Every year, the “stockings are hung by the chimney with care.” But how did that tradition ever get started?
No one really knows for sure, but there are popular legends that attempt to tell the history of Christmas stockings. One legend says that long ago, there lived a poor man and his three very beautiful daughters. He had no money to get his daughters married, and he was worried what would happen to them after his death.
A Saint named Nicholas was passing through town when he heard the villagers talking about the girls. Saint Nicholas wanted to help, but knew that the old man wouldn’t accept charity. He decided to help in secret. He waited until night and crawled down the chimney.
He had three bags of gold coins with him, one for each girl. As he was looking for a place to keep those three bags, he noticed stockings of the three girls that were hung over the mantelpiece for drying. He put one bag in each stocking and off he went.
When the girls and their father woke up the next morning, they found the bags of gold coins and were overjoyed. The girls were able to get married and live happily ever after. This led to the custom of children hanging stockings or putting out shoes, eagerly awaiting gifts from Saint Nicholas.
But, if you’re not planning to fill the stockings on your mantel with gold coins, here’s a few ideas to help you with those stockings — all of which can be found right here on Bainbridge Island.
Every woman would love a soft-bound journal by papaya for her to record her most precious thoughts. Just 5-by-7 inches in size with a variety of beautiful covers, including Asian prints, butterflies and flowers. (HollyDays, $9.99.)
Or how about a brightly colored and sparkled frame with sequins that holds a 3-by-3 picture? Just the perfect thing for mom. Each has a basic color of green, gold, pink and blue with a rainbow of sequins attached. These are made in India. (ACE Hardware, $4.99.)
Ladies will glow beautifully with a collection of Pre de Provence mini soaps. Choose from many fragrances including Guava Grapefruit, Wild Lily, Midnight Honeysuckle and Venbena. (ACE Hardware, $1.29 each.)
Here’s a practical idea — pocket notepads from Punch Studio. They have a fold-over cover and 75 sheets each decorated to match their cover, with fans, peacocks, butterflies and initials. (ACE Hardware, $3.99.)
What mom wouldn’t love a cute little set of salt and pepper shakers in cartoon character themes? There’s Tom & Jerry, Charlie Brown and Snoopy, and Popeye and his sweetie Olive Oyl. Or maybe your mom would prefer sets of cows, cats and skunks. (Winslow Drugs, $11.99.)
Try a new set of luggage tags from Linneadesign.com. These colorful tags are encased in heavy plastic with plastic ties and depict local places like Bainbridge Island and the San Juans. Or try an international locale like London or even Hawaii. (Dana’s Showcase, $4.95 each.)
For the woman of the house who likes to set a mood, try a set of skinny candles. Just 5 inches tall and 1 inch around, these will look great on the dresser or in the bathroom. There are lots of scents to try: five-spice tea, fresh linen, orange vanilla, timber and black pepper. (Danger, $6.99 each).
If your mom is the kind who’s in the kitchen a lot, check out the selection of locally made glass refrigerator magnets in bright colors with lots of interesting stripes, dots and squares. (Danger, $5.)
Dad can always use a mini-retractable utility knife by Titan. This 4-inch knife comes with three blades and a quick change blade mechanism. It has a bright yellow-and-black safety handle. (ACE Hardware, $9.99.)
Or try the new WD-40 No-Mess Pen. It’s no bigger than an ink pen and fits easily in your pocket. Have WD-40 with you anywhere to lubricate that sticky lock, to remove crayon marks or price stickers. It’s low odor and puts “WD-40 where you want it and no where else.” (ACE Hardware, $3.29.)
For the wine-loving dad, how about a blown-glass wine cork? Made with colorful swirling glass tops or even the face of the family dog. (Winslow Drugs, $8.99 to $9.99.)
Maybe he could use a bottle opener that looks like an old-fashioned key and attaches to a key ring. But this key will pop off a beer bottletop in seconds. Silver in color, made by Suck UK in London. (Winslow Drug, $9.95.)
Any dad could use a RFID Blocking Wallet. This wallet has a RFID blocking liner that stops electronic transmissions of personal information. Keep your information safe here or when you travel. (The Traveler, $10 and up.)
And if dad or mom travel, why not give them a 2-ounce bottle of Bed Bug Magic? The handy spray can be used to keep worries about bed bugs at bay. Spray the beds in hotels and your luggage. It’s non-toxic and will make sure you have a smooth trip. (The Traveler, $10.95.)
Here’s a game the teens will love: the Zip It version of Bananas Grams. It’s a zippered brown cloth bag with game pieces for the 20-second crossword race you can play anywhere. (The Traveler, $14.99).
