Holiday Gift Guide 2021
Skip the big-box stores and shop local for everyone on your list. These gift-worthy finds from local makers and retailers are sure to please.
Worried that the supply chain slowdown will delay Santa’s sleigh or dim the lights on your menorah or kinara? These local shops and makers have some holiday gift ideas to help you make the season merry and bright.
The cocoa bomb craze continues with these gilded pine cones by Arlington chocolatier Rob Kingsbury. They almost look too pretty to consume—until you plunk one into a steaming cup of milk and watch the whole ensemble transform into a decadent, drinkable elixir. Find these and other small-batch goodies in the Kingsbury Chocolates line—truffles, bonbons, bars and more—at the Made in Arlington Pop-Up Market at The Crossing in Clarendon on Dec. 4, and at local retailers such as Cheesetique, One More Page Books, Dominion Wine and Beer, Commonwealth Joe Coffee Roasters, Lebanese Taverna Market and Arrowine & Cheese.
Drawing on what she learned in fiber arts classes, Falls Church resident Marilynne Bonner started experimenting in earnest with dyeing and felting during the height of the pandemic. “With hundreds of scarves and other items accumulating in my home, my husband asked me what I was planning to do with all the stuff I’d made—and that’s how Mara Homemade was born,” Bonner says. For one type of scarf, made of merino wool that is then felted onto a Chinese silk base, she uses small-batch hand-dyed wool and hand dyes the silk base to match. She also makes dyed silk scarves, using indigo dye or eco print on a Chinese silk base. Other items include boas, necklaces and headbands.
For a cosmic experience, look no further than Peruvian-Uruguayan jewelry designer Claudina Hannon, whose handmade jewelry pieces feature moons, stars, crystals, Zodiac symbols and other universal elements. We’re especially digging these hand-painted “Pink Room” earrings (part of the artist’s Luminous collection), which evoke “good psychedelic dreams.” Based in Northern Virginia, Hannon sells her wares online under the name Inkhari. The name is a variation of the Quechua/Spanish word “inkari,” which translates as “Inca king,” she explains. “The word is associated with an ancient Peruvian myth that says the Inca will someday return and restore balance to the land and people in Peru.”
Dark to Light
Young-adult author and Arlington resident Tammar Stein is back with a new picture book for the tiniest of readers. In My Hanukkah Book of Opposites, Stein presents basic concepts (such as warm/cold, up/down, full/empty) to tots through colorful Hanukkah scenes, illustrated by Juliana Perdomo.
Light up the holiday season with a hand-poured candle from Arlington maker Do Young Ahn of Wick & Paper. Available at The Urban Farmhouse in Bluemont, this soy wax candle is made with phthalate-free fragrance oils and smells like the forests of the Appalachian Mountains, which the store describes as “mild citrus top notes, earthy undercurrents, and a woody, fir balsam core.” The shop, owned by Arlingtonian Sarah Allen, is tucked inside a 120-year-old farmhouse, so browsing all the goods totally counts as a history lesson.
A goldfish’s 10-second memory may make it the happiest animal on Earth, but a mug with one of courteous Coach Ted Lasso’s quips is also sure to make any recipient smile. It’s available at Covet (just upstairs from The Urban Farmhouse), along with other gifts that commemorate 2021’s notables. Owner Autumn Clayton’s cheeky humor is reflected in on-trend merch like cicada ornaments, a vaccine-maker T-shirt and items that echo the question so many of us have asked repeatedly in the past 18 months: WTF?
Navigate the holidays and show your hometown pride with a hand-illustrated 13-by-19-inch map of America’s fittest city (that would be Arlington) from Terratorie Maps & Goods. Vibrant colors in soy-based ink depict each neighborhood on EcoSilk paper, and the illustrated maps are printed across the river in Washington, D.C. Artist Torie Partridge recently updated her Arlington map to reflect that Crystal City is part of National Landing and Nauck is once again known by the historic name Green Valley.
Fire up the kiddos’ imaginations with toys, puzzles, stuffies and books from Child’s Play! One particular favorite this year, according to Arlington store manager Liz Tromba, is Magna-Tiles, which come in themed sets that let children create mini environments with magnetic tiles. Another kid-pleaser is Hedgehog Roll, a board game in which players roll a tennis ball-like ball (the hedgehog) over leaves, pine cones and flowers to move on the board, with the goal of outsmarting the fox. While you’re there, share some holiday love. The store is collecting for Toys for Tots, and year-round it collects books for Reach Out and Read a nonprofit that provides children’s books to free clinics.
The weather outside is not yet frightful, but when it is, Casual Adventure can ensure you and yours are well equipped, whether your preferred activity is hiking, sledding or carousing around a fire pit. As temperatures drop, this family-owned business founded in 1945 has you covered from head to toe. The ultimate stocking stuffer may well be these Woolrich Big Woolly Mid Calf socks, available in 20 colors and two sizes. They are made mostly of lambswool to minimize friction and maximize moisture-wicking to keep those digits warm.
Goods for Good
Shop the world without leaving the neighborhood at Trade Roots Gift Store and Coffee Shop. Most of the products in Lisa Ostroff’s Westover boutique come from craftspeople and collaboratives that are members of the U.S.-based Fair Trade Association or the World Fair Trade Federation, although some of the goods are made right here in Arlington, too. Giftable items include soap, jewelry, stationery, puzzles and cozy alpaca knits handmade in Peru and Bolivia. “Our supply line is not as interrupted as some of the big retailers,” Ostroff says, “because we work directly with the artisans who are not sending handicrafts to the big guys.”
