Your guide to Christmas stocking fillers

28 Sep 2020

Events Gifts Gift Experiences Gift Ideas Winter

Tuck into our ultimate guide on stocking fillers so that you can hang yours up the right way this year

Do you hang yours over the fireplace or leave it nestled between your feet in 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 on Christmas day.

christmas stockings

Although part of the fun of a stocking is finding all those little goodies to put into loved ones Christmas stocking fillers, sometimes the inspiration for new surprises runs a bit thin. We’ve put together a guide on stocking fillers to help you make them feel merry on the big day, no matter how old they are.

Where did the Christmas stocking tradition come from?

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 – we’ll let you decide for yourself which one is most believable.

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.

christmas stockings on fireplace

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.

dutch clogs for sinter klaas

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.

When should you open your Christmas stocking?

First thing in the morning, or the last event of the night? Opening up a stocking is always an exciting prospect, and you have little ones you’ll probably know all too well their buzzing excitement that wakes you up at some eye-watering time in the morning.

We can’t help feeling that a Christmas stocking should be opened first thing in the morning – there’s nothing quite like feeling that weight rest at the foot of your bed and the excitement of knowing you’ll wake up with a stocking full of goodies.

red christmas stockings and christmas tree

However, we also think that Christmas stocking fillers aren’t for the 25th only. Nothing sings Christmas like seeing a gaudy and festive large stocking, which makes them the perfect alternative to a bag for when you’re giving a loved one a bag of goodies before the big day.

Our Elf’s Christmas Stocking is filled with 12 chocolate treats, making this an indulgent gift for a secret Santa present. Made from bamboo fibre, our stocking is sustainable but made to last, so if they don’t open it on Christmas day this year, they might just do the following year.

What are traditional Christmas stocking fillers?

Stocking fillers now have no boundaries – some people spend thousands on finding the most indulgent stocking fillers that money can buy. However, stocking fillers used to be much more humble.

Oranges

This fruit has been a traditional stocking filler for decades, and whilst 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.

Whilst oranges are now an everyday food item, they would have been much more special during the Victorian era, where exotic fruit was much rarer and more expensive. This meant that oranges were a prized gift to receive in a stocking, and no convincing was needed to get the little ones to enjoy them. 

dried oranges and rosemary

We can’t help but be Christmas traditionalists, but understand that not everyone is going to be bowled away by receiving an orange in their stocking. That’s why The Christmas Pick Me Up is the perfect alternative – we’ve included a bag of Clementine Truffles, as well as some other goodies, for them to enjoy.

Toys

During Victorian times, wooden toys were commonly found in the stockings of wealthier children, as poorer families did not have extra to spend on dolls or toy trains. However, over time the price of toys have dramatically dropped, and now affordable and cheap toys can be found on the shelves of any store.

Money

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.

Nowadays, this tradition has morphed into chocolate money, but many chocolate makers have cut the cocoa percentage to keep the production price of their coinage low. We think our chocolate coins are of much higher value – we use 40% cocoa for a wonderfully rich and creamy taste for an extra indulgent treat.

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 which will tick every box.

Booze

A simple, easy and never-fail option: the gift that just never stops giving at Christmastime. Don’t worry if their stocking isn’t that big, not all alcohol gifts have to be a large bottle of fizz. We suggest finding a selection of miniature alcohol bottles, such as The Little Tipples Collection, to give as a stocking filler for adults.

Although a shot in the morning might be a bit of a stretch, our cocoa and caramel flavoured tipples are perfect to stir into hot chocolate for an extra warming mug of cocoa on Christmas eve, or to pour on top of the Christmas pud for an extra tasty dessert.

christmas pudding

Skincare

During the winter, skincare becomes even more important – those chilly mornings can dry your skin out, which means you need to make sure your skin remains hydrated and moisturised to stop it from cracking.

What better way to treat them than by including a little collection of skincare goodies as a stocking filler for adults. At Hotel Chocolat, we use nutrient-dense ingredients such as cacao, almond, avocado, honey and more to create balms, oils and butters in our nourishing range for re-energised and revitalised skin.

Homeware

There’s nothing cosier than walking into a candlelit room which is filled with wonderful aromas. We think a touch of added comfort is needed on those long winter eves, which is why a candle or diffuser makes a beautiful stocking filler for adults.

lit candle

We suggest opting for warming scents for the winter months – our Cacao & Vanilla Candle has a heady base of musk, cedarwood and amber which is complemented by rich undertones of cocoa and lifted with fragrant vanilla notes. 

If you want something a little less bulky so that you can stuff their stocking with more stocking fillers, this candle comes in a smaller size, along with a complimentary jute gift bag so that it’s ready to gift. 

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 – wellies can fit way more presents inside them
  • Pillowcase Find a festive pillowcase to fill with stocking fillers. This saves you money on expensive gift sacks but looks just as effective
  • Santa hats – Turned upside down and hung from a fireplace, Santa hats make a festive addition to any room
  • 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 
  • 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
wrapped gift back for christmas sack

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. We think our Christmas Pick Me Up is a good place to start: filled with a chocolate slab, truffles and caramels, this goody bag has everything you need to surprise them with more than one chocolate treat. 

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), but is instead filled with 40 chocolates. Just make sure you don’t accidentally leave it out at the Christmas dinner – you might find a few sneaky guests trying to swap their cracker with yours!

For a chocolate stocking filler that will last longer than Christmas morning, why not treat them to an extra indulgent hot chocolate? We make ours with shaved pieces of the real stuff, resulting in a cup of cocoa which is undeniably creamy and full of rich cocoa aromas. We suggest treating them to the festive aromas of our Orange Supermilk Hot Chocolate, or the gentle warmth of our Ginger Hot Chocolate.

If you’ve opted for a sack of presents, then feel free to dream a little bigger: Our Grand Wreath Box is a truly show-stopping chocolate stocking filler, filled with 84 filled chocolates and six festive chocolate wreaths, all packaged beautifully in a ribbon-wrapped box.

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!