I like this idea. Start the year with an empty jar and fill it with notes about good things that happen. Then, on New Years Eve, empty it and see what awesome stuff happened that year. Good way to keep things in perspective.
I've used the stocking/vacuum trick before, but I used a used dryer sheet to get my diamond earring out of the sink drain. Be sure to change your vacuum bag or clean it immediately after or you will get mildew! -- Nifty little ideas to keep on hand!