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What Are the Best Christmas Stockings?

Photo-Illustration: The Strategist; Photos: Retailers

We have plenty of ideas about what constitutes a good stocking stuffer, for everyone from babies to stationery nerds to beauty enthusiasts — but what about the stockings themselves? Christmas stockings are a vital piece of holiday décor, imparting a sense of cozy cheer all season long and then playing a crucial role on Christmas morning, when they’re called up to hold all sorts of miniature delights. Many stockings are meant to be passed down through generations, but if you’re looking to update the ones bequeathed from Grandma, there’s a vast array of stylish options out there, from traditional red velvet to high-design patterns and prints. So to survey the current state of stockings, I polled editors, interior decorators, and production designers about the stockings they’ll be displaying on their mantelpiece this year.

Content creator Steffy Degreff loves this affordable Target stocking because “it comes back every year — so if you need to add an additional letter to your roundup because of a new baby or a new puppy, it’s easy to find a matching one,” she says. She picked up an “H” stocking when she gave birth to her first son, Hudson, then added a “C” a few years later when her second son, Charlie, came along. The vivid color and texture really pop in a room, and it’s large enough to fit “tons of stocking stuffers like a small toy or Tic Tacs,” she says.

These hand-knit wool stockings from Terrain are a favorite of home-décor influencer Christine Higgs, who loves their fun, festive holiday symbols like stars and candy canes. “What I like about these is that you can mix and match different icons while maintaining the same stocking shape and texture,” Higgs says. “I personally have the tree and the star version of this stocking and like to alternate the patterns when hanging them. They’re adorable and a staple of my Christmas décor.”

Let’s Eat cookbook author Dan Pelosi owns four of these Krista Marie Young stockings, but “I don’t even have four people in my household!” he says. He loves the stockings’ modern take on color and pattern, combined with the nostalgic quilted texture. “They spread plenty of holiday cheer without being overly sweet or cringingly referential,” he says. “I’ve given them as gifts at holiday parties or gift swaps. The joy they bring is infectious.”

Stylist and interior designer Emily Henderson will be stocking up on these Schoolhouse stockings this year, since they work perfectly with her home’s cool-neutral color palette. “What Schoolhouse nails so well is the elevated heirloom Scandinavian vibe that I’ve always identified with,” Henderson says. “These stockings, with their handmade look and feel, bring that feeling home in a not so serious way.”

“I love collecting vintage stockings, so I adore the classic look” of these needlepoint L.L.Bean stockings, says home-décor influencer Josie Michelle Davis. They remind her of the stockings “my grandparents hung on their mantle every year when I was growing up,” she says. As a kid, she owned an L.L.Bean backpack with her initials on it, so the customizable name embroidery really brings her back: “It’s those little details that build a comforting sense of nostalgia I think a lot of us crave during the holidays.”

Claire Mazur, co-founder of the shopping podcast A Thing or Two, is adding this stocking from the Six Bells to her Christmas collection this year. “They dug up these incredible Liberty of London–print stockings that are so beautiful and special,” Mazur says. Though in the past Mazur hadn’t been able to find any Christmas stocking that she was super excited about, she immediately fell in love with these. “It’s really gorgeous and it feels holiday-esque, but not too classically traditional,” Mazur says of the cheerful berry-print fabric. “It’s not red and green, but it still feels very Christmassy.”

“This little sock rocks,” says Wilco manager Crystal Myers of these classic, customizable Oxford Pennant stockings. Their handmade quality is apparent in the lettering, which can be either embroidered or cut and handsewn using traditional wool felt. Myers assures that the felt and stitching are top-notch, but the biggest reason she loves this stocking is because “it perfectly stretches to fit bones, so my pup Maple doesn’t feel left out of the holiday fun,” adding that they’re “surprisingly dogproof and look so good that I left them up until March last year.”

These Baggu stockings caused quite a stir in the Strategist Slack when they first launched, so I asked the brand to send me one that I could check out firsthand. It comes in five different prints, including the brand’s signature smiley faces and strawberries, but I went with this festive green-and-lilac candy stripe. The nylon exterior is very sturdy and machine-washable, and the dimensions are larger than I expected — it’s definitely roomy enough to accommodate several small gifts.

