By Eileen Abbott
Even if you’re super organized, the busyness of the holiday season can make it challenging to remember everything. Just when you’re about to celebrate that you’ve shopped for everyone on your list, you realize you’ve missed a person or two.
But don’t worry — you won’t have to go far to find the perfect present. From Old Town to Del Ray to the West End, Alexandria merchants have you covered for those last-minute gifts, and the bonus is, you’ll be supporting local businesses, too, which keeps our city’s economy flourishing.
Here are some go-to recommendations for places you’ll enjoy visiting.
Lavender Moon Cupcakery
You’re running late — but no one will notice because you’ll be the life of the party when you show up with a few dozen cupcakes from Lavender Moon Cupcakery.
Located at 116 S. Royal St., Lavender Moon Cupcakery serves fresh, organic treats that are almost too pretty to eat.
“Lavender Moon Cupcakery is a chef-owned cupcakery. We source local ingredients from the farms, as well as using Polyface eggs and European butter,” owner Tammy Durkin said. “We bake every morning, always creating new seasonal flavors.”
Cupcakes are $3 each or $30 for a dozen. Some of the favorite flavors offered include vanilla bean with lemon curd, pistachio and passion fruit, blackberry lemon and triple Belgian chocolate.
“Our community is important to us,” Durkin said. “We participate in local fundraisers and offer a discount to our firefighters, police and military.”
You can find a daily list of available flavors on Lavender Moon Cupcakery’s Facebook page: www.facebook.com/lavendermooncupcakery.
Early Times Emporium
Experience that wonderful holiday spirit in a newly opened shop in Old Town.
The Early family, who are long-time Alexandrians, opened the Early Times Emporium at 413 Cameron St. this summer.
Offering elegant, quality creations by local artisans, this gem of a mercantile shop with a colonial apothecary theme is also abundant with botanicals. You’ll definitely find that special gift you’ve been searching for – you may even want to treat yourself to a gift as you explore the delightful shop.
“For this holiday season, we expanded on our theme and created apothecary cocktail kits,” owner Susan Early said. “There are seven different kits available and all are totally customizable. The most popular has been the gingerbread old fashioned kit, which includes all materials to create these fabulous tipples – except for the spirits and the ice.”
The gingerbread old fashioned kit is $29 – or $36.99 with the optional ice sphere.
For more details about the Early Times Emporium, visit earlytimesemporium.com.
When it’s winter and cold outside, and you just want to stay indoors under a cozy blanket, watch a movie and eat popcorn, Popped! Republic is the perfect place to get that last-minute gift for all those wonderful people you’ve appreciated throughout the year.
“Our popcorn is exceptional for a couple of reasons. We use real ingredients and take great care in producing great flavor and quality gourmet popcorn. It is fresh and tastes amazing,” owner Christina Stanley said.
Flavors include capitol caramel popcorn, congressional cheddar and more. For a full list of available flavors, go to www.americasfavoritepopcorn.com/pages/alexandria-va.
“The large sampler is your choice of three flavors [three small bags] or the nine-flavor sampling option. Either choice is $39.99,” Stanley said. “We also offer our fan favorite bag of popcorn in a variety of flavors to enjoy and share with your friends and family. Prices range from $16.99 to $32.99.”
The best part about visiting in person is that Popped! Republic offers free samples, so you can try the flavors before purchasing. The shop is located at 2381 S. Dove St.
A chocolate lover’s dream, Fleurir Chocolates has the perfect last-minute gift for the chocoholic on your list.
Located at 110 S. Payne St., Fleurir Chocolates offers elegant chocolates that are both aesthetically pleasing and divinely delicious.
“We make everything that we sell by hand in small batches, so you are always getting the freshest, highest quality products,” owner Ashley Hubbard said. “For the holidays, I recommend our Christmas Box, which comes in either a nine- or 16-piece assortment with Christmas inspired flavors such as gingersnap, eggnog and hot cocoa.”
The nine-piece box is $24.95, and the 16-piece box is $38.95.
Hubbard suggested Fleurir’s Wine Pairing Bars, a set of five flavor-infused chocolate bars made specifically to pair with wines, as a hostess gift. The set goes for $16.95.
Find more details on Fleurir’s website: www.fleurirchocolates.com.
“Living in a digital age means we crave connection, and Penny Post is a champion for staying in touch with friends and loved ones through the written word,” Penny Post owner Amy Rutherford said.
If you’re a paper lover who loves to write or receive handwritten cards, you’ll be in heaven at Penny Post, located at 1201 King St. It’s the perfect place to find a gift that will be beloved by those who feel the same.
