Holiday Gift Guide: Ways to make holiday gatherings special and painless

Holiday Gift Guide: Ways to make holiday gatherings special and painless
Graphic by Sasha Kochurova

By Louise Krafft

With Christmas and Hanukkah come gatherings of friends, family and co-workers. They’re fun to attend, but can be challenging to plan and execute.

Fortunately, Alexandria has interesting and historic venues for holding an event. With the location secured, one might turn to caterers. Alexandria has an eclectic mix of cuisines and gourmet specialty shops, or you can look no further than your favorite restaurant for potential catering options.

Event spaces

Union Square at 204 S. Royal St. is a beautiful venue for a holiday event. Formerly the site of The Concordia Hotel in 1880 and used for years as an art gallery, the space has undergone an adaptive reuse, making it an ideal event and meeting site. The overall space is around 1,800 square feet of soaring windows and natural light.

For more information contact Union Square at 571-263-9805.

The historic Athenaeum at 201 Prince St. is a lovely setting for any event. You and your guests can enjoy a special art exhibit amidst one of the few remaining examples of neo-classical Greek Revival architecture in Alexandria. The exterior features four soaring Doric columns across the portico and walls of stucco over stone and brick. The elegant rooms have 24-foot high coved ceilings, enormous windows and beautiful woodwork. There are two galleries on the main floor totaling 1,494 square feet. Located on the lower level, with original exposed granite walls, is a large room that your caterer may use as a food preparation area, plus two restrooms.

To set up a viewing appointment or to reserve the Athenaeum, please e-mail or call 703-548-0035.

Food and drink

Cheesetique’s Holiday Cheese platter. (courtesy photo)

Cheesetique in Del Ray offers a variety of holiday platters. Two favorites are the Limited Edition holiday platter and the Tour of Europe platter. The Holiday Cheese Platter has four cheeses: Truffle d’Affinois, Bucheron, Ewephoria and Wensleydale with Cranberries. It also has various cheese-friendly accompaniments: cornichons, dried apricots, fresh grapes, seasonal jam and crackers. The Tour of Europe platter has three European cheeses (rotating) and one cured meat (charcuterie). It also has cornichons, dried apricots, fresh grapes, seasonal jam and crackers. All platters come ready-to-serve, with cheeses labeled with name, milk and origin. The platters come in two sizes: Classic: serves up to 10 and Plen-tique-ful: serves up to 20.

Twenty-four hours advance notice is required for orders, which can be placed online at

Meggrolls, which provides eggrolls with multiple personalities, is another party option. There is a lot to choose from: Bigg Megg, the Chicken Parm, the Buffalo Wing, the 4 Cheese Broccoli Mac, the Chorizo Poblano and the Gyro. Meggrolls’ small platter feeds 12 to 16 people, costs $158 and includes 18 Meggrolls (choose up to three flavors), one slaw and one salad slaw. The medium platter feeds 18 to 20 people, costs $218 and includes 24 Meggrolls (choose up to four flavors), two slaws and one salad slaw. The large platter feeds 22 to 26, costs $275 and includes 30 Meggrolls (choose up to five flavors), two slaws and two salad slaws.

To customize menus for your event email info@ Located at 107 N. Fayette St. 571-3120399.

For something a bit spicier, look no further than Dishes of India, located at 1510-A Belleview Blvd. in the Belle View Shopping Center. A family run restaurant, Chef Ramanand Bhatt along with his two sons Naresh and Gopal serve up traditional Indian cuisine. All items on the regular menu are available for take-away in half trays serving 10 to 12 guests and full trays serving 20 to 25 guests. Three to five days advance notice is required. Items are subject to availability.

For more information visit or email or call 703-660-6085.

For spirits, UnWined in the Bradlee and Belle View shopping centers is a good place to start. Vanessa Moore and her staff can help with your selection and stay within your budget.

Visit or call Bradlee Shopping Center, 703-820-8600 or Belle View, 571-384-6880.

Sonoma Cellar at 207 King St. is another possibility for your wine purchases. They offer wines from 180+ Sonoma California-specific wineries that have small to medium production levels (5,000 to 20,000 cases per year) and also produce reserve and estate-quality wines. Additionally, select wines from more than 20 Virginia-based wineries are available.

For more information call 703.566.9867 or visit

Wine Gallery 108’s White Elephant basket. (Courtesy photo)

Wine Gallery 108, a wine and gourmet shop located at 108 N. Patrick St., should also be added to your list. Wine Gallery 108 (formerly Altura) is a boutique market offering fine wines, craft beer, artisanal foods, local art and handcrafted gifts.

Gift baskets are available with 24-hour notice by calling 703-549-WINE(9463) or emailing


Celebrating her 30th anniversary creating distinctive flower arrangements in Alexandria, Royce Cohen is still busy making the holidays beautiful.

She may be reached at

Helen Olivia Flowers at 128 N. Pitt St. is a highend retail florist known for their signature floral arrangements.

For more information email or call 703-548-2848.

K.Aubrey Flowers at 1401 King St., is a premier florist located in Old Town since 1996. It is owned and operated by Kevin Aubrey, whose style has been described as having a lush, exuberant and romantic feel.

Call 703-548-9808 or visit