Put some sock in your stockings

Home & Garden

December 04, 2005|By ELAINE MARKOUTSAS | ELAINE MARKOUTSAS,UNIVERSAL PRESS SYNDICATE

A long with trees and wreaths, stockings are among the most treasured symbols of the holiday season.

In some families, Christmas stockings are heirlooms passed from generation to generation, with collections starting with a baby's first stocking.

Four in five Americans polled by Sprint, the telephone company, say adults enjoy them, too. In fact, holiday stockings have evolved into vibrant decorative accents that can be color-keyed to furnishings.

Stockings can be supersized to contain a treasure of stuffers or petite enough to serve as tree ornaments or hold flatware at the dinner table. One 17 1 / 2 -inch-long stocking sold through Orvis this year unzips to expand for larger stuffers; it boasts a 10-inch-wide foot.

Traditional stocking designs such as angels, nutcrackers, Santas, trees, stars, candy canes, teddy bears, poinsettias, ornaments, snowmen and reindeer often are stitched in old-fashioned needlepoint.

Some images are more stylized with bold, contemporary updates. Prices range from about $10 to $100 apiece.

MacKenzie-Childs, a design firm known for hand-crafted ceramics, furniture and home accessories, features dashing plaids in unexpected hues of red, purple and green or signature black-and-white check.

Not surprisingly, Martha Stewart believes holiday stockings are a good thing. Her Living magazine and holiday books always are chock-full of ideas. A recent example showed how to recycle sweaters into fetching stockings that button down the front. One felt stocking lines up overlapping rows of trees in several shades of green, decorated with vintage glass buttons.

Stocking placement extends beyond the mantel, so no worries if you don't have a fireplace.

Stockings are draped on banisters, woven into garlands and slipped on bed headboards and footboards. They are suspended from shelves, edge windowsills or are posted on doors as an alternative to wreaths.

Elaine Markoutsas writes for Universal Press Syndicate.

SOURCES

l Orvis: 888-235-9763 or orvis.com.

l Gump's: 800-882-8055 or gumps.com.

l Garnet Hill: 800-870-3513 or garnethill.com

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