I don’t know about you but I rather love shopping for stocking fillers. The only problem is running out of control and spending far too much money. As you will have gathered by now I take a sort of stocking approach to most of my presents preferring to build up a little theme around a group of small items.
When it comes to stockings there are, of course, a couple of hard and fast rules – there must be a satsuma, there must be chocolate money although this year – don’t tell the 14yo – I am going to mess with his head and make it chocolate sprouts – and there must be books and stationery.
As the 17yo gets more demanding in his sartorial requirements I have also taken the opportunity to include socks and pants that are, perhaps, a little more fancy than the plain ones I tend to get him during the year when the need arises.
Once those boxes have been ticked then it’s full steam ahead on the kitsch, the silly, the will-be-broken-by-lunch, and the just-for-fun. And for all of that as well the sensible stuff, this year, I want to introduce you to the Dutch brand Hema. I gave a talk at the opening of their brand new flagship store on Tottenham Court Road a couple of weeks ago and had a good old rummage around but don’t despair – they have more stock online than in any of their real life stores.
Now Hema is as familiar to the Dutch as Marks & Spencer is to the British. But it also has the breadth of stock of the late lamented Woollies. Without the lightbulbs. It’s sort of less utilitarian and more quality. Which makes it a great place for a sort of one-stop stocking shop. Their mantra is making the ordinary extraordinary, which translates as supernormaal – which I love as a translation and as a word.
There are four main ranges – food and drink, stationery, make-up and homewares – which is everything from bedding to breakfast plates. Not forgetting cool stuff for students, gadgets for tweens and toys for tots. When I gave my talk I gathered the ingredients for stocking fillers for toddlers, tweens and teens, students, him and her. I could easily have filled all my requirements there including the aforementioned fancy pants and socks.
So you need to know that everything is designed in house, that it is all designed to be high quality. I went to Amsterdam last year to visit the company’s headquarters and learnt that not only do most women have some Hema make-up but most babies wear Hema clothes as well. And if they are producing the quality in those ranges then you can relax about the cheap mugs and cushion covers.
During my visit we went to the safety department where they were trying to bash seven bells out of wooden cup. A mother had complained that the handle had broken off and she was worried that it wasn’t suitable for her two-year-old. Various tests ensured and it was decided the two-year-old must have been particularly strong and the cup was fine and well-made.
If you want to read more about the company you can click here and if you’re stocking shopping then here are a few of the ideas I used.
TEENS AND TWEENS– power pack mobile charger, flamingo USB stick, extra long phone cable, black and white notebooks, black and white pencils, postit notes in the shame of diamonds, make-up as required
STUDENTS: stationery, portable toothbrush, marzipan cake in the shape of a pizza, or a bag of chips, phone accessories as before, instax camera, beer glasses, bottle opener in the shape of a palm tree or a gold (literally) fish
HIM: socks – but good ones, tech gadgets, chocolates, coffee maker, two cups, matching plates, biscuits, bottle opener – as before –
HER – cushion covers, bathroom set, diary, candles, towels, make up, chocolates, or the coffee set as above, notebook and pen.
That’s the sort of thing. Now you can choose if you go stocking or pillow case. Sacks are good – not for greed but because they are easier to fit all the awkward shapes. I made the ones in the top picture many years ago from an old pair of Habitat curtains – no I have no idea what such material was doing as curtains either. Personally I like it all to be wrapped individually because it add to the excitement but there are schools of thought on that one. Hema also have pretty boxes and wrapping paper to get you started – you can see under the tree in the fifth picture – these would work for either stockings or bundles of other presents too.
Finally – no you’re never too old. If you can persuade someone to fill one for you then do it. Now, grab a cup of coffee and prepare to browse around all the links and add to cart. Hopefully by the time you’ve done that there will be a lot more ticks on that terrifying to do list.