Holly with the joy glitter Christmas stockings

Stocking filler ideas for adults: token Christmas gifts that are Santa-approved

gifting thoughtfully
By Holly Tucker


Want to surprise someone you love with a stocking full of treats? Try these ideas to make their Christmas morning unforgettable...

Ask Santa to shop small this Christmas stocking

What do you put in an adult Christmas stocking?!

I always think part of the joy of Christmas stockings is that they can be filled with almost anything (provided it’s small!) — and the more ‘less ordinary’ the better. Father Christmas is especially good at this of course… but if you need ideas (and fast, because let’s face it, that festive to-do list isn’t completing itself and there’s a good chance he has Mrs Claus taking care of business in the North Pole) where do you start? Especially if it’s not just one or two things you need to pad out a stocking with, but several?! Well thankfully, they don’t call me Mrs Gifting for nothing so let me share some stocking filler inspiration.

Token gifts for her, him or them? Let’s start with ways to make them smile…

The magic of opening your stocking as a child was partly that everything felt so new and unexpected. So how do you recapture the excitement and prompt nostalgia?

  • Make it an occasion. Stay in your PJs, put on some festive music, have a ‘grown ups hot chocolate’ — no of course it’s not lunchtime yet, but firstly, it’s Christmas, secondly it’s Christmas and thirdly, it’s Christmas.
  • Be playful and thoughtful. What kind of gifts might speak to their interests or what’s a fun way to show them you know them? Mixed in with the more practical presents, a little wit or wisdom goes a long way. Whether you personalise items or find meaningful tokens, little gifts can be a great way to reconnect.
  • Add a tag to each. Are they always losing their keys? Add a tag that says, ‘Have you seen my…’ to a keyring perhaps. Do they secretly eat chocolate spread straight out of the fridge when they think no one is looking? Tie a tag that says, ‘For your secret midnight feasts’ to the engraved vintage Nutella spoon below. Put ‘It takes one to know one’ on these embroidered merit patches and so on (incidentally, there are loads to choose from to match the person, so they happen to make especially good stocking treats).

Inexpensive stocking fillers adults? Try these

As an avid stocking creator myself, I’m all too aware how quickly these ‘little things’ can add up and if you’ve got more than one stocking to fill, it’s even trickier. Especially if you don’t want to include lots of throwaway items for the sake of it, but things they’ll actually want to use and keep. So how about including other gift ideas you could wrap up alongside those too? How about a voucher for you to make their favourite biscuits in the new year (assuming you’re a better baker than I am), or printing out a poem they might like or creating a little memory book of funny things that happened in 2023? These personal touches often mean a lot (and help keep the cost down, too).

Sustainable stocking filler ideas: avoiding the plastic tat

Another idea is to do a smaller stocking that’s filled with four things: something they want, need or for them to wear or read. If that feels too small, I’ve even heard about the eight gift rule: which is the same as the above but also includes something used, made, to do and played. That also taps into the ‘no plastic tat’ idea to try and make Christmas a more planet-friendly occasion. If it’s handmade, created to last (unless it’s chocolate!) or from a UK small business, you know you’re doing well.

What was traditionally in a Christmas stocking?

Finally, if you want to take ideas from the past, traditionally in the UK stockings were filled with an orange or satsuma (said to represent a gift of gold from St Nicholas), a coin (to represent fortune and wealth for the year ahead), a lump of coal (which I thought was to keep you warm but apparently, it was actually given to naughty kids so that’s potentially why I might have got a large one lol), and then from the 1950s, the first sugar mice. How could you do a fresh take on those traditions?

Christmas stockings around the globe: international Christmas traditions

In India, some give baskets of sweets and fruit to symbolise good times and good health. In France, ‘Pere Noel’ fills shoes laid near the hearth with small treats. American children who had been especially naughty that year were sometimes known to have received cold potatoes (which definitely feels more Grinch than Santa, but there are times this year when I’d have been tempted to give one to Frank). Either way, I hope this helps spark some ideas. From socks to mini books, lovely toiletries to badges, here’s hoping your stocking fillers are every bit as brilliant as you are (and if you’re still stumped, try my Stocking Fillers For Adults collection or simply leave it to Father Christmas).

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