Tag Archives: Chanukah Presents

The 2018 KFDC Holiday Gift Guide

A holiday fave: Her first Christmas, his fourth (and obviously an unwrapping pro even then)



This annual gift guide is in its fourth year, and while many of the specifics have changed, the overall concepts have not (nor has the above photo that I adore). That’s because I want my recommendations to reflect the spirit of my blog, and these ideas achieve that. (Plus, I think they’re really good suggestions! 😉 ) So just like the last few years, I’m sharing some things I’ve really enjoyed around DC and/or think would make fantastic presents for a variety of people. This also gives me a chance to highlight local businesses offering unique experiences and products as well as organizations that are doing great things. And then there are ideas that are simply fun and enriching and showcase the incredible city that is Washington, DC. None of these recommendations are sponsored; they’re just adventures, places, and products that I truly like and think you and yours might, too. Happy gifting!


Olney Theatre’s Elf the Musical

Hot Tickets
There’s so much great live entertainment both currently running and coming to local stages soon, that would make fantastic presents for kids and adults. KFDC Tip: Before you buy, check for ticket deals, as you may be able to get discounts to some productions. Here are some recommendations for shows running during the holiday season and coming up soon in the new year:
* Elf the Musical at Olney Theatre
* Fancy Nancy’s Splendiferous Christmas at Adventure Theatre
* The Lightning Thief: The Percy Jackson Musical at the Kennedy Center.
* Demetri Martin at Warner Theatre for grown-ups who love great comedy
* School of Rock at National Theatre
* Finding Neverland at National Theatre
* Big Apple Circus at National Harbor
* Monster Jam at Capital One Arena
* The American Pops’ An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly
* Miss Saigon at the Kennedy Center
* The Anthem has tons of great concerts (for adults) coming up


Games galore at Labyrinth

Game On
DC’s best shop for board games and puzzles, hands down, continues to offer so many fantastic options for holiday gifts, so plan on a visit to Labyrinth Game Shop on Capitol Hill. This is one of my go-tos for birthday party presents and always a stop for some shopping this time of year. Since I first wrote about the store when it opened eight years ago, it’s gotten even better, so much that they expanded to a second space next door. They have something for everyone — all ages, every interest. And the service is just as great as the inventory. Give them a few details about who you’re shopping for, and they’ll show you just the right game to buy. I already did some of this year’s holiday shopping there, and they are as consistent as ever.

A robust selection of kids’ reads

Book It
Find presents for everyone at a local bookstore! Combine your shopping trip to Labyrinth with a stop next door at East City Book Shop. Solid State Books on H Street has a great selection of books, plus an adorable children’s section. Kramerbooks in Dupont Circle is a DC institution and always a great place to browse and have a bite at Afterwards Cafe. Politics & Prose, one of the city’s most well known bookstores, reently opened another location near Union Market along with ones at The Wharf and its original Connecticut Avenue shop. You can go secondhand at Walls of Books in Petworth, where the inventory is 99% used books. And Baby Ventures Books, started by two local moms, inspires young children to explore their world early on with wonder and compassion. (And FYI: Just about all of the book stores mentioned have programming for children, so be sure to check for that when you visit their websites or shops!)

A glimpse into Michelle’s world

Memoirs of a First Lady
Last year, Barack Obama was on this list (or at least Pete Souza’s book of images of our 44th President from his tenure as official White House photographer was). This year, it’s Michelle. Her new book Becoming was released last month and has quickly become a bestseller. I’ve only just started reading my copy, but based on what I’ve gotten through so far and after seeing the former First Lady on her book tour, I can’t wait to delve in more. I have a feeling that many, many people would love it as a gift.


A Tinker Crate creation

Deliver Creativity
Kiwi Crate, the monthly activity box subscription, was in our lives for many years, so I know firsthand that it makes for great presents for kids. Hence, I’m endorsing the products once again! They’ve become so popular, that many more kits are now available — the original Kiwi for ages 5-8 comes with all the supplies needed to make an adorable craft. The Tadpole will delight ages 0-2, Koala is for ages 3-5, Atlas for 6-11, Doodle for 9-16+, the Tinker is also for ages 9-16+, and Eureka is for 14-104. They’re great to have on hand for rainy days or anytime kids want a ready-to-go (ie, minimal work for you) project at home.


There’s a huge selection of gifts for all ages at the National Gallery

Enter Through the Museum Gift Shop
We have some pretty amazing museums in our city, and many of their gift shops echo the impressive collections with items that are an extension of their programs. It’s not just prints of paintings you see; you can buy books, puzzles, accessories, games, housewares, and lots of children’s items that are artistic, clever, and innovative. Just about all of the Smithsonian Museums and National Zoo have wonderful gift shops. And I highly recommend browsing the shops at some of the other museums in town: The National Building Museum, International Spy Museum, Phillips Collection, Newseum, and Textile Museum all have unique and interesting inventory.


