Giving Spirit


No Shortage of Shopping Options to Weather the Holiday Season

’Tis the season to be jolly, but with the faltering global economy exacerbating the already challenging task of finding the perfect holiday gifts for family and friends, many of us face ringing in 2010 feeling like Grinches. Still, you can stuff comfort and joy back into your stockings by finding great presents to fit every budget and every taste.

Whether you prefer to surf the Web or troll the many boutiques of Washington, here are some ideas to help you avoid the holiday havoc, separated by price range in the spirit of the new cost-conscious season.

Women’s Jewelry

Low If J. Crew is good enough for Michelle Obama, the all-American store’s selection of tailored clothing and expensive-looking baubles is sure to please the first lady in your life, too. Try the 50-inch crystal symphony necklace, a shining strand of glass rhinestones on a light-brown, antique-style brass chain and black grosgrain ribbon for just under 0.

Middle She’ll forget you not with a diamond and platinum bow ring from Tiffany & Co. on her finger. A new addition to the 172-year-old store, the ice will set you back a cool class=”import-text”>2009December.Giving Spirit.txt,500. But a warm reception is guaranteed.

High If price is no option, stop by the Tiny Jewel Box, three stories of temptation on Connecticut Avenue. Besides custom designs, the store sells pieces by designers such as Italy’s Marco Bicego, Israel’s Yossi Harari, century-old Kwiat, France’s Jaeger-LeCoultre, and Switzerland’s TAG Heuer. Stay close to her heart with an aquamarine and diamond pendant set in platinum by Jack Kelege. The ,500 necklace has a 2.0 carat gemstone and 1.5 carats of diamonds.

Men’s Accessories

Low Eschew the old standby (read: necktie) for something equally useful but way more chic: leather gloves. Check out the classic style at Banana Republic for .50, Calvin Klein’s cashmere-lined version for at Macy’s, and UGG Australia’s deerskin warmers for 0 at Nordstrom.

Middle For something flashier, consider a sleek Prada money clip made in Italy for 0 or cable column cufflinks by David Yurman in silver and 18-karat gold for 5 at Saks Fifth Avenue.

High To the man who has it all, give him something to carry it in. At Brooks Brothers, a sleek but soft alligator briefcase lined in suede will run you about ,500. For a more animal-conscious, classic look, the Peal & Co. brown leather attaché will cost you a cool class=”import-text”>2009December.Giving Spirit.txt,500.


Low Conducting business on the road? Avoid losing sensitive documents with the Ziszor! portable shredder, available at Neiman Marcus for . Bonus: Make your own holiday decorations out of papier-mâché using the shreds.

Middle Hot this year from is the new Kindle Wireless Reading Device. For 9, save trees by having books delivered wirelessly to the device in less than one minute, and at 10.2 ounces, Amazon says the Kindle weighs less than most paperback books. What’s more, the Kindle, which can hold 1,500 books, gets 3G wireless coverage in more than 100 countries.

High It might not fit in a stocking, but trendy techies will love Bang and Olufsen’s BeoVision 7 television, which comes with a Blu-ray disc player. Its Automatic Picture Control adapts to changes in room lighting by adjusting each frame of the image on the anti-reflection-coated screen. The most basic setup is ,000, while a fully loaded system with surround sound and subwoofers can push ,000.


Low To watch for Santa and his sleigh, you’ll have to go outside. But the Cloud B Twilight Turtle, at Piccolo Piggies of Georgetown, lets you bring stargazing indoors. It lights up constellations in green, amber and blue and is perfect for nurseries or kid’s rooms.

Middle For budding musicians, Activision’s DJ Hero, which came out Oct. 27, is the ticket. Compatible for use with Xbox 360, Sony PlayStation 2 and 3, and Nintendo Wii, the game lets you spin and scratch more than 100 songs into unique mixes and comes with a turntable controller for 9 at Best Buy.

High Why ride bikes when you can cruise the neighborhood in a classic car? Kettler International’s ’53 Chevrolet Vette Collector’s Pedal Car, a cool class=”import-text”>2009December.Giving Spirit.txt,119.99 at Toys “R” Us, has a plastic body attached to a heavy tubular steel frame, pneumatic tires and ball-bearing hubcaps.

Home Décor

Low Rare is the family who can’t use an extra serving piece, such as a simple glass footed cake platter with dome for at Crate & Barrel, or white porcelain pitchers by famed designer Eva Zeisel at Bethesda’s Vivi. The 8.25-inch pitcher costs 5, while the 11.5-inch version is 0.

Middle Give the gift of Old World style with hand-painted ceramics from Bella Italia in Bethesda, Md., such as Biagioli’s Orange Orchid four-piece canister set (5) or Geribi’s Stefania 12-inch serving bowl (5) with the green peacock design of 16th-century Deruta.

High All the serving pieces in the world are useless without a table to put them on. Muléh’s Wave Dining Table is its own statement piece, with a thick glass top set on a wavy, angular mahogany ( class=”import-text”>2009December.Giving Spirit.txt,600) or walnut (,725) base.


