Tag Archives: Experiential Gifts

The 2019 KFDC Holiday Gift Guide

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


If you’ve been reading KFDC awhile, this gift guide may look familiar — and that’s intentional. In it’s fifth year, the general suggestions haven’t changed very much (nor has the above photo that I adore). The specifics have been updated, but the overall concepts remain consistent over the years. That’s because I want my recommendations to reflect the spirit of my blog — and these ideas do just that. (Plus, I think they’re really good suggestions! 😉 )

So just like the last several 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 experiences, places, adventures, and products that I truly like and think you and yours might, too. Happy gifting!

Olney Theatre’s “Singin’ in the Rain”

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 here and here, 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 2020:
* Singin’ in the Rain at Olney Theatre
* The Velveteen Rabbit at Adventure Theatre
* Peter Pan and Wendy by Shakespeare Theatre Company
* Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! (The Musical!) at the Kennedy Center
* Come From Away at the Kennedy Center
* Phantom of the Opera at Synetic Theater
* A Thousand Splendid Suns at Arena Stage (adult pick)
* Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory at National Theatre
* The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe at Imagination Stage
* Drumming with Dishes at the Atlas Perfroming Arts Center
* Much Ado About Nothing by Shakespeare Theatre Company
* Tiny Beautiful Things at the Kennedy Center (adult pick)
* Monster Jam at Capitol One Arena
* Ali Wong at Warner Theatre (adult pick)
* Baby Shark Live! at National Theatre
* The 9:30 Club is legendary and welcomes all ages to most shows
* The Anthem has a great line-up of concerts
* For more holiday season shows, look here
* You can also give a gift certificate to one of the venues mentioned above

Rendering of The Lane, opening in DC this winter

Members Only
Membership really does have its benefits! And it makes for a wonderful gift, too, for those who have favorite places they frequent often. One that is certain to be a huge hit, The Lane is a social club for families opening in Ivy City this winter. In Rockville, MD, Badlands Playspace has several membership options. The National Building Museum offers family memberships for $90/year, getting you all into 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 start at $140 for up to four people. 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.

A trove of games an puzzles 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 nine 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. Even better, there’s always a fun, friendly vibe in the store, plus the service is just as great as the inventory. All of the staff are very knowledgeable about what they sell — give them a few details about who you’re shopping for, and they’ll show you just the right game or puzzle to buy.

A robust selection of kids’ reads

Book It
Find presents for everyone at a local independent 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 has locations at Union Market, The Wharf, and its original Connecticut Avenue shop. You can go secondhand at Capitol Hill Books, a legendary used bookshop or Walls of Books in Petworth, where the inventory is 99% used. (And FYI: Just about all of the bookstores mentioned have programming for children, so be sure to check for that when you visit their websites or shops!)

A gift that cooks will savor

Nothing Fancy
Here’s something to look for when you shop at the above bookstores…. I’ve been obsessed with Alison Roman’s recipes for nearly a year now. She contributes to the New York Times Cooking section, and every single one of her dishes that I have made has been absolutely delectable, if I do say so myself. Levi and the kids agree on that, so they bought me her new cookbook, Nothing Fancy, for my birthday (a present they’ll get to enjoy in a way, too). If there’s someone in your life who loves to cook, isn’t terribly obsessed with calories, and really enjoys making food for others, this book is for them.


A Tinker Crate creation

Deliver Creativity
KiwiCo, the monthly activity box subscription service, 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 Panda will delight ages 0-2, Koala is for ages 2-4, Atlas for 6-11, Doodle and Tinker for 9-16+, and the Maker Crate and Eureka Crates are for everyone from 14-104. They’re great to have on hand for rainy days or anytime kids (or adults!) want a ready-to-go (ie, minimal work for you) project at home.


Nats fan gift? Done.

