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Updated January 2022
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Buying guide for Best holiday stockings

Imagine a classic Christmas scene, and it might include a row of holiday stockings hanging in front of a fireplace. Stockings laden with gifts from Santa are an important part of many households' festive traditions, but you have to choose the stockings first. 

You might want to start by thinking about who will be using the Christmas stocking in question. Some stockings have designs geared toward children while others have sophisticated designs that adults generally prefer. You can often find holiday stockings in sets, which is ideal if you'd like all of yours to match or complement one another. Then you have different sizes to contend with — some are significantly smaller than others, so Santa might have trouble fitting in all his gifts. 

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If you tend to give mid-size stocking stuffers alongside small ones, make sure your chosen stocking is big enough to accommodate them.

How to buy the best holiday stockings

Kids' vs. adults' stockings

Although holiday stockings aren't generally labeled as "kids' stockings" or "adults' stockings," some are clearly more geared toward one age group than the other. Kids' stockings tend to feature brighter colors and cuter or more cartoonish designs. They're often decorated with Christmassy characters, such as Santa, elves, reindeer, or polar bears. Although not always the case, they're more likely to be generously sized compared to stockings for adults since kids often get a larger volume of gifts from Santa.

Adults' stockings, on the other hand, generally have a more classic, understated look. They may be one color or feature simple patterns like plaid or snowflakes. If you like a traditional Christmas look, you might prefer adults' holiday stockings — and kids are more interested in what's inside the stocking than the way it looks, so it's fine to opt for a more understated stocking for kids if you prefer. 

Size

Holiday stockings can range in size from compact 6- to 9-inch mini stockings to extra-large stockings measuring 24 inches or more. However, the majority are between 16 and 20 inches. The measurement given is the length of the stocking, but you may also want to check the width to make sure that larger gifts from Santa will fit inside. 

Knitted stockings have a little stretch to them, so they're more forgiving than other types of stockings if you get the sizing slightly wrong. Consider the gifts that must fit inside your chosen stocking. You don't want it to be so small that there isn’t room for all the gifts, but conversely, you don't want it to look half-empty, as this can be disappointing.

Stocking sets

While you can buy individual holiday stockings if you choose to, they're commonly sold in sets. These can be small sets of two or three stockings or larger sets of six to ten stockings. In any case, you have plenty of options depending on how many people in your household need Christmas stockings. 

If you like to go for a cohesive look with your festive decor, you can be sure that the stockings in a set will all look good together. Some sets contain completely matching stockings; others contain stockings in the same style but with different colors … or the same color but with different patterns or styles. Choosing matching stockings is also a good idea for kids who are likely to argue over who has the best stocking or be disappointed if they think their siblings' stockings are better than theirs. 

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Did You Know?
You can buy personalized Christmas stockings to add an extra touch of magic to the tradition, especially for kids. 
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What features do holiday stockings have? 

Hanging loop

All holiday stockings should feature a hanging loop on the top, in line with the heel. This allows you to easily hang your stockings from a hook on the mantle, on a door handle, or anywhere else you choose. The hanging loop should be strong enough to hold the stocking when full of gifts and last through years of use. 

Festive design

While you can find some plain stockings available, most feature a festive design. Some of these are fairly subtle, such as well-placed snowflakes or Fair Isle print. Others feature Santa, reindeer, Christmas trees, snowmen, and other more obvious festive designs. 

The right design for your stocking depends on the preferences of the person who will use it and your own preferences when it comes to Christmas decor. In addition to design, you may also wish to consider the color, as there are a range of color options out there. If you have a particular color scheme for your festive decorations, you can stick to that while choosing your stockings. 

Washability

A Christmas stocking isn't likely to get too dirty, but it's nice to know that it's machine washable if it happens to get dusty in storage or something spills on it during the excitement of gift-opening. Check the label or the product description to see if a holiday stocking is machine washable. Those with 3D decoration are less likely to be machine washable than those without. It's best to air dry a holiday stocking once clean to avoid damage. 
 

Not all countries that celebrate Christmas use stockings to hold gifts. In France, for instance, Santa traditionally leaves gifts in children's shoes. 

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How much do holiday stockings cost? 

Inexpensive 

Inexpensive holiday stockings cost $5 to $10. These are generally quite basic in design and can be on the small side. 

Mid-range

Expect to pay between $10 and $15 for a mid-range Christmas stocking that's a good size and well-made but not necessarily elaborately decorated. 

Expensive 

High-end holiday stockings cost $15 to $25 each. In this price range, you'll find large and nicely decorated stockings. They should be well-made so they'll last many Christmases to come. 

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Staff Tip 
Consider choosing stockings that match your festive color scheme, if you have one. 
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Tips

  • Think about where you hang your stockings. Traditionally, Christmas stockings are hung on the mantle of a fireplace, but only a small percentage of homes have fireplaces, so you may need to think where best to hang them. If you have kids, avoid hanging them in their bedrooms, or you'll need to sneak in at night to remove and fill the stocking and return it before they wake. 
  • Consider whether you want to wrap the gifts inside the stocking. To save yourself precious time and create slightly less waste this holiday season, consider whether you really need to wrap each gift inside the stocking. Think of it like a gift bag — the stocking itself is the wrapping. 
  • Hang stockings early as a form of decoration. Holiday stockings are practical items that hold gifts, but you can also hang them in advance of Christmas Eve or Christmas Day as part of your festive decorations. Few things look more Christmassy than a row of hanging stockings, after all. 
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When a stocking is large, you may feel like you have to fill it to the brim, which isn't ideal if you're on a budget or prefer not to “overdo it” with gifts on the holidays. 

FAQ

Q. What's the most popular color for a Christmas stocking? 

A. It's hard to say if there's a single color that's the most popular choice for Christmas stockings, but traditionally Christmassy colors, such as red and green, are common options. Most holiday stockings aren't just one color — red and white like Santa's outfit is an extremely popular color combination. If you don't like bright colors as part of your festive decor, look for more subtle hues, like black and white or silver. You can also find rustic-looking burlap holiday stockings. 

Q. Is there a reason behind hanging stockings at Christmas? 

A. Yes, the reason people hang stockings for Santa to put gifts in comes from a story about Saint Nicholas. The story goes that Saint Nicholas was a benevolent man who helped the poor and one time sent bags of gold down a family's chimney, where they dropped into a stocking that was hanging by the fire. While Saint Nicholas was a real person, not much factual evidence about his life remains, so this tale can be considered folklore. He was, however, famed for his generosity, and over the years, this real-life figure has been transformed into Santa Claus. 

Q. What gifts make good stocking stuffers? 

A. Once you've got your holiday stockings, you'll need to decide what to put in them. The best stocking filler gifts vary widely depending on who they're for. When buying for kids, consider small toys like Pop-It toys or mini plushies, candy, slime, card games, and crayons. For teenagers, consider earbuds, bath bombs, small toiletries, shades, jewelry, a notebook and snacks. Great stocking stuffers for adults include luxury tea or coffee, fun socks, a Swiss army knife, high-quality chocolate, essential oils, and small kitchen gadgets. There are plenty of small gifts out there that make excellent stocking stuffers, so get creative. 

 

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