Soar at iFly

Aaand…Action!
For the people, young and old, in your life who like active thrills and challenges, a gift certificate or season pass for one of these action-packed pursuits is strongly recommended.
* The Adventure Park at Sandy Spring, one of our favorite outdoor places to play, is an exciting aerial forest experience, where adventure-goers navigate ropes courses in the trees, with climbing for kids as young as 5 years old. Check out their gift options for the season, and read more about the adventure in this KFDC post.
* Bad Axe Throwing offers opportunities to — you guessed it! — throw axes at targets. It’s a unique and fun activity that makes for a great tween outing or grown-up evening out. We’ve been for a birthday party, and a good time was had by kids and adults alike. Read more about that experience here.
* Trapeze School New York in DC has classes in flying trapeze, static trapeze, balancing and acrobatics, trampoline, and more. Both of my kids have tried — and loved — the circus-inspired adventure at The Yards in the Capitol Riverfront (and I want to give it a whirl myself)! Read more about it here.
* iFLY Loudoun offers a one-of-a-kind opportunity to experience “flying” without stepping foot in (or out of) an airplane. Meant to simulate skydiving, flights take place in a vertical wind tunnel on a smooth cushion of air created by high-powered fans that enable people to float. It’s quite exhilarating, but also a splurge, making it a special and unique present. Read more about it here.
* Many local ice skating rinks have season passes available for peeps who want to practice their triple lutzes and spins — or just really like to glide around.


Floor-to-ceiling fun at ClimbZone

Insider Info
Along the same lines as the suggestion above, but on a slightly more mild scale in terms of thrill-factor and cost, you can gift those who like physical pursuits with passes to a place that offers opportunities to be active indoors. With winter weather ahead, it’s a present that’s both fun and sensible!
* Flight Trampoline Park is full of bouncy fun
* Kids love scaling the colorful walls at ClimbZone
* ZavaZone has courses to challenge little ninjas
* SportRock Climbing Centers are located in Alexandria and Sterling
* SkyZone also brings the boing with trampoline filled spaces


A couple of wizards at work on their clues

Clued In
Any sleuths on your gift list? If so, solve the mystery of what to get them with Watson Adventures. These scavenger hunts that take place at local museums are as well executed as they are fun and intriguing. There are hunts for adults as well as a Harry Potter themed Wizard School quest for younger ages, too, that has you searching the National Gallery of Art for works that echo the characters, places and enchanted objects in the famed books and movies. A gift certificate to one of these experiences is like a passport to adventure! Read more about it all in this KFDC post.


Hello, Port Discovery? I’d like a membership, please.

Members Only
For children who aren’t quite old enough to climb, fly, or take in a big show, consider a membership to a museum. The National Building Museum offers family memberships for $90/year, getting you all into the Building Zone and most exhibits free of charge (regularly $7-10/person). Port Discovery in Baltimore is another great one with loads of hands-on, curiosity-piquing, educational, fun exhibits that keep kids engaged for hours. Family memberships are just $111.60 (admission is $15.95/person) if you purchase by December 25! And for adults who enjoy performing arts, membership to the Kennedy Center gets them special benefits, including the opportunity to purchase tickets before the general public.


An Artful Afternoon with SEEC

Class Acts
Has your kid expressed interest in a particular activity or sport? Give them a boost by getting them into a class! From soccer to dance to art to music to cooking to theatre, there are all kinds of sessions all around the area providing lessons and guidance that help turn curiosity into mastery and skill — and also offer a fun time. Here are some recommendations for places and programs:
* Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center offers all kinds of workshops for littles.
* Budding actors can learn the performing arts ropes with Adventure Theatre.
* Kids can get cooking with Tiny Chefs.
* Give the gift of music with lessons from Bach to Rock.
* DC Way has soccer and futsal for kids.
* All ages can groove and twirl with CityDance.
* My Gym Bethesda & Potomac have active classes for kids ages 3-10.


Give the gift of Milk Bar cake

Great Taste
You kind of can’t go wrong with the gift of food. I mean, everyone eats, and no matter how old, we all have our favorite bites and places for them. That’s why a gift certificate to a restaurant or treatery (hey, did I just make up a word?) or an edible product from a local establishment will satisfy many a giftee’s appetite or craving. Here are a few ideas to chew on:
* Rose’s Luxury still lives up to the hype
* Milk Bar makes the best Birthday Cake that you can eat anytime
* Ivy City Smokehouse never disappoints
* Sasha is obsessed with The Pretzel Bakery
* Dyllan’s Raw Bar Grill in Georgetown has tasty fare in a great location
* I haven’t been, but keep hearing raves for The Dabney


Hit the Steamboat slopes

Great Escapes
Gift your whole fam with a getaway! There are some great not-too-far places for a weekend jaunt. Great Wolf Lodge caters to families with an indoor waterpark and tons of fun for kids. The Chesapeake Hyatt is popular for its indoor swimming and family-friendly amenities. With water, woods, and mountains, Deep Creek Lake has great outdoor recreation all year round.Wintergreen is a lovely all-seasons resort. For something bigger and farther away, Steamboat in Colorado is a fantastic ski resort for families, and there are often great deals on trips there. You can also just find a great VRBO or Airbnb and get out of town for a few days.


