Guidelines for the safe and effective use of holiday hosiery in a gift-storage/stowage capacity for Christmas participants


The Department of Christmas Affairs (DCA) seeks to ensure the safe application of holiday traditions for all who choose to celebrate. For hundreds of years, stockings have been used to store a variety of gift items, commonly referred to as stocking stuffers (stuffers) and stocking fillers (fillers). Stuffers and fillers include but are not limited to small toys, practical grooming items, edible treats and coal.


The origin of stockings as a gifting platform is widely debated, with some citing poetry from the early 1800s as a starting point used to trace back towards legends of Father Christmas. Others argue that the roots are in older European myths from Germany, Italy, the Czech Republic and other sources, woven around different supernatural figures altogether. The nature of stocking stuffing as a method of gift-giving and gift-attaining can be summarised as "at least 200 years old”, with the contemporary approach being most relevant for this guidance document.

Modern stockings are knit or manufactured, usually oversized, serving as a representation of a sock or boot liner rather than an actual, wearable stocking. The DCA recognises this as the standard of current holiday stocking manufacturing, whether distributed from an industrial stakeholder or made at home via knitting, crochet or felt pressing.

As a result of the modern stockings' make and materials, several health and safety factors must now be addressed to reduce risk and minimise stocking harm.


The guidelines below apply to both industry and the Christmas community and are considered enforceable by the DCA during the month of December on any given year. Non-compliance with the below guidelines can result in an infringement notice, prohibition of use or further enforcement action.

Christmas stockings

Stocking standards for the December holiday season

All stockings used to store and deliver presents must:

  • be no longer than the recipient's arm to avoid strain

  • be no wider than a large container of milk unless it is purposefully oversized and is:

    • large enough for an adult elf to stand in with both legs

    • large enough to fit several life-size plush toys

    • large enough for a child elf to use as a sleeping bag

  • not be used as a hat unless the fit is snug, as opposed to tight or loose

  • not be used on the gift-giver or gift-receiver's foot or feet as a means of sliding about a wood or marble floor

  • not be used to gift live animals to gift recipients

  • not be used to gift loose food; all food should be wrapped

  • not be dried right-side-up on an outdoor line to avoid issues related to avian entanglement.

Disclaimer: if printed, the accuracy and currency of the information in this guidance sheet cannot be claimed by the DCA or any of its partner agencies. For the most current information related to this matter, check the DCA website on the final month of any given calendar year.



Spread the Christmas cheer

The Smith Family have been spreading joy and changing lives for nearly 100 years.

Donate this Christmas season through the Smith Family website. Your generosity will give a child in need the chance to share in the excitement by opening their own Christmas toys and books.

Donate to the Smith Family