From Melanie Hudson. Email her at melanie[AT]borderstan.com.
What? What’s that you say? It’s December 17 and you forgot about Christmas? Only a fellow procrastinator like me would understand your dilemma – so, relax, Borderstanis, I’ve got you covered.
This year, trade in the airport-gift-shop snow globes and tacky flea market pashminas for gifts with legs: these gift ideas double as outings and are as unique as they are fun. You’ll get credit for thinking of your friends and family, as well as for organizing something better than the office holiday party cruise on the Potomac.
- For your clever (and discreet) assistant: Take him/her to cozy Tabard Inn (1739 N Street NW) for classic cocktails by the fire and bond over something more interesting than spreadsheets and to-do lists. While it’s not the newest or trendiest choice around, there is good reason it’s as busy now as it ever was. Order the mulled cider, a Sazerac, or one of the expert bartenders’ crafty concoctions perfectly suited to this festive time of year, and confess where you really were that one day you called in “sick.” This ought to make the office a lot more fun.
- For your long-distance sweetheart visiting on New Year’s Eve: The overwhelming pressure to entertain an out-of-town guest is only slightly less stifling than the immense burden to “have fun” on New Year’s Eve. Conquer both with one click and head to the 9:30 Club (815 V Street NW): on December 31, you can see the very popular alt-rock-country band Drive-By Truckers with special guest and Bonaroo favorite North Mississippi Allstars. After an evening of singing and dancing with your fellow plaid shirt wearing fans – plus a champagne toast at midnight – your honey-dear will want to stick around well into the new year.
- For your best friend with kids who never spoils herself anymore: Organize a day out for a woman who really needs it – whether she will admit it or not. Take an afternoon shopping tour of Borderstan, either for last-minute gifts (if she is a procrastinator like you!) or to take advantage of post-Christmas sales, that doubles as quality best friend time. There are so many routes to choose from, all lined with home goods, clothing, baby, furniture, paper, food and pet shops galore: 14th Street NW from Thomas Circle to U Street; U Street NW from 9th to 18th Streets; or Connecticut Avenue NW from K Street to Florida Avenue. It will be her favorite gift all year.
- For your parents (you know, the people you generally take for granted the other 11 months of the year): Something about the festive atmosphere of a French bistro reminds us of the holidays. This year, get out of the house and pretend you’re in Paris with a Christmas Eve meal at Bistro La Bonne (1340 U Street NW) – your treat. On December 24 they will be open from noon until 10 p.m. and are offering a special three-course holiday meal in addition to their regular menu classics like steak frites, cassoulet and mussels. Further impress your family by making a reservation and have Champagne waiting at the table. It’s only once a year you can realistically keep this up, so you might as well make it good.
- For your neighbors who have the dubious honor of holding your spare key: Say thank you for all those times you locked yourself out or left the iron plugged in or forgot to feed your cat. Take your neighbors’ annual holiday party to the next level and have a half case (or more) of wine or several bottles of spirits delivered straight to their door via 1 West Dupont Circle Wine and Liquor (2012 P Street NW). This huge bottle shop just off Dupont Circle at P Street will deliver for free, and even bring ice which is always the first thing to go. With this generosity, your neighbors will become your friends – and be more likely to overlook the fact you stayed at their party perhaps one drink too long.
And if none of these ideas suit you, it’s always a good idea to give to your favorite local nonprofit in honor of someone you love; most nonprofits will send a card to the honoree acknowledging your gift in their name. It’s a generous way to let someone know you’re thinking of them during this annual season of giving.
When making your list and checking it twice this season, be sure to keep local businesses in mind. Shopping local stores not only supports fellow neighbors and store owners, it also keeps money in DC’s local economy.
Think Local First, a DC-based nonprofit dedicated to growing a sustainable local economy, is encouraging residents to think outside of the (big) box (stores) when selecting gifts. To help shoppers, the organization took all the guess work out of “where to find what” with their Shop Local Gift Guide.