Vessels for Keeps
Order a beautiful arrangement from Company Flowers & Gifts, Too! and the blooms will arrive in something equally beautiful that lasts—such as this sculptural, white ceramic pitcher. The 9-inch size holds about a quart of liquid, while the 3.5-inch size is perfect as a creamer, says John Nicholson, who has co-owned the Cherrydale flower and gift shop with his wife, Marnie, for 24 years. Pick up a holiday card from their hand-curated selection while you’re there.
Say It With Paper
Texting is great and all, but there’s still something special about a handwritten note. For the papyrophiliac in your life, the perfect gift may well be a set of bespoke stationery from Dulles Designs (and you can wow the recipient with terms like “extra-thick cotton stock,” “hand-beveled,” “painted edges” and “calligraphy”). Granted, owner Emilie Dulles, who bought the company from her parents in 2010, isn’t completely old school. Modern technology comes in handy, she says, when she is texting clients screenshots of their designs for approval.
Chocoholics will appreciate a gift box from Artisan Confections, which introduced a number of new flavors this season, according to chocolatier Jason Andelman. From now through the end of the year, stop by the Clarendon sweet shop to stock up on bite-size treats such as London Fog (white chocolate, Earl Grey tea and vanilla bean), fresh mint, salted butter caramel (a best-seller) and Chile sea salt (dark chocolate, cayenne, Arbol chiles, honey and sea salt). Boxes come in sizes ranging from four to 30 pieces.
It all started when her mom, Anita Poot Cu, made a macramé wall-hanging for her bedroom. Furloughed from her job as a flight attendant in 2020, Falls Church resident Anielka Azarian opened an online shop, Luna Maya Macramé, to sell her mother’s home accessories and retro decor. As demand for the fiber creations ramped up, Azarian took lessons from her mother, who lives in Mexico, over FaceTime. Together, they now sell handcrafted coasters, plant hangers, wall hangings, clutches and other goods made with organic cotton cord in both natural and bright colors. For a pretty hostess gift, pair a knotted wine bottle holder with a nice vino from your favorite wine shop.
In the Bag
When Covid first arrived, Arlingtonian Karina Gaull joined the Million Mask Challenge and sewed her way through the pandemic, making personal protective gear for area health care workers. Soon, the self-described “professional hobbyist” had diversified her wares, churning out zippered pouches and wallets, and eventually fanny packs, totes, handbags and more. A current fan favorite is the Sandhill Crossbody Bag, which is made of quilt cotton inside and out. Patrons can also choose the fabric combinations they like best for custom orders.
Maybe you’re still not totally comfortable with the idea of going to a spa? Let Thulisa Naturals bring the spa to you, or that special someone on your gift list. The Instant Spa in a Box kit is available in three scents—lavender-geranium, orange-mint and pink grapefruit—and comes with a handcrafted maple wood soap dish, a ramie pouf, aromatherapy shower steamers and a body scrub. All items are made with natural ingredients, scented with essential oils and vegan. Founder Anusha Moodley donates 10% of all sales to Intsikelelo, a nonprofit that provides meals to preschoolers in her native South Africa.
Arlington resident Heather Lezla makes small-batch ceramics for tabletop and garden, inspired by natural and industrial elements. You can find them in her Etsy Shop, Persimmon Street Ceramics. Botanical-style pieces like the planters pictured here start out as thrown clay on her pottery wheel. She then hand-paints them with underglazes, using parchment paper cutouts to expose the natural cream color of the clay. Shops her latest pieces in person at the Mosaic District Holiday Village on Dec. 4 and 5.
On Jan. 1, 2022, Arlington County will impose a 5-cent plastic bag tax. Save yourself some money—and the environment—with an organic cotton twill tote from Sōultry. Then, for one-stop shopping to cover all the giftees on your list, fill that bag with the other creations by owner Khadeejah Honesty. Her Arlington-based product line also includes lemongrass whipped shea butter (made with shea butter and cocoa butter, plus grapeseed, coconut, avocado, jojoba and argan oils), nature-inspired earrings, unisex hoodies and handprinted clay home goods.
After taking a skincare class in Paris, artisan Elodie Cally went on to earn a degree in cosmetic chemistry in France before setting up her Arlington shop. Elodie’s Naturals specializes in cleansers, serums, lip treatments, masks and more—all of which are handcrafted and organic. Grab a French Cleansing Kit with a 10-ingredient balm and reusable makeup remover pads, or a bottle of her new Botanical Plum Serum Q10 No. 3. Cally has a pop-up shop at Tysons Corner until Dec. 24, and is offering two make-your-own organic skincare products workshops on Dec. 12.
Like many of us, Libby Schoepf was bored during the early days of the pandemic. Unlike many of us, she turned that boredom into a business. After learning the art of soap-making, she launched Libby’s Lathers, a line of cold process soaps made with clean ingredients in soothing scents like peppermint, lavender and coffee. Available individually or in a sample pack of five, the soaps are a great way to give someone a clean start to 2022.
Faux leather is all the rage this year, and Gossip is prepared. Everything is priced under $100 at Katherine Glorioso Dress’s Ballston Quarter boutique, including vegan leather leggings, pants, skirts, jackets and bags to wow the fashionista in your life. If you’re feeling extra generous, pair that faux leather piece with a graphic tee or animal print top and some chunky baubles.
We’re not going to sugarcoat this one, because Bon AppéSweet doesn’t either. CEO Thereasa Black sweetens all of her chocolate bars with dates, not added sugar. Plus, they are organic and vegan, made with only three to five ingredients. Heck, they’re practically health food—which makes giving a 6- or 12-month subscription box an act of caring. Each subscription includes six bars per month: five in always-available flavors like Deep Dark Chocolate and Sea Salted Almond Chocolate, plus a custom bar with a seasonal edge, such as the pumpkin spicy Warrior bar. Black formerly owned Amore Congelato (now closed) at Pentagon Row before shifting her product line to artisanal chocolate.