Winning Gifts
After the amazing World Series Championship win by the Nats, the gift of sports is a must for this guide (and, honestly, I should have included it years ago). It’s not just baseball that makes a great present, all of our local sports teams (pro and college) have experiences (ie, games) and merch that fans will cheer about when they receive them. Here are links for all of them, and note that some are offering special holiday packages, too!
* Washington Nationals
* DC United
* Washington Spirit
* Washington Capitals
* Washington Mystics
* Washington Wizards
* Washington Redskins
* Maryland Terrapins
* Georgetown Hoyas
* George Washington University Colonials
* Howard Bison
* American University Eagles
* George Mason Patriots

The Spy Museum gift shop is full of intriguing inventory

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, gadgets, 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 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.
* 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.
* 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.


American Ninja Warrior in training at The St. James

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!
* The St. James has Super, Awesome, & Amazing fun at its activity center and indoor waterpark
* 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
* For more mellow adventures at museums, Family Trip Guides is offering a holiday museum kit with guides to several Smithonians, plus a few fun extras for kids


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.


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 few 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.


Act up with Adventure Theatre

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 STEM to dance to art to music 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:
* Girls who like STEM will enjoy a workshop with Boolean Girl
* Budding actors can learn the performing arts ropes with Adventure Theatre.
* DC Way has soccer and futsal for kids.
* All ages can groove and twirl with CityDance.
* Get kiddos moving with a few session at MOCO Movement Center
* Give the gift of music with lessons from Bach to Rock (get a deal, too!)
* City Sing and Play has Music Together classes for littles
* How about a class for adults? I recently joined and loved a cooking class at the Hill Center on Capitol Hill — and some are appropriate for older kids, too!


Sasha’s Pretzel Bakery birthday “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:
* The Pretzel Bakery is our local go-to for savory and sweet treats
* If someone on your gift list loves sushi, they need to go to O-Ku
* There has been tons of buzz about the newly opened Emilies
* Who doesn’t like pizza? All Purpose Pizzeria is delish, very family-friendly, and offering holiday gift cards
* Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken has holiday-inspired doughnuts — for Hanukah and Christmas
* A reminder about Trader Joes giant chocolate bars, tins of peppermint bark, and other gifty items seems like a good idea


Time trip at Colonial Williamsburg

Great Escapes
Gift your whole fam with a getaway! There are some great not-too-far places to go for a weekend jaunt. Colonial Williamsburg makes for a fantastic family escape. 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. You can also just find a great vacation rental and get out of town for a few days.


Give to a cause as a gift

Gifts 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 while you learn more about 16 locally based nonprofit organizations. Kids can shop at the Children’s Fair for $5 items from the nonprofits and decorate cards for loved ones to send along with their gifts of kindness. They can also enjoy snacks, coloring, music and activities during the fair while you shop, including interactive demos by Coder Kids and hands-on cooking provided by Tiny Chefs. The Arlington Fair will take place Saturday, December 7, at Arlington Science Focus School from 10am – 2pm.


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.


Online wish lists help with meaningful gifting

Wishful Gifting
This suggestion is more on the receiving than the giving end of gifting, but a great idea to help family and friends give gifts that won’t go to waste. Fig & Wally is an online invitation and gift registry site that allows you to post your child’s Wish List, which can include toys, family experiences, classes, vacations, charities, even college savings. There’s no worry about duplicating gifts because your friends and family won’t buy them directly; they click to send you the amount for the gift to your PayPal account. Then, you can decide which items from the list to purchase. It’s a convenient way to streamline giving and, dare I say, make re-gifting unnecessary.

A visit to the Monument is special, free, and so very DC

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
* A viewing session from the observation deck of the recently reopened Washington Monument
* 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 geocaching adventure at Congressional Cemetery (yep, the cemetery!)
* 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 trip to the National Zoo to see the animals
* 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 2019 KFDC Guide to the Holiday Season in DC is full of ideas for doing just that. Happy Holidays!


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Filed under 2019, All ages, Annual, Chanukah, Christmas, DC, Holidays, Professional Service, Seasonal, Shop

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!


1 Comment

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

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