1. Gifts

Great Gifts and Stocking Stuffers to Buy in Bulk

By Shannon Palus
Updated November 6, 2019
Great Gifts and Stocking Stuffers to Buy in Bulk
Photo: Michael Hession.

If you have a long list of people to give gifts to this season like coworkers, extended family, and party hosts, you’ll save time, stress, and money by buying a lot of the same thing. We spent eight hours searching for easy but thoughtful gifts and stocking stuffers that will appeal to everyone on your list. On the advice of home organizer Ann Lightfoot of Done & Done Home—who has seen firsthand how many people's gifts end up sitting unused in a closet—we focused on items that recipients can eat, drink, or use up typically for less than $30.

Our pick


Movie tickets to AMC and Cinemark theaters

BulkTix offers theater and concession-stand tickets to AMC and Cinemark theaters, plus smaller ones across the country.

Gift Cards & Tickets: Movies & Shows

Movie tickets to AMC, Cinemark, and Regal Cinemas

Costco offers some of the cheapest bulk-ticket packs, and you don’t need to be a member to get them.

Buying Options

*At the time of publishing, the price was $40.

Give the gift of a date with a friend or a sweetie by giving a pair of movie tickets. Buying in bulk shaves a few dollars off each ticket, and you can break a four- or 12-pack into multiple gifts. At this writing, BulkTix offers packs of four for theater chains such as AMC and Cinemark, as well as some smaller theaters, plus concession-stand vouchers. Costco sells tickets for AMC and Regal Cinemas in packs of four or 12 (and you don’t have to be a member to buy them). With the Costco AMC pack, the black tickets can be used anywhere; the yellow tickets can be used anywhere but California, New Jersey, and New York. Make sure to check that your recipients live near a theater belonging to the chain in question.

This is a particularly great deal if your family or friends are using them in a major city, where movies tend to be more expensive.

Our pick

Finum Brewing Basket

Our favorite tea steeper

Thanks to its large size and fine-mesh walls, this steeper allows more water flow between the tea leaves. It fits the vast majority of mugs and cups, as well as some teapots and thermoses.

Buying Options

*At the time of publishing, the price was $13.

Harney & Sons Paris Tea

Great loose-leaf tea

Pair our steeper pick with an affordable, high-quality tea. The Paris flavor is a favorite of our staff, but Harney & Sons also offers many other delicious flavors and decaffeinated teas.

Buying Options

*At the time of publishing, the price was $8.

Introduce your friends to loose-leaf tea (or add something great to the collections of tea devotees) by pairing our top pick for an infuser with a quality tea. We spent more than 30 hours testing dozens of steepers and found that the Finum Brewing Basket makes the best cup of tea. It allows for more water flow than the competition while keeping tea-leaf particles inside the cup.

Harney & Sons loose-leaf tea is a favorite of the Wirecutter staff. Try classic Earl Grey, Paris (a twist on Earl Grey with vanilla and a slight smokiness), or, for the decaffeinated set, Lemon Herbal. Even if some of your recipients aren’t tea drinkers themselves, they’ll have something special on hand to offer guests.

Our pick

True Fabrications Truetap

Our favorite wine key

Reliable and easy to use, the Truetap comes in a variety of colors that add whimsy to a classic gift.

Elevate the traditional gift of a bottle of wine by including our favorite corkscrew. Everyone could use an extra—especially around the holidays. The True Fabrications Truetap, which in our testing beat out seven competitors for the quality and the price, might be better than whatever is floating around your recipients’ kitchens already. It’s solidly built and available in fun colors from purple to lime green.

As for the wine, the easiest thing to do is to head to your local wine store—many shops offer a 10 percent discount if you purchase a case. If you want an online option, Amazon offers mixed packs of wine, with many sellers offering shipping for a penny if you buy more than six bottles.

Our pick

The Tillandz With Air Plants

For plant lovers

These colorful holders can attach to a flat or vertical surface. The petite plants require little more than air and the occasional spritz of water.

Buying Options

*At the time of publishing, the price was $35.

