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How To Stuff A Spectacular Christmas Stocking

The art of the perfect festive gift receptacle – Santa, take note

Should anyone over the age of 10 actually get a stocking on Christmas Day? In MR PORTER’s opinion, yes. For what are the holidays without a little bit of nostalgia? What is Christmas Day but an opportunity to stoke that fiery glimmer of childlike naivety lurking within that modern life so mercilessly pushes underwater for the remaining 364 days of the year?

Of course, most people in the magic-recapturing bracket are rather more discerning than they were in their youth, when they would spin out at the sight of the reindeer’s toothmarks in a plate of carrots, or be fervently convinced that throwing a letter in the fire is the best way to get it to the North Pole. 

No, adults need stockings curated with taste, flair and a certain architectural aesthetic. And such are the thoughts, believe it or not, that keep all of us at MR PORTER HQ up during these long winter nights. Scroll down for our exhaustive guide to stocking stuffing, from creating the perfect edit of gifts to getting all the time-honoured details right. 

The stocking

The best stockings are stretchy, with enough elasticity to accommodate a wide range of objects. The stretchier the stocking, the more gifts that can be stuffed within. Some people prefer the self-consciously “stocking-y” varieties you find in various Christmas gift shops, but it’s also possible to make do with a pair of knee-high football socks if you have those lying around. If you’re incredibly flash, you might even want to consider this pair from Gucci, which, we can all agree, are rather festive. Minimalists, on the other hand, might want to consider this over-the-calf pair from Ermenegildo Zegna, which have the slightly more practical function of making sure, in formal situations, no one sees a shred of ankle peeping out from under your suit.

Try these

  • Gucci Striped Logo-Jacquard Ribbed-Knit Socks

  • Ermenegildo Zegna Ribbed Cotton Over-the-Calf Socks

The spherical stopper

Your stocking’s extremities are best filled with a round object. Tradition dicates that this should be an orange, though there are, of course, other options. Such as this candle from Frédéric Malle, which has a lovely round bottom, or this handy fabric shaver from Steamery, which will help you look after all your holiday knitwear.

Try these

  • Frederic Malle Jurassic Flower Scented Candle, 220g

  • Steamery Pilo Fabric Shaver

The strategic padding

A sock stuffed full of gifts is, unfortunately, rather conducive to all those gifts colliding together uncontrollably when the thing is moved about. You should therefore separate solid bodies inside the stocking with softer items, such as the rolled up T-shirt, the woolly hat and – a key item – the pair of festive socks. A small bag of chocolate coins is not necessarily going to do much in the way of padding (and may even cause a few smears, so watch out), but it is, of course, essential.

Try these

  • rag & bone Printed Cotton-Jersey T-Shirt

  • Acne Studios Ribbed Wool Beanie

The structural core

Long, cylindrical objects stuffed in the central third of the stocking will supply it with structural integrity, so that it doesn’t flop over sideways when you pick it up. A good item for this is Tom Dixon’s brass coffee caddy, but, depending on the size and shape of your stocking, you may want to experiment with a variety of items, of varying levels of cost: a candle from Diptyque, for example, or a leather dice set from Ermenegildo Zegna. Cocktail shakers are also good and, even better, can be used as a repository for some further treats. Actually, this might be the best place to hide the chocolate coins.

Try these

  • Tom Dixon Brew Copper-Plated Coffee Caddy

  • Asprey Rocket Sterling Silver and Enamel Cocktail Shaker

The olfactory element

A good stocking should nourish the body as well as the mind. Which is why the last third of your stocking should focus on cosmetics, in particular the cleansing and perfuming kind. (The likelihood is you’re going to be sitting on the sofa for most of Christmas Day – a pretty slobby thing to do, really – so you really should make sure everyone’s smelling nice.) If you have to stuff several stockings, why not buy a sampler pack from Malin + GoetzByredo or D R Harris, throw in a set of masks from M.E. Skin Labs or Erno Lasloz, and split everything up between them? That way, everyone can have some skincare, a face mask, a perfume and a nice bar of soap. Hurrah!

Try these

  • M.E. Skin Lab Plasma 27 - Set of 4 Bio-Lifting Cell-Restoring Masks

  • Byredo La Sélection Boisée Eau de Parfum Set - Mojave Ghost, Super Cedar & Black Saffron, 3 x 12ml

The concluding statement

How to finish it off? A Gift Card is a generous thought, and will squeeze in nicely. No stocking should be too studied, which is why you should throw in at least one thing that is just for fun. What that is depends on how fun (and how generous) you’re feeling. At the extreme end in terms of both metrics is something such as this chicken-footed egg cup from British luxury brand Asprey. But let us also draw your attention to this bauble from Paul Smith. Or, from the same brand, these rather special hot-dog-shaped cufflinks.

Try these

  • Asprey Sterling Silver Egg Cup

  • Paul Smith Hot Dog Silver-Tone and Enamel Cufflinks