From Melanie Hudson. Email her at melanie[AT]borderstan.com
There are many signposts of fall: cooler weather, heartier cooking, holidays galore and, ladies, say it with me – jeans, boots and blazers. But for me, I know it’s fall when all of the birthday reminders start popping up on my Outlook Calendar. Between September 1 and the end of the year, I have no less than 25 birthdays to commemorate in some fashion greater than posting a “Happy Birthday!” on Facebook.
Side note: Those previous winter months must have a particularly strong aphrodisiac in the air to result in so many fall birthdays…
Needless to say, this time of year I am constantly searching for the perfect gift for all the Virgos, Libras, Scorpios and Sagittariuses in my life – gifts that are mostly small, hopefully unique and don’t come from a faceless online vendor. The good news for Borderstan is that in this neighborhood, we don’t have to look very far to find some incredible gift ideas. In fact, you won’t need to leave Borderstan to shop for everyone on your list. Which is great for me, since you readers know I don’t like to leave if I don’t have to (see Planning Your Fab Wedding In Borderstan: Get it all Local).
Some Starter Suggestions
Here are some ideas to get you started. Tell us your favorite Borderstan shops in the comment section below.
Give your best friend an object of delight. Redeem, 1734 14th Street NW. Here you’ll find funky necklaces and cuffs, natural soy candles, George Gina and Lucy bags and Prospector Co. men’s products. Plus, a large supply of one of a kind clothes for you to fall in love with while you’re there. You and your best friend will never shop at The Loft again.
Let your older sister know you’ve grown up. Timothy Paul Bedding + Home, 1529A 14th Street NW. These guys will make your big sis’s bedroom feel scrumptious with unique patterned bedding, pillows and home products as well as custom options available for the extra-picky sisters among us. There is also a gift registry for special occasions. She’ll wonder when you developed such great taste and be clamoring for more of it.
Surprise your boyfriend with something he actually wants. GoodWood, 1428 U Street NW. At this charming “mercantile and dry goods store,” you’ll find reclaimed, beautiful and mostly inexpensive furniture that would make a great surprise gift for the man in your life. But the store has other gifts to make his home shine (like yours) – Bistro de Paris plate sets and Clos du Manoir ceramic dinnerware, oversized mirrors and artwork, men’s cologne and cuff links, cool vintage typewriters and Brooklyn-made Waverly and Irving homemade candles in antique glassware.
Make sure your mother-in-law appreciates you. Tabletop, 1608 20th Street NW. This is a one-stop-shop for all the gifts you’ll ever need for the woman you most want to impress: Snow and Graham notecards and wrapping paper, TAG towels and plates, jewelry from a local designer (and the store’s co-owner), Jonathan Adler salt and pepper shakers and vases, handmade tiles, unique clocks and aprons, Rifle calendars and Jo and Hobo handbags. It’s also a great source for children’s books and toys – securing you favorite in-law status for sure.
This fall, Gilt.com is going to miss you.
From Alejandra Owens. You can find her at her food blog, One Bite At A Time. Alejandra also writes for City Eats DC, a Food Network site, where you can book dinner reservations. Email her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @frijolita.
Buying gifts for your favorite food-minded friend can be both overwhelming and vexing. Us food folks can be intimidating.
What with our pickiness over restaurants, selective snobbery when it comes to things like booze, beer and coffee and who the heck knows what new gadget we’re oogling over in our kitchen this week! Worry not, I’ve got you covered.
No gift certificates to random restaurants you’ve never set foot in! No bags of “locally sourced, organic, farm fresh, hand milled” flour someone on Twitter told you makes great bread. These are real deal gifts you can give food lovers (not just foodies…but people who, you know, like to eat) and feel good about! Purchase and wrap with pride this year, you are going to be everyone’s favorite gift giver!
All these gifts can be purchased locally! Don’t forget to support our friends and neighbors by doing our holiday shopping at as many small businesses as possible! Store details below.
For The Home Cook With A Cookbook Library The Size Of The Library Of Congress
This is easier than you think. This is a selection of my favorite (read: go-to) cookbooks from the Big Timers and the Big Timers Who Happen To Be Local. Each of these cookbooks can be purchased at Kramerbooks in Dupont Circle.
- Serve Yourself by Joe Yonan, the food editor at The Washington Post is all about cooking for one. Nab it for your solo living pal who still loves to eat well!
