Your guide to Christmas stocking fillers

16 Oct 2023

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From chocolate treats to miniature tipples, tuck into our ultimate guide on stocking fillers this Christmas

Do you hang your stocking over the fireplace or leave hanging at the end of your bed? Unwrapping your neatly packaged stocking fillers is one of the simple joys of Christmas – no matter how old you are. At Hotel Chocolat, we think that stocking fillers shouldn’t have an age limit on them. Adults and children alike should be able to join in on that special magic, especially when there’s so much Christmas chocolate to enjoy. Discover our guide to the best chocolate stocking fillers and make this festive season more delicious than ever.

Where did the Christmas stocking tradition come from?

Before we delve into some of our favourite stocking filler ideas, let’s explore the origins of this nostalgic festive tradition. The origins of hanging up stockings aren’t that easy to pin down (or should we say up?). Like many Christmas traditions, there isn’t one clear answer as to where the practice of filling large socks with stocking fillers came from. However, the legends are certainly interesting…

The drying stocking

One theory is that an impoverished Turkish widower who was left to raise his three daughters alone had fallen on desperate times. A former monk – named Sinter Klaus, or St. Nicholas – heard of the family’s plight, and secretly left bags of gold for them by their chimney, with one piece of gold accidentally fell into a stocking that was hanging near the chimney to dry.

The widower caught Sinter Klaus leaving the presents, and soon tales of his generosity began to spread, leading him to be anointed as the patron saint for children, inspiring our image of the modern-day Saint Nick, or Santa Claus. The widower and his daughters were able to use the gifted gold to climb out of poverty, living happily ever after.

Family Christmas stockings hanging from shelf

The impatient children

In the Netherlands, Santa Claus – called Sinterklaas – has an assistant named Black Pete who helps him in his task of gifting presents to children. Each year, the pair dock in a different harbour of the city and then travel through the city on a white steed and mule once they arrive. The children eagerly wait for their arrival, placing carrots and hay in their wooden clogs before receiving treats such as toys and chocolates in return.

wooden clogs

This Dutch tradition allegedly found its way into America when Dutch settlers immigrated to America, taking their tradition of Sinterklaas with them. Eventually, the wooden clogs were replaced by stockings, and Sinterklaas became known as Santa Claus. But when did chocolate become the go-to stocking filler gift?

What are traditional Christmas stocking fillers?

Nowadays, stocking fillers have no boundaries. From nibbles and drinks to skincare products and books, stocking fillers come in all shapes and sizes. In fact, some people spend thousands on finding the most indulgent stocking fillers that money can buy. However, we can’t deny that chocolate stocking fillers are a surefire hit with grown ups and children alike.

But before chocolate coins, Santa Tiddly Pots, and Jolly Penguin Selectors, these petite gifts tended to be a little more humble.


This fruit has been a traditional stocking filler for decades. These days, children may turn their noses up at them now, once upon a time they would have been a real treat. The inspiration for putting an orange in a stocking came from the story of the monk who placed gold in the widower’s chimney. To honour the story, people began to gift oranges as a symbol of St Nick’s generosity.

Why did oranges seem like such a luxury stocking filler? Well, although they are now an everyday food item, oranges were seen as far more special during the Victorian era. This is because exotic fruit was much rarer and more expensive. As a result, oranges were a prized gift to receive in a stocking.

A selection of spiced dried orange slices

To evoke the classic sentiment with a cacao twist, why not pop some orange chocolate delights in your loved one’s Christmas stocking this year? Our Chocolate Orange Tangs are certain to elevate the humble stocking satsuma or tangerine.


During Victorian times, wooden toys were popular in the stockings of wealthier children. Unfortunately, poorer families didn’t have extra to spend on dolls or toy trains. However, over time the price of toys decreased. Now, you can find an array of affordable and toys on the high street.


The tradition of finding money in a stocking also owes itself to St Nick’s legend – obviously, gold wasn’t a sustainable option for most families to gift loved ones. However, coins were easier to find and more affordable to give away, prompting many to leave pennies in a stocking.

Money is, of course, a very generous thing to gift. But there’s something far more special and sentimental about a treat that’s been especially chosen for a recipient. After all, it’s the thought that counts! So why not show your friends and family members how much you care by selecting irresistible chocolate stocking fillers you’ll know they’ll adore? Perhaps they enjoy dunking luxury biscuits in their morning coffee or can’t get enough of Pink Champagne Truffles. Channel your inner Santa and tailor your stocking filler ideas to your giftee.

What are the best stocking fillers for adults?

