Actually, Socks Make Great Holiday Gifts

Even though they don’t have the best reputation.

Recently, a friend and I went into a Brooklyn boutique to kill time before a movie. You know the type: candles for $45, wool capes for $400. I picked up a pair of Creatures of Comfort black and silver sparkly socks fully expecting them to cost more than I cared to spend, but what I did not expect was for them to cost $25. For a pair of socks. These socks were very cute, but no pair of socks is so cute that I would use more than eight dollars of my own money to buy them. I would, however, happily accept them as a gift from pretty much anyone.

Socks as presents get a bad rep. They’re practical, therefore boring; affordable, therefore cheap; universal, therefore lazy. They’re not a particularly visible part of most people’s outfits, and they come as close to one-size-fits-all as any clothing item can get. They are not generally thought of as luxurious or “fun.” But I beg to differ. In fact, I would argue that those same qualities that make socks seem like a bad gift are actually qualities that make them better suited to gift-giving than buying for oneself.

Everybody at any given point in time could use a new pair of socks or three. You may think your sock drawer is overstuffed at the moment (mine certainly is), but were you to rid that drawer of pairs in which one sock has a hole in the toe or heel, those ribbed knee-high hiking socks you’ve yet to find a use for (because we both know you’re not going hiking anytime soon), and the mismatched sets cobbled together from laundromat survivors, you would probably have fewer than 10 pairs left. And you should really have more than 10 nice, workable pairs of socks. You need at least a week’s worth of the short guys for warm weather, a week’s worth of tall guys for the cold, and a week’s worth of fitness socks, if you’re into that sort of thing. Then you need a few pair of socks that cheer you up when you slip your feet into them — and that’s where the holiday season comes in especially handy.

Like lingerie, novelty socks are a secret second skin. Unlike (most) lingerie, socks are comfortable and relatively inexpensive. I can’t tell you how many workdays I’ve made brighter by wearing socks with pink doughnuts on them under jeans and a blazer. Think how much happier you’d be today if you were wearing these. For anything you like and for every occasion, there is a pair of socks to match. The amount of joy it brings me to wear four-leaf clover socks on St. Patrick’s Day and heart socks on Valentine’s Day is, frankly, embarrassing. But life is hard, and you have to delight yourself when you can. Imagine, for instance, cozying up to read a book with these little sledders on your feet!!

Richer Poorer Paradiso Socks
Richer Poorer Paradiso Socks, $14

But let’s say you’re more stylish than me (not hard) and you’re worried about sartorial dissonance. Don’t be — visible, non-matching socks are trendy now, which I know because of the results I find when I search “Rihanna socks” on Google. Take a look at these bright and beautiful things and tell me again that socks aren’t cool. I dare you.

All that said — socks will still rank pretty low on most aspirational shopping lists, and I get that. There will always be something that seems more pressing (or more exciting) for you to buy yourself. That’s why you should start dropping hints with your loved ones now. Tell them you want socks this holiday season. Trust me: They will be thrilled. Twenty dollars is a lot to spend on one pair of socks for oneself, but it’s a pretty agreeable cap for many of your relatives and friends to spend on your Christmas or Hanukkah gift. (What if you and your friends did a socks-only Secret Santa/White Elephant? I’m so jealous just thinking about it.) Throw enough aunts and uncles and grandparents into the mix, and you’ll have a very merry and well-stocked sock drawer in no time.

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