Capture them with this gift

Picture Perfect Presents
How about a gift that includes your whole gang? Present them (and yourself!) with a family portrait session. And like the last couple of years, I am recommending just the right photographer for it. As mentioned in previous gift guides, I have adored Darcy Troutman’s photos forever, mostly on her blog, No Monsters in My Bed. But over the last few years, she has started her own photography business capturing families and weddings, helping people make and preserve memories. Her style is unique and the photos gorgeous, but her real-life, let-the-moment-seize-you approach to her work is what really makes it special. Also, she’s hilarious and sweet and really comfortable to be around, the ideal personality for the job. Plus, her photos will not only capture this time in your lives, they’ll make for great gifts for extended family throughout the year, too.


gift_gtghGifts That Give Hope
How about boxing up hope and happiness? At a Gifts That Give Hope event, you can support the community and find unique and meaningful gifts for loved ones, co-workers, teachers, and holiday hosts. Learn more about 16 locally based nonprofit organizations, while enjoying festive holiday music and refreshments, visits with Santa, face painting, and other children’s activities. The Arlington Fair will take place Saturday, December 8, at Arlington Science Focus School from 10am – 2pm. You can also purchase online after the event.


Lending a hand at DC Diaper Bank

Give…Back
Along the same lines as the above event, you can give to a cause or charity in someone’s name through a donation — the GIVE Page has suggestions on where to contribute, all of them shared by KFDC readers. You can give your time and plan a volunteering outing with your kids and show them the gift of giving back. A bunch of organizations around the area have opportunities for children and parents to help out in a hands-on way together. DC Diaper Bank, Wreaths Across America, DC JCC, and Capital Area Food Bank are some places to check out, and you can find even more in this KFDC post.


Great Falls nature makes for a perfect present

Give Freely
Of course, not all gifts have to come with a hefty price tag. There are so many magical yet still inexpensive experiences to be had in the DC area, some without even spending a dime. You can creatively package them up — perhaps a big, fun card with a photo — and promise a visit. Some suggestions:
* Fossil hunting adventures at Purse State Park or Flag Ponds Nature Park
* Flight fascination at the Udvar-Hazy Center, the Chantilly arm of the Air & Space Museum
* An outing to Riverbend and/or Great Falls Park to enjoy some of the area’s best nature
* A tour of Ford’s Theatre to learn about Abraham Lincoln’s assassination through a museum and performance
* A visit to the Wizard of Oz playground, Old Maryland Farm, and Nature Center at Watkins Regional Park
* The Fairy Lolly and art experiences at Annmarie Sculpture Gardens
* The Washington Youth Garden, Bonsai Museum, and old Capitol Columns at the National Arboretum
* A nature walk among the lily pad laden ponds at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens.
* A day of play at Clemyjontri
* And there are many, many, many more right in our backyard.

* * * * *

*Perhaps the best gift of all is quality time with the people in our lives, so be sure to take advantage of it during the season. The 2018 KFDC Guide to the Holiday Season in DC is full of ideas for doing just that. Happy Holidays!


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Filed under 2018, All ages, Annual, Chanukah, Christmas, DC, Holidays, Maryland, Professional Service, Seasonal, Shop, Virginia, Winter

Inspire Kids to Unplug & Play with Art, Science, & Culture with Surprise Ride!



Getting kids to put down the tablets and phones and actually play is a challenge in this digital age. What if you could inspire them to explore art, science, and culture — and have fun doing it?

Donna and Rosy Khalife wanted to do just that for their nephews one holiday season. They wanted to provide them with a memorable gift that wasn’t a video game. And so Surprise Ride was born.

Learn about planets and the scientific method with the Mars Kit

Surprise Ride delivers hands-on, educational activity kits to kids to help them unplug and create in the real world. For example, Surprise Ride’s Experiment with Mars Sand kit teaches kids about planets and the scientific method through a hands-on science experiment and a Mars book. Their eyes light up when they see the red sand doesn’t absorb water and learn that type of sand is used to clean up oil spills. Other popular kits include the moon model kit, the beeswax candles kit, and the paint a birdhouse kit and learn how birds fly. Parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles love to gift Surprise Ride to spend quality time and create moments of love with the little ones in their life.

Make your own moon model!

Surprise Ride is located right here in Washington, DC, where all the kits are designed by the Director of Product. Founders and sisters, Donna and Rosy were featured on ABC’s Shark Tank, where they left without an investment offer, only to receive one three years later on Shark Tank spinoff, Beyond the Tank, from Kevin O’Leary — a first in Shark Tank history!

Since then, they have expanded beyond their monthly subscription service to offer individual kits and bundles. They also launched in retail, and products now can be found on Michaels.com nationwide.

December 15 is the last day to sign up for a subscription with Surprise Ride and receive your first kit by Christmas! Get free shipping on Free Ship Friday (December 15th) with code: FREESHIP17DC. December 19 is the last day for all other orders.

