The origin of Christmas Stockings is somewhat unclear but probably comes from the Germanic/Scandinavian figure Odin. Children would place their shoes filled with straw or carrots near the chimney so that Sleipner (Odin’s flying horse) could eat. Odin would then reward their kindness by replacing the straw or carrots with gifts or sweets. This practice pre-dated Christianity but was absorbed and adopted into our Christmas traditions.
However, the figure of St. Nicholas has merged with various figures over the years including a Grandmother cult of Italy (who also had the habit of popping gifts in stockings). Some suggest this practise travelled north identified with St Nicholas and merged with Odin cults. Certainly there are many folk tales regarding St Nicholas throwing bags of gold into stocking for poor woodcutters and their ilk. Today, the practise of giving coal to badly behaved children is usually used as a threat but not actually carried out!
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Traditional small stocking fillers:
Piece of fruit – this one goes back generations! It possibly originates from French nuns inspired by St Nicholas in the 12th century who gave out stockings of fruit and nuts to the poor. Often in the toe of the stocking as the final treat. Whilst satsumas are not as exotic as they once were, they’re still not a bad idea to stop your kids getting way too much chocolate. If they hate satsumas or clementines, try apples or bananas instead. It's common to pop an apple in the heel and an orange in the toe in many households. Find our full fruit range here.
Coins –It’s traditional to have a shiny coin (50p or £1 perhaps) and often chocolate coins. Yes it’s chocolate, yes they will make a mess and yes they are extremely popular! These ones are Fairtrade from Divine, try milk or dark. The bonus is - unwrapping the coins may take more time than eating them!
Nuts – Walnuts, pecans and hazelnuts are all popular to put in stockings and help reduce the impact of early morning chocolate. Try a small bag of mixed nuts your own personalised version of trail mix. Add their favourite dried fruits, nuts and perhaps a few chocolate or carob flakes to encourage them to snack on it. Nuts in Shells are always popular at this time of year, partly for the fun in cracking them!
Lollipops and small sweets– small but sweet, and hopefully it will take them a little while to work their way through them, leaving you an extra 10 minutes in bed (at dawn, but still 10 minutes is 10 minutes!) This is a pack of 6 fruit lollies made with agave and glucose syrup from Biona, they’re also organic and gluten free.
Peppermint Candy Cane (pictured left) – again small but sweet is the idea. These weigh a mere 28 grams and are roughly 18 centimetres long.
Organic cola bottles, vegetarian gummy bears, vegebear's sweets and even an organic alternative to milk chocolate santa from Moo Free are all available.
Bath treats - Try one of these mini liquid soaps from Dr Bronner, used for everything from cleaning clothes to hair to faces, they’re small, incredibly effective (one or two drops will clean a lot) and in a variety of scents including Baby-Mild, Citrus, Peppermint, Almond and Rose.
Medium Stocking Fillers:
It depends on your own family traditions and preferences as to whether you have small stockings and larger presents under the tree, or are trying to occupy them as much as possible before being woken up. It’s very common to give kids small puzzles, games or books to help keep them busy in the morning. On the other hand, some families hang the stockings up over the fireplace and open them together when they’ve returned from Midnight Carolling. Lots of people like to pretend (sorry if I’m spoiling the surprise) that Santa pops everything in the stocking and wrap up the tree gifts entirely separately, others have large stockings they know are from their family.
Hollow Santa and Novelty Chocs. Available in either carob or chocolate, this is a great treat (and both dairy, nut and gluten free). Probably better for older kids or ones that can be trusted not to eat the whole thing in one go! Other novelty shapes of snowmen and Santas are also popular. Try these amazing chunky snowmen filled with delicious truffle mousse chocolate from Montezuma in milk or dark chocolate - particularly good if you plan on stealing the odd choc, or are making stockings for teenagers (or even older!) as they taste amazing! Our Novelty Christmas Chocolate and Carob can be found here in our Christmas webshop.
This Christmas Bauble tin from Jacobsens is great for decorating the tree or for keeping small Christmas treasures in (once you've eaten the Danish butter cookies!)
Biscuits – whether you’re an amaretti fan, a mint thins addict or in love with shortbread, a small packet is a nice idea to encourage your kids or teenagers to share at Christmas. Or try these delicious truffles from Monty Bojangles (although you’ll be lucky to get them shared out – people have been known to get very possessive over these tasty treats!).
Bath toys – most folk try to keep the sugary treats down to a dull roar before breakfast, it’s also pretty common to give kids a new toothbrush or something for the bathroom. Try these cute rubber bathing toys. Here’s some baby bodywashes and bubble baths to keep them clean for Christmas. Try this zingy citrus bubble bath from Earth Friendly Kids.
Large Stocking Fillers:
If you are going for large stocking fillers, it’s wise to keep the amount of chocolate or sugar still fairly small. Try adding board games, books or DVDs you know they want or like to keep them occupied. Of course, if you’re doing adult stockings, that’s a different matter, of course we can be trusted not to eat an entire box of Booja Booja truffles in one go, right?*
*No-one has ever managed NOT to eat Booja Booja, at least not that we have EVER seen, they’re pure chocolatey gorgeousness, too good for kids!
Other impressive chocolates include Green and Black’s selection boxes, Montezuma's Christmas Truffles or Willie's Cacao Picture Frame Collections
If you’re a marzipan fan try the niederegger range for deliciously decadent marzipan options, steer clear of the alcoholic ones for kids obviously!
This gingerbread tree decoration kit, could keep small hands busy. Complete with 6 gingerbread trees, two tubes of icing and some mini silver baubles, for everything you need to decorate a tree beautifully! Or 6 gingerbread people and their decorations here.
If you’re getting some natural beauty products in, try Faith In Nature’s lovely packs of shampoo and conditioners, try this coconut one or grapefruit and orange, or one of Weleda’s mini gift sets for luxurious bathing. All of our bodycare gift sets can be found here.
By Kim Betney