“I love all things Lorien Stern, so was stoked to see that she released these stockings featuring some of her iconic characters,” like a sleek spotted cheetah and a toothsome shark, says Dusen Dusen founder Ellen van Dusen. Since they’re made of a sturdy canvas, they can be stuffed to the brim with toys and treats, and for $10 more, you can add personalization. “They don’t have any religious iconography or affiliations, so it makes our holiday display more about gifts and having fun than anything else, which is the goal!” Dusen says.

Production designer Melissa Mae, who has worked on several Hallmark Christmas movies, has been loyal to Balsam Hill ever since she used their products on the movie My Christmas Inn. “The set decoration on Christmas movies can get pretty beat up over the course of filming, as we are reusing the decor on different sets, so having high-quality products makes a world of a difference,” Mae says. She’s especially fond of Balsam Hill’s vintage stocking styles in nontraditional colors, like this French blue velvet.

For a more traditional option, Mae points to these knitted braid stockings, which come in cream and red. “They have a beautiful plush texture and I love how simple they are,” Mae says. “The construction and materials Balsam Hill uses are really durable. They can hold a lot and maintain their shape, which I think is important because most people want to keep their stockings for years to come.”

This rainbow-fringed Verloop stocking is made from repurposed dead-stock yarn, woven through with metallic threads for a little extra sparkle. Jones co-founder Caroline Vasquez Huber calls it “MoMA Design Store meets Christmas décor” and says that for those who love playful Scandinavian design, “these stockings have your name all over them.”

JIU JIE, makers of the ubiquitous knot cushion, recently released a holiday collection that includes this striped faux-fur stocking. Artist Yu Ling Wu, a longtime fan of the brand, says the stocking is “a great way to make my home feel trendy yet festive” and because it comes in neutral black-and-white rather than overtly Christmassy colors, it can “double as year-round décor.” Wu is a fan of how the brand takes everyday objects like a pillow or stocking “and adds a twist to give it more personality.”

These Grandin Road jester stockings — complete with festive quilted velvet and a whimsical curved toe — will help freelance fashion writer and consultant Cindy Weber-Cleary tap into her inner elf this year. She plans to use them as gift bags for her friends and is thinking of slipping in “a bottle of extra-special olive oil or favorite red wine,” as well as stuffing the toe with “a container of fancy nuts, a charming ornament, or a pretty wine stopper.” Her hope is that this “ecofriendly spin on a gift bag” will be used to adorn her friends’ holiday mantels “for seasons to come,” she says.

Jessica Knauf of Jessica Knauf Design likes the “gumdrop-inspired colors,” puffed quilting, and scalloped edging of Furbish Studio’s block-printed stockings, which come in 12 different patterns that mix and match perfectly. They also coordinate with the rest of the brand’s holiday collection, which includes table linens, ornaments, and Christmas-tree skirts.

Interior decorator Leah Lane first came across these stockings made from antique Turkish kilims while browsing for vintage rugs. “I loved the idea of materials being reused, but also the fact that each one is unique and individual,” Lane says. She adds that they bring a layered, textured feel to a room and that there’s something of an “English country” quality to them: “timeless, classic, and just a bit elegantly knackered.”

Production designer Tom Lisowski, who worked on Hallmark’s A Nashville Christmas Carol, recommends these velvet stockings from Pottery Barn, which come in classic Christmas color combinations and offer personalized monogramming. “We had a bunch of these on hand,” he explains. “We had them made with script, without script — a lot of options. At one point in the movie, you see Vivian’s sister sewing one of them.”

Dream Awake creative director and Noah cofounder Estelle Bailey-Babenzien loves these sporty upcycled stockings from design shop Afternoon Light, made in collaboration with artist Camella Ehlke. “Camella is a pioneer of streetwear. She’s reusing old stock and excess materials from brands that have been pivotal in moving youth culture forward,” like Off-White and Nike, Bailey-Babenzien says. “I love that it’s a circular item that’s handmade with care and intention. It’s eco-conscious and very cool.”

Strategist senior editor Simone Kitchens first learned about Copenhagen-based artist Line Sander Johansen through her upcycled fabric scrunchies, but then last year, around the holidays, saw that she was making stockings out of the same quilted fabric. They were almost all sold out by then, so when Johansen restocked this year, Kitchens was eager to include them in the Secret Strategist newsletter. “I love the muted colors,” she says. “Something beyond red, green, and gold is refreshing.”

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What Are the Best Christmas Stockings?