It’s more important than ever to show your love for Alexandria’s locally owned businesses. And this year, you’ll want to “shop small” and “shop sooner” to make sure you get the gifts you want in time for the holidays. Thankfully, there are many ways to enjoy seasonal delights, go through your gift list and show support for our city’s independent businesses, both now and in the weeks to come. Keep reading for inspiration.

1. Shop Small to Show Your Love

Image Credit: Sarah Marcella Creative

As the region’s shop small headquarters, Alexandria’s impressive collection of boutiques offer smile-inducing gifts and personal service you won’t find just anywhere. Visit The BEST Gift Shop, which promotes and supports artisans with disabilities from all over the United States with products such as scarves, cards, paintings and other unique items. Pick up a calming blend for a friend from The Spice & Tea Exchange, explore Italian-crafted leather goods at Serafino and buy something sparkly for a loved one from Today’s Cargo’s jewelry collection. Treat yourself to a self-care spree at Bellacara, peruse home goods from MANSE and EC Home Collections and don’t forget your four-legged friends when you drop by The Dog Park.

2. Mark Your Calendar for Shop Small Week

Image Credit: Chris Cruz for Visit Alexandria

Get ready to partake in Alexandria’s biggest shopping days of the season during Alexandria’s Shop Small Week, November 26 to December 2, 2021. Kicking off the day after Thanksgiving, enjoy seven days of discounts or other special offerings on Plaid Friday—Alexandria’s small business Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Museum Store Sunday, Cyber Monday and more.

3. Buy from Minority-Owned Businesses

Image Credits: Gina Psallidas for Visit Alexandria (left); Envy Us Beauty Supply (right)

Deepen your impact when you make a point to spend at minority-owned businesses. Support Black-owned businesses during “Buy Black Friday” and beyond when you gather loved ones for a bottomless family-style brunch at Hen Quarter, peruse products from Envy Us Beauty Supply, practice self-care with PIES Fitness Yoga Studio andpick up gift-worthy page-turners by and about people of African descent at Harambee Books & Artworks. Schedule a hair refresh from Cualtzin Salon, savor Peruvian specialties from Huascarán and more as you explore the city’s Hispanic, Latino and Latino-owned businesses. Familiarize yourself with Alexandria’s Asian-American and Pacific Islander community when you roll up your sleeves at AR Workshop, browse Kyo Gallery and sweat out holiday stress at Get Fit Studio. Then, check out striking and intricately designed jewelry and artwork by Native artists at Intertribal Creatives

4. Pick Something Up for the History Buff

Image Credit: Kristian Summerer for Visit Alexandria

Our history-rich city has you covered with 18th-century-inspired goods from historic sites and museums like Carlyle House and the museums of the Office of Historic Alexandria, plus Black history and culture-themed merch from Manumission Tour Company and much more. Give the gift of experiences beyond the historical, including ways to roll up your sleeves with art project, get an endorphin boost on two wheels and more.

5. Share Your City Pride with Alexandria-Themed Gifts

Image Credits: Kristian Summerer for Visit Alexandria

Peruse Alexandria-themed home décor, fashion, flavors and more from local favorites. Check out Mystique Jewelers’Alexandria cuff and head to the Alexandria Visitor Center for city-themed gifts including the Office of Historic Alexandria’s annual ornament. Look for the Made in ALX pop-up shop at 1 Wales Alley for hand-crafted, thoughtful items from more than three-dozen Alexandria-based creators.

6. Support Your Favorite Local Restaurants

Image Credit: Misha Enriquez for Visit Alexandria

Savor takeout from your favorite Alexandria restaurants to create a cozy vibe on a cold winter’s night or outsource cooking duties for a low-stress holiday. Find delightful diner fare from Royal Restaurant, house-smoked specialties from T.J. Stone’s, German and Bosnian bites at Old House Cosmopolitan Grill and steamed dumplings and veal chops from Rus Uz. In the mood to dine out? Snuggle up by the heat lamps outside Elo’s Italian to savor slow-cooked meatballs and fried calamari or warm up with Taqueria Picoso’s street-inspired, chef-crafted Mexican food. Give the gift of good eating with gift cards to your favorite restaurants.

7. Snag Sustainable Finds

Image Credit: Evan Michio for Visit Alexandria

Get inspired at Alexandria’s fair trade and sustainable shopping destinations. Find everything from calming scented salt soaks to hand-crafted children’s toys at Mason & Greens, plus plant-based hair and beauty products from Cualtzin Salon. Browse Threadleaf’s online shop to view an inspired collection that does not compromise on style or craftsmanship, and pop into Ten Thousand Villages, which utilizes a fair-trade model to break cycles of poverty while minimizing environmental impact. 

8. Enjoy a Sweet Pick-Me-Up

Image Credit: Misha Enriquez for Visit Alexandria

Stave off any wintery blues with treats from Alexandria’s many sweets spots, like vegan-friendly designer donut options from Elizabeth’s Counter, decked-out honey toasts from The Magnolia Dessert Bar (Sister Thai’s resident confectionary) or fresh-baked treats from Buzz Bakeshop. Or pick up a show-stopping centerpiece for your festive celebration such as a gelato cake (plus cookie sandwiches for Santa) from Casa Rosada.

9. Raise a Glass of Local Beer and Cider

Image Credit: Misha Enriquez for Visit Alexandria

Say “cheers!” with a locally crafted drink from Northern Virginia’s first urban cidery, Lost Boy Cider, or award-winning Port City Brewing Company. Visit the tasting rooms in person, serve seasonal offerings alongside holiday meals or gift a taste of Alexandria to loved ones.

10. Celebrate the Season with Local Arts Organizations

Image Credit: Misha Enriquez for Visit Alexandria

Get ready to give a standing ovation when you see a live show and support the city’s performing arts groups. Catch Alexandria Symphony Orchestra in concert with performances in November and December, and attend Little Theatre of Alexandria’s heartwarming annual adaptation of “A Christmas Carol.” Then, dive into Alexandria’s visual arts scene (and snag a one-of-a-kind gift) by visiting Kyo Gallery, Del Ray Artisans and Torpedo Factory Art Center creators such as Dejan Studio Jewelery. Before you visit, please note that many of Alexandria’s arts venues have vaccination and/or masking requirements.

Get inspired by more shops and restaurants to enjoy as you support your local businesses.

Header Images Credits: Cedric Angeles (left and center); Chris Cruz for Visit Alexandria (right)

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