If your teen loves to joke around, try any of the “Jokes on You” fun stuff, including fake poo, fake barf, or a hand buzzer that goes off when you shake hands. Throw in a bendable Mr. Bill just for fun. (Calico Cat Toy Shoppe, $2.39 to $6.99.)
For the teen with a need for something small to hug, give them a hand-sized Microbes Cold, Cough, or Bed Bug. These stuffed toys come with their own story and will fit in any stocking. Your teen will love the plush pink bed bug with red legs. (Calico Cat Toy Shoppe, $9.99.)
How about a LED spotlight by Nite Ize Innovation? It’s the size of a night light and attaches to your key chain or jacket, or put it on your dog’s collar to have light wherever you go. (ACE Hardware, $7.49.)
Just great for any active teen, try a handcrafted Guatemalan-made knitted kick bag by Toy Smith. Use it for a game of Hacky Sack or make up your own game to play with these brightly colored balls. (ACE Hardware, $4.99.)
Your teen girls will love getting a PooPoo-Paper mini-journal made in Thailand. These journals are actually made from recycled elephant droppings and a portion of the proceeds go toward the conservation of elephants. These journals have decorated covers bearing elephants and other animals and will fit in a purse or backpack. (Winslow Drug, $7.99.)
And teens will be delighted with any of a great selection of compact travel board games including magnetic chess, Chinese checkers, Backgammon and Snail. Made by Bamboo Games, GeoCentral and ToySmith, each game is less than 6 inches in size and will bring hours of fun. (Winslow Drug, $5.99 to $11.99.)
For the kid who loves Star Wars try a Star Wars Lego compact flashlight that will allow him to have a light handy. These attach to backpacks and can be carried anywhere. (Winslow Drug, $11.49.)
If your kid is more the creative type, try a combination of mini-sets of crayons, colored pencils and playing cards. Cards are only 2-inches-by-1-inch and come in various patterns. There’s also mini-packages of molding clay. (Calico Cat Toy Shoppe, 75 to 95 cents.)
Younger kids love to find small trucks and cars in their stockings. These colorful metal collectable cars include a race car, school bus, tractor, an F-16 plane or even a Mini-Cooper! (Calico Cat Toy Shoppe, $6.99 to $7.99.)
For the kids who like astronomy, how about a set of glow-in-the-dark planet and stars? By Great Exploration, these sets will be a great way to learn about what’s in the sky. (Calico Cat and Toy Shoppe, $6.99.)
If your kid is more the active type, try a Play Ground Classics Chinese jump rope, for hours of jumping fun. These come with instruction on how to play a number of games with these colorful woven ropes. (ACE Hardware, $3.49.)
Want to add some sound to your kid’s Christmas day? How about a Papa Products’ Sound Bites sound effects machine? It’s a hand-held box that with a few batteries that emits 20 different sounds. Among them: “Boing boing,” “ChaChing!”, “Boom!,” “Crash!” and “Bloop.” (Winslow Drug, $7.95.)
For the dog, try a FlashFlight light-up Ultimate Disc. These discs will make fetch lots more fun when Rover is chasing a brightly lit toy. (Paws and Fins Pet Shop, $9.99.)
And Fido will love getting a Dog Kong air dog interactive toy. The come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colors. (Paws and Fins Pet Shop, $3.99 and up.)
Here’s something that will also be a gift to you. A packable Rain Poncho for the dog. RC Pets created these pocket-sized packs in purple, gold, red and blue – just the thing for our Northwest rains. Each easily folds out to become rain poncho to cover the dog. (Paws and Fins Pet Shop, $10.99.)
How about a travel bowl for the dog or the cat? These open into a convenient reusable bowl for food or water. (ACE Hardware, $3.19.)
Here’s something for Mittens. Cats will love the light-up cat toys by Flicker Fun. In funny characters such as ostriches and other birds in bright, feathery colors. Or maybe your cat would prefer a catnip toy by Spot. These come in shapes to entice your pet like fish, birds and butterflies. (Paws and Fins Pet Shop, $4.99 to $6.99.)
For the bird in your family, here’s something — a string of colorful wooden beads mixed with bells that will hang from the bird’s cage and keep your feathered friends happy. Made by Bird Brainers, these knotted rope toys are a great gift for the birds! (Paws and Fins Pet Shop, $3.99.)
Stores visited for this story:
Paws and Fins Pet Shop
360 Tormey Lane, Suite 198,
285 Winslow Way East
Calico Cat Toy Shoppe
104 Winslow Way West
265 Winslow Way East
100 Winslow Way West
194 Winslow Way East
290 Winslow Way East
635 High School Road NE