As the holidays approach, things on Capitol Hill start to wind down for recess, but the rest of the District is starting to pick up. New shops have sprung up throughout the D.C. metro area in the past year, providing lots of new, locally owned places to find great holiday gifts at a variety of prices.
“Whether I’m in Georgetown, Bethesda or Tysons Corner, I’m consistently surprised by how much is available,” said Arnaud Guillois, press counselor and spokesman for the Embassy of France. “From large department stores to one-of-a-kind boutiques, the average Washingtonian is spoiled for choice — and that’s a good thing.”
If none of these ideas in The Washington Diplomat’s annual Gift Guide crosses something off your list, see what the fates have in store for you and buy a D.C. Lottery ticket. The Holiday Bonus Bingo 2nd Chance Contest runs from Dec. 1 to Jan. 11, 2014. Anyone who buys a ticket during those six weeks will get instructions on how to play. Prizes range from a $100 Amazon gift card to $25,000.
Low: The way to a woman’s heart may be through her feet. Booties are hot this season, and the black Milena covered wedge booties from Michael Antonio ($69.95 at South Moon Under; www.southmoonunder.com) hover between trendy and classic. Made with a vegan leather upper, the shoe’s heel measures about 4.5 inches.
Medium: When Drybar opened its doors in October 2012 in Georgetown (1825 Wisconsin Ave., NW) and Bethesda (4840 Bethesda Ave., Md.; www.thedrybar.com), women flocked there for expert hair styling. Now you can replicate the experience at home — or at least try to — with Drybar Blowout In A Box ($220). It includes Buttercup, the Drybar signature ionic blow dryer, Full Pint round hairbrush, Happy Hour Shampoo and Conditioner, Hot Toddy Frizz Fighter, and the Chaser Shine Pomade.
High: Time may pass too quickly, but with this on her wrist, few women would mind. The 34-millimeter Omega De Ville Ladymatic Co-Axial ($24,600) is one of the brand’s newest watches. Made of steel and 18-karat yellow gold, it features a pure white mother-of-pearl dial marked with diamond-set indexes and a diamond-covered bezel arranged in a snow-set pattern. Find it at the Omega Boutique at Tysons Galleria (2001 International Drive, McLean, Va.; www.omegawatches.com).
Low: The 11-inch pocket squares ($20) from Hugh & Crye, which specializes in slim-fit dress shirts and men’s casual shirts, come in a variety of colors and patterns designed to start conversations, the website states. Made of various fabrics and gold thread, they can be as simple as the Copenhagen in basic cream with white polka dots or as exotic as a vibrant pink-and-green tile print called Versailles. The shop is a startup online retailer that launched in 2009 in Georgetown, where buyers can visit a showroom (3212 O St., NW, #5; www.hughandcrye.com) before making purchases.
Medium: The Frye Co. was founded in Massachusetts in 1863 by a man who wanted to make comfortable, durable boots. Today, 150 years later, the company still makes boots closely based on the original styles. Over time, Frye, which opened a flagship store in Georgetown (1066 Wisconsin Ave., NW; www.thefryecompany.com), added in accessories such as the Frye Logan Briefcase ($528). The briefcase measures 15.75 inches wide, 11 inches high and 3.75 inches deep. It includes a padded laptop compartment in addition to a large main compartment, two slip pockets and a key ring clip, as well as a double push-lock closure.
High: Amsterdam-based Suitsupply (2828 Pennsylvania Ave., NW; http://us.suitsupply.com) opened its Washington shop last year to offer a stylish take on D.C.’s standard uniform: the business suit. The store also sells shoes, bags and accessories. One item to think about as temperatures dive is the light brown parka ($999). Made of pure cashmere, the down-filled jacket has a double-zip closure, four button-flap pockets and a removable fur hood.
Low: Children and their parents can attend a royal ball for $25 at Tea with Mrs. B., a new etiquette training studio that opened in September (136 W. Jefferson St., Falls Church, Va.; www.teawithmrsb.com). At the ball on Dec. 20 from 6 to 8 p.m., Rebecca Czarniecki, otherwise known as Mrs. B, hosts dress-up time, dinner and a big-screen movie. Can’t get to the ball before your coach turns back into a pumpkin? Mrs. B also has Toddler Tea for $25 on Thursdays through Dec. 19 featuring a manners-themed story, crafts, tea and treats. She also teaches manners classes for children ages 4 to 6 and teenagers for $175.
Medium: For the preschool set, no one quite gets kids excited like Elmo. On many gift watchers’ lists this year is the Playskool Sesame Street Big Hugs Elmo ($49 at Toys ‘R’ Us; www.toysrus.com). Aimed at tots 18 months to 4 years old, the soft red monster moves his arms to give and receive hugs, performs songs, dances with your child, and plays games such as astronauts. Elmo also sings a lullaby to help with bed or naptime.
