Holiday Gift Guide: Gifts for the host(ess) with the most(ess)

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Graphic by Sasha Kochurova
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By Alexa Epitropoulos | [email protected] 

This holiday season, don’t settle for picking up a bottle of wine or pre-packaged goodie bag on your way to a holiday party.

Prepare yourself for the onslaught of company Christmas parties, holiday dinners and parties by browsing through our selection of local goodies that are sure to impress even the pickiest host or hostess in your life.

Balducci’s

Regional food market Balducci’s has long been an institution in Old Town at its 600 Franklin St. location, even dating back to its days as Sutton Place Gourmet.

The store offers a number of gift options, including a large selection of wine and prosecco, pantry essentials like vinegar, olive oil and spices, ready-to-go desserts and gift baskets.
For those who are difficult to shop for, Balducci’s offers a wide range of gift baskets, including selections under $50 like a gluten-free basket ($48), a snack basket ($48) or Sweet Sippings ($46), which includes Balducci’s coffee, breakfast tea, cookies, strawberry preserves and honey. If you have more resources to spare, the “Balducci’s Cupboard” ($135) has a selection of just about everything the store has to offer, including pasta, coffee, olive oil, vinegar, jam, truffles and cocoa or sweet smorgasbord “Tempting Treats” ($260).

Balducci’s recommends: “Lady Godiva Gift Basket” ($75); “Balducci’s Prosecco Brut” ($12.99)

Where to get it: Balducci’s Food Lover’s Market, 600 Franklin St.

Blüprint Chocolatier

Founded by Kim and Bruce Gustafson, Blüprint Chocolatier has been operating at 1001 King St. since 2005. All of their chocolate is made on site and comes in a number of holiday flavors, including sugar plum, gingerbread, candy cane, eggnog and the Swedish-inspired glögg, a traditional
mulled wine. If you’re not looking for holiday flavors, the store also offers chili cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, vanilla bean, raspberry, lavender honey, espresso, lime in the coconut and more.

The chocolate lover on your holiday shopping list may enjoy Blüprint’s holiday chocolate gift box, which can be picked up in person or ordered online (place holiday orders before Dec. 19). The “holiday sixteen” gift box offers 16 chocolate selections for $32, while Blüprint’s “holiday double dozen” gift box includes 24 chocolates for $48.

Blüprint recommends: “Holiday sixteen” gift box ($32); “Holiday double dozen” gift box ($48)

Where to get it: Blüprint Chocolatier, 1001 King St. (Open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday; Noon to 7 p.m. on Sunday; Closed on Monday)

Department of Beer & Wine

This relatively new addition to Alexandria sells a large selection of craft beer and wine in Potomac Yard. Partners Jeff Sapsford and Stevie Treichel, veterans of various beer emporiums like Norm’s Beer & Wine in Vienna, Virginia, first opened the store in August. The store also offers exotic candies and goodies, all which are curated by fellow partner and Sapsford’s wife, Melissa Sapsford.

For those who are looking to bring an alcoholic beverage to a holiday party or family gathering that’s not run of the mill, Department of Beer & Wine offers growler and 32-ounce crowler (same concept of a growler, but in a can) fills of winter warmer beers like Prairie Artisan Ales’ Christmas Bomb! (13 percent ABV), Devils Backbone Brewing Co.’s Dead
Bear (11 percent ABV) and Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.’s Celebration Ale (6.8 percent ABV). Explore the full selection of bottled beer and wine selections in person by visiting the retailer’s Jefferson Davis Highway location.

Department of Beer & Wine recommends:
For beer fans – Blackberry Farm’s Winter Saison ($18.49); For wine fans – Stolpman’s Para Maria de los Tecolotes 2016
($24.99); For candy fans – Bang Candy Co.’s Honeycomb Toffee ($12.99)

Where to get it: Department of Beer & Wine, 2724 Jefferson Davis Highway (10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday to Sunday)

The Hour

When the time for a nightcap arrives, The Hour will help you sip in style. Victoria Vergason has operated the upper King Street shop since October 2008, featuring an array of vintage, elegant and quirky barware, cocktail glasses and sets, pitchers and decanters and trays and bowls.

The Hour’s style draws from early 20th-century home entertaining, harkening back to Prohibition to midcentury era traditions that fit into the modern host or hostess’ lifestyle. The Hour’s selections include glassware that ranges from the 1920s to the 1970s – and those who are looking for holiday-themed wares are in luck. For barware that’s classic or can’t be found just anywhere, you can browse The Hour’s wares in person at 1015 King St. or online.

The Hour recommends: Top Hat Pump Decanter Set ($450); Evans Gold Bar Tool Set ($225)

Where to get it: The Hour, 1015 King St. (Open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Wednesday to Saturday; 12:30 to 5:30 p.m. on Sunday); www.thehourshop.com

Planet Wine

Located centrally on Del Ray’s Mount Vernon Avenue, Planet Wine is a promising destination for those seeking a perfect wine-related gift. The wine shop has been located next to Evening Star for more than a decade and is still operated by the Babin family and Neighborhood Restaurant Group.

Planet Wine offers something for just about everyone, boasting a selection of about 2,000 wines and specialty beers. For those who aren’t sure just what to get, attend one of Planet Wine’s twice-weekly tastings or ask experienced staff for a recommendation. If beer is more your speed, Planet Wine is offering four packs of beer curated by Neighborhood Restaurant Group Beer Director Greg Engert.

Planet Wine recommends: Holiday Pops Beer 4-Packs ($12 to $15); Thierry Triolet Brut Grande Reserve ($86); 2013 Opus One ($318)

Where to get it: Planet Wine, 2004 Mount Vernon Ave. (Open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday to Thursday; 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday; 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday; Noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday)

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