traditions santa hearth_36360St. Nicholas is responsible for the stocking’s link to Christmas. The legend goes that in the fourth century he threw coins down a chimney to help a poor father with a dowry for his youngest daughter. The coins landed in a stocking drying by the fire. Putting oranges and tangerines in stockings has long been a way of representing this golden generosity.

Christmas stockings were firmly in public consciousness by the 19th century. The 1823 poem “’Twas the Night Before Christmas” twice refers to stockings and German-born, American-based illustrator Thomas Nast’s cartoon “Christmas Morning” showed children rummaging through stockings for presents. In 1854, Susan Warner had her book published entitled: “Carl Krinken; or, The Christmas stocking”. It tells of a poor boy who receives a magical, talking stocking. In 1869, Nast’s drawing of Father Christmas taking toys from his sack near a fireplace bearing four stockings is further proof of their growing use in America. It appears in George Webster’s story: “Santa Claus And All His Works”. Among the many and varied Christmas drawings by Nast (1840-1902) is one of a small boy standing on the head of a bearskin rug, nailing a stocking – personalised with the word ‘Mother’ – to the mantelpiece.

Stockings

The How to Christmas team are big fans of Christmas stockings. Sacks, bags and even pillowcases are all great for gifts of bulk and quantity. But there is something magical about hanging a Christmas stocking on a mantle or bedpost ready for Father Christmas to fill with tiny treats. We have just a few of our favourites listed here. For a more extensive list of options CLICK HERE for our Christmas Stockings page in The Christmas Home section, including a splendid range from notonthehighstreet.com. Have a simple scroll down this page for ideas for themed stockings and stocking filler gifts for both children and adults.

Personalised Velvet Stocking at Pottery Barn: every year US store Pottery Barn produce beautifully sumptuous stockings that can be personalised. The red velvet stocking with white cuff and red stitched names are simple but gorgeous. So, too, are the Channel Quilted Velvet Stockings. We could go on…the choice is superb. Best instead to check out potterybarn.com and see what we’re so excited about. Pottery Barn ship overseas. Stocking basicCustoms charges can be paid during the purchase process on some American sites, including Pottery Barn, Macy’s and Crate & Barrel, through Borderfree. You may also be pleasantly surprised at the value for money. Look out also for matching tree skirts.

Luxurious Red Christmas Stockings by Santa’s Little Workshop: each stocking across the range of sizes is made in Britain with a ‘Santa’s Little Workshop’ leather patch attached. Sumptuously soft red stockings with white cuffs are a traditionalist’s dream. All can be personalised. Check out santaslittleworkshop.co.uk.

The White Company Goes Big:  the woollen adult stockings are tasteful and ideal for any decor. But our annual delight comes when the White Company ‘bigs it up’ with huge stockings and sacks.

Letter to Santa Stocking by Lime Tree London at Not on the High Street: there is a fabric envelope on the front of this stocking in which to put a letter to Father Christmas. It can be personalised with a printed name: an absolute winner.

Themed Christmas Stockings

Stocking basicTailor your stockings to the hobbies, likes, loves and passions of your family and friends with themed stockings. Check out our Movie Gift Boxes page for ideas on how to create a film theme. You might want to adapt “The Grinch” box for stocking use by purchasing a furry red and white stocking, attaching a Grinch badge and hanging it with lime green ribbon. Include such gifts as the cartoon and live action versions of the life of the Grinch on DVD, vibrant green jellybeans, popcorn, candy canes, green Tic-tacs, a tree decoration of the ‘green and mean one’ and a soft toy dog in honour of the Grinch’s pet Max. Here are more ideas:

For Gardeners: Hit the local garden centre and you will be awash with possibilities. We suggest: gardening gloves, packets of seeds, secateurs, trowel, birdseed balls, robin Christmas tree decoration. Stocking basic

For Chocolate Lovers: With so much ‘posh’ chocolate around at Christmas, why not fill a stocking with some regular bars and bags of deliciousness that will go down a treat with any chocolate lover – Cadbury’s Fruit & Nut, Turkish Delight, Picnic, Bounty, Lion Bar, Ripple, Flake, Kit Kat, Maltesers, Crunchie, Aero, Minstrels…need we go on?

