By Cody Mello-Klein | [email protected]
It’s officially gift-giving season, and the Times is here to help you sort through all your wish-list needs. Over the next four weeks, our annual Holiday Gift Guide will help you find the perfect gift for everyone on your list, from your crazy Aunt Jan to your four-legged friend.
This week is about shopping local. Rather than visiting big box stores or ordering online from the almighty Amazon, give back to the community with your gift purchases this year. With Small Business Saturday around the corner, there’s no better time to start shopping local than now.
Whether it’s in Old Town, Del Ray or the West End, Alexandria is full of dog stores, breweries, boutiques and beauty shops offering a variety of gifts at a range of price points. Check out some of our top picks below.
Still need more ideas? Not every gift has to be an item of clothing, a piece of jewelry or a bottle of wine. Keep an eye out for next week’s gift guide, where we’ll bring you the best in experiential gifts.
Old Town Books
The holidays are the perfect time to cozy up by the fire with a good book and a free afternoon. If you have a reader on your shopping list, there’s no better stop than Old Town Books, an independent bookstore on 104 S. Union St. that offers a mix of bestselling fiction, non-fiction and other gifts for book lovers.
It can be tempting to buy your books online, but Old Town Books offers signed copies of bestsellers that you can’t get anywhere else. Pick up a signed copy of “The Witches are Coming,” a hilarious cultural critique of misogyny by Lindy West, the author of “Shrill,” for $27.
Also make sure to check out Old Town Books’ candles for book lovers. At $18, scents like Christmas at the Burrow, a mix of cookies, cinnamon and vanilla, will make that fireside reading session even cozier.
Aslin Beer Company
Give the gift of good times. Aslin Beer Company, which opened its Alexandria location at 847 S. Pickett St. in July, offers a wide selection of funky-flavored beers and ales, including two holiday-themed stouts.
Nationals fever is still in the air and Aslin is still pumping out Baby Shark, a creamy IPA with notes of peach, mango, candied tangerine and grapefruit, in honor of the team’s World Series victory. Baby Shark is available in four packs priced at $14.
Crowlers – $9 to $12 – and growlers – $15 to $20 – also make for perfect gifts. Go the extra mile and fill your crowler/growler with one of the holiday-themed brews Aslin has coming out soon.
The company will release two new brews at its Snow Daze winter flea market event on Dec 14., Brand Manager Erik Raines said. Crumb Snatchers will feature notes of toasted coconut, almond and gingerbread spice, while Tiny Thugs will bring the chocolatey goodness with marshmallow and hot coco flavors, Raines said.
Don’t forget about your furry friends during the holidays. Whole Dogz, which provides grooming and doggy day care services in addition to all kinds of treats and items for dogs at its 4748 Eisenhower Ave. location, certainly hasn’t.
Humans aren’t the only ones that need to keep warm during the cold winter months. Pick up a down-stuffed Canada Pooch jacket at Whole Dogz for $45 and your pooch will be all set to go on a wintry walk in style.
Whether you’re bringing your dog to a relative’s place or leaving them at home, the holidays can also be overwhelming for some dogs. Whole Dogz carries a selection of CBD items to help calm down anxious or high-energy dogs.
“I know when a lot of people leave or go home, some dogs have separation anxiety or some dogs are really hyped up on energy and need to be calmed down,” Whole Dogz employee Justin Lyons said. “Many of our CBD products are good for that.”
Suzie’s CBD hearts, a bestseller at Whole Dogz, are made from chicken and beef and come in seasonal flavors like apple and pumpkin. They are available for $19 per bag.
The Dog Store
In addition to selling leashes, clothing and food for dogs, The Dog Store at 2301 Mount Vernon Ave. in Del Ray also has a variety of items that are perfect for the dog lover in your life.
Wine glasses and cups made out of glass and metal with fun phrases like “Dog Mother, Wine Lover” are popular items, retail manager Annabell Bivens said. Bivens makes the glasses herself and sells them for $14.99.
Getting the dog smell out of a room before a big holiday party can be a challenge, but The Dog Store has a solution for that too. Fall’n Leaves pet odor exterminating candles work wonders, Bivens said.
“Our candles are actually really popular, and they get rid of pet odor, so not only is it a fancy scented candle, which is a really popular holiday gift, but it gets rid of dog smell,” Bivens said.
For those who need a little help finding the perfect gift, Goldfinch has your back.
During the holidays, Goldfinch, a home goods store at 806 N. Fairfax St., sells specialty themed gift boxes for between $150 and $300.
