Holiday Gift Guide 2020
'Tis the season to shop local and support independent makers and retailers. These are a few of our favorite things.
Hometown businesses need your support now more than ever, and they have some pretty awesome giftables this holiday season. Here are a few super-cool items to put on your list or buy for someone you love.
Arlington resident Karina Gaull started sewing back in April to help meet the overwhelming need for face masks. She joined the Million Mask Challenge and made about 200 masks for the cause. Soon, she was hooked on her newfound craft and branched out into making colorful clutches, wallets, cosmetic bags and zippered pouches. A former graphic and jewelry designer, she recently sold her wares in a holiday pop-up bazaar at Botanologica in Falls Church, but if you missed it, you can also shop her website and Etsy page. “I love mixing colors and patterns,” Gaull says. Betcha can’t pick just one.
If The Queen’s Gambit left you spellbound and determined to brush up on your chess skills, Kinder Haus Toys in Clarendon has the goods (you provide the brains). Proprietor Sue Pyatt’s beloved toy store is also a popular stop for wooden train sets—Brio is a favorite brand—Paddington bears, picture books, dolls and other classic children’s gifts.
She left us in September, but RBG’s fighting spirit lives on. The inimitable justice has been memorialized in everything from face masks and collar necklaces to housewares—including this 100% alpaca wool pillow cover (made in Bolivia), available at Trade Roots in Westover. Lisa Ostroff’s affable boutique carries hundreds of fair-trade items that support artisans around the world, including women-owned small businesses. Other colorful items include kantha placements, wool “cat caves” (for the crazy cat lovers on your list) and batik bread baskets.
When in doubt, give chocolate. Arlington chocolatier Rob Kingsbury’s repertoire includes goodies ranging from fleur de sel caramels and peppermint bark to hot drinking chocolate, as well as Christmas-themed sweets like the “Frankincense, Ginger and Orange” bar, which blends 60% dark chocolate with Boswellia sacra frankincense oil, candied ginger and orange peel. Order direct from Kingsbury Chocolates, or find his confections at local retailers such as One More Page Books, Dominion Wine and Beer, Cheesetique, Commonwealth Joe Coffee Roasters, Lebanese Taverna, Good Company Doughnuts, Crystal City Wine Shop and East West Coffee.
No luck getting your hands on the new PS5? No worries. Old-school games are cool, too. Super Bit, which opened in Falls Church City in March, uses a buy-sell-trade model to circulate retro (80s, 90s, even early 2000s) video games, consoles and collectors’ items. You’ll find piles upon piles of games for Switch, PlayStation, Wii and XBox (owner Chris Jackson says most of his inventory centers on Nintendo Entertainment systems through the PlayStation 3) and occasionally some vintage classics, like an Atari gaming system (with joysticks!) and mint-condition VHS tapes. Posters and fan swag, too.
Why not bypass the big box stores and outfit the kiddos with threads that are infinitely more interesting—like this hand-sewn, reversible bomber jacket by Arlington designer Emily Ullo Steigler of Scout & Indiana, made with fabrics by screen printer Chitra Sharma of Noctiluna in Vienna. Steigler’s growing line of wearable art also includes custom-designed denim jackets (for kids and adults), face masks and fun matching pieces (think T-shirts and onesies) for the whole family. Scout and Indiana are her identical twin girls.
Carolyn Sewell has been illustrating the Arlington County Fair poster and promo materials for the past 10 years, and that’s not all. You’ll also find her spirited, hand-lettered logos and aphorisms (e.g., “Pleasing everyone is the shortcut to beige”) affixed to all kinds of merch on Society6, including smartphone skins, yoga mats, water bottles, shower curtains, side tables, coasters, wall clocks, laptop sleeves and a whole lot more. Her latest collection of designer accessories and housewares is a shout-out to our incoming Madam Vice President.
You can always count on Covet for irreverent gifts and stocking stuffers that speak to the moment. This year’s selection includes dumpster fire tree ornaments, Sanitize Your Schitt hand sanitizer and necklaces bearing Hunter S. Thompson quotes. Autumn Clayton’s shop also carries a curated selection of pretty art works and on-trend jewelry pieces by local artists. Paintings by Arlington’s own Ann Marie Coolick are currently 20% off.
Hallelujah! The holiday season heralds the arrival of two bourbon barrel-aged brews at New District Brewing Co. in Shirlington. The brewery will be tapping its 1821 Dark lager on December 10, followed by I Am the Senate, an imperial stout with notes of coffee, chocolate and stone fruit, on December 14. Hometown pride is strong at Mike Katrivanos’ microbrewery, where some suds are named after local landmarks and pastimes (if you’re partial to ales, try the National Landing IPA or Potomac Paddleboarder Blonde). Canned beer is available for pickup or delivery (gift cards, too) or you can stop by the taproom for a growler fill.
If you’ve tried Katherine Thompson’s olive oil cake or Gabe Thompson’s house-made pastas and have been dreaming about eating them ever since, here’s an idea: Buy the book. The husband-and-wife chef-owners of Thompson Italian have published a cookbook, Downtown Italian, for those brave enough to try their recipes at home. Next time you order takeout from their Falls Church trattoria, throw in a signed copy (it’s on the menu). It’s a perfect gift for the ambitious home chef.
