James and I will be celebrating Christmas morning in our own apartment for the very first time this year and I’m so excited to have the chance to recreate some of my favorite childhood memories with my own kids. We’ll open presents while we eat warm cranberry bread and listen to the Emmylou Christmas album, and of course, we’ll open stockings.
When we travel for Christmas, I usually bring a few little things to stuff into stockings, but this year, James and I—and Santa—have the full responsibility to fill these guys with treats. Not wanting to fill up the stockings with too much that’s junky or otherwise disposable, I developed a few rules of thumb to follow. In case it’s helpful to anyone else, here’s what I’m aiming for this year:
Go old-fashioned. On the trajectory toward zero-waste—or, less waste—I find it’s often simplest to think in terms of what might have been available in a world before plastic packaging existed at all. Comestible stocking treats, bought in bulk, are my favorite, and you can’t go wrong with a bit of old-fashioned goodness. This year I’ve got walnuts, clementines, and candy from a bulk candy shop. (Walnuts and clementines are especially helpful for filling up cavernous stocking feet!)
Caveat: Be gentle with yourself. Procuring unpackaged treats in a twenty-first century world can get a little tricky. I ran into my own hiccup this week when while visiting local chocolatiers looking for chocolates in festive shapes, minus the cellophane wrappers, I was met with furrowed brows and puzzled expressions. When I thought I’d finally found a place to sell me chocolate Santas, I realized the kindly staffer was simply removing the wrappings behind the counter. Better luck next time.
Offer an eco-substitute. No surprise, I love little gifts that can serve as gentle enablers for a more sustainable approach to an everyday need. A package of biodegradable chewing gum, for instance, or a stain remover wrapped in paper, or a reusable utensil for meals on the go.
Revisit old favorites. Maybe don’t raid the medicine cabinet willy-nilly and call a tube of toothpaste a present (Dad!), but do consider re-gifting something you already have or something that may have been forgotten. This year, I’m putting a pack of cards into James’s stocking. It’s not a new pack, but we tend to play cards only in the wintertime, so I’m including a note with an invitation for a rousing game of Spit. (No cheating!) I bought this little wooden top pictured above to give to Faye last year, but in a moment of Christmastime overload, I decided to save it to present again this year. We don’t need a new nutcracker each year, but our old one will go into a stocking so nuts can be cracked straight away.
Re-up on old favorites. A Christmas stocking can also be the perfect occasion to re-up on old favorites that might need freshening or replacing. Consider a fresh piece of chalk or two, a new eraser, a favorite soap, a restock of incense, and on and on, amen.
For the curious: My knitting skills are still firmly in the beginner stage, so I ordered two pairs of these traditional Bulgarian wool socks to use for our Christmas stockings!
What about you guys? Favorite stocking traditions? Alternative socking traditions? Best stuffers to date? I want to know everything!
PS. At three-and-a-half, we’re just beginning to introduce Faye to a few favorite movies. Over the weekend we watched one of my all-time favorites, the 1987 film, A Child’s Christmas in Wales, which happens to include the very best stocking scene in movie history.