Stocking stuffers might be the best gifts of all. Not only are they affordable, but they're often functional or just plain fun. And not only are they good to give, but since these are the items we usually don’t bother to buy for ourselves, it's particularly nice to get one from a keen-eyed friend or loved one who proves how well they know you with a single little purchase. We polled some of our favorite local boutique- and shop-owners for their picks for the year’s best stocking-sized but unforgettable presents, priced at $100 or less. Now go forth and shop.
1. Pandora on the Hill
1227 East 17th Avenue
Stephanie Shearer’s Pandora weathered a move from its longtime Capitol Hill location to the Uptown EZE-Mop enclave on East 17th Avenue without losing an ounce of its humor or retail spunk. Shop there now for the holidays, and look for Shearer’s newest concern, Trunk Nouveau, to spread the cute and the funky eastward at the Stanley Marketplace in Aurora in January. Shearer's picks:
Euphoric Junket Candles, $24
Because Denver loves its beer, Denver candle company Euphoric Junket took a chance on the idea that Denver would also love its beer candles: These 100 percent soy scented candles recall the bouquet of craft stouts, ales, IPAs and saisons, and burn from within repurposed beer-bottle casings.
Essential Oils from SoulKu, $12
SoulKu’s roll-on, small-batch essential oils enhanced by precious stones come dressed up in a pretty package that slips nicely into a stocking.
Patty Cat Key Chain, $6
Says Shearer: “Every single gal at Pandora on the Hill has one of these on her keychain. This is a hard plastic keychain that we prefer over other self-defense alternatives because it is already in your hand, there is nothing to turn on, and it is truly offensive: Who would approach you if you are walking down the street with one of these kittens in your hand?”
Tokyo Milk Dark Bulletproof Parfume, $45
Made in Colorado, Tokyo Milk Dark parfums blend scents from the arcane side; Pandora’s favorite is Bulletproof, an earthy concoction of crushed cedar, smoked tea and ebony. Other blends include Excess and Everything & Nothing.
Sarah DeAngelo Turquoise Teardrop Chandelier Earrings, $36
Local maker Sarah DeAngelo works wonders with a few turquoise stones dangling from a hand-wired oxidized silver framework.
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1701 Wynkoop Street
Charlotte Elich runs her 5 Green Boxes empire on South Pearl Street with a flourish of whimsy and an impeccable eye for giftable items that will delight anyone on your list. In a hurry? The small store in Union Station is the perfect place to shop when you’re on the run downtown.
Men’s Socks, Mr. Bean and Bob Ross, $14 pair
Surely there’s someone you know who would die for a pair of happy socks for happy toes, celebrating television painting pro Bob Ross. And if not, 5 Green Boxes stocks a jackpot of patterned socks for both men and women, including styles from Ozone and Sock It to Me, priced between $13 and $38.
Collapsible Bucket, $10; Ultimate Hammer Tool, $20; Mitten Flask, $24
Got a surreptitious picnicking drinker on your list? Surprise them with some convenient tools of the trade.
Voluspa Candles, holiday and everyday scents, $11.50 to $44
The best candles don’t smell: They smell good. Spread the aromatherapy — with love — with an all-soy Voluspa candle.
Assorted Wooden Spoons, $9 to $13
You can never have enough wooden spoons, which tend to disappear when you most need them. These are just too pretty to lose.
Inflatable Pug or Cat, $25
Apartment-dwellers you love might not have room for a live pet, but perhaps an inflatable one would suffice. 5 Green Boxes aims to please dog-lovers and cat-lovers alike.
Whiskey River Soap, $8.50 each
Whiskey River soaps are not only completely handmade and smell great, but they’re also personalized for real-life people you know and love. For instance, the Soap for Stoners (“Smells like Colorado!”) or the Soap for Gray Areas (“Scented with ambiguity”).