Brighten up the living spaces of the people on your list with an unexpected houseplant. We like the air plants and colorful Tillandz stands sold by The Sill because they can sit on a flat surface or easily attach to a wall. If you buy three at once, you’ll save about $7. The stands come in a wide selection of elegant colors. The plants themselves gather nutrients from—as their name suggests—the air. They’ll fly even with people lacking in the green-thumb department: All that these unique plants require to stay alive is sunlight and a little misting a few times a week. (And if your gift recipients put the plants in a sunny bathroom, they don’t even have to remember to mist—the plants will collect moisture from the shower steam.)

Our pick

Platinum Preppy Fountain Pens

Vibrant, affordable pens

These playful fountain pens write nicely. Buying them in a pack of seven brings the cost down to a few dollars per pen.

Buying Options

*At the time of publishing, the price was $23.

Field Notes Memo Book

A go-everywhere notebook

The best combination of paper quality, durability, style, availability, and ruling options that will actually fit in your pocket. It also pairs well with our favorite mini fountain pens.

Buying Options

*At the time of publishing, the price was $10.

As smartphones take over, having a pen and paper on hand when you need to jot down directions, a phone number, or a great idea can be immensely satisfying. Bundle a few high-quality pens with a small notebook for a set that your recipient can stash in a purse or glove compartment. We like Platinum Preppy fountain pens, which come in a pack of seven. The colors are vibrant, and it’s easy to buy replacement ink cartridges if your recipient gets hooked on the smooth, no-pressure-required feel of a fountain pen. This set is cheap enough that no one will feel bad about losing one, although they might get territorial if it becomes their new favorite pen.

Pair the pens with Field Notes Memo Books. At about $10 for a pack of three, they’re affordable, and the high-quality paper resists feathering and smudging better than that of most other notebooks we’ve tested.

Our pick

Stubby Pencil Studio Rainbow Pencils (Natural Cedar)

Seven colors in one pencil

Kids and adults will love these fun multicolored pencils.

Buying Options

These delightful wooden pencils in natural cedar and black wood have a multicolored center, so a simple line drawing becomes a rainbow Technicolor masterpiece. Kids love them, and adults want to borrow them from the kids—get enough for the whole family. And because your giftee may not already have a sharpener in the house, pair these pencils with the cheap and sleek Prismacolor Premier Pencil Sharpener we recommend in our colored pencils guide. It has both a small hole for sharpening standard colored or graphite pencils and a larger opening for oversized pencils or for giving colored pencils a shallower point. The canister lets you sharpen without having to stand over a trash can, and the attached cover allows you to throw it in a bag without worrying about escaped shavings.

Our pick

Weck 742 Mold Jar

Our favorite jars

These high-end canning jars double nicely as packaging for everything from homemade jams to bath salts. Dress them up for gifting with custom labels.

Buying Options

*At the time of publishing, the price was $34.

Moo Rectangular Stickers

Custom jar labels

Design custom-printed labels with a holiday greeting or the name of the treat to give your jars a thoughtful touch.

Take homemade baked goods to another level by packaging them in an attractive jar with a custom label. We like Weck jars, which are a little nicer than the typical mason jar. Instead of a screw-off top, Weck jars feature clips and a red rubber seal. You’ll be giving people something they’ll be happy to have sitting on their counter after the jars’ original contents are gone. We like the larger half-liter jars for making bark or bars and the small jars for holding more-potent goodies (such as a few Amaretto bonbons).

For custom labels, try Moo: I’ve been using the service for years to make business cards, because it’s dead simple to create something that looks nice with Moo’s easy-to-use interface. Moo offers a wide selection of premade sticker designs—including some holiday-themed ones—that you can tweak to feature your name and the name of the sweet, or a greeting. Place a round sticker on top of the jar, or a rectangular sticker on the side.

My favorite homemade gift is saltine bark: a gooey concoction of crackers, chocolate, and brown sugar that my mom and I used to make together when I was little. (Now I follow country star Trisha Yearwood's recipe to get the proportions right.) It’s simple to make, and it’s unique enough that your friends and coworkers will remember the gesture. You don’t have to stick to food, either: Bath salts are easy to make, look nice in a pretty jar, and offer your recipient a good excuse to take a personal retreat away from the chaos of the holidays.

