How Christmas stocking fillers have changed through the years

Fireplace decorated with garland and Christmas stockings

Waking up early and finding a bulging stocking full of presents is a highlight of most children’s Christmas Day.

But the gifts themselves have undergone quite the transformation over the past few decades, and what you grew up with could be a far cry from what your kids and grandkids can expect now.

Stockings were once prepared months in advance, with love and care going in to each one, as parents and family made toys from scratch, and even stuck in some homemade goodies such as cakes and jam.

However, as the industrial revolution began, toys began to be made via mass production, paving the way for the years to come.

Toys were often handmade right through the Wars. Source: Pexels.

It all did a dramatic U-turn during the World Wars, however, as rationing meant gifts had to be cut down, and many families began to opt for home-made gifts once again.

Around this time, a tradition of receiving an orange and a lump of coal in your stocking was hugely popular.

While the orange was seen as a treat at the time, given to kids if they’d been good, the coal was an ongoing joke for children who had been put on ‘Santa’s naughty list’.

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Did you ever get an orange in your stocking? Source: Pexels.

Moving in to the ’50s, stockings often came as an addition to a main present, with odd bits such as little toys and accessories inside.

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Meanwhile in the ’60s, many children began to swap the smaller stockings of centuries ago for bigger pillowcase-sized bags, as gifts reduced in cost and grew bigger.

More complex board games, Barbie dolls and Rubik’s cubes were popular at the time, while Lego and mainstream dolls – which often followed TV and book trends – began to take over in the ’80s and ’90s.

Technology has largely taken over stockings now. Source: Pexels.

However, the biggest change came after the Millenium, when technology began to take over.

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Now kids can expect everything from a phone or earphones, to Xbox and Playstation games or even more extravagant gifts alongside their main presents.

Books have been replaced by Kindles, and CDs replaced by Spotify subscriptions. 

Some traditions have stood the test of time however, and a lot of children may still get that orange in the bottom – even if it is now a Terry’s Chocolate Orange instead!

So do you prefer the gifts today, or do you miss the lovingly home0made items of decades ago?