If you’ve worked at a retailer, or, frankly, simply received an email from one this time of year, you are probably feeling a Pavlovian sense of dread around the mythical idea of stocking stuffers. Just this morning, in the hundreds of emails that I get—I earnestly love a good email campaign, so I’m not complaining— 1 in 5 of the messages was about stocking stuffers. The rest were about the global supply chain, but that doesn’t help my narrative.

There seems to be some confusion about what they even are. Price point? Size? Easy grab-and-go? I just watched an entire GOOP video where my beloved Gwennie tried to convince me that her new line of sex toys would be a great stocking stuffers. Let’s be real, there is no hiding what has been hung by the chimney with care if you go in that direction.

My team is probably exhausted by my impassioned pontificating on stocking stuffers in the weeks leading up to the holidays, as I am feverishly against the idea. Not gifting, mind you, as I love a good gift, but stocking stuffers as a whole. There’s something about this idea of lots of little disposable gifts that doesn’t sit right with me. Who are we giving them to? Are we gifting for the sake of gifting? Is my gifting love language fulfilled by small things in a seasonal sock?

The sheer logistics of it are also a struggle. Who is in charge of your stocking destiny? Am I expected to take all the stocking stuffers people give me and put them into my own stocking? Is there a cabal of elves compiling all these suitably priced and sized trinkets and assembling stockings for me? I don’t buy it.

I’ve been polling people, trying to convert them to my logic.

“Have you actually put one of these gifts INTO a stocking?” I asked my bestie, Liz. She, of the beautiful, spartan, gloriously minimal home, had gone over to the dark side and hung appropriately minimalist stockings. 

“I don’t know people who put things into them. I like to hang them there for decoration,” she responded.

Dear Reader, even those people with stockings are not stocking them.

If we were living in an Irving Berlin film where families and friends gathered for a warm exchange of stockings by firelight, I could be convinced of the value. But with our far-flung friends and loved ones, the romance of this has been lost to the feverish festive consumptive culture.  At the risk of channeling Ebenezer, unless you are earnestly under the age of 10 and still getting fidget spinners, you are not in need of a pack of lifesavers, an ornament, and a scratch off lotto ticket (Mom, you can still send those to me).

Let me present you with my grand alternative. You can keep your stockings. I’m stocking up.

Stock up your bar. Or stock your kitchen. Or stock your pantry.

Take your cue from those briskly fattening bears and squirrels, and stock up for the long cold days ahead. Me, I’m buying items that help me host and have people over throughout the dark days of January and February. Instead of little last-minute trinkets, I’m hoarding creature comforts that will help me get together, gather, and easily entertain. I’m investing in experiences, in the tools to help me have a good time with the people I love, and in the things that will make me feel healthy, happy, wealthy, and wise as I stare those new year’s resolutions in the eye. 

The things I want to hoard, the things I want to wrap up and give with abandon? Wine. Soft Blankets. Great Books. The things I love. Walking in the woods, laughing over a table, romance, sheep, sturdy dogs, making something out of nothing. A well-timed joke. Making big dinners. Making small dinners. Drama. Candlelight, storytelling. Quality eye contact. Window ledges. Throwing things out with abandon, holding things that spark joy. Stone fruit.  

Food, wine again - really good wine. Pasta, sourdough bread, herbs, very strong olives, steak, rare-medium rare. Champagne. Martinis. Baked goods baked by someone else. Strong coffee three times a day. Gazing out the window. Stolen Cigarettes alone after dinner in countries far away. Beauty. Django Reinhardt. Well-timed ennui.

Water and trees. Staying home. Going out. A good use of a choir in a pop song. Walking to get the mail. Walking anywhere. And getting together. Seeing people get out of the car, get out of the elevator, walk in the door. Well-worn games, red wine glasses, impromptu karaoke.

I’m stocking up on the good stuff. You can keep the stuffers.

Wondering what we’re stocking up on? Our team shares what they’re hoarding this holiday season as they plan to host and hibernate in the weeks ahead:


December 15, 2021 — Brenna Gilbert