By Denise Dunbar | [email protected]
Our lengthy, warm fall has lulled many Alexandrians into slow-tracking preparations for the holidays. Now, suddenly, we are in the middle of Hanukkah, and Christmas is next Friday.
The COVID-19 pandemic has also made many would-be gift buyers reluctant to head to shopping malls or big-box stores for presents. While this has been a boon to Amazon and other internet-based companies, both scenarios – last-minute shopping and COVID-19 precautions – also highlight the importance of smaller, local shops.
Local shops are convenient, and they’re taking strenuous precautions, offering private shopping hours, limiting customers in their stores and making contactless shopping as easy as possible. There’s never been a year when local businesses need the support of residents as much as 2020, and Alexandria’s small businesses have responded with deals and products that rival those anywhere.
In this week’s holiday gift guide, our emphasis is on last-minute gift buying. Next week’s final gift guide is all about the gift cards and special deals local restaurants have cooked up for the holiday season.
Even in our digital-focused society, there’s never been a better year to give an actual physical book as a gift.
We’re stuck inside because it’s finally cold out, yet the recent surge in COVID-19 cases means it’s not safe to hang out indoors other than in our own homes. Books are the perfect versatile gift: You can stuff one in a stocking or wrap a few as the main event.
Fortunately, Alexandria has several terrific bookstores where you can find the best read for the bookworm in your life.
One of the brave businesses that opened in 2020 during the pandemic, The Company of Books located at 1712 Mt. Vernon Ave. in Del Ray, has offerings from every genre and is open daily for general and personal shopping. It also offers gift certificates.
A staff recommendation is “Wow, No Thank You” by Samantha Irby. A collection of essays about the awkward events of Irby’s life, it’s funny and light reading for the holiday season.
Appointment-only shopping is offered from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, while general shopping hours are Sunday to Thursday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. For more information or to set up a personal shopping appointment, call 703-299-3080 or email [email protected]
Head to Hooray for Books! for the perfect gift for the little one in your life. Hooray for Books! is a locally owned, independent bookstore located in Old Town at 1555 King St., offering children’s books – and books for the adults they become – and games and toys.
Staff recommendations for kids and young adults include: “The Crayons’ Christmas” by Drew Daywalt, $19.99; “What We’ll Build: Plans for Our Together Future” by Oliver Jeffers, $19.99; “Diary of a Wimpy Kid #15 The Deep End” by Jeff Kinney, $14.99; “Cat Kid Comic Club” by Dav Pilkey, $12.99, along with signed copies of “A Sky Beyond the Storm,” the finale to “An Ember in the Ashes” series by Sabaa Tahir, $19.99.
Hooray for Books! is open Monday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, call 703- 548-4092 or email [email protected] hooray4books.com.
If you’re not sure which book to choose, Old Town Books, 104 S. Union St., has the perfect gift: a subscription service. Buy your book-loving family member a six-month subscription for $195, and Old Town Books staff will handpick a first edition book and deliver it to your doorstep each month. This holiday season, Old Town Books also recommends Barack Obama’s new memoir, “A Promised Land.”
Old Town Books is also supporting essential workers and children in need with its “Book Love” book care packages and will match 20% to any donation made. Visit www.oldtownbooks.com/?q=p.book_love or call 703-647-9749 for more information.
Just because you’re shopping late doesn’t mean you have to forego a luxurious gift for your loved one.
King’s Jewelry has been an Alexandria staple for the past 65 years. Located at 609 King St. in Old Town, King’s Jewelry has gifts at many price points.
Planning to propose this holiday season? Or perhaps you’ve always wanted to upgrade the wedding band you gave your loved one many years ago? King’s Jewelry has gorgeous wedding bands with gem quality emeralds, rubies or sapphires. Holiday special prices range from $2,195 to $2,295.
Another favorite look this season is wearing yellow and white gold together in pendants, rings and earrings. King’s Jewelry also has an array of watches from Tag Heuer and Seiko for men and women.
King’s Jewelry’s hours are from Monday to Friday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Though their physical store is open, and they are following CDC guidelines, King’s Jewelry is also offering virtual shopping and curbside pickup. For more information call 703-549- 0011 or visit their website.
Another destination for a luxury gift this holiday season is Goldfinch. Whether it’s a baccarat degustation set, $250; a baccarat eye frame, $280; or a Michael Aram pinecone candle, $70, Goldfinch has luxurious gifts for the discerning gift-receiver. Each baccarat item comes wrapped in a signature red gift box that looks especially lovely under the tree.
Goldfinch is located at 806 N. Fairfax St. The store’s holiday hours are Tuesday to Friday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday noon to 4 p.m. Open Christmas Eve 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information call 571-970-3049 or visit www.shopgoldfinch.com.
There’s nothing better for a gals’ gift exchange than a scarf or, this year, a facemask. Ten Thousand Villages and Top it Off both have an array of accessories that make for perfect last-minute gifts.
At Ten Thousand Villages you can shop local while supporting global, as TTV is a local non-profit that provides access to a global maker-to-market network.
Recommended items this holiday season include the diamond ear warmer, which is the perfect outdoor accessory for any season. It’s warm enough for the winter but can easily be worn well into the spring. Each ear warmer is knitted by artisans in Peru.
Or, for a sleek and polished look, there’s the eco–leather black crossbody from CRC Exports in India. This purse features a zippered side pocket and a slip pocket for your phone.
Ten Thousand Villages is located at 915 King St. For more information call 703-684-1435. or go to www.tenthousandvillages.com/alexandria.
At Top it Off, everything in the store is $25 and under, so your last-minute gift can also be affordable. Top it Off is offering a “buy one get one free” special on holiday facemasks, which means buyers can purchase two adult or kids’ facemasks for $10.
Top it Off offers two Alexandria locations, in Del Ray at 1906 Mt. Vernon Ave. and in the Hollin Hall neighborhood at 7968 B Fort Hunt Road. For more information call 703-660-6490 or see www.topitoffwholesale.com.
(More Holiday Gift Guide 2020: Health and wellness gifts)