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. 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.
While Stewart loved that her stockings would be used to stash top-secret holiday treasure, 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 needlepointing, 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.
But 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. Five percent of each sale’s profits are donated to the Atlanta Children’s Shelter, which provides daycare for homeless children and social services programs for their families. And 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. “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.”
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.”
WATCH: What Is a Christmas Pickle and Where Did It Come From?
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