One of my most favorite parts of Christmas is stockings – always has been. I don’t know if it’s because there are some things I know I will always find, or, because I was allowed (or maybe I wasn’t and I did anyway) to look at it before the rest of the family (namely my brother who seemed to sleep till noon every Christmas morning) woke up to open gifts, or something else, but Christmas without stockings filled to overflowing with little goodies is like some sort of punishment for me. I won’t say that it’s AS bad as that since I’ve grown up and participated in Christmas morning elsewhere (namely Chris’ family who doesn’t do stockings any more – which is totally normal and fine for them) and with people who don’t find them as thrilling as I do (Lex seemed to think I was odd in some way over my insistence of helping to stuff each others stockings whenever she’s been with us for Christmas) or just the fact that I’m usually stuffing my own now (although, admittedly, I get some really awesome treats now ;-)). But it’s still a HUGE part of Christmas for me, and I hope that at least one of our kids will end up loving their stocking as much as I do.
The stockings themselves are steeped in special memories for me too, not just the having them and their hidden treasures, but the actual physical stocking. Growing up, I had two. One that I opened in our living room around the tree in the morning and one that my Grandma Kline put together for all her grandkids to open at the family Christmas later in the day. Our family stockings were all knitted by my Grandma root, Kendall’s and mine matched and were the traditional red with a white toe, heal, and top edge with our names embroidered on in Green. They were big, and solid, and stretchy and great. My Grandma had also crocheted a matching set for my parents, but they have large holes (making it hard to hold things like Chapstick and pencils inside) and where green with red toes and heals.
At my Gram Klines, every kid and grandkid had their own (which is saying something when you consider the fact that my mom has a sister and brother, both married and each family had at least two kids so there were at least 13 different stockings, although they weren’t all used each year depending on who was visiting for Christmas). My brother and oldest cousin, Shane, each had a stocking that looked like the bottom of a pair of old fashioned red long underwear, complete with the but flap with buttons, they were awesome. I had one that my Gram had made, from a kit I’m guessing, that was decorated with beads, and gems, and made to look like snowmen.
Now for our family, I wanted to continue the fact that stockings themselves should have memories attached to them, not just be generic red tubes from Walmart. Mine and Chris’ stockings are both made using fabric left over from our wedding (helps that my mom sewed not only my dress, but all the bridesmaids dresses and a flower girl dress, so there were plenty of scraps, and large ones too). Mine is made of the same white silk as my wedding gown, and striped on the front using the organdy ribbon we used to decorate the flower girl baskets (and other things) with. Chris’ is the same blue as our bridesmaids dresses and has vintage buttons on it that were my Grams my mom attached and embellished to look like snowmen. Inara’s stocking is made from the fabric of her 1st Christmas dress, which I painstakingly took apart using my stitch ripper. Our next kiddo I hope to do the same thing and use her first Christmas dress to turn into a stocking the next year. I love that they aren’t just part of our decorations, but have real memories and meaning attached to them. Every year when I hang them up on the mantel (and even now just thinking about them) I remember both past Christmas’ with the stockings, but our wedding, Inara’s first Christmas, and other things as well.
Each year there are some standard stuffers that go in our pretty socks, but I always seem to be scratching my head on ideas to fill the whole thing up – especially now that I’m filling it for small kids too!
Growing up, stockings always had the following:
An Orange and or an Apple
Walnuts, in the shell
Small candies (Hershey kisses, or mini candy bars or something along those lines)
pencils/pens/crayons depending on the recipient and their age
For the most part, I continue to reach for these same things for our stockings each year, not always intentionally either, it’s just a subconscious thing that they go in a stocking and therefor in my grocery cart the week before.
Some years I’ve followed themes on what to put in the rest of a stocking. For instance, the year we bought our house Chris’ stocking was filled with small tools like screwdrivers, wrenches, and some other small and inexpensive (the most I’ll spend on a stocking stuffer is $5 per item with a few rare exceptions) items from Home Depot. One year I had a kitchen themed stocking and it was filled with small cake decorating tools, and new spoons and spatulas.
I’ve also started to include a small $10 or $15 gift certificate in each stocking and have gotten them for Starbucks, iTunes, Denny’s, IHOP and McDonalds.
I’ve also found a few useful sites that have lists of ideas when I’m running low on inspiration. Plump Stocking has some great lists divided by shopping location, or age, or recipient, or homemade items etc. Better Homes and Gardens also has a half decent list for both adults and kids. When in doubt, I look around Etsy for inexpensive small items, or just inspiration and sometimes I’ve had decent luck with a google search too.
Does your family stuff stockings? Any traditional inclusions or things you specifically don’t put in for some reason?