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Surprise Ride, however, I only promote products, programs, and places, that I genuinely believe in and think will be of interest to KFDC readers.

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Filed under 2017, Chanukah, Christmas, DC, Discount, Educational, Holidays, Product, Professional Service, Shop, Sponsored Post

The 2017 KFDC Holiday Gift Guide

Presents!



As we head into the thick of the season, many of us are still searching for those perfect gifts for family and friends. So just like the last couple of years, I’m going to try and help out with that by sharing some things I’ve really enjoyed and/or think would make fantastic presents for a variety of people. This also gives me a chance to highlight local businesses and people offering unique products and experiences as well as organizations that are doing great things. And then there are some ideas that are simply fun and enriching. You might notice some things are back from previous years, but that’s because they’re worth repeating (like the photo above…an oldie but goody that makes me chuckle every time). None of these recommendations are sponsored; they’re just things that I truly like and think you and yours might, too. Happy gifting!


A Tinker Crate ceation

Deliver Creativity
Kiwi Crate, the monthly activity box subscription, has been in our lives for several years, so I know firsthand that it makes for great presents for kids. In fact, not only do mine get them, we also give them. Hence, I’m endorsing the products once again! A few kits are available — the original Kiwi comes with all the supplies needed to make an adorable craft. The Koala Crate is for ages 3-5, the Doodle Crate for ages 9-16+, and the Tinker Crate also for ages 9-16+. They’re great to have on hand for rainy days or anytime kids want a ready-to-go (ie, minimal work for you) project at home.

Games galore at Labyrinth

Are You Game?
DC’s best shop for board games and puzzles continues to offer so many fantastic options for holiday gifts, so plan on a visit to Labyrinth Game Shop on Capitol Hill. This is one of my go-tos for birthday party presents and always a stop for some shopping this time of year. Since I first wrote about the store when it opened seven years ago, it’s gotten even better. They have something for everyone — all ages, every interest. And the service is just as great as the inventory. Give them a few details about who you’re shopping for, and they’ll show you just the right game to buy.

A robust selection of kids’ reads

Book It
Find presents for everyone at a local bookstore! Combine your shopping trip to Labyrinth with a stop next door at East City Book Shop. The store has an excellent selection of books, plus other fun gifts for children and adults. Politics & Prose, one of the city’s most well known bookstores, just opened a location at The Wharf along with its original Connecticut Avenue shop. Kramerbooks in Dupont Circle is a DC institution and always a great place to browse and have a bite at Afterwards Cafe. You can go secondhand at Walls of Books in Petworth, where the inventory is 99% used books (and there is regular programming for kids)! And Baby Ventures Books, started by two local moms, inspires young children to explore their world early on with wonder and compassion.

Eight years in a book

O Snaps
Obama: An Intimate Portrait is bound to be a big gift this holiday season. The book by Pete Souza, the Chief Official White House Photographer during the Obama administration, beautifully captures those eight years in images that are heartwarming, poignant, powerful, and inspiring with captions to accompany each one, and longer stories to illustrate a few even more. For young readers, Dream Big Dreams is a shorter, but just as inspirational, version especially for them.

Synetic Theatre’s Hansel & Gretel

Hot Tickets
There’s so much great live entertainment both currently running and coming to local stages soon, that would make fantastic presents for kids and adults. KFDC Tip: Before you buy, check for ticket deals, as you may be able to get discounts to some productions. See the round-up of winter entertainment, and here are some recommendations for shows running during the holiday season and coming up soon in the new year:
* Hansel & Gretel at Syentic Theatre
* Frosty the Snowman at Adventure Theatre
* Nina Simone: Four Women at Arena Stage (and any future shows there)
* Mr. Popper’s Penguins at the Kennedy Center.
* The American Pops’ Around the World in 80 Days
* Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood Live at Warner Theatre
* Les Misérables at National Theatre
* Monster Jam at Capital One Arena
* An American in Paris at the Kennedy Center.

There’s a huge selection of gifts for all ages at the National Gallery

Enter Through the Museum Gift Shop
We have some pretty amazing museums in our city, and many of their gift shops echo the impressive collections with items that are an extension of their programs. It’s not just prints of paintings you see; you can buy books, puzzles, accessories, games, housewares, and lots of children’s items that are artistic, clever, and innovative. Just about all of the Smithsonian Museums and National Zoo have wonderful gift shops. And I highly recommend browsing the shops at some of the other museums in town: The National Building Museum, International Spy Museum, and Newseum all have unique and interesting inventory.

Sportin’ shirts that salute DC

Spot of T’s
Wearable gifts are a good idea, especially when they bear inspiring designs. WEErascals has “clothing inspired by heroes,” like T-shirts boasting images of Jane Goodall, Albert Einstein, John Muir as well as shout-out slogans such as “Fierce Like Frida” and “Dreamin’ Like MLK.” You can keep it DC focused with WEE the People T’s that celebrate iconic sites and figures. For adults, I love shirts from SuperLoveTees, not only because they’re supercute, but because they spread a good vibe with positive, uplifting messages.