The free-to-download guide includes everything from home decor, to tools, gym memberships, art and pet gifts, and offers ideas for stocking stuffers, office gift swaps, gifts for kids, gifts for parents and the perfect gifts for “him” and “her.”
Local Borderstan Stores in the Guide
- Logan Hardware (1416 P Street NW)
- Foundry (1522 U Street NW)
- Pleasant Plains Workshop (2608 Georgia Avenue NW)
- Riptide Partners (1530 14th Street NW, Second Floor)
- Skynear Designs & Gallery (2122 18th Street NW)
You don’t have to limit yourself to the stores in the guide — they are suggestions to get your gift-giving wheels turning. Here are some other neighborhood stores to consider for unique and personal gifts.
For the Person Who Has Everything
- PULP (1803 14th Street NW)
- Tabletop DC (1608 20th Street NW)
- Miss Pixie’s Furnishings & Whatnot (1626 14th Street NW)
For the Fashion-Forward
- Proper Topper (1350 Connecticut Avenue NW)
- Redeem (1734 14th Street NW)
- Universal Gear (1529 14th Street NW)
- Caramel (1603 U Street NW)
- Current Boutique (1809 14th Street NW)
- Lettie Gooch Boutique (1517 U Street NW)
- Ginger Root Design (1530 U Street NW)
For the Foodie
- Seasonal Pantry (1314 9th Street NW)
- Pleasant Pops (1781 Florida Avenue NW)
- Cork Market (1805 14th Street NW)
- Cork and Fork (1522 14th Street NW)
For a New Homeowner, Renter or Lover of Home Decor
- Room and Board (1840 14th Street NW)
- Urban Essentials ( 1401 14th Street NW)
- Vastu (1829 14th Street NW)
- Muléh (1831 14th Street NW)
- Good Wood (1428 U Street NW)
- Darryl Carter (1320 9th Street NW)
From Matt Rhoades. Email him at [email protected]
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, which can only mean… stolen packages. Take notice, Borderstanis, especially if you expect new arrivals from the suburbs and rural America. Here is an ugly little fact about the holiday season when you live downtown: packages get stolen a lot this time of year.
Thieves literally make the rounds — watching for delivery trucks — and looking for untended boxes on front steps, underneath stairs and inside unlocked doors to building entrances.
A Logan Circle neighbor emailed me yesterday to say she saw a van driving slowly down a residential street — and thought nothing of it until what happened next. One of the passengers jumped out, ran up to a box sitting on a front step, grabbed it and got back in the van. Yes, she did call 911.
Always require someone to sign and take possession of your deliveries. A box sitting on a front step or inside an unlocked entryway is a tempting thing for thieves — especially in December. No doorman? No one will be home? Ship it to your office or pick it up.
Here’s my personal tale of woe.
A few weeks ago I bought a suit. I liked it so much that I wanted the same suit in a different color. “No problem,” said the (wonderful, BTW) saleswoman. “We will ship it to you.” Never in a million years did it occur to me that it would be shipped without requiring a signature by the recipient. So, I did not ask about it.
I learned the hard way last week that no signature was required for the delivery of my suit. I came home and saw the top of a large box (see photos above) sticking above the window line in the front door of our building. It’s the location of our mailboxes and it is unlocked; the security door is inside the entryway. The culprits had opened the boxes — taking both the coat and pants — but were kind enough to leave the boxes and packing slip.
Who was responsible? I contacted the shipper who told me the clothing manufacturer had not required a signature. “Not us,” in other words. I contacted the clothing manufacturer that shipped my suit and was told that their contract with the retail store did not require signatures on deliveries. So, “not them,” either.
Last stop was the retailer. After explaining the situation, I was given two options: They would reship a suit to me or I could get my money back. By this point, I just wanted my money back. BTW, I explained (rather pointedly), that you cannot ship an item, especially a large one, to a downtown location without requiring a signer — especially at Christmastime!
I’ll get the suit at the store, thank you.
This post originally ran on December 22, 2011. However, with the recent spike in neighborhood crime, Borderstan would like to remind you to be cautious when ordering holiday gifts online.