“People should visit Penny Post in person for the experience,” Rutherford said. “Paper is such a tactile thing that it should be felt and held to really get a sense of how wonderful it really is. Writing instruments are so personal that they should be tested for how they write and feel before buying. And, in my humble opinion, the store is quite lovely to behold.”
Fountain pens from Germany, notebooks from Japan, paper goods from France and cards from small makers throughout the U.S. are a small sampling of items displayed throughout the store.
Elegant 2020 planners are also available – “A perfect gift for a co-worker,” according to one customer.
Find more information at www.shoppennypost.com.
The neighborhood holiday party is tonight, and you don’t know what to bring the hostess. Not to fear – Greenstreet Gardens at 1721 W. Braddock Rd. has you covered.
Holiday cheer abounds in this festive garden center overflowing with vibrant poinsettias and custom-made wreaths, both perfect hostess gifts. It’s also the perfect place for those who have procrastinated getting their Christmas trees.
“With trees ranging from four feet to 12 feet and different varieties such as noble fir, Turkish fir and more, you’re bound to find the perfect tree for your holiday,” Brianna Tomlinson, marketing and special events coordinator for Greenstreet Gardens, said.
Poinsettia plants range from $5.99 to $26 based on size. Christmas trees also vary in price depending on size.
“We treat all our plants with love, and we make sure all our customers go home with proper care information and supplies needed to keep their chosen plants healthy,” Tomlinson said.
For more information, go to greenstreetgardens.com/about-us/alexandria.
The Spice & Tea Exchange
Healthy and delicious to warm your body and spirit, freshly brewed hot teas from the Spice & Tea Exchange at 320 King St. are the perfect treat while you’re out holiday shopping. But if you linger and browse, you’re sure to find gifts for everyone on your list.
“Our gourmet gifts will delight the senses and tingle the soul,” manager Jessica Klug said.
The variety of teas include ginger turmeric herbal tea, Earl Grey creme tea, coconut Oolong tea and more.
For gifting, Klug recommends the Best of Alexandria Gift Set, which comes with three jars of the shop’s most popular spice blends, Vik’s Garlic Fix, Tuscany and Signature, for $34.95.
“Our Mulling Mix is a classic blend for mulling cider or wine,” Klug said. “It comes with a cotton bag to keep the spices together, perfectly proportioned for one quart of cider or one bottle of wine, and, if stored in the fridge, the blend can be re-used.”
Many of the gifts here are already wrapped and ready to go right under the tree. Visit www.spiceandtea.com for more details.
What could be more fine than delectable cheese and wine? You can’t go wrong with a thoughtful gift from Cheesetique.
As you walk into the Del Ray shop and restaurant, located at 2411 Mt. Vernon Ave., you are welcomed by a cute front section with cooking items, beautiful cheeseboards – $39.99 for one option on display – cheese wires and grates, a variety of food-friendly wines and, of course, a carefully curated collection of cheese.
It’s a feast for the eyes to gaze at the selection of about 250 cheeses showcased in the deli case as you walk in.
Baked lemon ricotta and Rosey Goat, a semi-firm goat cheese made more flavorful with dried rosemary, are both offered at $23.99 per pound. Dozens more range from about $19 to about $35 dollars a pound.
Find more details at www.cheesetique.com.
Torpedo Factory Art Center
There’s such a wonderful selection of art at the Torpedo Factory Art Center, it will be easy to find that special gift in no time.
“With more than 165 artists in 82 studios on three floors, there is something for everyone’s taste and budget,” Communications and Marketing Manager Alyssa Ross said.
One-of-a-kind gifts span from elegant sculptures to handmade scarves, hats and socks – perfect for keeping warm during the winter months.
“Gifts of art are always special,” Ross said. “They’re unique and perfect for the hard-to-shop-for people. Often handmade things are higher quality, ethically sourced and sometimes they can be personalized. Plus, there is community pride that comes with supporting artists based in the neighborhood.”
Visit the Torpedo Factory Art Center at 105 N. Union St.
Alexandria Restaurant Partners
If you don’t have time to run out and get a last-minute gift, you’re just a click away from making a special person on your list very happy.
Everyone appreciates a delicious, relaxing meal from one of our area’s fine restaurants. Just head to Alexandria Restaurant Partners for a gift card with restaurant options that will please everyone: www.alexandriarestaurantpartners.com/gift-cards.
“Gift Cards to Alexandria Restaurant Partners make the perfect gift,” Emily Klassen, ARP’s event sales and catering director, said. “They’re available in any denomination and redeemable at all our Virginia and Florida locations. We’re also running a promotion through Jan. 1: When guests buy a $100 gift card, they get a complimentary $20 bonus card on us.”
Happy shopping, and happy holidays!
(Holiday Gift Guide 2019: Eco-friendly gifts)