Imagination Stage has been a beloved and trusted theatre for 43 years! Their fall classes provide an ideal setting for nurturing creativity, exploring the arts, and making new friends and great memories. Registration is now open for 6- and 10-week classes as well as one-day workshops in acting, musical theatre, performance, dance, and filmmaking for ages 1-18. They are conveniently located in Bethesda, just minutes from the Metro.
The skilled and fun-loving teaching artists are dedicated to the Imagination Stage mission of empowering all young people to discover their voice and identity through the performing arts. Financial aid is available.
Plan ahead for a perfect Mother’s Day gift! Master Silhouette Artist Karl Johnson is once again hosting hand cut portrait sessions just for KidFriendly DC readers — timed to be ready for moms’ big day. On Monday, March 28, and Wednesday, March 30, from 12-7pm EST, he will be creating silhouette portraits virtually via Zoom by appointment. Each one takes about 10 minutes, and all ages are welcome — even the youngest, squirmiest ones!
Sign up here, and be sure to reserve a time slot for each child. (Note that they are listed as Pacific Time, so be sure to add three hours for EST when you put it on your calendar.) Silhouettes are $35, and duplicates and frames are also available. Portraits will be shipped for free well in time for Mother’s Day — but, of course, they make sweet gifts for many occasions.
Silver Knights has been teaching chess to kids at hundredsof schools in the DC area since 2009, instructing thousands of students on the game every week. For the last few years, they’ve also been doing an online chess club for kids, and they are currently offering a great way to get started.
Between now and Cyber Monday, November 29: Use the coupon code “cyber” when you buy one month, and get the second month free!
How does an online chess club for kids work? Read on to find out!
1. New students start with a quick assessment to figure out what level classes they should take, from Pawns (how do you play chess?) to Kings (some of the best kids in the state for their age).
Classes are offered 25 times a week before school, after school, and on Saturdays, so that you’ll definitely be able to find good (and flexible) times that work for your family. Experienced coaches keep the classes engaging, approachable, and fun for the students.
3. Join as many extras — like online tournaments (Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays) and broadcast lessons (weekdays) — as you want.
4. Occasional events like tournaments with clubs from other countries, and guests like Anish Giri (picture below, the #7 player in the world and very fun!) on Wednesday, November 24, or Judit Polgar (best female chess player ever).
Winter is a perfect time to start chess, and this Cyber Monday sale is a great way to do it (think holiday gift)! A few more things to know:
Cost is $79/month.
The club is month-to-month with no long term commitment.
Start anytime and stop any time.
If you join the club, and for whatever reason it’s not the right fit, cancel in your first two weeks for a full refund.
Sign up here — and remember to use the coupon code “cyber” for your second month free!
A holiday photo fave: Her first Christmas, his fourth (and obviously an unwrapping pro even then)
If you’ve been reading KFDC awhile, this gift guide — including this very intro — may look familiar. And that’s intentional. In its seventh year, the general suggestions haven’t changed very much (nor has the above photo that I adore). While the specifics have been updated, the overall concepts have remained consistent over the years. That’s because I want my recommendations to reflect the spirit of my blog — of adventure, discovery, local culture, and family time — and these ideas do just that. (Plus, I think they’re really good suggestions! 😉 )
So just like the last many years, I’m sharing some things our family has 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 people and organizations that are doing great things. And then there are ideas that are simply fun and enriching and showcase the incredible, dynamic 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!
Entertain the gift idea of tickets to a stellar show
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 as you may be able to get discounts to some productions (I’ve noted some, but more deals may come up). Here are recommendations for shows coming up soon and even a few running during the holiday season.
From action-packed activities to more mellow pursuits, there’s a perfect adventure for everyone. And there are many around the DC area that would be ideal as holiday presents. A gift card for one could be a small stocking stuffer with a big, happy impact.