Medium: Another interactive experience — albeit a much colder one — awaits children at Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center along the National Harbor. There, Gaylord’s annual Christmas on the Potomac includes activities such as gingerbread cake decorating, a nightly indoor snowfall, and the world’s only suspended, synthetic glass Christmas tree, with all 7,000 pounds of it hanging over the hotel’s glass atrium. But the real draw is “ICE!” — a display of life-size ice sculptures hand-carved from more than 2 million pounds of ice. This year’s theme is “Twas the Night Before Christmas” and includes a two-story-tall ice slide. Tickets range from $19 to $34. www.ChristmasOnThePotomac.com
High: Give the gift of culture with singing, dancing and acting classes at Adventure Theatre Musical Theater Center in Glen Echo Park, Md.
Classes are available for preschoolers through 12th-graders ($185 to $397) in subjects such as Broadway Baby and ballet, tap and jazz.
Food and Drink
Low: The D.C. location of P.J. Clarke’s restaurant (1600 K St., NW; http://pjclarkes.com/dc/) will celebrate the lighting of the National Christmas Tree on Dec. 6 with $5 Irish coffees, $5 spiked ciders and free regular cider from 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. Home of the Cadillac of Burgers, as named by singer Nat King Cole in 1958 when he tried one, the eatery will also serve $5 Cadillacs starting at 10 p.m. Christmas carolers will entertain in the restaurant between 6 and 8 p.m.
Medium: Marcus Johnson, a Chevy Chase resident and an NAACP Image Award-nominated jazz keyboardist and pianist, recently founded FLO Wine, available from locally based Thankfully Yours, an online gift store (www.thankfullyyours.com/wine.html). Made from California grapes, the FLO chardonnay has flavors of citrus, green apple and pear; the red blend has hints of black cherry, ripe plum and spice; and the new moscato tastes of ripe apricots and rose petals. Can’t decide on a bottle? Get the FLOing for the Holidays gift pack ($75) and get a chardonnay and red blend in addition to a cheese knife and treats such as cookies, cheese spread and crackers.
High: Bourbon Steak, a Michael Mina restaurant at the Four Seasons in Georgetown (2800 Pennsylvania Ave., NW; www.fourseasons.com/washington/dining/restaurants/bourbon_steak/) is celebrating its fifth anniversary with a special dinner on Dec. 16 ($165 per person without wine pairings or $250 per person with them). It will feature all of the chefs who have contributed to the restaurant so far. A cocktail reception kicks off the event at 7 p.m. and is followed by a six-course dinner at 7:30. For reservations, call Toni Jackson at (202) 944-9173 or email BourbonSteak.WAS@fourseasons.com. Throughout the month, the restaurant is also serving its five most popular cocktails.
Health and Beauty
Low: Local businesswoman Sara Damelio started Skincando (www.skincando.com) in 2007 to provide healthy skincare products free of petroleum byproducts and parabens. When troops to whom she had donated her signature cream reported that it soothed eczema, sunburn, insect bites, diaper rash and blisters, she named it Combat-Ready Balm. Today she also sells lip balms, products for babies and a luxe line.
Give your dry skin a break with her Holiday Survival Kit (on sale for $38.50), which includes two ounces of her signature Combat-Ready Balm (made of apricot kernel, coconut oils, beeswax, black tea and more), Combat-Ready Lip Balm and a four-ounce Combat-Ready Bar of soap. Another option is the Mini Miracle Holiday Kit ($60, normally $87), which comes with a half-ounce Mini Miracle Cream, Eye Balm and Brew Lip Balm. Both come packaged with a red bow.
Medium: For fans of perfumer Jo Malone, a new fragrance, Velvet Rose & Oud (3.4 ounces for $145), is flying off the shelves at Bluemercury locations around the region, including the newest spot at Fairfax Corner, Va. (www.bluemercury.com). It’s made with damask rose, smoky oud wood, clove and praline, and it comes in the brand’s signature sleek rectangular bottle.
High: The weather outside may be frightful, but the hot stone massage is delightful. The Glamorous Life package ($512-$558) at the Red Door Spa at the Willard Intercontinental Washington (1401 Pennsylvania Ave., NW; http://washington.intercontinental.com/services-amenities/red-door-spa) includes an oxygen-infusion facial, 50-minute hot stone massage, olive oil mani and pedi, a shampoo and blow dry, makeup refresher, and a spa lunch. Hold onto the pampering with products from the Red Door Spa Professional line, which launched in May. The skin and body care line uses active botanicals, antioxidants and vitamins in items such as a calming gel cleanser, Age Defense Multi-Peptide Moisturizer and Milk & Honey Sugar Scrub.
