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What We Want To Find In Our Stockings

Our favourite small gifts with a big impact (and not a satsuma in sight)

Do the best things come in small, stocking-friendly, packages? Well, you won’t fit a Brunello Cucinelli cashmere overcoat or a pair of Tom Ford Chelsea boots into a furry sock, but you can get everything from sunglasses to walletscombs to fragrancesgrooming essentials to wine paraphernalia inside. Oh, and let’s not forget actual socks. Read on to find out what we want to find hanging on the mantelpiece on Christmas morning.

Some things are simply essential in a stocking, a pair of socks being one of them. Not only does this practice create a veritable mise en abime of gifting (“Goodness me! Is that socks? In a sock?”), it instantly gives you something to put on and pad around in on Christmas Day. Now the more sour Santas out there may be thinking: “Isn’t £70 rather a lot for a pair of socks?”, and my riposte to that, in the case of these beautifully indigo dyed Kapital examples is, “My, but don’t you get a lot of sock for £70?” Thrusting my hand further down the stocking, I’ll be hoping to find a nice corkscrew from Lorenzi Milano (to crack open a bottle of something about 4.00pm when all the presents are gone and the sadness sets in) and a few sachets of these amazing M.E. Skin Lab masks (for after the wine wears off and your skin is like a Christmas pudding). 

Sadly, I’m too young to have enjoyed the 1970s heyday of skiwear, all fitted separates with go-faster chevrons and a predominance of red, white and blue. (When I was learning to ski, I could be spotted a mile away in C&A’s voluminous yellow and purple best.) These Moncler beauties, however, will be joining me on the slopes of Verbier in January. A sunglasses/goggle hybrid that won’t make my eyes water and will provide extra visibility in poor conditions. Now, if only I looked as cool going down a mogul field… A dog-eared wallet stuffed with Leon reward cards and Waitrose receipts says two things: one, you’re a compulsive hoarder; two, you really love a bargain. Neither is a character trait I particularly want to advertise. So, I’m downsizing to this Valextra cardholder, small enough to slip into a breast pocket, keeping my secret traits close to my chest. Fine-toothed combs just don’t work with longer hair. You end up looking like a cross between Mr Buddy Holly and and an Italian waiter who’s been on his feet for 40 years. Having spent this year getting some length in my locks, I’m ready to graduate to a wider-tooth comb, and this one by Buly 1803 is worthy of a place outside the bathroom cabinet, artfully propped on my sink.

The smell of pigs in blankets, the sound of cheesy Christmas music and my bouncing chihuahua Diego in a festive get-up used to be more than enough to pull me out of bed on Christmas morning. In recent years, however, the tradition of getting a little too merry at the pub on Christmas Eve has made the next day increasingly more challenging. That’s why this year I have curated my stocking-filler Wish List to be the ultimate hangover cure, to transform me from a grouchy Grinch into a cheery Buddy the elf. First up is Dr. Jackson’s face oil, which will help rejuvenate my skin for those family photos. Next, I’m requesting a Comme des Garçons Parfums Amazingreen scent to cover up any residual alcohol-related notes. And finally, I’d like this Valentino silver-tone necklace to spruce things up, because if you can’t channel your inner rock star when you’re hungover, when can you?

You’d be forgiven for thinking that Santa has developed a proclivity for Italian luxury mittens and had accidentally dropped one into my stocking, but the large furry glove you see is actually a shoeshine mitt from Lorenzi Milano. Crafted from leather and shearling, it’ll keep my shoes looking smart for the annual family Boxing Day bash at Grandma’s house (and thereby prevent a clip around the ear – very useful). Nothing tops the spritz of a brand new fragrance, and this one from Diptyque will make sure I’m held in olfactory esteem as we move into 2018. Before all that, though, I’m focusing on making the most of the fleeting Christmastime ambience – once I’ve fished this B&O Play Bluetooth speaker from my stocking on Christmas morning, it’s full blast (and unapologetic) Wizzard, Wham! and Ms Mariah Carey until bedtime.

As clichéd as a satsuma and some chocolate money, socks might seem like a boring thing with which to fill a stocking. But that is exactly what I want. Nay, need. Socks have a strange ability to just… disappear. One minute your drawer won’t close because you have so many pairs, the next you’re going barefoot in brogues in winter. What’s more, Christmas is when clichés are actively encouraged. Funny sweaters, charades, turkey – it is not a time to think outside the box. So, I’ll add an Asprey cracker and Le Labo handwash to my list as well, thank you very much.

Christmas is six of one and half a dozen of the other. Sure, there is the peace to all men and festive cheer element, but it is equally a time of roiling disappointment. Who hasn’t woken full of joy on the big day and then had their hopes bitterly dashed by yet another pair of slippers in their stocking? A decent gift shows you care and that you have taste. You could do worse then than this Rubinacci printed silk-twill pocket square, which could add a wonderful festive dash to a blue suit. Or indeed this Mulberry leather money clip, which will prevent unsightly bulges in the line of your trousers. And if you must give socks, please make them this pair from Mr. Gray with a lovely little embroidered bee. Follow my wise counsel and you will have a happy home this Christmas.

I’ve been a good chap this year, so I hope Santa won’t be leaving coal in my stocking come Christmas Eve. Instead, I’m hoping (read: praying) that I’ll find this Gucci leather wallet among the chocolate coins and novelty socks. It’s simple and will fit snugly into the internal pocket of a blazer or jacket. Ash clouds permitting, I’m off to Bali’s south coast on Boxing Day, so this pair of sunglasses by Persol will protect my eyes from the midday glare and hide my hangover on New Year’s Day. As will Tom Ford’s concealer stick.

I am 39 years old and still, to this day, insist on a Christmas stocking. My wife is a bit over it to be honest, so I end up sending her a list of what I’d like Santa to wrap up. The rule is that they have to be genuine stocking fillers, ie, small enough to fit into a big sock and inexpensive. Because the big presents are under the tree, obviously. To wit, this handsome coin purse from Il Bussetto. It fits perfectly in one’s pocket and I will actually keep my house keys in mine, or perhaps cufflinks when travelling. I travel a lot and don’t like the chemical smell of refresher wipes, nor do I imagine they are good for my skin. These cleansing and moisturising face wipes from Horace solve that problem. And then finally, at the bottom of the sock where in my youth my parents would usually place a satsuma (always a bit disappointing), I’ll have this leather baseball. I like sport and I think this would sit well on my desk amid various other tan leather ephemera as a paperweight/stress ball/object of procrastination.  

More stock for your stocking

  • Toast Living H.A.N.D Copper-Tone Coffee Carafe and Dripper Set

  • IWC SCHAFFHAUSEN Portugieser Chronograph 40.9mm 18-Karat Red Gold and Alligator Watch

  • Haeckels Eco Marine Extract Facial Cream, 60ml

  • Tom Dixon Tank Painted Glass Decanter

  • Bottega Veneta Intrecciato Woven Leather Cardholder

  • Lanvin Gold-Tone Cufflinks