Urban cowgirl

Ride On
What kid (or adult) doesn’t love a brand new bike? Sure, it might be a biggie when it comes to presents, but in our cycling-friendly town, where it’s often easier — and much more fun — to get around on two wheels than four, the gift of a bicycle is as practical as it is exciting for the giftee. REI is always good place to shop for them — their own lines are solid, plus they carry several other brands — and they often have good sales (just got a great deal there on my new ride). Conte’s is a new shop at The Yards with a nice selection of bikes and good service. You can also try to score a fixed-up find at a local refurbished bike sale on December 9.

A gift of adventure

Aaand…Action!
For the people, young and old, in your life who like active thrills and challenges, a gift certificate or season pass for one of these action-packed pursuits is strongly recommended.
* The Adventure Park at Sandy Spring, one of our favorite outdoor places to play, is an exciting aerial forest experience, where adventure-goers navigate ropes courses in the trees, with climbing for kids as young as 5 years old. Check out their gift options for the season, and read more about the adventure in this KFDC post.
* iFLY Loudoun offers a one-of-a-kind opportunity to experience “flying” without stepping foot in (or out of) an airplane. Meant to simulate skydiving, flights take place in a vertical wind tunnel on a smooth cushion of air created by high-powered fans that enable people to float. It’s quite exhilarating, but also a splurge, making it a special and unique present. Read more about the experience here.
* Trapeze School New York in DC has classes in flying trapeze, static trapeze, balancing and acrobatics, trampoline, and more. Both of my kids have tried — and loved — the circus-inspired adventure at The Yards in the Capitol Riverfront (and I want to give it a whirl myself)!
* Many local ice skating rinks have season passes available for peops who want to practice their triple lutzes and spins — or just really like to glide around.

A couple of wizards at work on their clues

Clued In
Any sleuths on your gift list? If so, solve the mystery of what to get them with Watson Adventures. These scavenger hunts that take place at local museums are as well executed as they are fun and intriguing. There are hunts for adults as well as a Harry Potter themed Wizard School quest for younger ages, too, that has you searching the National Gallery of Art for works that echo the characters, places and enchanted objects in the famed books and movies. A gift certificate to one of these experiences is like a passport to adventure! Read more about it all in this KFDC post.

Hello, Port Discovery? I’d like a membership, please.

Members Only
For children who aren’t quite old enough to climb, fly, or take in a big show, consider a membership to a museum. The National Building Museum offers family memberships for $90/year, getting you all into the Building Zone and most exhibits free of charge (regularly $3-10/person). Port Discovery in Baltimore is another great one with loads of hands-on, curiosity-peaking, educational, fun exhibits that keep kids engaged for hours. Family memberships for the year start at $124 (admission is $15.95/person), and right now they are offering $20 off if you purchase by December 18!

Kids can kick it with DC Way

Class Acts
Has your kid expressed interest in a particular activity or sport? Or maybe your spouse wants to pursue a new hobby or begin a different routine? Give them a boost by getting them into a class! From soccer to sewing to dance to art to yoga to cooking to theatre to music to running, there are all kinds of sessions all around the area offering lessons and guidance that help turn curiosity into mastery and skill. Here are some recommendations for places and programs:
* DC Way has soccer and futsal for kids.
* All ages can get grooving and twirling with CityDance.
* Register really little ones for classes at Gymboree Play & Music DC
* Three Little Birds Sewing Co. and Sew Creative Lounge offer sewing classes for children and adults.
* My Gym Bethesda & Potomac have active classes for kids ages 3-10
* Budding actors can learn the performing arts ropes with Adventure Theatre.
* Check out Gabriella Boston’s Boot Camp for Capitol Hill adults who want a great workout (and like early morning fitness).
* Runners of all levels can make strides with Kathy Pugh Running.
* Activity Rocket and Course Horse are great websites to find even more classes for all ages and interests.

A Shenandoah farm getaway

Great Escapes
Gift your whole fam with a getaway! There are plenty of great not-too-far places for a family weekend jaunt. Great Wolf Lodge caters to families with an indoor waterpark and tons of fun for kids. The Chesapeake Hyatt is popular for its indoor swimming and family-friendly amenities. Wintergreen is a lovely all-season resort. Or find a great VRBO or Airbnb and get out of town for a few days — we loooved this Shenandoah Farm where we stayed in the spring.

gift_gtghGifts That Give Hope
How about boxing up hope and happiness? At a Gifts That Give Hope event, you can support the community and find unique and meaningful gifts for loved ones, co-workers, teachers, and holiday hosts. Learn more about 16 locally based nonprofit organizations, while enjoying festive holiday music and refreshments, visits with Santa, face painting, and other children’s activities. The Arlington Fair will take place Saturday, December 9, at Discovery Elementary School from 10am – 2pm. You can also purchase online after the event.

