To curate a holiday shopping guide during an election season is an odd experience. As the results rolled in Nov. 8, I was halfway through compiling the selections you will find in the next few pages. Like most of D.C., I felt pierced by the results. The next day I went through the paces of trying to work. This awesome job allows me to write about retail, to visit stores, and to engage in critical thinking about D.C.’s economy. It’s hard to be enthusiastic about shopping, though, when it feels like the world is on fire.

So why does this even matter?

I’ve mentally taken everything apart and put it back together dozens of times. The desperate part of myself wanted to conclude that we are are in for a bumpy ride and that it’s time to strap in everything, including our wallets. My cynical side suggested it doesn’t matter where people spend money, or whether they spend it at all.


There are some deeper truths about why supporting local businesses makes an extraordinary difference. Because it does. Here are five reasons to shop local this holiday season:

– For every dollar you spend, 68 cents stays within the D.C. economy. When you shop at chain stores, only 43 cents of every dollar stays local.

– You are supporting actual people versus large conglomerates. Most local shop owners work in their own stores. That means the money you spend puts food on their tables and enables them to employ your neighbors.

– Those paying attention have no doubt noticed that small stores are closing. High rent and taxes are taking a toll on independent retail. Over the last year alone, we saw a number of casualties, including Rosies and Rockers, Millennium Decorative Arts, Nomad Yard Collectiv, Universal Gear, Lotus Blooms (18th Street NW location), Toro Mata, Hunted House, and Mara Home. To adopt a phrase from Austin, Texas, we need to keep D.C. weird. That means supporting stores on our home turf.

– Local stores care about supporting artists. The arts and independent shopping are deeply connected. Shop owners typically tend to be the buyers, which means indy stores will carry products from artisans. They are saying “yes” to carrying goods that are handmade, special, and great for their customers.

– It feels personal because it is personal. Keeping a store open is a hard road, so D.C. retailers are dedicated to their shoppers. They are excited to share their knowledge, happy to help you choose a gift, and want you to have a great experience.

Even—or perhaps especially—in an uncertain political climate, independent retail is critical to building community and nurturing the local economy. When we shop this year, let it be with intention and purpose, and let it include a stop at a favorite neighborhood store.


Kit & Caboodle

These charming kits are a portable plan of action for life’s little conundrums.

Love You a Latte/Blister Sister kits, $12/each. Blush Med Skincare.

1924 8th St. NW. Suite 134,4915 Cordell Ave. Bethesda. (877) 632-5874 (for both locations)

Luck of the Draw

A tiny color pencil set will encourage your friend to draw during the small, in-between moments of the day. 

Color pencil set, $7.60. Cherry Blossom Creative. 2128 8th St. NW. (202) 319-2979

It Grew On Me Your best buddy finally grew a beard this year. This balm will keep it controlled and conditioned. Uppercut beard balm, $18. Avenue Jack. 1301 Connecticut Ave. NW. (202) 887-5225

Another One Rides the Bus 

Your kid will want to play with this car. Your Dad will want to reminisce about how he used to drive this car (back when he had long hair and a beard, of course). 

Volkswagen toy car, $9.98. Little Birdies Boutique. 1526 Wisconsin Ave. NW. (202) 333-1059

Comb On 

It’s meant for beards, but this wooden comb is small enough to fit in a pocket and can be used on long and short hair, too. 

Beard comb, $15. Be Clean.


Kiss and Makeup 

Angular brushes have become all the rage among beauty bloggers and Instagram stars. Pick one up at a practical pricepoint. O! Wow Brush, $16. Blush Med Skincare. 

1924 8th St. NW. Suite 134 

4915 Cordell Ave. Bethesda. (877) 632-5874 (for both locations)

Pop Star 

Be inspired by the genius of Warhol, Caufield, and Lichtenstein with this set of three notebooks. 

The Pop Artists notebooks, $21. Cherry Blossom Creative. 2128 8th St. NW. (202) 319-2979

Sugar Stack This stack of flavored sugars will inspire a playful approach 

to your next baking project. 

Sugar blend tower, $18. Bazaar Spices. 

1309 5th St. NE. (202) 379-2907

2130 8th St. NW. (202) 380-9658

That’s How Eye Roll 

Your uncle always buys those cheap drugstore sunglasses. Help him see the light by investing in a stylish pair that boasts polarized shades. 