18 South Broadway
Kirsten Coplans operates SEWN on a grassroots level, trading store space with local designers and artists, and only selling items that define the lexicon of “handmade” and “recycled.”
CeColors & Co., Hand-Cut Artisan soaps, $12
These colorful Denver-made blocks of olive-oil soap might smell like cloves, anise, mangos, cilantro and lime — or beer — as well as a dizzying variety of other scents.
Verveine Designs, Origami Earrings, $17 to $25
Made from repurposed aluminum cans and scrap metal, and covered with gorgeous Japanese screen-printed papers, Verveine’s jewelry makes a statement without emptying your pocketbook.
Pigeonhead Pop-Ups, Christmas Critters laser-cut wood figures, $14
Denver artist Scott Lyons’s wooden embellishments and decorations are papered with vintage images, making the holidays bright — and old-fashioned.
Giddyup Katie, Holiday Hair Crown, $16 to $20; Holiday Vintage Ball Earring, $12 to $16
Ornaments aren’t just for trees. Make Christmas more Christmasy by giving the gift of self-decoration. Handmade by Denver designer Katie Wells, who thinks fun is an important part of any outfit.
Baby JackByrd, Holiday Felt Flower Clip, $12.50; Ivory Petit Rose Crown, $16
You don’t have to be a baby to look cute wearing one of these floral felt hair decorations, but if you are a baby, you’ll be made in the shade with a gift from Baby JackByrd. So sweet.
Continue reading for stocking-stuffer suggestions for everyone, from three more boutiques.
4. Soul Haus
1225 East 17th Avenue
Pandora on the Hill’s companion shop for guys, run by Stephanie Shearer’s best guy, Chris Bacorn, is ground zero for man-shopping that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Shop at Soul Haus for the man in your life who wouldn’t be caught dead wearing just any tie.
Men’s Planets Socks, $16
You can never have too many cool socks, and these have planets on them. They're the next best thing to actual space travel.
Men's Gray Derby Fedora, $32
No man would fail to look cool wearing this nifty 100 percent wool lid. Welcome to hipsterville.Silver Herringbone Stainless Steel Wallet, $68
This wallet is handsome. Need we say more?
Red Jasper Whiskey Stones, $24
Never serve another watered-down drink. Instead of ice, throw a handful of chilled whiskey stones cut from pure jasper into your next cocktail and feel the spirits fully.
Bar Bones Corkscrew, $22
Drinking wine? Flip that cork with a stainless steel skull.
5. I Heart Denver
500 16th Street
8501 W. Bowles Ave.
720-317-2328 for both
We heart I Heart Denver, Samuel Schimek’s temple to art, trinkets, housewares and curiosities, all proudly handmade in Colorado for everyone — from folks just passing through to others who’ve lived their entire lives under Colorado skies. Schimek describes his hand-picked items below.
Canned Goods Earrings, $32 to $38
“Slip a little #recycledfashion into a stocking, and do some good, too. Thomas Paul Althaus hand-makes each piece in his garage studio space from recycled cans. It keeps aluminum out of the landfill, and he donates a canned-food item for every sale made.”
Spinster Sisters Beard Care and Shaving Products, $21 to $48
“There are still a lot of beards happening in Denver, so put some natural beard-care or shaving products in your guy’s stocking. Kelly Perkins of Spinster Sisters in Golden built a successful essential oil-based skincare line using chemical-free recipes.”
Colorado Shot Glasses, $6
“Darren Kulback is our store manager at the Southwest Plaza store and has been a part of the I Heart Denver store team since we signed our first lease and opened our doors in Denver. He worked on this shot-glass design based on multiple customer requests from over the years, and it’s been a big hit.”
Decals by local artists and designers, $1.50 to $8
“Both of our stores have a ton of decal and sticker designs available. Every single one is from a Colorado designer or artist, and they’re really fun, unique and affordable if you are on a budget.”