Tired of the same old board games? Try Candygrams, an award-winning wordplay game (ideal for players ages 7 and up) created by H-B Woodlawn graduates Anais Ortiz and Johnny Landers. The makers are offering a special holiday price ($18.99) through the end of December with free delivery to Arlington residents. Buy three before December 25 and they’ll donate one free game to the Virginia Hospital Center Pediatrics Holiday Toy Drive. Candygrams is also sold at Sun & Moon Yoga in Cherrydale and Trade Roots in Westover.
Girlie gift alert: Elodie Cally, creator of the Arlington-based skincare company Elodie’s Naturals, has released a new line of face serums and other products made with organic plum oil, which promises glowing skin (it’s rich in antioxidants) and smells heavenly, combining fruity top notes with almond undertones. Cally sources the signature ingredient directly from the family-owned farm in France that first introduced plum oil to the cosmetics industry. “The cold-pressed oil is made from the pits of organic dried plums grown on a farm next to Bordeaux,” she says. Use the promo code BONJOUR to get a 10% discount. Elodie’s Naturals also offers workshops for those interested in learning how to make their own natural skincare products from scratch.
Planning to spend more time around the fire pit this winter? Casual Adventure has outfitted climbers tackling Everest, and the family-owned business (an Arlington fixture since 1945) is ready to outfit the ones you love, too, even if your travel plans this year are limited. It’s stocked with all the necessary cold weather gear you need, from insulated jackets, boots and beanies, to thermal underwear and Zippo refillable handwarmers. Flashlights and folding camp furniture may also come in handy for those socially-distanced gatherings with friends and neighbors.
If you know that statement earrings are the way to your girl’s heart, check out the new “Milk and Honey” and “Turning 30” collections by Soultry. Arlington jewelry designer Khadeejah Honesty‘s clay creations are handmade, lightweight and often inspired by Biblical themes.
Arlington’s Lee Arts Center remains closed during the pandemic, but many of its artists are working from home studios, and you can shop their wares online (click here for links to 20+ local artists). We especially love these UtilityWare vases by local artist Laura Fall, a ceramic artist who takes impressions of manhole covers and turns them into functional art. Her collection also includes serving trays and wall sconces.
This isn’t your dad’s lava lamp. This mesmerizing, battery-operated Jellyfish lamp is reportedly flying (swimming?) off the shelves at Two the Moon this season. Other bestsellers at Johanna Braden’s gift boutique in the Williamsburg Shopping Center include holiday-themed illustrations of D.C. monuments (picture a candy-cane striped Washington Monument) by local artist Liz Hutcheson of Fast Snail Greetings; small-batch Bloody Mary mix by D.C.-based Gordy’s Pickle Jar; and ultra-cozy Nordic wraps for chilly winter days and nights.
Know someone who could use a little stress relief? Bring the spa experience home with Thulisa Naturals (formerly Sanctuary Bath), an aromatherapy line created by occupational therapist and local mom Anusha Moodley that includes body butters and scrubs, bath bombs and shower steamers in scents such as eucalyptus-mint, lavender-geranium and rose. Thulisa, which translates as “bringer of peace” in Zulu, is a reflection of Moodley’s South African heritage. The company donates 10% of sales to Intsikelelo, a nonprofit that provides meals to vulnerable preschool children in South Africa. Shower steamers also sold at Covet in Arlington.
A stay-at-home winter promises plenty of time for reading, and you can rely on the experts at One More Page Books to have spot-on recommendations for the book-lovers on your list. The well-read staff at this indie bookstore in East Falls Church have even developed their own OMP Best of 2020 hit list, and an online holiday gift guide with recs for books and a whole lot more—from Pride and Prejudice socks to a set of Bob Ross Happy Little Puzzles. Deliveries in Arlington, Falls Church and McLean are free with a minimum order of $50.
If the Falls Church Farmers Market is already part of your Saturday morning ritual, you can do some holiday shopping there, too. The market is hosting artisan pop-ups for the next two weekends, starting with handcrafted wares by SASstitch (doll clothes, shoes and kids’ pillows) on December 12. On December 19, you’ll find sustainably-sourced olive wood kitchenware by Occoquan-based K&S Wood Crafts,
and herbal teas, soaps, bath oils and other products by Herban Avenues.
Caboose Brewing Co. has great beer and coffee, and a handsome collection of branded fanware that lets you profess your undying love for said beer and coffee, including flannel button-down shirts, hoodies, baseball hats, beanies, bike jerseys, dog collars and, of course, bottle-opener keychains and can koozies. Stop by the brewery’s Mosaic District or Vienna locations, or browse the goods and shop online. It’s for a good cause: beer!
These stud earrings by Arlington-based Kate & Moose are so cheerful and colorful it’s hard to choose just one pair. Happily, you don’t have to. Purchase one of jewelry designer Kate Amarelo’s Sweet Treat Mystery Gift Box sets (available for a limited time, through early January) and she’ll do the selecting for you. A small box contains four pairs of her lightweight resin studs, while a large box comes with nine pairs (sometimes more). Some are sparkly and some are matte, but you can specify whether you are open to all the colors of the rainbow, or prefer neutrals only. Her site also features a pretty line of abstract, watercolory ceramic beverage coasters.