Sunski sunglasses, $55. Core72. 

5502 Connecticut Ave. NW. (202) 686-4258

3316 Wisconsin Ave. NW. (202) 244-1100

A Concrete Decision A tea light holder made out of concrete might sound industrial, but gold accents give it a chic edge. 

Tea Light Holder by Urban Orphans, $8/each. Hudson & Crane. 1781 Florida Ave. NW. (202) 436-1223


Couch the Subject 

Bring the love of the District into your home. 

Washington D.C. pillow, $44. Urban Dwell. 1837 Columbia Rd. NW. (202) 558-9087

Bill of Brights 

Give this coloring book to someone who is into the adult coloring book trend. Or, keep the book and color it yourself. The pages are detachable so you can send them as postcards or frame the individual pictures as gifts. 

Iconic Washington, D.C. Coloring Book by Emily Isabella, $9.95. Politics & Prose bookstore in Busboys and Poets. 2021 14th St. NW. (202) 387-7638

It’s Monumental 

Instill a deep love of D.C. at an early age. 

The ABC’s of Washington, D.C. by Baby Ventures, $9.99. East City Bookshop. 645 Pennsylvania Ave. SE. (202) 290-1636

It’s Not Just a Warm Up 

D.C. isn’t just a place, it’s a state of mind. 

Dreamer Doer sweatshirt, $54. District of Clothing.

A Cut Above the Rest 

Master Craftsman Jeff Stoner (brother of one of the owners of Hudson & Crane) makes these Washington, D.C. cutting boards specifically for the store. 

Cutting board, $65. Hudson & Crane. 1781 Florida Ave. NW. (202) 436-1223


Light Up Your Life 

Local chandler and artisan Amina Ahmad makes these eco-friendly soy candles by hand. 

Candle subscription, $30/1 month, $75/3 months, $150/6 months, $300/12 months. Handmade Habitat.

Mornings Will Be Brew-tiful 

Your caffeine-loving bestie will freak over this subscription service. One pound of fresh roasted coffee will be sent every week, every other week, or every month. You pick the grind. 

Coffee subscription service, $60 and up. Zeke’s Coffee.


It’s Quite Fetching

You are going to say that you are buying this for your pet. But, let’s face it, you are buying it for you. 

Fetch toy lips, $9.99. Howl to the Chief. 733 8th St. SE. (202) 544-8710

Hound Someone 

Pick up an indoor/outdoor sign that matches your favorite breed of doggo.

Breed sign, $29. The Cheeky Puppy. 1709 Connecticut Ave. NW. (202) 621-8868

Cat Nap 

Curl up with your kitten, a good book, and a pillow that announces your naptime intention. 

Cat pillow, $18. Groovy DC Cards & Gifts. 321 7th St. SE. (202) 544-6633

Water You Doing? 

A collapsable bowl means your pup will stay hydrated while you both run around D.C. 

Kurgo collaps-a-bowl, $9.99. Howl to the Chief. 733 8th St. SE. (202) 544-8710

Bah Hum Pug 

Show how much you love your furry best friend while carrying home your groceries. 

Cheeky tote bag, $20. The Cheeky Puppy. 1709 Connecticut Ave. NW. (202) 621-8868


To Err is Human, To Arrr is Pirate 

Forget basic blocks. This wooden set is magnetized and can take the shape of a pirate. 

Pirate Magnetic Stack Up Blocks, $40. Full of Beans. 3813 Livingston St. NW. (202) 362-8566

You’re Gonna Hear Me Roar 

You don’t need scissors or glue to put together this 2 ½ foot Tyrannosaurus rex. 

Build the T.Rex, $19.95. Urban Dwell. 1837 Columbia Road NW. (202) 558-9087

I Wheelie Like You 

Lessons about safety, energy, and transportation are included in this informative book about bicycles. 

B is for Bicycles by Scott & Jannine Fitzgerald, $18.99. The Bike Rack. 

716 Monroe St. NE. (202) 832-2453

1412 Q St. NW. (202) 387-2453

Mad About Plaid

Your little one can show her holiday spirit in this Beaufort Bonnet dress. 