For Coffee Addicts: Do you know someone who relishes a coffee fix, then you might consider: Christmas filter coffee, Nespresso pods, Starbucks coffee sachets, chocolate sprinkles, stencils for chocolate topping, cappuccino cup and saucer, chocolate stirring spoon, crystal sugar stirring sticks, flavoured syrups.

Stocking basicFor Pets: your cats and dogs deserve stockings too so think sweet and savoury treats, squeaky toys, collars, portable and foldable feeding bowls, nametags.

For Teenagers: Do you find teenagers especially hard to buy for? Don’t despair. Try: iTunes gift cards, scratch cards, bookplates, smart phone covers, Pizza Express gift cards, Starbucks gift cards, chocolates, Joe & Seph’s small popcorn bags, Top Shop sour lips jellied sweets, Ciate nail polish in bauble-shaped packaging, Santa-suited rubber duck.

For Children: Little ones are so easy to please at Christmas and there is seemingly no shortage of choice. But we want to offer you a few novel ideas along with the more obvious. For starters, include note-cards in each stocking offering the priceless gift of time! Write something like this on the cards: “Stay up 30 minutes extra before bedtime” or “One late-night pass to stay up and watch the match”. You could make it a Monopoly-style ‘Get Out of Jail Free’ card with words like: “Get out of cleaning your room for a week”. It is then up to the children when they produce the cards to their best advantage. This could work both ways if you encourage your children to write IOU gift cards to you on which they spell out their intentions, like: “IOU one free car wash” for Dad or “IOU breakfast in bed” for Mum.

Elf Helper: Another great idea for kids – and hopefully a little Christmas morning present to you – is the “torch-annual-tangerine” combo. Growing up in Glasgow, one of our friends always found these three things in the stocking at the end of his bed. It was an orange, not a tangerine, in his case. When he woke at the crack of dawn, he could eat the orange to stave off hunger pangs while reading his annual to torchlight. He knew Father Christmas had visited, but didn’t quite feel the need to rush off and wake Mum and Dad. Even if this buys you an extra hour’s sleep on Christmas morning, it’s a pretty good gift.

Children’s Stocking Fillers We Love

The gifts mentioned are available from the likes of John Lewis, Selfridges, Hamleys, Waterstones, Amazon and direct from the manufacturers online. Simply put the item you wish to explore (eg ‘Alice Tait London Pin Badge’) in your chosen search engine and the details will appear. Please note that prices may vary.

Under £5

Sugar Mice; Finger Monsters Temporary Tattoos; Star Wars Top Trumps; Alice Tait London Pin Badge; Hope and Greenwood Blueberry Muffin Munchkins; Olde Fashioned Lucky Bags; Animal Hand Tattoos; “Arthur Christmas” DVD; Belle & Boo Sticker Set; Mini Flower Press by House of Marbles; Ridley’s Spring Toy; Kikkerland Scented Rubbers in Mini Fruit Juice Cartons.

Under £10

Unicorn Snot Glitter Gel; Festive Sound Machine; Mini Lalaloopsy Dolls; Ridley’s Harmonica; Balloon Animals and Pump; Balloon Dinosaurs and Pump; Star Wars figures; Playmobil figures; Hello Kitty Purse; Finger Printing Art ‘Monsters’; Finger Printing Art ‘Fairytales’; Belle & Boo Classic Mug; Egg & Spoon Set; Flash Harry Torch.

Under £20

Sylvanian Families Hedgehog Family – set of four; Seedling Pick N Mix Jewellery Kit; Playmobil Figures and Vehicles; Blow Football by House of Marbles; Motorised Paper Planes; Secret Agent Alarm Clock; Remote Control Climbing Cars.

Adult Stocking Fillers We Love

The gifts mentioned are available from the likes of John Lewis, Selfridges, Harvey Stocking basicNichols; Waterstones, Marks & Spencer; Amazon, Not on the High Street and online from some of the companies named. Simply put the item you wish to explore (eg ‘Pictura Colouring Books’) in your chosen search engine and the details will appear. We have tried to offer you ideas for around £20 or under.

Under £10

“Festive Sound Machine” – several buttons to press, various Christmassy noises to make, all in a pocket-size contraption.

Unicorn Snot Glitter Gel – Great for those dressing up days. Available in a variety of colours. Check out Liberty London and firebox.com.

NPW Predict a Pen – it asks “Dare You Live by the Pen?”

Lily Flame Mini Tinned Candles – festive fragrances aplenty.