- The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters is a bullseye for that farmers market fanatic in your life. It’s all about real, good food done simply (and deliciously).
- Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi is for both the always and sometimes vegetarian in your life… 120 vegetarian recipes, all crafted by someone who still likes meat means there’s creativity with an eye for substance.
- The Glorious Pasta of Italy by Domenica Marchetti is for that carb-hound in your life. That girlfriend who grabs for the bread basket, loves Pasta Mia and shuns jars of Ragu? This is for her. (Domenica also happens to be a DC local, so I extra love the idea of supporting local talent!)
- Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan is for your foodie boss or friend who loves spots like Proof, Estadio and Rasika but loves to play around in the kitchen. They’re not afraid to give an “intermediate” recipe a whirl.
For The Good Acquaintance/Assistant/Doorman/Caffeine Addict/Tea Snob. I am not opposed to food related gift cards at all… not one bit. But gift cards to restaurants can be a slippery slope. You’re trying to make things easier on yourself, yet you end up feeling like you have to put a substantial amount of dough on the things to even make it worth it. Enter Capital Teas and Dolcezza Gelato. If you feel like going out on a limb you can purchase some tea or coffee from these fine spots, or you can go the $25 gift card route and still be a winner in your acquaintance/assistant/doorman/caffeine addict/tea snob’s book.
For The Friend Who Really, I Mean Really Enjoys Reading the Sunday NY Times. One word: Marimekko. Two words: Tabletop. A half block from the Dupont Circle Q Street Metro exit in a basement level boutique sits Tabletop. While they have an outstanding selection of jewelry, kids books and toys, cookbooks and trinkets — I have always been quite taken with their selection of, what I will generally call, “serverware.” Table Top has a lovely collection of mugs, latte bowls, cups and plates from famed designer Marimekko ($16-$50). What could make morning coffee or tea time more special than a beautiful set of mugs and plates to go with it?
For The Chocoholic/Sweets Fiend/M&M Lover Who Needs An Upgrade. ACKC in Logan Circle is a chocolate covered treasure trove, so why not take an opportunity to fulfill your favorite chocoholic’s cocoa bean dream? You can create your very own gift basket (hello, budget friendly gift giving!) combining chocolate/toffee covered pretzels, chocolate dipped oreos, artisanal chocolates, gourmet hot cocoa mixes and caramel popcorns! (Individual chocolate bars $3.50-$6.50, 6-pack chocolates $12, caramel popcorn $6, hot cocoa mix $10.)
For The Gourmand Who Laments The Folding Of Gourmet Magazine and Belongs To An Italian Wine Of The Month Club. Some food folk like to eat out, some like to cook a lot at home, some are gadget fiends and still others are food product connoisseurs. For these folks I say, buy them rich olive oils and fancy vinegars! No seriously. To a home cook who likes to dabble in the finer ingredients these pantry staples are the perfect gift. I can’t think of the last time I made something and didn’t reach for olive oil! Rainieri Gold Unfiltered Extra Virgin Olive Oil ($15) and A L’Olivier Vinegars (in Fruit de La Passion or Tomate, $16) are highly giftable go-to items.
For The Home Cook Who Has Everything. Well, not everything. Because you are giving said home cook one of two items: a two-ended, two-sized mortar and pestle ($19.99), or an 8-quart enameled steel Le Creuset stock pot ($54.99)! You can purchase them both at Home Rule, 1807 14th Street NW.
I’d be elated to get anything on this list (clearly, I am biased), but I wonder, what are you guys giving your favorite foodie this year? Anything we’re missing here?
From Matty Rhoades. Email him at [email protected].
Got your Christmas tree? Getting it this weekend? Maybe it’s your first tree away-from-home and on-your-own? Whether this is your first tree or you’re looking for new ornaments and glitz this year, you’ve got a number of local shopping options — all of them locally owned businesses. You can buy your tree, locally, too, and have it delivered: Here are your options.
You don’t need to board a bus, navigate Metro or get in the car. You can buy everything you need for your Christmas Tree (Holiday Tree, if you prefer) in the neighborhood — from the tree stand to ornaments and lights to the star on top.
For Hanukkah: Logan Hardware has “Festival of Lights spirit to spare.” They carry Menorah candles ($8.99 to $11.99) and Draydels filled with candy and gum ($2.99). Housewares on 17th also has candles and three different Hanukkah Menorahs ($17.99 to $29.99). You can get Hanukkah cards at PULP. FYI, Hanukkah begins December 20 this year.