The gift boxes feature a selection of four to five items from Goldfinch and are designed around certain themes. There’s a cooking box with a Missoni cookbook, brass measuring cups, truffle salt and a leather oven mitt and a bar box with a whiskey cocktails book, two Simon Pearce whiskey glasses, a mixer and a pack of five Woodford Reserve bitters. You can switch items in and out as well.
“It’s not really expensive stuff, but it’s really high quality,” co-founder Jamie Brown said. “That’s kind of what we do with everything here: have really nice quality but also try to keep our price ranges normal.”
Goldfinch also has affordable items for the host or hostess, like Nonesuch’s punny holiday-themed cocktail napkins. At $41.95 per four-napkin set, the napkins feature fun visual drinking puns that you’re sure to put to use during the party-heavy holiday season.
Sometimes it’s nice to escape the house during the holidays – even if it is just to avoid catching cabin fever or fighting with your in-laws. In that case, having the perfect winter jacket and boots is a must.
RockDeep, which has a location at 101 N. Union St., offers a selection of winter-ready gear, all for $50 or less.
The RockDeep Huntsman jacket comes in a selection of different camos and is waterproof. It’s perfect for next year’s hunting season or a casual hike through the woods, manager Ashley Gibbons said.
Proper footwear is vital during winter, but it can be hard to find the right blend of practicality and style. The RockDeep Rax Super Wolf boots find that balance, Gibbons said.
“You can run a 5K in this. It’s waterproof, it’s got the fur. It’s super easy to put on, super light,” Gibbons said.
Both the Huntsman jacket and Rax boots are $50.
Boxwood, which opened at 128 S. Royal St. in April, offers an eclectic, stylish selection of goods for the heart and the home.
One of the most popular items at Boxwood is the small yet colorful Vietri vase, co-founder Leah Donahue said.
“This is one of our most popular items, especially for hostess gifts,” Donahue said. “It’s a little bud vase, it’s hand blown in Italy and it’s only $46, but it comes in that nice box and it’s a good brand.”
The Vietri vase is available in a variety of colors, including, white, amber, pink and cobalt.
For a gift that’s sure to get some use during the holidays, Donahue suggests Boxwood’s Christmas tree-shaped cutting board. Stained white, the cutting board – $200 – is best suited for use as a charcuterie board, Donahue said.
Wine Gallery 108
No holiday party is complete without popping open a bottle of champagne. Luckily, Old Town wine boutique Wine Gallery 108 has a selection of bubblies at a variety of price points.
There are the $100 top shelf champagnes, but owner and chief wine taster Lisa Katic suggests the Legras & Haas champagne, which goes for $55.
“These are smaller production, what we call ‘grower champagnes,’” Katic said. “They’re generally family-owned properties, grown in smaller lots and made in smaller batches. They’re a little more handcrafted and a little more specialty.”
To bring even more festive flair, Katic had some wine carriers made in the shape of Santa’s bright red overalls. The carriers hold two bottles of wine – one in each pant leg – and will be available on Saturday during Small Busi- ness Saturday. Anyone who buys two bottles of wine or items worth $50 or more will get 10 percent off and receive the Santa pants carrier.
It can be hard to find the right gift at the right price point for the right person. Luckily, Bellacara has removed the headache for those looking to buy bath and beauty gifts.
Located at 1000 King St., health and beauty shop Bellacara has an entire section dedicated to gift sets at different price points.
“We tend to do a different price point kind of thing so that if you’re trying to get something for a co-worker and you don’t really want to spend more than $25, then you have options,” owner Angela Sitilides said.
The $55 Molton Brown body wash sampler is a great mid-level gift for adults, Sitilides said. The Molton Brown brand is commonly used in swanky hotels, so the sampler pack is a great way to bring a bit of style to an otherwise ordinary shower.
For kids, Sitilides recommends Musee’s colorful 12 Days of Christmas bath bomb advent calendar.
“Every night, they get a new scented bath bomb, which is kind of fun,” Sitilides said.
For the fashionista in your life, consider checking out Bishop Boutique’s collection of clothing, jewelry and accessories.
The boutique, located at 815 King St., carries a variety of brands, but Loeffler Randall remains manager Hattie Dove’s favorite, both for its aesthetic and dynamic appeal.
The silver Loeffler Randall handbag – $250 – has both a clutch and crossbody and is versatile enough for all kinds of holiday events, Dove said.
“It’s kind of that really good size for if you’re going to concert. You can take it to black tie events or do it a little more casual,” Dove said.
And no holiday season is complete without sweaters, which make for some of the more giftable items at Bishop Boutique, according to Dove. A soft, grey oversized Holden sweater goes for $88.