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A photo of the Naomi Osaka Barbie on a digital rendering of a tennis purple court.
Photograph: Mattel, Inc.

Stock up on the best stocking stuffers for 2021

From functional to commemorative, this year’s best stocking stuffers could even make an internet troll smile

Written by
Emilee Lindner
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If you forgot to stock up on stocking stuffers this year, well, no one can blame you—2021 hasn’t exactly been a normal year, and it’s easy to forget the little things. Nevertheless, the gift-giving season is upon us, and the last 12 months have given us ample inspiration for miniature, affordable merchandise that can squeeze into a sock.

For pop culture lovers, there are plenty of memorable moments from last year that warrant their own stocking stuffers—from face masks galore to unofficial TV goods and even Etsy-made trinkets inspired by political memes, each tiny gift on our list will help you debrief on recent events. Take a look at our guide below for the best stocking stuffers that 2021 brought us this year.

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Best Stocking Stuffers for 2021

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Perfect for: The Kardashian convert

Sad news for fans of Kris Jenner and her swath of uber-famous progeny: Keeping Up With the Kardashians announced its end this year after 20 seasons. Luckily, you can still carry the Kardashians with you all day long—or at least, on your face. Kim Kardashian West’s shapewear line, SKIMS, branched out with face coverings last year. For $8, you can wear its knit nylon mask over your mouth so long as you cover your nose, too (don’t be a dweeb!). Give this gift to anyone on your list. Who doesn’t need a mask?

Perfect for: the sports fanatic

Tennis player Naomi Osaka inspired a powerful conversation around mental health this year when she pulled out of the French Open and forewent media interviews. The four-time Grand Slam singles champion has redefined the role of a high-level athlete under public scrutiny, gaining support from people (and fellow players) around the world. As you can imagine, when she released her Barbie lookalike with Mattel in July, it sold out within hours. But don’t worry—the doll is back in stock, and it's a perfect fit for any stocking.

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Perfect for: your friends (duh)

Even though it left Netflix, Friends will still “be there for youuuuuu” (as long as you have an HBO Max account, that is). From the first binge through the hundredth, there’s something undeniably comforting about the Central Perk crew. And when Phoebe, Chandler, Monica, Joey, Rachel, and Ross got back together in May 2021 for their reunion special, they gave us everything we needed: a rendition of “Smelly Cat” with Lady Gaga, a fashion show with Justin Bieber and Cara Delevingne, and an emotional return to the show’s original soundstage. Keep the magic alive with some fan-made merch, like these Friends-themed stickers on Etsy.

Perfect for: Disciples of the monarchy

In March, Oprah Winfrey interviewed the Duke and Duchess of Sussex in a special show viewed by 49.1 million people in its first day alone. The interview surfaced many claims—from Meghan detailing racism within the royal system to Harry announcing they were financially cut off from the rest of his family. It caused quite a stir, and it provided a source of drama for Americans across the pond. For your royal-obsessed acquaintances, scoop up a prayer candle with Meghan and Harry right on the front.

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Perfect for: true fans only

Britney Spears lived under a conservatorship for nearly 14 years, but that all changed on after a judge finally terminated the legal hold on the pop star’s life. While fans fought for the star’s financial and legal freedom for over a decade, their efforts came to a head this year when the New York Times highlighted the #FreeBritney movement and resurfaced the negative media coverage of the early 2000s. For the Britney fan who feels entirely validated by the recent news, get them an ornament to commemorate the occasion.

Perfect for: the family member who’s always cold (or your uncle Bernie)

Bernie Sanders kicked off the year rather cold at Joe Biden’s inauguration, which quickly became one of 2021’s definitive memes. The handmade, upcycled mittens Bernie rocked outside the Capitol are now available for everyone. Each pair is made from recycled wool sweaters, completely unique, and lined with fleece to keep your fingers warm and stylish. After all, isn’t a pair of mittens the perfect match for any stocking?

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Perfect for: the hopeless romantic friend

Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez are back together, and the Internet couldn’t be happier. What better way to celebrate their reunion than gifting the movie that started it all: Gigli. Ben and J.Lo met on the set of this notorious flop (6% on Rotten Tomatoes!), which has been a punchline for years. A Bennifer Christmas means a Gigli in every stocking.

Perfect for: Swifties

The Talking Heads sang, “Say something once, why say it again?” But clearly David Byrne didn’t hear Taylor Swift’s 2021 album releases. This year, Swift rerecorded her albums Fearless and Red after all that drama surrounding the surprise sale of her masters—not surprisingly, fans were absolutely delighted. Turns out, people really do want Taylor to say things again (or sing things again, to be exact). And while she isn’t the first artist to revisit her own discography, she’s successfully retelling her narrative while working within the legal constraints of the music industry. Pretty cool stuff. Get a hold of each on vinyl LP or CD.

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Perfect for: the meme enthusiast

After winning the 2020 election on the ticket with Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris uttered the following iconic words: “We did it, Joe.” The much-watched video turned into an oft-used meme throughout the entirety of 2021, and memes have a tendency to look great on mugs. Tie it all together with a cup of joe (...get it?). 

Perfect for: the Brady bunch

Back in February, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers won Super Bowl LV, defeating the Kansas City Chiefs 31 to 9. Whether you’re a die-hard fan or just a casual football watcher, you have to admit how cool it was for a team to win a Super Bowl in their home stadium. Relive the revelry with Buccaneers swag, like this snug knit hat (perfect for the winter season).

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A can of beans (prices vary)

Perfect for: Foodies, and daughters with access to a can opener

“Bean dad” went viral on Twitter when musician John Roderick made a thread about teaching his daughter independence. The now-deleted tweets recounted the time he refused to offer assistance when his daughter struggled to open a can of beans on her own. Thankfully, it’s 2021, and they sell canned beans with those lil’ easy-open tabs. Sure, beans aren’t the typical holiday gift, but who’s going to turn down something this practical?

Perfect for: trivia heads

Jeopardy! finally decided on a new host for the trivia game show after losing its legendary host in 2020. Mayim Balik and Ken Jennings are splitting hosting duties this year—but the search was a long one. Sixteen guest hosts stepped up to the lectern (providing varying delivery and wit to the show) while giving Jeopardy! nerds plenty to scrutinize. For those wanting to revisit the good ol’ days, Alex Trebek’s book is an excellent option for a stocking stuffer.

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Perfect for: the friend who won’t stop quoting I Think You Should Leave

For a pattern this complicated, you could easily spend all of your per diem. Fans of the Netflix comedy show I Think You Should Leave know exactly why this shirt is so precious, but everyone else on the internet doesn’t get why random screengrabs of Tim Robsinson keep popping up throughout their feeds. But in all honesty, if you walk by a store and you see 50 guys who look just like you fighting over very complicated shirts… you go in.
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