Girl’s Dress, $64. Little Birdies Boutique. 1526 Wisconsin Ave. NW. (202) 333-1059

Little Monsters 

Monsters are great at cuddling. These LoveBelly creatures are handmade in Baltimore out of reclaimed, soft fabrics. 

LoveBelly by Might, $20/each. Analog. 716 Monroe St. NE. Studio No. 5

Active Baby 

Want your kiddo to learn about environmental justice, LGBTQ rights, and democracy? A is for Activist introduces social justice concepts in rhyme.

A is for Activist by Innosanto Nagara, $9.99. Politics & Prose bookstore in Busboys and Poets. 2021 14th St. NW. (202) 387-7638


Plants Are My Fronds 

Trey Jones Studio specialises in functional home pieces that make a statement. 

Origami Planter in Copper, from $875. Trey Jones Studio.

The Fine Print

Artist Rozeal is originally from Washington, D.C. Her art focuses on cultural identity while utilizing traditional ukiyo-e print techniques. 

El Oso Me Pregunto by Rozeal, $2,000 (small print), $5,000 (large print with gold leaf). Adamson Gallery. 926 N St., Suite 2, NW. (202) 232-070

Suit Yourself 

If your partner struggles to get ready in the morning, it’s time to gift an appointment with Ezra Paul. Ezra acts as an educator, guru, and fashion therapist so clients can dress with confidence.

Sport coat, $1,245; Shirt, $165; Tie, $89; Trousers, $325. Ezra Paul Clothing. 1608 17th St. NW. (202) 518-7285


Seasons Greetings 

Afghan Saffron, truffle salt, Danish Viking smoked sea salt, black garlic powder, and Piment D’Espelette are included in this sophisticated spice sampler. 

The Artisan Collection, $50. Bazaar Spices. 

1309 5th St. NE. (202) 379-2907

2130 8th St. NW. (202) 380-9658

Drop It Like It’s Hot 

Making bitters is so 2015. This year it’s all about heat. Craft two different hot sauce flavors and then revel in making your loved ones sweat it out. 

Homemade Hot Sauce Kit, $25. Hudson & Crane. 1781 Florida Ave. NW. (202) 436-1223

Y’all Gonna Make Me Lose My Rind, Up in Here Up in Here 

This chutney is #MadeinDC in small batches. Pair it with a sharp cheese, turkey, or pork roast for your holiday dinner. 

Savory Gal Apple Plum Chutney, $8.49. Glens Garden Market. 

2001 S St. NW. (202) 588-5698

1924 8th St. NW. (202) 939-2839

Positivi-Tea for Nobili-Tea

A robust black tea is a wonderful way to start the day. All of Ajiri’s profits support the education of orphans in western Kenya. 

Ajiri tea, $10.99. Nubian Hueman. 1231 Good Hope Rd. SE. (202) 394-3386

It Will All Pan Out 

The distinguished home cook will notice that this pan has a dimpled surface for easy food release.

All-Clad D3 Armor Pan, $99. Hill’s Kitchen. 713 D St. SE. (202) 543-1997


A Clean Slate 

A cheese server is the perfect gift for someone who loves to entertain. This one is made with Vermont slate, has anti-slip cork feet, and will keep you on budget. 

Slate cheese server, $15. Hill’s Kitchen. 713 D St. SE. (202) 543-1997

The Key to Your Success This clever keychain holds up to eight keys and includes a loop ring for a car remote. 

KeySmart, $20. Avenue Jack. 1301 Connecticut Ave. NW. (202) 887-5225

That’s All She Wrote 

Bullet journaling has been all the rage in 2016. A beautiful journal will give your ultra-organized friend a way to check off their to-do list. 

Balexis lined journal, $8. The Den Reading Room & Artist Exchange. 1231 Good Hope Rd. SE, Gallery H. (202) 649-0824


Encourage your co-worker to up their office game with themed cubicle decoration ideas. 

Cube Chic by Kelley L. Moore, $15.95. Groovy DC Cards & Gifts. 321 7th St. SE. (202) 544-6633


Joy to the World 

Your child will learn world geography while piecing together this puzzle. Our World puzzle, $20. Full of Beans. 3813 Livingston St. NW. (202) 362-8566

Finish the Job 

Have a friend that is fed up at work? Help them avoid a complete breakdown by working through these thoughtful career prompt cards. 

