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Let’s face it guys; it’s a situation we’ve all been in. You receive a neatly wrapped gift package with trembling hands. You rip open the paper only to discover that one of your relatives has bought you yet another pair of socks. You deliver a thin smile as you say thanks and try to make some positive comment about the prime example of the sock maker’s art that is now in your hands. You admire the cheerful pattern – translation: these are so loud that they are searing my eyeballs. Or you say how lovely and thick and woolly they look – translation: I’ll never be able to get my shoes on over these. You talk of how they’ll keep you warm through the winter – translation: these are long enough to cover my knees.

Great… Gift Socks
When you get home you stick them in a drawer full of other gift socks. Then once you get to the stage where it’s getting hard to squeeze even one more sock in, you have a cull and put a few pairs in one of those charity appeal bags that drop through your letterbox. Not too many of course, just in case the people at the other end think you have some sort of weird sock fetish.

Whoever thought that socks made good stocking fillers for men? I mean for starters wrapping up a pair of socks and sticking them in a sock, what’s all that about? Socks are essential items yes, but best acquired in bulk either as a last minute addition to the weekly shop from a display by the supermarket checkout, or picked up at a bargain price from a market stall. The only gift more horrendous than a pair of socks is a pack of handkerchiefs but let’s not even go there.

So, if you don’t want to add to your drawer full of unworn, not to say un-wearable, socks over the coming festive season what can you do? Well, you can drop a few hints about stuff you might actually want. In the age of the Internet this isn’t too hard to do. You can leave websites open on your screen displaying the kind of stocking fillers you have in mind. Don’t worry if your auntie isn’t online you can always print off appropriate pages and leave them lying around.

Subtle Can Go Take a Break
Okay, that’s the subtle approach. If it doesn’t appear to be working then you may need to up the stakes a little. You point something out to your girlfriend with the words, “Hey, wouldn’t this be great for your brother.” Knowing all along of course that it’s something you’d like to find filling your own stocking and that her brother would surely hate it. If you’re really lucky, he’d hate it so much that he would consider swapping it for a pair of socks. The more nuanced way of doing this is the, “That’s nice isn’t it?” approach as you point out your preferred gift. You can substitute “nice” for “useful” when dealing with relatives who think you should be improving yourself.

If all of that fails there’s always the direct way. This is fraught with danger though and has to be approached with caution. You need to pick the right moment and you need to keep it casual. “I’d really like one of these,” is probably a bit too direct. The ideal line is something like, “It would be good if I had…” or, “That would be really handy”.

Ultimately of course you’re in the hands of the giver. There’s a chance that even if you’ve spent months dropping hints you’re still going to get the socks but at least you’ll be safe in the knowledge that you’ve tried, and there’s always next year.

So when purchasing stocking fillers for men, make his year and treat your man to something more than just the simple sock. After all, Christmas is a time for giving, not giving socks.