Low: Whether you have pets or your guests do, the canvas dog bowl from Found My Animal ($40) is available at M29 Lifestyle at the Four Seasons in Georgetown (www.fourseasons.com/washington/services_and_amenities/m29_lifestyle_store/). The collapsible bowl is five inches around and comes in dark gray with a solid brass clip for attachment.
Medium: American artist Michael Aram’s White Orchid snack dish ($69) is a work of art meeting functionality. Made of nickel-plate and silver-plated glass and sold at Urban Country (7117 Arlington Road, Bethesda, Md.; http://urbancountrydesigns.com), it seems almost vandalistic to cover it with cashews.
High: D.C. interior designer David Mitchell not only designs spaces, but items to fill them. One of note is the octagon rectangle coffee table ($7,000). Sold at Salvations Architectural Furnishings (www.salvationsaf.com), AmericanEye at the Washington Design Center (www.americaneyewdc.net) and David Mitchell Interior Design (www.davidmitchellinteriordesign.com), the table is made of three centimeters of limestone (or another stone, glass or wood) sitting on legs in any of 40 finishes, such as painted bronze. It measures 48-by-30 inches and is 17 inches high.
Low: You know that crazy-looking technology in movies when someone waves their hand and things magically seem to happen? Google Glass is kind of like that. Still under testing and development, Google Glass is a headband that sits just above your eyes with a small rectangular window near one eye. Say, “Take a picture,” to take a picture, get directions to appear in front of you, send messages or ask it a question à la Apple Inc.’s Siri. It comes in charcoal, tangerine, shale, cotton and sky. To get one, apply to the Explorers program online at www.google.com/glass/start/how-to-get-one/.
Medium: For more wearable technology, look into Samsung’s Galaxy Gear ($299), a smartwatch released in September. The 1.6-inch screen shows you the current temperature and weather, while the rest of the device lets you make phone calls and stay connected to texts and email. Also able to take pictures with a 1.9-megapixel camera, the high-tech watch comes in lime green, oatmeal beige, rose gold, orange, mocha gray and jet black (www.samsung.com/global/microsite/galaxynote3-gear/).
High: For the ultimate gadget lover, there’s Tesla Motors, creators of high-end electric cars since 2003. The starting price of $63,570 for the basic Model S gets you a zero-emissions car that goes from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 5.4 seconds, reaches speeds of 125 mph, has a 17-inch touch-screen interior display, seats five adults, and features rain-sensing windshield wipers. Three battery options let you go 230 miles to 300 miles at 55 mph before needing to be charged. To check one out, visit the new Tesla Motors showroom at Tysons Corner Center in Virginia or buy one at the D.C. dealership, which opened in 2011 (1050 K St., NW; www.teslamotors.com). To get ahead of the game, pre-order a Model X utility vehicle, coming out next year. It starts at $62,400.
Low: Traveling can be fun but also a commitment, especially when the journey is long. To stay awake and hydrated on the go, try the Bodum Travel Press ($30.50) from Capital Teas, which recently opened a location at the new Mosaic District (2910 District Ave., Suite 168, Fairfax, Va.; www.capitalteas.com). The press/mug holds 15 ounces and is made of stainless steel to help liquid stay hot. A silicone band around the middle of the travel press makes it easier to hold and comes in a variety of colors.
Medium: For people who love to travel — or look like they have — consider the solid-wood-framed Destination Tag Prints ($329 each) at Room & Board (1840 14th St., NW; www.roomandboard.com). Measuring 29-by-37 inches, the silkscreened luggage tags are in fact pieces of art meant to be hung on walls, not attached to luggage, and feature the airport codes for Paris, New York, Amsterdam, London, Toronto and Chicago.
High: One of the world’s poshest hotel chains opened a new location right here in Georgetown in April. Experience the individualized attention — there’s almost nothing your personal assistant won’t be able to make happen — with a staycation at Capella (1050 31st St., NW; www.capellahotels.com/washingtondc/georgetown/). Try the One Night Christmas Package (starting at $626) on Dec. 25, which includes two tickets to the Washington Harbour Ice Skating Rink, welcome drink for two, a five-course dinner at the Grill Room on Dec. 25, breakfast for two the next day and late check-out. Or double it up with the Two Nights Christmas Package (starting at $638.50 per night), arriving Dec. 24 and offering the same perks plus Christmas Day brunch. One more option: Usher in 2013 with the New Year’s Package (starting at $1,496 per night), which includes cocktails and canapés in the Rye Bar at 7 p.m. on Dec. 31, a five-course New Year’s Eve meal at the Grill Room, live entertainment and dancing, a Champagne toast on the rooftop at midnight, an after-midnight supper, brunch all day Jan. 1 and late check-out.
About the Author
Stephanie Kanowitz is a contributing writer for The Washington Diplomat.