Lending a hand at DC Diaper Bank

Give…Back
Along the same lines as the above event, you can give to a cause or charity in someone’s name through a donation — the GIVE Page has suggestions on where to contribute, all of them shared by KFDC readers. You can give your time and plan a volunteering outing with your kids and show them the gift of giving back. A bunch of organizations around the area have opportunities for children and parents help out in a hands-on way together. DC Diaper Bank, Wreaths Across America, DC JCC, and Capital Area Food Bank are some places to check out, and you can find even more in this KFDC post.

Design guru

Design Time
If there’s someone in your life who wants a facelift for their home, but needs some guidance going about it, gift them the help of an expert. Margaret Carroll is an architect and design consultant extraordinaire and, full disclosure, also a really great friend of mine. But that just means I know first hand that she has a keen eye for style and the sharpest aesthetic of anyone I know, from the perfectly picked tile in her (former) bathroom to the amazing booties on her feet. She’s actually in the midst of a tear-down/rebuild of her own house and is blogging about the process, so you can follow along as she documents the journey — and see that she’s as charming and funny as she is talented.

Capture them with this gift

Capture them with this gift

Picture Perfect Presents
How about a gift that includes your whole gang? Present them (and yourself!) with a family portrait session. And like last year, I am recommending just the right photographer for it. As mentioned in the 2016 Gift Guide, I have adored Darcy Troutman’s photos forever, mostly on her blog, No Monsters in My Bed. But over the last few years, she has started her own photography business capturing families and weddings, helping people make and preserve memories. Her style is unique and the photos gorgeous, but her approach to her work is what really makes it special. Also, she’s funny and sweet and really comfortable to be around, the ideal personality for the job. Plus, her photos will not only capture this time in your lives, they’ll make for great gifts for extended family throughout the year, too.

Cover to cover inspiration

Cover to cover inspiration

Banish Boredom
This book, written by DC mom and blogger Rebecca Green of Not-So-SAHM, is a bible of fun, educational, and just really awesome ideas for crafts, science projects, outings, and other activities with kids. And, as its title states, parents will enjoy them just as much as their babes. Banish Boredom: Activities to Do with Kids That You’ll Actually Enjoy has a wealth of ideas and tons of good tips for getting kiddos engaged in all kinds of interesting and really fun ways. It’s perfect for parents who like DIY pursuits, but sometimes need a little extra inspiration.

Math games compared

Toy Tips
You can take some of the stress out of holiday shopping for kids by getting recs from someone who has already shopped and compared. Red Jellies, an online resource founded by DC mom Kimberly Stephens, is a fully independent review service that helps you discover the very best books and toys on the market. They scour major toy conventions and test loads of products so you don’t have to. Not only can get good gift ideas, you can focus more on the joy of the holidays.

It’s free to see residents of the Rock Creek Horse Center

Give Freely
Of course, not all gifts have to come with a hefty price tag. There are so many magical yet still inexpensive experiences to be had in the DC area, some without even spending a dime. You can creatively package them up — perhaps a big, fun card with a photo — and promise a visit. Some suggestions:
* A visit to the Wizard of Oz playground, Old Maryland Farm, and Nature Center at Watkins Regional Park
* Fossil hunting adventures at Purse State Park or Flag Ponds Nature Park
* Flight fascination at the Udvar-Hazy Center, the Chantilly arm of the Air & Space Museum
* A tour of Ford’s Theatre to learn about Abraham Lincoln’s assassination through a museum and performance
* A day at Rock Creek Park to visit the horses, Nature Center, Peirce Mill, and enjoy a hike
* The Washington Youth Garden, Bonsai Museum, and old Capitol Columns at the National Arboretum
* The Fairy Lolly and art experiences at Annmarie Sculpture Gardens
* A nature walk among the lily pad laden ponds at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens.
* A day of play at Clemyjontri
* And there are many, many, many more right in our backyard.

Happy Holidays!

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Filed under 2017, 2018, All ages, Chanukah, Charity, Christmas, DC, Free, Holidays, Professional Service, Seasonal, Shop, Winter

The 2016 KFDC Holiday Gift Guide

Presents!

Presents!


As the holiday season hits full swing, many of us are thinking about gifts for family and friends. So just like last year, I’m taking the opportunity to share some things I’ve really enjoyed and/or think would make wonderful presents for a variety of people. This also gives me a chance to highlight local businesses and people offering unique products and experiences as well as organizations that are doing great things. And then there are some ideas that are simply fun and enriching. You might notice some things are back from last year, but that’s because they’re worth repeating (kind of like the photo above). None of these recommendations are sponsored; they’re just things that I truly like and think you and yours might, too. Happy gifting!

Made by Sasha: Glowing space mobile

Made by Sasha: Glowing space mobile

Tinker, Create, and Innovate
Just when I thought my kids were moving on from Kiwi Crate after several years of receiving the monthly craft box subscription, they have assured me they still love it, recently delving into projects like a glowing space mobile and groovy lava lamp. Hence, I’m endorsing the products with fervor once again. The original kit comes with all the supplies needed to make an adorable craft. There is also the Koala Crate for ages 3-5, the Doodle Crate for ages 9-16+, and the Tinker Crate also for ages 9-16+. Sasha still enjoys the Kiwi, while Owen likes Tinker-ing away. They’re great to have on hand for rainy days or anytime kids want a ready-to-go (ie, minimal work for you) project at home.

