon Choi’s offerings, it’s vegan-friendly, cruelty-free and manufactured in a certified Cosmetics Good Manufacturing Practices lab, so your gift of dewy nails comes without a thumbnail’s worth of guilt.
$18 at JINsoon
Pelican Protector Series stick-on mount for Apple AirTag
One of last holiday season’s coolest stocking stuffers was Apple’s AirTag, a quarter-sized way to keep tabs on everything from your book bag on the other side of the classroom to your luggage on the other side of the world. The only hitch? Not every item worth tracking has a secure place to stow the worry-stone-smooth device — or attach the popular third-party key-ring holders designed to snap around them. (Think bicycles, skateboards, drones, TV remotes or that always-misplaced glasses case for holding that favorite pair of sunnies.) Enter Pelican’s plastic stick-on mount, a two-piece silicone holder, barely bigger than a postage stamp, that sandwiches the device and sports a sticky square of adhesive on the back. Available in a range of colors including black, gray, orange and yellow.
$19.99 at Amazon
Pig & Hen Vicious Vik men’s bracelet
Handmade in Amsterdam using braided Dutch sailing rope and maritime-inspired, stainless-steel D-shaped shackles, this men’s bracelet is a slim, subtle, put-on-once-and-wear-forever, goes-with-anything style that doubles as a good luck charm. That’s because the brand’s name was inspired by the custom of Dutch mariners in the 1600s who would get their feet tattooed with images of the two animals to protect themselves from bad luck at sea. (They’d noticed that often the only things left floating after a shipwreck were crates of pigs and hens.) Available in a wide variety of rope colors and patterns and a range of hardware combinations, the bracelets come in a handsome wooden box embossed with the Pig & Hen logo.
$99 at Pig & Hen
Victorinox Joshua Tree National Park pocket knife
One of the Swiss Army Knife maker’s Classic SD knives (the SD stands for “screwdriver”), this small, seven-function (scissors, tweezers and nail file among them), 2.3-inch-long knife is just the right size to fit on a key ring or stow in a purse or briefcase. The artwork adorning it, however, will make it hard for the nature lover in your life to put it out of sight. That’s because Victorinox has collaborated with Doug Leen (a.k.a. Ranger of the Lost Art), an artist, conservationist and former ranger best known for his silk-screened prints of Works Progress Administration national park posters, to emblazon the knives in retro-nostalgic park-inspired artwork. In addition to Joshua Tree (pictured), the series honors 11 other national parks including Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Everglades and Glacier.
$23.99 at Victorinox
TartufLanghe black truffle salt
This family-owned company serves up a variety of truffle-enhanced products, including white truffle honey (its bestseller) and Tartufissima (a pasta with a truffle core), but when it comes to pairing tiny and tasty, you can’t get much better than its super-cute, super-small 30-gram jars filled with hand-harvested sea salt from Guérande flecked with bits of black truffle. Because it kicks up almost any foodstuff a few notches (especially pasta, egg and meat dishes), do yourself a favor and order a few for yourself as well as the stocking you’re stuffing. There’s free shipping on orders over $99, or swing by the Monsieur Marcel Gourmet Market & Restaurant at the Original Farmers Market in L.A., which stocks this version and the brand’s slightly milder white truffle salt.
$13.50 at TartufLanghe
Tiffany & Co. Classic Money Clip in sterling silver
One of the most memorable — and consistently useful — gifts I’ve ever received was given to me years ago by my future father- and mother-in-law. It’s a sterling silver money clip from Tiffany & Co. No longer and slightly wider than a pack of gum, it orders the chaos of whatever slightly rumpled dollar bills I have on hand and makes me feel like an absolute baller every time I reach into my pocket to pay a bar tab or tip a valet. If you want to go all out on the old-school vibe, you can have it engraved with the recipient’s initials.
$250 at Tiffany & Co.
Clare V. Mushroom charm
In case you missed news of the “shroom boom,” all things mushroom-related are everywhere these days, from mushroom-fiber leathers and fungi-print runway looks to psilocybin microdose mania. This charm, which consists of a 14-karat gold-plated mushroom stem topped with a green stone head, is the perfect on-trend nod for your trippy bestie. A carabiner clasp makes it easy to add to any chain, or you can create an entire bracelet with some of the L.A.-based brand’s other charming charm offerings, including hearts, strawberries, pineapples and even sardines. (Bonus: There are a handful of Clare V. boutiques in the L.A. area including in West Hollywood, Silver Lake and Santa Monica.)
$65 at Clare V.
Irene Neuwirth Petite Gumball studs
Local fine-jewelry designer Irene Neuwirth’s playful Gumball Collection is chock-full of orb-shaped eye candy, from chrysoprase necklaces to gold rings studded with turquoise spheres, but it’s the petite stud earrings in 18-karat rose gold, each set with a bubblegum pink opal, that strike the sweet spot between whimsy and understated luxury. The brand’s flagship store on Melrose Place makes it a good last-minute option. Because you totally didn’t forget, did you?
$880 at Irene Neuwirth
Aquaphor Lip Repair ointment
Hailing from the East Coast, where winters are seriously cold and dry, there was hardly a holiday stocking in our household that didn’t include some tube, tub or tin of skin- or lip-soothing ointment, whether it was Burt’s Bees, Bag Balm, ChapStick or occasionally some homemade potion. In the spirit of that custom, consider tossing a tiny (.35-ounce) tube of Lip Repair Ointment in the toe this year. It’s fragrance- and paraben-free and packed with vitamins, shea butter and chamomile essence. Oh, and it’s dermatologist-recommended, so don’t take our word for it.
$4.22 at Amazon
Tabasco Pepper Sauce 30-pack miniatures
“I got hot sauce in my bag. Swag,” Beyoncé famously informed us in “Formation,” so follow her lead and throw a dash of fire into the stocking mix this season with one (or more) of these Lilliputian servings of McIlhenny Co.’s Tabasco brand hot sauce. Its distinctively shaped bottle may have been shrunken down, but the 1/8-fluid-ounce serving inside packs the same 2,500 to 5,000 Scoville heat unit punch that will liven up everything from tacos to omelets to the Bloody Marys you’ll be whipping up for that post-stocking-opening brunch. Did we mention it’s also gluten-free, halal and kosher too? They ship in packs of 30, which means you’ll be able to stash some hot sauce in your own picnic basket, briefcase, lunch box and, yes, bag.
$23.92 (24 count) at Walmart