* 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. They are having a Holiday Sale on November 19. In the meantime, read more about the adventure in this KFDC post. * Many local ice skating rinks have season passes available for peeps who want to practice their triple lutzes and spins — or just like to glide around. *Ski season is starting, and White Tail is an easy-from-DC place to go for downhill fun. Read more about it and find links for other regional ski resorts here. *Trapeze School New York in DC has classes in flying trapeze, static trapeze, balancing and acrobatics, trampoline, and more. Read more about it here. *iFLY Loudoun offers a one-of-a-kind opportunity to experience sky diving without stepping foot in (or out of) an airplane. Read more about it here. (Post is about my experience, but my kids have done it, too!) * Plan for a paddling excursion when it’s back in season — 2022 passes are available for many locales. *The St. James has Super, Awesome, & Amazing fun at its activity center and indoor waterpark. * Kids love scaling the colorful walls at ClimbZone. *TopGolf, with area locations at National Harbor and Germantown, is a fun place to practice driving balls from their hitting bays. * Exhibits at ARTECHOUSE are unique, immersive, and fun to experience. See the latest one here. * There are many awesome attractions in Baltimore that would be great to gift. * The Calvert Marine Museum is an interesting non-DC museum to check out. * A sightseeing boat tour is a cool way to get a new view of DC — and have some fun on the water. * Many holiday light displays continue into January.
Become an insider at the National Children’s Museum
Membership really does have its benefits! You can first dibs on tickets to events and shows, exclusive access to special offerings, and/or free admission to places, perfect for those who have favorite spots they frequent often. Here are some local attractions with membership options that would make for excellent gifts:
* At the National Children’s Museum, get a year of free admission, invites to special programs, members-only hours, & 10% off in the gift shop. (Starts at $190) Read more about the museum and get a glimpse here. *The Lane Social Club for families in Ivy City offers unlimited visits, 10% off cafe purchases, and access to members-only events. (Starts at $95/month) * Sign kids up for their favorite sports team fan club that offers all kinds of fun benefits, for low cost or even free. A few of our local pro sports team have them: Nats, Spirit, Wizards, Caps *National Building Museum memberships get you all into exhibits and some programs free of charge, members-only birthday parties, advanced camp registration, preview invites, and more. (Starts at for $90/year for families). * For adults who enjoy performing arts, the Kennedy Centergets them ticket priority, special event invites, and discounts on parking, dining, and the gift shop. (Starts at $75/year)
KEEP IT CLASSY
Dance your way into their hearts by gifting lessons they’ll love
Has your child expressed interest in a particular activity? Give them a boost by getting them into a class! Here are some recommendations.
The gift of sports is no-brainer for those who love them. 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!
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’m recommending just the right photographer for it. As mentioned in previous gift guides, I have adored Darcy Troutman’s photos forever, starting with her former blog, No Monsters in My Bed. But over the last several years, she’s launched 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.
Give design guidance from a guru
If there’s someone in your life who wants a update to 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, 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 bathrooms (and in mine!) to the pretty booties on her feet. She actually did a tear-down/rebuild of her own house, and you can take a virtual tour of it here.
The best fire pit, cozy blankets, and more gifts of comfort (a puppy would be cool, too!)
These ideas are a divergence from the rest, as they are inspired by last year’s guide when Covid prompted a pivot from my usual gifting theme. But while not necessarily DC-centric, many of these will help enjoy area adventures — and a few others will help enhance time at home.
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:
*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 2021 KFDC Guide to the Holiday Season in DC is full of ideas for doing just that. Happy Holidays!
Just in time for the holiday season, master Silhouette Artist Karl Johnson will be creating hand cut silhouette portraits just for KidFriendly DC readers! The event will take place virtually by appointment via Zoom on Friday, November 12, and Saturday, November 13. Each session takes about 10 minutes, and all ages are welcome, even the squirmiest ones!
Sign up here and be sure to reserve a time slot for each child (note that appointments are listed in Pacific Time, so convert for EST, three hours later, for you). Silhouettes are $35, and duplicates and frames are also available. Portraits will be shipped for free in time for the holidays, but they make for wonderful gifts for all kinds of occasions. This event sold out quickly when we hosted it in the spring, so snag your spots soon!