Christmas stocking fillers may have a reputation for being kids-only. But we think adults should be able to join in on the festive fun too. Although you might not be able to get away with giving them a stocking filler of bouncy balls and a bubble machine, there are stocking fillers for adults to tick every box.

A festive tipple

Does your giftee enjoy celebrating the season of goodwill with a tipple? Be it a classic G&T or an opulent cocktail, alcohol miniatures can bring real merriment to a Christmas stocking. Let your loved one toast to festivity with a 50ml bottle of our luxurious Cacao Gin. They can enjoy its smooth malty notes on the rocks or whip up a cacao gin cocktail.

Alternatively, take a look at our Velvetised Chocolate Cream 50ml. This bottle may be small but it packs nuanced flavour notes and a decadently smooth texture. It’s perfect for bringing a sense of celebration to a festive coffee or hot chocolate (or sipping and savouring over ice, of course).

Comforting hot chocolate

Hot chocolate sachets make wonderful stocking fillers. Often overlooked in favour of truffles and small chocolate packs, there’s something ever so satisfying about a single-serve drinking chocolate. Ready to go, these pocket-sized pouches have the perfect amount of real chocolate flakes to whip up a silky-smooth beverage in a matter of minutes.

What about flavours? We believe the finest hot chocolate stocking fillers are those that embrace seasonal flavours. The festive aromas of our Orange Supermilk Hot Chocolate will certainly hit the spot, as will the gentle warmth of our Ginger Hot Chocolate.

Chic homeware

If you really want to impress your Christmas stocking recipient, pair their hot chocolate sachet with a thoughtful mug. Our Hug Coffee Cup is perfect for cradling in your hands. Cosy and tactile, it’s the ideal stocking filler for any hot chocolate fan.

Are you creating a couple’s Christmas stocking? Our Duo of Podcups can make a great addition for two. Inspired by cacao pods, these sleek vessels are the perfect accompaniment to our revolutionary at-home hot chocolate, system: The Velvetiser.

Charcoal Velvetiser and Pod Cup

What can you use instead of a Christmas stocking?

Tired of your dowdy old stocking? Instead of buying the same this year, why not get creative and branch out with some Christmas stocking alternatives which really show your imaginative side?

  • Welly boots – Take inspiration from the Dutch Sinterklaas story and use welly boots to stuff with stocking fillers. They might not be clogs, but we don’t think this matters too much. Besides, wellies can fit far more presents inside…
  • Pillowcase Find a festive pillowcase to fill with stocking fillers. This saves you money on expensive gift sacks but looks just as effective. You could always add a final flourish with a lovely ribbon, the ideal way to tie up your festive pillowcase.
  • Santa hats – Turned upside down and hung from a fireplace, Santa hats make a festive addition to any room. Plus, you can wear them throughout the big day, too.
  • Tote bag – Cheap and easy to find, this stocking alternative can also double up as a shopping bag for future years, making this choice sustainable and handy.
  • Christmas bucket – This is a fun idea for you and the little ones to join in with. Find a few hardy buckets from your local DIY store and paint them with festive decorations.

What are the best chocolate stocking fillers?

Chocolate stocking fillers are a must. We simply couldn’t enjoy ours without the addition of a white, milk or dark chocolate. We think medium to small-sized chocolates are best: you’ll want to put in other stocking filler goodies, after all. Here are a few gifts that are sure to become stocking filler classics.

Chocolate Christmas crackers

Christmas stocking fillers should also have an element of surprise to them, which is why our Rather Large Cracker is the perfect gift to start their Christmas morning off with a bang. Our cracker isn’t filled with those cheap plastic toys (although it does contain a few cheap jokes). Instead, it features with 40 chocolates.

Alternatively, there’s our Chocolate Christmas Table Cracker. This smaller cracker includes three caca-rich chocolates and a silly joke.

Mini Christmas Selection

A petite but perfectly formed collection of our best-loved recipes, the Mini Christmas Selection is the ideal chocolate stocking filler.

Milk Chocolate Santa Lick

Perfect for the little ones, our Milk Chocolate Santa Lick is made with our signature 40% milk cacao chocolate. Mote cacao, less sugar is our mantra and this jolly character highlights this beautifully.

Cacao-rich chocolate stocking fillers from Hotel Chocolat

Whatever you choose to fill your stocking with and whenever you decide to open them, we hope we’ve packed you up with enough stocking filler information to get you ready for the festive month ahead! From kid’s Christmas chocolate to alcohol miniatures just for the grown ups, we’re sure you’ll find plenty to explore at Hotel Chocolat. Discover our full Christmas collection today.