14ercards.com Playing Cards, $6.95
“Matthew Tracz is an avid 14er-bagger (the Coloradan term for people who strive to climb all of our mountains over 14,000 feet), and he has photographed and climbed every 14er in the state. These decks feature all of Colorado's 54 peaks.”
Limited-Edition Enamel Tree Pin, $10.
“Enamel pins are making a comeback. Josh Shively is an accomplished graphic designer and artist here in Denver.”
6. Talulah Jones
1122 East 17th Avenue
Robin Lohre’s Talulah Jones thrives on a split personality that caters both to kids and their grownups, a concept that’s worked well at the two-room uptown boutique for more than a decade. Lohre put together lists of stocking stuffers from both sides of the store, which is great if you’re a fan of one-stop shopping outside of the malls and big-box stores. Bonus: Some of the kids’ picks might appeal to grownups, too.
Surprise Ball, $6
“Unwind layers of wrapping to reveal four small gifts. Included in every one are a fortune and three mystery prizes.”
Projector Dome, $16
“Each dome displays an image of a planet, moon or spiral galaxy projected on your ceiling in the dark. One of our most popular sellers this season for kids, it also makes an excellent nightlight for younger children.”
Maileg Pixy Mouse, $28
“A mouse that has traveled the world and comes with his very own suitcase — one of the newest additions to the Maileg collection. Every little mouse is exquisitely designed in Denmark, and has removable clothing and accessories.”
“Nanoblocks creates amazing 3D art that fits in the palm of your hand. Each one has a difficulty level printed on the package, and comes with detailed step-by-step instructions to precisely complete every model.”
Thinking Putty, $3
“Thinking Putty is a high-quality, silicone-based putty that is safe, nontoxic and never dries out. This soft, bouncy, stretchy goo comes in dozens of mesmerizing and fun styles.”
Magic Guillotine, $8
“An improved version of the classic pocket guillotine trick. Adding your own sound effects is highly recommended.”
Food for Thought all-purpose camping cutlery tool, $16
“One of our favorites from Gentlemen's Hardware, an all-purpose camping cutlery tool. Includes a bottle opener, corkscrew, foil cutter, pen knife and detachable fork and knife, all in a sleek design.”
Beard Oil, $15
“A perfectly blended oil to shine and tame whiskers, while helping to keep the skin below supple and healthy.”
Chocolate Pear Liqueur, $2
“These dark chocolate pears are from one of France's finest chocolatiers. Inside each casing of chocolate is a shot of Poire William Brandy. A delicious addition to any grownup's stocking.”
Shower Bombs, $5
“Similar to a bath bomb, but friendly for a shower! A shower bomb releases aromatherapy essential oils into the air through the steam. Just sprinkle a few drops of water, and the bomb will activate for the duration of the shower.”
Easy on the Eyes brow and lash kit, $20
“An elegant brow and lash kit, including a spoolie brush, a dual-sided brow brush/lash comb and a set of gold tweezers.”
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Butter London eco-friendly nail color, $15 to $18
“Our favorite chip-resistant, long-lasting nail color. Easy to apply and promotes strong, healthy nails! Butter London does not add formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, DBP, toluene, camphor, ethyl tosylamide, xylene or TPHP to any of its nail-product formulas. Good for you and good for the planet!”
Skin Apothecary body products, $5
“These perfectly-sized body products are refreshing and rejuvenating. The hand-mixed Sugar Glow is a sugar scrub that provides a revitalizer exfoliant, while the Soy Whip moisturizer is lighter than balms and butters, and an added bonus is that both are paraben-free."
Wish Paper, $8
“Make a wish and light the shimmery paper on a plate. Magically, the paper rises high, and as it floats back down, catch it for your wish to be granted."
Fortune Telling, The Book of Love, $9.95
“A giftable little book that features predictions, astrology, spells and whimsical insight into all things ‘love.’ It's packed with fun anecdotes to pass around in a group setting, and enjoyable enough to read through again and again.”