Our pick

Enzo Table Extra Virgin Olive Oil

For dressings and drizzling

This oil is fresh and flavorful—and it’s certified as extra-virgin by the California Olive Oil Council. Buy in bulk to save a few dollars per bottle over buying and shipping bottles individually.

Buying Options

*At the time of publishing, the price was $92.

If you don’t want to add to the inevitable sweet-overload of the holidays, consider giving a bottle of olive oil. The gourmet stuff is more flavorful than what’s likely already in your gift recipient’s cupboards—and it will make salad dressings and anything you cook in it just a little more interesting. Enzo’s olive oil, a favorite of Wirecutter writer Lesley Stockton, comes from a 100-year-old family-run estate in California. And it has the California Olive Oil Council’s Harvest Seal Certification, so you know you’re getting 100 percent virgin olive oil. If you buy in bulk, you’ll save a few bucks per bottle.

Our pick

Papalote Roasted Tomato Salsa

Delicious salsa

This salsa, created from a secret recipe, is smooth, thick, and better than anything you can find at a grocery store.

Another surprising option for a savory treat: salsa. Having a jar around is a great excuse to make nachos for a cozy winter movie night. Wirecutter's special projects editor, Ganda Suthivarakom, likes to buy Papalote Roasted Tomato Salsa. “This house salsa from a San Francisco–based taqueria is unlike any store-bought brand I’ve ever tried. It’s Vitamix smooth, with body thickened with the usual suspects (roasted chiles, tomato) and canola oil, in which I suspect the salsa is fried,” she said. “I say ‘suspect’ because, as far as I can tell, Papalote has not given the recipe to anyone, so I can’t just re-create it at home.” Celebrity chef Bobby Flay likes it, too, calling it “the secret weapon” in a burrito on his Food Network show. Buying multiples saves you a few bucks on shipping.

Our pick

The Face Shop Living Nature Grind Mask Sheet

Affordable bulk face masks

This pack of masks, which gets rave reviews from customers, includes 15 varieties from coconut to avocado.

Buying Options

*At the time of publishing, the price was $15.

Kareway Epielle Assorted Moisturizing Gloves and Socks

For pampering hands and feet

Include one of each for a full spa experience.

Buying Options

*At the time of publishing, the price was $13.

Anyone who likes pampering their skin will appreciate sheet masks, particularly when dry, cool weather is doing a number on everyone’s complexion. Unlike regular face masks, which come as a substance in pots or tubes, these one-time-use masks are made of thin paper, soaked with the substance, and designed to fit over your face. You can find masks for hands and feet, as well—moisturizing gloves and socks are just frivolous enough to feel like a special treat. Editor Casey Johnston reports that they’re a fun bonding activity, too: When she gave sheet masks to the women in her life one December, she was rewarded with silly selfies of her recipients sporting them.

When you buy these masks in bulk, they’re about $1 each (as opposed to the $6 a pop and up that you can pay for individual masks). We picked out two highly rated options from Amazon: The Face Shop Living Nature Grind Mask Sheet offers a pack of 15 face masks in as many different surprising scents, so each gift will be unique. Reviewers say these are softer and more moisturizing than other masks. The Kareway Epielle Assorted Moisturizing Gloves and Socks also get great customer reviews and constitute one of the most affordable bulk packs we found that include both gloves and socks (they come in a pack of 12). For a total pampering experience, include a mix of gloves, socks, and sheet masks in each gift.

Our pick

Upstream: Selected Essays

A good book

Reading Mary Oliver just makes life better. Gift her latest collection of essays, or pick out a favorite author of your own.

Buying Options

*At the time of publishing, the price was $20.

Michel Cluizel Noir de Cacao 72%

Our favorite chocolate bar

This smooth chocolate offers a great ratio of sweet and bitter flavors. It's slightly fruity but has a nuttiness that balances it.

Are there any two better things to curl up on the couch with? Give the people in your life a few hours away from screens with a good book and one (or two) of our favorite chocolate bars. Over the years we’ve brought in some 75 bars to put to blind taste tests, and the Michel Cluizel Noir de Cacao 72% is our favorite. (A jar of homemade sweets or a face mask also makes for a great book-reading companion.)

We love finding gifts that are unusual, thoughtful, and well vetted. See even more gift ideas we recommend.

About your guide

Shannon Palus

Shannon Palus