If you’re still holiday shopping, skip the malls and online shopping and head elsewhere for your gifts. Whether it’s a restaurant, museum, art gallery, boutique, theater or more, forget the trite and give a slice of DC to your local friends and family.


1. ART FROM A LOCAL GALLERY: There are many art galleries you could visit, but my favorite for kids’ items is Art Insights in Reston, Va. It specializes in That is the disney art I told you about that retails for $125 and $150.

In addition to all the Disney Princess art, I’m particularly fond of the four hand-signed, limited-edition BIG HERO 6 lithographs on sale for only $50. I love this one the most, but if your child is a huge fan of the movie, consider this an awesome addition to their bedroom or your family’s rec room. This one is my favorite:
Big Hero 6 art

2. DOWNTOWN HOLIDAY MARKET: If you have a chance, visit the Downtown Holiday Market right in front of the Portrait Gallery (between 7th and 9th Streets on F, NW). It’s open from noon to 8PM daily until Dec. 23. There are dozens of booths with local artisans that make everything from paper, jewelry, and apparel to home accessories, fine art, and toys. I’m particularly fond of the leather goods at Stitch & Rivet; the gorgeous wood cutting boards at Blue Ridge Cutting Board Co., and the calendars, notepads and prints at Katharine Watson. And don’t forget a cup of joe at Vigilante Coffee!

3. MUSEUM MEMBERSHIP: An excellent gift for local friends is a membership to their favorite museum. Even if it’s a “free” Smithsonian museum, a membership provides discounts and perks that will allow the recipient to take full advantage of the museum’s various special exhibits and other offerings. I know many friends love joining FONZ, because certain levels of membership offer free parking and early access to special events, and I love belonging to the Newseum, since it’s our go-to museum when we have out-of-town guests.

4. MOVIE TICKETS: With the opening of iPic and ArcLight (North Bethesda, the Montgomery Mall, respectively), the Angelika Pop-Up at Union Market (in DC) and Mosaic (Merrifield), the AFI Silver, and even the renovated Regal at Springfield Town Center, there are plenty of beautiful local theaters in the DMV where you can buy movie tickets to well-curated or just sparkling new theaters. As a movie critic, I love going to swanky theaters with my husband, since we rarely see films on our own.

5. RESTAURANT GIFT CERTIFICATES: My husband and I love to go to dinner together, so we appreciate these for our date nights. I think restaurant gift certificates are wonderful, particularly for good friends you know like to eat out. We occasionally give them to teachers as well, since it’s beyond the usual Starbucks or Target card. Most local restaurants offer gift options, and if you’re not sure, just ask. Remember to check out the menu so you can give an appropriate amount (enough to cover an entree, drink, and dessert if you’re going to be generous). It’s pretty misguided to give a $25 gift card to a restaurant where the average entree is $38, and at the same time, $200 to a casual family restaurant may be overdoing it.

What other unique local options are you taking advantage for holiday gift giving?