An activity bag ready for delivery

An activity bag ready for delivery

Craft and Give Back
Similar to Kiwi Crate, but with a philanthropic twist, Little Loving Hands provides pre-packaged children’s craft kits where the end product is used to contribute towards supporting a philanthropic cause. The company’s mission is to provide a fun and educational method for parents and caretakers to engage children in learning about the importance of being kind and giving back to others. Each kit contains materials for the project, as well as documents and other fun items to reinforce what the children are working on and how they are helping others. One Sasha worked on was a sweet little activity bag that was sent to a patient at the Children’s Inn at NIH.

Cover to cover inspiration

Cover to cover inspiration

Banish Boredom
This book is a bible of fun, educational, and just really awesome ideas for crafts, science projects, outings, and other activities with kids. And, as its title states, parents will enjoy them just as much as their babes. Banish Boredom: Activities to Do with Kids That You’ll Actually Enjoy is written by my friend Rebecca of the fantastic blog Not-So-SAHM, so I can assure you all of these ideas come from a cool, creative, smart, fun source. (Really, after reading her book and blog, you’ll want to hang out with her and her kids, too!) With a wealth of ideas and tons of good tips, it’s perfect for parents who like DIY pursuits, but sometimes need a little extra inspiration.


Currently on stage at Sidney Harman Hall

Currently on stage at Sidney Harman Hall

Hot Tickets
There’s so much great live entertainment both currently running and coming to local stages soon, that would make fantastic presents for kids and adults. A few shows to consider this season are The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe at Adventure Theatre; Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas at the National Theatre; The Secret Garden by Shakespeare Theatre Company; Disney’s Beauty and the Beast at Imagination Stage; Carousel and Moby Dick at Arena Stage; and Into the Woods at the Kennedy Center. And coming up next year: A National Symphony Orchestra concert especially for children, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood at Lisner Auditorium, Monster Jam at the Verizon Center, or The Harlem Globetrotters at EagleBank Arena.

A super fly gift

A super fly gift

Take Flight
For kids and adults who like thrilling adventures, consider a gift certificate to iFLY Loudoun. This opportunity to experience “flying” without stepping foot in (or out of) an airplane is fairly new to the area — and guaranteed to make any thrill seeker’s day. Meant to simulate skydiving, flights take place in a vertical wind tunnel on a smooth cushion of air created by high-powered fans that enable people to float. It’s incredibly exhilarating, but also a splurge, making it a special and unique present. Read more about the experience here.

Hello, Port Discovery?  I'd like a membership, please.

Hello, Port Discovery? I’d like a membership, please.

Members Only
For children who aren’t quite old enough to fly or take in a big show, consider a membership to a museum. The National Building Museum offers family memberships for $90/year, getting you all into the Building Zone and most exhibits free of charge (regularly $3-10/person). Port Discovery in Baltimore is another great one with loads of hands-on, curiosity-peaking, educational, fun exhibits that keep kids engaged for hours. Family memberships for the year start at $114 (admission is $14.95/person), and right now they are offering 10% off if you purchase by December 31!

Get your game on at Labyrinth

Get your game on at Labyrinth

Game Time
DC’s best shop for board games and puzzles recently expanded, so they have even more fantastic options for holiday gifts at Labyrinth Game Shop on Capitol Hill. This is one of my go-tos for birthday party presents and always a stop for some shopping this time of year. Since I first wrote about the store when it opened six years ago, it’s gotten even better. They have something for everyone — all ages, every interest. And the service is just as great as the inventory. Give them a few details about who you’re shopping for, and they’ll show you just the right game to buy.

A robust selection of kids' reads

A robust selection of kids’ reads

Book It
Combine your shopping trip to Labyrinth with a stop next door at East City Book Shop, one of the newest retail establishments to open on Capitol Hill, and a really great one, at that. The store doesn’t just have an excellent selection of books from all genres, you’ll also find gifts for children and adults, some of the cutest and most clever greeting cards, and friendly service from staff who will also offer good recommendations if you’re stumped on what to get. You may also end up making plans to return to one of their events — they host weekly story time for kids, book discussions, author readings, and more.

Capture them with this gift

Capture them with this gift

Picture Perfect Presents
How about a gift that includes your whole gang? Present them (and yourself!) with a family portrait session — I know just the right photographer for it. I have adored Darcy Troutman’s photos forever, mostly on her blog No Monsters in My Bed. But over the last couple of years, she has started her own photography business capturing families and weddings, helping people make and preserve memories. Her style is unique and the photos gorgeous, but her approach to her work is what really makes it special. Also, she’s funny and sweet and really comfortable to be around, the ideal personality for the job. Plus, her photos will not only capture this time in your lives, they’ll make for great gifts for extended family throughout the year, too.