Low Make someone’s holiday extra sweet with the Co Co. Christmas Breakfast package from chocolatier Co Co. Sala, a chocolate lounge and boutique in Washington. At , it includes dark chocolate-enrobed bacon; a bar of milk chocolate with espresso bits; four pieces of java chocolate; a winter eggnog scone made of rum, vanilla and nutmeg; and a coffee mug.

Middle Let the cook you love learn to make his or her own holiday goodies at CulinAerie recreational cooking school’s “Gifts from Your Kitchen” class on Dec. 9. For , aspiring chefs will learn to prepare lemon curd, cranberry-port preserves, white chocolate bark and more.

High Chef Michael Mina’s Bourbon Steak restaurant inside the Four Seasons Hotel Georgetown has several prix fixe menus for the holidays. The Bourbon Steak holiday menu includes roasted chestnut soup, lobster, and butter pecan ice cream with pumpkin seed nougatine at a cost of per person. The New Year’s Eve menu features a caviar parfait, prime rib and silken chocolate panna cottta for a head.


Low Washington is not lacking for museums and where there are museums, there are museum shops. From freeze-dried ice cream at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum to international treasures, the stores suit every fancy. Get back to science’s basics with a Galileo Thermometer for . Made of floating colored spheres of different weights, it makes mercury look boring.

Middle Know someone who’d rather create art than buy it? The Art League School in Alexandria, Va., offers classes in drawing, watercolor, knitting, weaving, stained glass, claymation and more. Prices range from for a five-week studio session to 5 for workshops, but most nine-week courses run about 5.

High Appeal to several senses at once with a piano from the new Steinway & Sons Piano Gallery in Tysons Corner Center, Va. Besides uprights (starting at ,500) and grands (,000 for a baby grand), the store also sells specialty pianos made of special woods such as Kewazinga Bubinga from West Africa, Macassar ebony from the African East Indies, Santos rosewood from Belize, and Figured Sapele from Nigeria and Africa’s Ivory Coast. A William E. Steinway Limited Edition piano handmade from East Indian rosewood costs 0,000.


Low The Willard InterContinental Washington’s ninth annual “Holiday Lobbying” runs throughout December, except for Dec. 24 to 28, with free nightly musical performances in the hotel lobby from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Among the performers: the Suspicious Cheese Lords, a male a cappella group who performed for Pope Benedict XVI, and the Children’s Chorus of Washington.

Middle Washington’s premier theater spot, the Kennedy Center, is offering Holiday Gift Packs that start at 6 for three performances and go up to 0 for all performances on the most expensive show dates. Tickets are good for select shows such as the Bolshoi Ballet and the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater from Dec. 24 to Aug. 1.

High The theater capital of the world is a short ride away by car, plane or train. Arrive in New York City on either Dec. 24 or 25 and see the kickin’ legs of the world-famous Rockettes in the “Radio City Christmas Spectacular.” Other Big Apple options: take a Radio City Stage Door Tour and a Christmas Holiday Walking Tour of Park Avenue, Fifth Avenue and Rockefeller Center; eat Christmas dinner at the 82-year-old Sardi’s Restaurant; and spend two nights at a Midtown Manhattan hotel such as the Sheraton New York. Sign up at or call (877) NYC-TRIP for a quote.


Low Snow bunnies and ski enthusiasts can take advantage of this year’s powder at the Wintergreen Resort in Wintergreen, Va., about three hours from D.C. The Winter Escape Package starts at per person per night and is valid daily until Dec. 24, then Sunday through Thursday nights only between Jan. 3 and March 2, and daily again after March 7. Each night of the stay also includes a full session’s lift ticket for the next day, access to the Aquatics and Fitness Center, and rides on the resort shuttle from your accommodations to the ski area.

Middle You don’t have to go far to get away from it all. As part of its annual “Christmas on the Potomac” celebration, the Gaylord National Resort in National Harbor is offering the “Ice! Family Fun Package” through Jan. 10. Starting at 9, it includes one night’s stay, two adult and two child admission tickets to the “Ice!” attraction, admission to the ice skating rink, a child’s breakfast at Pienza Italian Market and parking for one vehicle. “Ice!” is a newcomer to the D.C. area and features 10 holiday scenes carved from 2 million pounds of ice. “Christmas on the Potomac,” which ends Jan. 3, will feature a 60-foot glass Christmas tree in the resort’s atrium, nightly indoor snowfalls and musical performances, and holiday “Brunch with a Claus.”

High But if your loved ones can’t stand the cold, send them packing — to Hawaii. offers various specials, including regularly discounted island cruises and beach getaways such as five nights at the Ritz-Carlton in Maui. For class=”import-text”>2009December.Giving Spirit.txt,340 per person, the deal includes all taxes, some food and all drinks in the Club Lounge, a 0 resort credit and economy car rental. Book by Dec. 21 and note the blackout dates: Dec. 20 to Jan. 4.

About the Author

Stephanie Kanowitz is a contributing writer for The Washington Diplomat.