One of the most iconic Christmas images is that of a stocking hung neatly above the fireplace, overflowing with gifts to open the second you wake on December 25th. We love a good holiday tradition here at Wishlist, so we chose our favorite stockings of the year so you can recreate this scene in your own home.
Stockings reportedly began during the life of Saint Nicholas of Myra, a fourth century Christian bishop of Greek descent, who is the patron saint of such folks as sailors, merchants, archers, repentant thieves, sex workers, children, brewers, and more.
Very little is known about Nicholas and plenty has been elaborated through the centuries, but it’s believed he tossed three bags of gold through a window into the stockings of a local family, a poor father and his three daughters who would not accept his charity otherwise. This acted as dowry so they could all marry, lifting them out of poverty and sparking a movement wherein children would leave out their shoes or stockings on Christmas Eve.
While Saint Nicholas leaving bags of gold is one theory, another is that they were actually balls of gold, which is why oranges (and their beloved chocolate variety) are frequently left in stockings these days.
This story has since merged with the unsubstantiated (but fascinating!) lore that children of Germanic and Scandinavian cultures would leave carrots, straw, and sugar tucked in boots near the chimney so Odin’s flying horse Sleipnir would have something to eat. In return for their kindness, Odin was said to replace these treats with gifts. The Catholic church, looking to spread Christianity north, allegedly combined the two stories as to appeal to hesitant Pagans and tempt them into conversion.
All that questionable history aside, the person to popularize the myth of Saint Nicholas was none other than literary genius Washington Irving. His 1809 book Knickerbocker’s History of New York referred to the saint by his Dutch name of Santa Claus, thus kicking off a New York-birthed tradition of celebration and gift-giving merriment in December.
This in turn inspired such works as 1823 poem A Visit From St. Nicholas byClement Clarke Moore, more commonly known now as The Night Before Christmas. Today, Santa, presents, winter, and stockings are all part of the yearly celebration Christians and many secular folks call Christmas. It means many things to many people, but good tidings, togetherness, and abundance are all part of its meaning.
Got all that? Well, we don’t blame you if it’s a lot to take in. Feel free to skip it all and get straight to the order of the day: Beautiful stockings. Keep scrolling to see which we think will look great, and perhaps even spark a historical conversation this year in your home.
With a soft cotton backing and precious needlepoint front featuring a gingerbread man and his house, this is one of the cutest stockings you’re going to find. There are plenty other scenes to choose from as well, like sledding penguins or a Christmas lighthouse, but the best part is you can have it monogrammed (up to 10 characters) for an additional $8.
With these stockings already 25% off and a plethora of animal and character choices available, the felt stocking from The Company Store is a great way to bring home something special to you or a loved one, plus you can personalize with a monogram, initials, a name, and even a choice of fonts and thread colors.
We’re particularly fond of the gnome and mushroom theme in this holiday stocking lineup, in part thanks to dozens of Christmas decor lines featuring mushrooms stealing hearts everywhere this year. The polar bears and cardinals are adorable, too, and perfect for anyone who loves the outdoors.
Great for a teen or young adult who is into less traditional aesthetics, this Vans stocking is checkered like the brand’s famous shoes and is large enough to fit plenty of small gifts like a matching belt or long sleeve tee.
Another customizable needlepoint option is this gorgeous L.L. Bean mantle hanger tht shows a magical woodland scene with deer, a fox, and a stunning evergreen landscape knit from 100% cotton yarns for “especially bold colors and designs,” according to the company.
This six-pack of stockings featuring traditional Christmas motifs (Santa, a polar bear, a snowman, a tree) that will look fantastic grouped together on your mantle or media console, and you can choose packs of four or five, too, should your family or space to hang be smaller.
For the truly chic and stylish this Christmas, try this tasselled and textured All Roads design from Anthropologie. It’s made from cotton, acrylic, viscose, and has a one-of-a-kind feel that will stand out among the more traditional options on the market.
For the pet lovers out there, these hilariously cute Pronk! stockings at Chewy are the ideal way to let your pets join in the fun on Christmas morning. Check out the slightly terrifying dog stockings on the site, too, if you’re more of a pup person.
For a modern rustic twist on the stocking, try this trendy pom pom version from World Market. The cream yarn with which it’s knit is stunning in a home with a neutral color palette, but the bright, colorful details make it anything but boring.