For the basic necessities of decorating and caring for your tree, you have two local options:
- Logan Hardware at 1416 P Street NW
- Housewares on 17th at 1627 17th Street NW (part of True Value on 17th)
Tree Stand and Disposal Bag. You need a tree stand for the tree. Logan’s tree stands run from $19.99 to $119.99. Over at Housewares on 17th, there are three models from $13.99 to $24.99. (OLD CITY green carries tree stands, too.) While you’re at it, pick up one of those tree disposal bags for a few bucks — you put your tree in it come January and haul it out to the curb ($2.29 at Logan). Buy one: It will keep dried needles from falling all over your floor when you take out the tree. You will thank me for this.
Lights. Options! Multi-colored or clear? Blue or red, perhaps? Large or small? LED rope lighting is an option for the truly energy-efficient. At Logan, they have LED, icicle and traditional string lights in white and multicolored ($2.99 to $39.99). At Housewares on 17th, there is a plethora of lighting options right by the counter, including blue and red strands. Examples: a string of 100 clear lights will set you back $5.49 while a strand of 25 of the large old-fashioned sized bulbs goes for $10.99.
Basic Ornaments and Add-Ons. You want to go basic and not spend a lot of money on ornaments? For example, a box of six colored ball ornaments at Housewares will cost you $7.49. Logan also carries tool-shaped ornaments for a fun touch ($4 to $8.99). Both hardware stores also carry the add-ons: ribbons, garland, icicles, and even spray-on snow ($8.99 at Logan).
Ornaments: Fun and Glitz Time
Now for the really fun part of decorating your tree — unusual, creative, fun ornaments… the kind you collect or give as holiday gifts. You’ve got five great options in the Dupont-Logan area — one right off Connecticut Avenue and four on 14th Street.
Home Rule, 1807 14th Street NW. Home Rule carries a wide variety of fun ornaments, but the store says they are selling out very fast: “We carry plain white lights on green cords, garland (two styles this year), mini ornaments, full-sized ornaments, ornament hooks, 3-foot faux trees. Ornament prices range anywhere from 75 cents to $34.99.” Check out photos of their ornaments and holiday offerings on the Home Rule Facebook Page.
Miss Pixie’s Furnishings & Whatnot, 1626 14th Street NW: Miss Pixie carries a beautiful selection of vintage ornamentsfor the tree: “We have lots of ornaments. Most are vintage dating back to as early as 1920 — most are from the ’40s and ’50s — and some are new. Most are $5 each, a handful are $8 and some are $1. We also have garland, trees and little houses for under the tree and maybe a handful of nutcrackers left at $5 to $22.” Check out some of the photos on Pixie’s Facebook Page.
PULP, 1803 14th Street NW. PULP is carrying round, flat porcelain ornaments with the DC flag logo design on them ($14.95); mini glass charms for little trees (Cracker Jack, Monopoly iconic images, he Keep Calm and Carry on designs ($4.95 each); tiny mustache charms that work on tiny trees, and zipper pulls and backpacks ($3.75). PULP also has round, glittered, blown glass ornaments with geometric shapes on them ($39.95). In addition they have rainbow ornaments, and rainbow mirror ball ornaments. Check out photos of their ornaments and holiday offerings on the PULP Facebook Page.
Reincarnations, 1401 14th Street NW. Reincarnations owners say they “try to get unusual and different ornaments each year.” This year they have Rockette reindeer ($15 and $45), space/rocket Santa ornaments which are glass and very retro, selling from $10-$15 each; the snowman collection consisting of a cloth ‘shopping snowman/woman at $25 each, a lava snowman lamp at $79; snowman ornaments at $10 to $15 each; and various Santa glass ornaments at $20. We also have a cupcake ornament collection at $5 each. “We also have the over the top 6-foot feather Christmas tree in pink, blue, green, white and gray at $259 each.” Check out photos of their ornaments on the Reincarnations Facebook Page.
Tabletop, 1608 20th Street NW. Just off Connecticut Avenue, Tabletop carries a selection of Jonathan Adler ornaments that range from $24 (white ceramic) to $28 (multi-color decal) for the singles… and a set of two Mr+Mrs Muse ornaments go for $48. Check out photos on Tabletop’s Facebook Page.