One expert shares everything from how to achieve the perfect placement to hardware-free displays.
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emily henderson holiday buffet with stockings
Credit: Sara Tramp

Second only to a lit and ornamented tree Christmas tree, stocking displays are one of the main focuses of most homes' holiday decorations. That's why creating a beautiful, cohesive, and festive arrangement is key to enhancing your home's holiday cheer. Whether you have a traditional mantel for hanging stockings or are looking for a creative alternative, we have plenty of tips to help you get these seasonal staples on display.

Where to Hang Christmas Stockings

Though stockings were traditionally "hung by the chimney with care," homes without fireplaces, wood stoves, or mantels offer many other spots for a creative display. Francis Toumbakaris, owner of Francis Interiors in New York City, offers holiday-specific design services to his clients; he often recommends staircase banisters, sideboards, or kitchen islands as alternative places to hang Christmas stockings. To make them feel a little more special, he says to further accent the stockings with other seasonal decorations like glass trees, reindeer statues, or jeweled objets d'art. "It is never just stockings," he says. "We always try to create a little bit of a scene."

Designing Your Layout

Countless variables affect the layout of a group of stockings—how many a family chooses to hang (did they include grandparents, parents, and pets, or just children?); where the display is secured; what type of stockings and hangers a decorator chooses; how formal or casual the rest of the home's décor is—so Toumbakaris says he has no hard and fast rules for quantity or configuration. "I don't think there is a right or wrong when it comes to spacing," he says. "I think there is a beauty with stockings if they are overlapping or if they are nicely spaced." Whether you choose to layer on a stocking for everyone you'll host at Christmas dinner or show off only a minimalist pair for your 7-year-old twins, choose a layout that fits your personal style.

Keep It Secure

If you're hanging stockings on a sturdy ledge—like a fireplace mantle, bookshelf, or credenza—freestanding stocking holders come in low-profile metallic or wooden finishes, seasonal shapes—like deer ($25, gift boxes, or snowflakes—and in oversized letters spelling out holiday phrases. Secure stockings to a wall or stair rail with temporary adhesive hooks ($7.99 for 24,, or along a decorative branch or garland that allows you to hide less attractive hardware.

Choosing Your Stockings

Some families choose to buy a set of matching stockings in traditional colors; others may opt for a coordinated, modern couture collection. Simple touches—like embroidered details, rich fabrics, or fur accents, says Toumbakaris—can elevate the look of your stockings, while grouping mismatched heirloom stockings bought over several generations by color and size results in a one-of-a-kind display steeped in family history. "I am a firm believer that you should display in your home everything that makes you happy," he says. "Please bring everything out, all the heirlooms, and find a way to make it work—there is always a way."


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