Everyone, including the four-legged friends, has one.
martha in stables with donkey
Credit: Paola + Murray

I have always loved hanging stockings for the holidays, and have wonderful memories of the ones my mother made for us when we were growing up. She always sewed our Christmas dresses, and I fondly remember one year when I was given a navy-blue velvet dress and a velvet stocking adorned with ecru lace to match. Our stockings were filled with sensible gifts: tangerines, lady apples, a candy cane or two, or maybe a box of Cracker Jack.

Although my collection of Christmas ornaments and accoutrements contains many lovely hand-stitched ones from decades past, I thought it would be fun to make a new set this year. I got inspiration and ideas from contributing editor Silke Stoddard, and we set out to embroider, punch out leather, and employ our sewing skills to create three very different but equally charming ideas.

My favorite stockings have always looked the most handmade, like the red-and-white-striped ones I knitted and decorated with harlequin cuffs and silver bells. Over the years, I've crafted versions from all kinds of materials, many of them recycled: wool felt adorned with appliqués, fragments of overshot wool coverlets, old-fashioned knitted-wool ski socks, embroidered velvets, and quilted silks. The opportunity for embellishments, is, of course, endless and amazing-you can have so much fun with sequins, beads, lace, rickrack, monograms, ribbons, and stenciling.

Since my childhood home on Elm Place didn't have a mantel or fireplace, we would hang our stockings on the railing of the oak staircase that went from the living room to the second floor. We couldn't wait to run downstairs, grab them, and open the presents arranged under the tree. Now I have a lot of fireplaces in my old farmhouse, and it is so beguiling to affix these keepsakes, each earmarked for a particular recipient, within easy reach of Santa and his elves. My challenge is: What will the grandchildren love to receive this year? And Alexis and Kevin? And the donkeys? What manner of gifts will they want to find hidden away in their stockings? I can't wait for them to come in Christmas morning and find out.

SEE OUR BEST: Christmas Stockings
jute stockings filled with hay vegetables fruit
Credit: Paola + Murray


My donkeys-Rufus, Clive, and Billie-will receive embroidered jute bags filled with apples, carrots, hay, and sugar cubes. The animals' silhouettes were cross-stitched on premade stockings with wool-and-silk floss.

MAKE: Cross-Stitch Burlap Christmas Stockings
Credit: Paola + Murray


For my grandchildren, Jude and Truman, two different cotton plaids in the same color scheme were apropos. Then you can sew them into generously sized stockings and add a cuff of soft, cozy shearling.

MAKE: Plaid Christmas Stockings with Shearling Cuff
leather stockings on mantle
Credit: Paola + Murray


These equestrian-inspired styles were made out of supple lambskin and personalized for my daughter, Alexis, and my friend and colleague Kevin Sharkey. Using a little elbow grease and a leather punch, you can hammer out any initial. Then back them with extra leather so the monograms really pop. Rust-ribbon trim adds a whimsical finishing touch.

MAKE: Monogrammed Leather Christmas Stockings

Feeling inspired? Get a sneak peek of Martha's magical Christmas party in Bedford:


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