Just because your child has grown up and gone off to college doesn't mean he or she doesn't still love practical and whimsical little gifts. Here's a list of cool stuff to stock that stocking - and some of them are small enough to tuck in the pockets of a university-inspired advent calendar
1. Holiday Underwear
Courtesy American Eagle 2009
Sure, it's silly, but college kids always need underwear - the more underwear you have, the less laundry desperation, right? And American Eagle, Victoria's Secret and other stores popular with teens churn out amusingly patterned boxer shorts for young men and women. This particular, holiday light-festooned pair hails from American Eagle and runs $12.50 a pair. Plus, it glows in the dark.
Courtesy SK Blocknote
Everyone needs sticky notes, but why choose a boring stack of yellow ones? Now you can get sticky notes in Tetris-shaped blocks (Compare prices), ready for an impromptu round of the old video game classic, or printed with origami designs (Compare prices).
Courtesy Burt's Bees
These popular, all-natural lip balms offer moisturizing goodness in a cute little tube. Available in delicately tinted hues for girls, and color-free for guys. And the company makes a whole line of equally popular lotions and similar products.
Photo by Jackie Burrell
This hilarious card game is just right for grown-up Lemony Snicket fans, who vie to inflict as much misery as possible on their characters - a dubious family of five - by having them terrorized by topiaries and menaced by mice, while making their opponents' "families" as happy as possible. It's the perfect game for a pair of stressed-out roommates - or a quartet of them - to play. And the box, which is 5 1/2 by 3 1/2 inches is sized just right for a Christmas stocking. (Already got the game? There are several expansion packs too.)
Who needs the full game board, with its pesky triple-score boxes, when this goofy yellow banana is filled with Scrabble-like tiles, ready for a quick round of wordplay?
6. Thumb drives by the 3-pack
Whether they're dashing off to the library to print an essay or backing up copies of a lose-it-and-die senior thesis, thumb drives are an indispensable part of college life. Buy them by the 3-pack in impossible-to-lose hues - bright pink or red, anyone? - from Dell and other manufacturers. ($29.99)
These Japanese cookie sticks are incredibly popular with the teen, college and 20something crowd. They're tasty and come in several different flavors, including strawberry (yum) and "Men's Flavor" - the latter sounds a tad unnerving, but it's actually dark chocolate, an, er, manly flavor. Pocky Sticks are perfect for anime fans, as well as any cookie lover. And they'll make a nice change from - or addition to - the usual chocolate Santas. Find them in your local Japantown, at Cost Plus World Market and online too.
OK, I can't vouch for how these taste - I'm afraid to put one in my mouth. But you can bet these will be popping up in my sushi-loving college kids' stockings. Includes 22 exceedingly spicy, green gumballs in an amusing tin. Enjoy.
9. Cozy lounge socks
Karen Neuburger Socks
Chenille socks make studying that much cozier, always a help in the far-from-home environment of a dorm. Karen Neuburger’s chenille socks include pastels, argyles and Fair Isle patterns, as well as more manly shades. ($8.95-$15)
10. Beanies & scarves
University of California
Winter's on its way. Best to keep the old (or young) bean warm with a beanie. Get a soft knitted beanie or scarf emblazoned with the school logo or college colors. ($13 and up)