Bauble Stocking Tradition Is the Gift That Keeps on Giving

All the proof we need that good things come in small packages.

Bauble Stockings
Photo: Kathryn McCrary

Kate Stewart learned at a young age that the best gifts really do come in small packages.

Each Christmas, the Atlanta native watched as her father tucked a special gift into a teeny needlepoint stocking (made by her mother) that hung on the family's tree. They called it the "bauble stocking," and every year, after all of the other presents had been unwrapped on Christmas Day, her father would take the little stocking off the tree and give it to her mother. In it, she'd find the morning's "grand finale" gift; often, it was jewelry, or a "bauble" (hence the name), to thank her for all she'd done that year.

Once Stewart got engaged, she realized after a conversation with her confused fiancé that the "bauble stocking" was a tradition unique to her family—and one that she wanted to share with others.

Turning Tradition Into a Business

In July 2018, she launched Bauble Stockings, a collection of small, hand-stitched, velvet-backed stockings designed by SCAD graduate and Alabama native Sarah Watson.

Kate Stewart
Kathryn McCrary

While Stewart loved that her stockings would be used to stash top-secret holiday treasures, she also wanted them to be made in a sustainable, responsible way. Her first efforts to find an artisan partner were discouraging, and after months spent searching in vain, she nearly threw in the towel. "If I didn't find the right way to do this, I didn't want to do it at all." But then she found Good Threads, a Haiti-based organization that employed single mothers in needlepoint, paying them the equivalent of school teachers and nurses and making it possible for their children to go to school. It was the perfect fit.

Supporting Communities

Five percent of each sale's profits currently go to the Joan Rose Foundation in Haiti to provide tuition, housing, and meals to the Good Threads community. Stewart also wanted to support women closer to home. "Picking a local organization was important to me because I wanted to start with my hometown," she says. When guest artists partner with Stewart to create stockings, they choose an additional organization, one that's close to their hearts, to benefit from sales, as well. Profits have been donated to the Atlanta Children's Shelter, Animal Haven, and Aflac Cancer and Blood Disorders Center at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. More than $70,000 has been donated since 2018. "I want Bauble Stockings to be the next 'Elf on the Shelf,' but I want us to make a big charitable impact along the way."

Making Memorable Moments

As for the tradition itself, Stewart says the Bauble Stocking is about creating a memorable moment for the people you love. "It doesn't have to be a big present," she notes. "Last year, my three-year-old daughter really wanted to be a mermaid. At the end of the morning, she got her stocking and found a note that said, 'Go look in Mommy and Daddy's closet.' She ran in, and the mermaid costume was in there! It's not a big thing, but the Bauble Stocking made that mermaid costume so much bigger for her. It made it that much more special."

Start Your Own Tradition

Consider starting this tradition in your home. Bauble stockings can hold a small gift, money, or a note. What's inside doesn't have to be the most expensive gift, but it may end up being the one that's most anticipated. To start the tradition with your family, gift everyone with a bauble stocking and fill it with a small gift, a treat, or a clue that leads to a special surprise. Add the stockings to the tree and wait for the Christmas finale.

While the Bauble Stocking tradition is likely new to you, you've probably heard of the Christmas Pickle. But do you know where the tradition comes from? Learn all about it here.

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