We know... the Thanksgiving plates have barely been cleared, but it's time to start talking holiday shopping! If you're anything like me, it’s always a struggle finding the perfect gifts. That’s why I like to hit the holiday markets and craft shows up early in the season before they are picked over. Plus, they always have unique gift items that you wouldn’t find in the big stores.
Downtown DC Holiday Market
November 23-December 23
Just in time for Black Friday, the 14th annual outdoor market popped up on the sidewalk of F Street between 7th and 9th (in front of the National Portrait Gallery). The market offers a potpourri of more than 150 regional artisans, crafters and ethically produced goods. You can browse everything from fine art, crafts, jewelry, pottery, photography, clothing, textiles and prepared food. Enjoy live music from local musicians playing jazz, swing, blues, reggae, bluegrass and brass. Stop by Leah Sturgis Jewelry Art whose handmade work incorporates elements of nature, such as fresh water pearls, caribou antlers and porcupine quills. And for exquisite clothing, jewelry, bags and more visit Aria. Grab a donut from Migue’s Magnificent and warm up with local roaster Vigilante Coffee. Since the market features a rotating selection of exhibitors, make sure to come back more than once, and if you're looking for a specific vendor, check the website for the full schedule.
Watergate Hotel’s Holiday Market
November 30-December 1
When you think of The Watergate Hotel two things probably come to mind: luxury and scandal. Luxury is what you’ll get at their first annual Holiday Market. The pop-up fair includes enviable fashions from brands like Flagpole, Jack Rogers, Kenneth Jay Lane, Apparis and Jaunt, and chocolates from SPAGnVola. Wondering what the scandal is? To make your life easier they will provide complimentary wrapping in the hotel's customized “Scandal” paper.
Glen Echo Park Holiday Art Show & Sale
November 24 through December 30
Keep the Small Business Saturday spirit alive at the Holiday Art Show & Sale browsing art studios and galleries to find handmade gifts. You can see demonstrations of resident artists at work and even try your hand at a few techniques. You can even make your own blown glass ornament at Glen Echo Glassworks. Take a shopping break and enjoy a glass of cider and music from the Washington Conservatory. The show continues all through December with artists peddling their pottery, ceramics, photography, fused glass earrings, pendants and more. Artists from Glen Echo Pottery will have functional ceramic bowls, platters and ornaments perfect for host/hostess gifts. Printmaker Meaghan Busch will have whimsical tea towels and printed tote bags.
Chocolate Binge Festival
Admission is a $5.00 suggested donation supporting the Annapolis Arts District.
If you’re a chocoholic (or need a gift for one) this festival is for you! On the first block of West Street in Annapolis, the street will be filled with local chocolatiers. Take a chocolate tour along West Street where there are over 35 local and regional vendors including Veritas Artizen Chocolate, The Country Cookie, Annapolis Caramel Company, Harper Macaw, and more. They will be selling chocolates, but you can also snag something for your non-chocolate-loving friends such as handmade jewelry, pottery, clothing and glass ornaments. Watch the lighting of the West Street Holiday Light Canopy, visit with Santa, check out the giant gingerbread house, and make a s’more by the fire pit before you leave. Each guest who gives the suggested donation admission will be given a cup of hot chocolate, while supplies last.
Leesburg Holiday Fine Arts and Craft Show
At Ida Lee Park Recreation Center, this holiday show features over 95 local and regional artisans selling handmade items from candles, stained glass, carved wood, jewelry, leather products and table linens. Stop by Sindy What Not Shop to find wooden seasonal décor, such as rustic snowmen and Santas. For handmade one-of-a-kind jewelry stop by R.E. Piland Goldsmiths. He uses unusual stones and frequently incorporates both silver and gold to create exquisite pendants, bracelets, earrings, necklaces, rings, wedding bands and brooches.
Sugarloaf Craft Festival
Admission $8 online/ $10 at the door (Children 12 & under are free and parking is free)
More than 300 artists travel from all over the country to Dulles Expo Center to take part in this annual festival. The artists -- selling everything from jewelry to wood, leather, clothing, sculpture and glass -- love to chat with customers about their goods and creation process. You’ll also see several artists doing live demonstrations. Visit Roxie’s Studio for beautiful pottery and lamps. Constance Scott/Mercedes Sherwood Designs works with vintage barkcloth (upholstery-like material from the 1930s/1950s featuring bright tropical prints, regional images and geometric patterns) to create purses and pillows. To add beauty and sound to your outdoor spaces, pop by Old Town Wind Bells. You'll be kept entertained with live music and delish food.
Winter WonderLansdowne Market
Every Saturday in December
There are fees for some activities.
You don’t have to cross the pond for the holidays -- Lansdowne’s holiday market is modeled after the famous Chriskindlmarkets of Europe. The market will offer a rotating selection of Loudoun County’s best local artisans and one-of-a-kind finds for all your gift-giving needs. Make sure to see designer Rachel King of EaarthBones, who makes vegan and upcycled wire-wrapped jewelry. Her inspiration comes from nature and the love of making items that connect you to yourself and the world around you. Gaby Lugo of Gaby Lugo Calligraphy loves special sayings and puts them on her ornaments. On Saturday December 1, 8, 15 and 22 there are horse-drawn carriage rides, and Santa will also be in attendance with his animals from the North Pole. And you can't leave without taking a ride on the Lansdowne Polar Express around the marquee Christmas Tree. If you need to keep the kids busy while you browse, have them try their hand at ornament decorating, building a snowman or an Elf on the Shelf scavenger hunt.