Career Crisis, $18. Cherry Blossom Creative. 2128 8th St. NW. (202) 319-2979

By the Book 

Zadie Smith’s new book follows the childhood, then adult, friendship of two London girls who love dance. 

Swing Time by Zadie Smith, $27. East City Bookshop. 645 Pennsylvania Ave. SE. Suite 100. (202) 290-1636


You Go, Glen Coco

Gabrielle “CoCo” Chanel’s dramatic life story unfolds in a book that contains handwritten text, illustrations, and excerpts from her diaries. 

CoCo Chanel an Illustrated Biography by Zena Alkayat & Nina Cosford, $16.95. Little Birdies Boutique. 1526 Wisconsin Ave. NW. (202) 333-1059

Outstanding in Your Field 

An analog enthusiast will appreciate this leather notebook cover from Stitch & Rivet’s All American Collection. It holds Field Notes and Moleskine brand 3.5 x 5.5 notebooks. 

All American Field Notes Cover, $56 (comes with 1 Field Notes book). Stitch & Rivet. 716 Monroe St. NE, Studio No. 3

Wooden You Like to Know

All hail the coolest, smartest idea to ever grace the tie world. These sets are handcrafted out of wood and contain magnets so you can continually interchange the “wings.”

Switchwood bow ties, $99/set, Avenue Jack. 1301 Connecticut Ave. NW. (202) 887-5225

I’m Easily Suede 

Pick up a gift that is warm, trendy, and within your budget at Violet Boutique. 

Faux fur & suede jacket, $105. Violet Boutique. 3289 M St. NW. (202) 621-9225

Roll Up Your Sleeve 

If you have to haul your computer everywhere, do it with style. 

Laptop sleeve, $47. Nubian Hueman. 1231 Good Hope Rd. SE. (202) 394-3386

Tickled Pink 

Artist Bianca Alexis wraps fabric around earrings to create alluring accessories. 

All Things B. Alexis statement earrings, $14. The Den Reading Room & Artist Exchange. 1231 Good Hope Rd. SE, Gallery H. (202) 649-0824


You Will Be Mist 

Think of Happy Spritz as the jack-of-all-trades product to keep in a gym bag. Its purpose is to relax and restore you after a workout. It also contains antimicrobial and anti-fungal elements, so go ahead and spray some on your yoga mat, shoes, and hands. 

Happy Spritz, $25. Summit to Soul. 727 8th St. SE. (202) 450-1832

Push Up, Brah 

Coeur made the sports bra we’ve all been waiting for. Not only does it provide support, it contains inner pockets that will hold a phone, keys, and a credit card. 

Coeur Mixed Tape Sports Bra, $44.99. Summit to Soul. 727 8th St. SE. (202) 450-1832

H2O to Go

Help your cousin ditch plastic by upgrading her to a sleek bottle made out of stainless steel.  

Swell water bottle, $25-$45. Core72. 5502 Connecticut Ave. NW. (202) 686-4258, 3316 Wisconsin Ave. NW. (202) 244-1100

Travel Light 

The cyclist in your life will appreciate these white or red compact USB lights. 

Blackburn USB Lights, $44.99. The Bike Rack. 716 Monroe St. NE. (202) 832-2453, 1412 Q St. NW. (202) 387-2453

There is a Time and Pace for Everyone 

Your crazy friend who runs at 5 a.m. needs support. These unisex socks are designed with tabs to prevent slipping and cushioning for the heels and toes. 

Brooks midweight running socks. $20. Pacers Running

1821 14th St. NW. (202) 506-2029, 300 Tingey St. SE. (202) 554-1216


May All Your Swishes Come True 

This gift is for the basketball fanatic who always wanted to take shots on the sidelines. Give a Capital Photography Center class to a friend who always dreamed of being a sports photographer. 

Hoyas Basketball vs UNC-Greensboro photography class, $325. Capital Photography Center.

(Photo Credit: Mitchell Layton(

Your True Colors 

Direct all of that artistic energy into an eight-session Color Theory class starting in January. Learn about hue, value, and chroma and then apply that knowledge to fun color projects. 

Color Theory class, $225/member or $275 non-member. Smithsonian Associates.

(Photo credit: Smithsonian Staff/Intern)