DC Kid

DC Kid

T’s That Salute DC
If you’re looking for a fun “DC” gift, check out Sneekis. I discovered this local T-shirt company that specializes in DC-themed wear through Instagram last year. Their clever designs incorporate local sports and recreation, plus a zeal for the District that giftees can proudly boast across their chests. Since then, they’ve also started making T’s in children’s sizes, so tiny Washingtonians can represent, too! Read more about them here.

Out of the mouths of babes

Out of the mouths of babes

T’s with ‘Tude
Recently launched by the fabulous Shannon who writes But I Do Have a Law Degree, Kidsults is an online store of t-shirts, onesies, and other products featuring her kids’ best (hilarious!) insults. “Your hugs are boring,” “I will never forgive you, even when you’re dead,” “I didn’t like you when I was a baby,” are just a few of the zingers printed on a variety of items. Perfect for parents and kids with a great sense of humor — just like Shannon. If you check out the Kidsults website, you’ll see exactly what I mean.

Love my LuLaRoe dress

Love my LuLaRoe dress

Clothes for Comfort
You’ve probably heard by now about the LuLaRoe clothing line for women and children, as online boutiques have been popping up all over social media. I was recently introduced to it by local seller Jill O’Hanlon and now understand what the hype is all about. The clothes are incredibly comfortable — and really cute, too. There are dresses, t-shirts, tunics, cardigans, and you can mix and match many of them. But the leggings, which are super soft and in all kinds of fun prints and colors, are their signature piece and would make great stocking stuffers. The kids clothes are also adorable and comfy, and the prices are reasonable, too! Join Jill’s Facebook group to start shopping.

gift_gtghGifts That Give Hope
How about boxing up hope and happiness? At a Gifts That Give Hope event, you can support the community and find unique and meaningful gifts for loved ones, co-workers, teachers, and holiday hosts. Learn more about 16 locally based nonprofit organizations, while enjoying festive holiday music and refreshments, visits with Santa, face painting, and other children’s activities. The Arlington Fair will take place Saturday, December 10, at Discovery Elementary School from 10am – 2pm. You can also purchase online.

A trove of international treasures

A trove of international treasures

Global Gifts
Help support people in developing countries while you shop for fabulous, unique, hand crafted gifts, all brought to you with fair trade practices. This is what you can expect at Trade Roots in Arlington. I visited the store for the first time a couple of months ago and was so impressed by both the amazing selection — jewelry, accessories, art, house wares, neat items for children — and values on which the shop operates. As owner Lisa Ostroff explains on her website, “Fair trade respects and appreciates hardworking people, provides a living wage for marginalized populations, supports the conservation of the environment, and empowers women and minorities.” These are gifts that go a long way…all around the world.

Gifts for all ages at the National Gallery

Gifts for all ages at the National Gallery

Enter Through the Museum Gift Shop
We have some pretty amazing museums in our city, and many of their gift shops echo the impressive collections and have items that are an extension of their programs. It’s not just prints of paintings you see; you can buy books, puzzles, accessories, games, housewares, and lots of children’s items that are artistic, clever, and innovative. For instance, Smithsonian’s Spark!Lab Kit is available at the National Museum of American History — and a great time to purchase it is this weekend, December 3 & 4, at the annual Smithsonian Holiday Festival. And I highly recommend browsing shops at some of the other museums in town: The National Building Museum, International Spy Museum, and Newseum all have particularly great inventory.

Clay creations

Clay creations

One-of-a-Kind Ceramics
I was introduced to artist Kate Hardy and her beautiful pottery when she was throwing bowls (that’s making them on the wheel, not smashing them, in potter speak) at Steadfast Supply to donate to SOME’s Empty Bowl Fundraiser. Her ceramic mugs, vases, and bowls are also showcased and for sale at the pop-up space at The Yards. I didn’t buy anything then, but have had her work in mind for gifts since. Luckily, I’ll get to shop an even bigger selection when she hosts an Open Studio and Sale this Saturday, December 17, 11am – 4pm in the alley right off of 7th and H Streets NE. You can also check out her work on Instagram and purchase online through Etsy.

Free to be at the Arboretum

Free to be at the Arboretum

Give Freely
Of course, not all gifts have to come with a hefty price tag. There are so many magical yet still inexpensive experiences to be had in the DC area, some without even spending a dime. You can creatively package them up — perhaps a big, fun card with a photo — and promise a visit. Some suggestions: The new and phenomenal National Museum of African American History & Culture; the Washington Youth Garden, Bonsai Museum, and old Capitol Columns at the National Arboretum; the recently reopened East Building of the National Gallery of Art; the Fairy Lolly and art experiences at Annmarie Sculpture Gardens; the Wizard of Oz playground at Watkins Regional Park; a trip through history at Fort Washington; a nature walk among the lily pad laden ponds at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens. And there are many, many, many more right in our backyard.

Happy Holidays!


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