New York Gallison Book Plates – featuring designs by talented Briton Debbie Powell (debbiepowell.net).

“Forever” book by Emma Dodd – intended for tiny tots but perfect for parents…and so touching.

Old School Vintage Badges in Pink by Wild and Wolf Kits – choices include ‘Gorgeous’ and ‘Dancing Queen’.

Harvey Nichols Mixed Nuts Roasted & Salted – other varieties available for those nuts on nuts.

Pictura Colouring Books – colouring in for the more mature with images of Paris, London, Faeries, Hedgerows and a Medieval Town.

Monkey Business Karoto Sharpener & Peeler – bright and shiny gadget.

Stocking basicHarvey Nichols Traditional Toffee – watch the fillings!

“Joyeux Noel” DVD – a moving account of the Christmas Day truce in WWI.

“The Hangover Cookbook” by Milton Crawford – witty and useful. Check out Crawford’s “The Drunken Cookbook” too for around £8.

“The Twelve Poems of Christmas” books by Carol Ann Duffy – volumes I to IX available. Also look for Duffy’s other festive poetry books (perfect sizes for stockings) such as “The Wren Boys”.

Cupcake Design Cake Tester – a prick test for baking.

Lick the Spoon Chilli Hot Chocolate Spoons in Dark Chocolate – melt into hot brews to make them hotter.

Chocolate & Love ‘Filthy Rich’ Chocolate Bar – packaging reads: “for every bar we plant a tree.”

“The John Rutter Christmas Album” – Mr. Christmas delivers beautiful carols. He has several festive albums from which to choose and we believe every Christmas fan should have at least one.

Harvey Nichols Surfers or Relish Girls Mugs – make a girl’s day…make the boys happy.

Enid Blyton Comedy Books – like “Five Give Up The Booze”. If you liked the “Five Go Mad…” TV series, you’ll probably engage with this collection of amusing Blyton-esque takes on modern Stocking basicissues. There’s even one on Brexit.

More Than £10

Hookmarks – Visit hookmarks.com to view these bookmarks with a twist. They come in sterling silver or brass and in a variety of designs: shipped direct from New York, USA.

Personalised After Dinner Fortunes Dinner Party Gift – by Bread & Jam for £14.95 and available through notonthehighstreet.com. An example of the fortunes reads: “It’s a Magical World out there. Go Exploring.”

Silver plated Champagne Spoon – by The Cutlery Commission for £16, engraved with the words “to keep the fizz fizzy” and intended to do just that when put inside the neck of an open bottle of bubbly. Check out notonthehighstreet.com.

Original Jollie Socks – socks in a recyclable tin can. Jollie Goods’ slogan is “Wear a pair, share a pair”. When you buy a Jollie Goods item like this it will help a homeless person in Britain to get back on their feet by giving them same.

Emotional Baggage Luggage Tag – this striking leather luggage tag by KNOMO celebrates learning how to carry one’s emotional baggage well. Comes in a gift box.

LED Light Stax – build your own multi-coloured lamp…and do it with ease, block by block.

Tablet Flexi Holder – an instant second screen when one is simply not enough to satisfy one’s multi-media cravings.

Porcelain Angel Tea Light – by Luna Lighting for £18 through notonthehighstreet.com. Simple and beautiful.

Dashing Dodo Hanging Decoration – Dodos in top hats. Whatever next? Available in gold, mink and blue for £12 from Rockett St. George. We adore them. Go to rockettstgeorge.co.uk.

General Stocking Filler Ideas:

Books; bookmarks; bookplates; pens; notepads; diaries; music gift cards; CDs; DVDs; playing cards; cufflinks; aftershave; perfume; cosmetics; nail polish; nail files; compacts; jewellery; perfumed soaps; shower gel; candles; candlesnuffers; candlewick trimmers; scented tea-lights; tea-light holders; diffuser oil; wine bottle stoppers; wine pourers; alcohol miniatures; tea; coffee; cookie cutters; cake testers; pie birds; chocolates; sweets; candy canes; mini mint tins; mini mince pies; scratch cards; lottery tickets; tree ornaments; socks; coasters; craft kits; gardening gloves; picture frames; magazine subscriptions; business card holders; purses; wallets; key rings.

Elf Helper: When you buy beauty products, perfume and aftershave through the year you will almost always be given free samples. Keep them tucked away in a box or bag and use them a stocking fillers come December.