It’s that time of year again. Time to dig deep, empty our wallets, wrestle with wrapping paper, panic about our choices, and ignore the nervous sweat dribbling down our temples as friends and loved ones unwrap our gifts. Gift-buying is an experience fraught doubt and anxiety, but if you’re completely stuck on ideas for that one bothersome giftee, let us help. With a variety of items, including arts, entertainment, fashion and fun, we’ve collated twelve shopping ideas guaranteed to please this holiday season. Welcome to the 2015 Holiday Gift Guide.
Forget New York, the District is bursting at the seams with excellent theater to enjoy — and Arena Stage is no exception. If a family member, loved one, or particularly close friend enjoys nothing more than escaping to the cozy darkness of the theater, consider buying them a subscription to Arena Stage this holiday season. Subscribing to Arena will net discounts of up to 60% off ticket prices, as well as money off parking, meals and additional tickets. Choose from a 4- or 6-play subscription, with prices ranging from $230 to $478. If you’re not ready for that kind of commitment (or expense), tickets to a single show also make a good stocking stuffer — Oliver! and Akeelah and the Bee, for instance, were both rated four stars by our reviewers. Arena Stage, 1101 Sixth Street, SW, Washington, DC. Call 202-554-9066 or visit arenastage.org for more information.
Specifically curated to “enhance the modern, urban guy’s closet,” Avenue Jack is one of Connecticut Avenue’s newest additions, and definitely worth a look for any discerning male giftees. Mainstream brands such as Diesel, Ben Sherman, Levi’s, Calvin Klein, and Lacoste mingle on shelves with smaller brands, including wares made right here in the District. It’s not just clothes, either — there’s accessories and homeware, as well as various curiosities. Pineapple Tumbler for $29, anyone? If you know someone who’s prepping for a winter getaway, mix a few items together. The Timbuk2 Tahoe Overnight Duffel Bag ($199) comes with a lifetime warranty, so your giftee can cram as many 100-percent cotton Ben Sherman Half Zip Pullovers ($96) and pairs of Bosky Wooden Sunglasses ($120) as they like into their bag without worry. Avenue Jack, 1301 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington, DC. Call 202-887-JACK or visit avenuejack.com.
Bite the Fruits wares probably aren’t recommended for your parents’ stocking stuffers, but for your partner or more liberal friends, there’s plenty to delight, titillate and amuse in equal measure. Colt Playing Cards ($7.95 per pack), come with an array of hunky men — would sir like leather, hairy or muscled? — and are sure to spice up any game of strip poker. Or regular poker, for that matter. The FemmeFunn Massager ($69.95) is sure to make any ladies in your life happy this holiday season, while Bite the Fruit has an assortment vintage gear to suit all tastes and sizes ($8.95 to $32.95). Uberlube ($13.95 to $25.95) is something of a wunderkind in the lubrication arena. Not only can it be used for its most obvious purpose, the formula is so pure it can also prevent chafing during exercise, or be used as a hair-styling product to tame frizz and boost shine — so if there’s any spills while getting intimate, take a moment to condition those split ends before getting back to business. Bite the Fruit, 1723 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington, DC. Call 202-299-0440 or visit shop.bitethefruit.com.
If you know someone who can’t get enough choral music — the heady swells, the beautiful melodies, the enchanting arrangements — then look no further than a subscription to Choral Arts. There’s the full five-concert pass, which nets up to 20% off ticket prices, or mini season passes which offer two to four shows with varying discounts. Available concerts include a choral tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr. and Some Enchanted Evening, a special show of the music of Rodgers and Hammerstein and the American Songbook, featuring Renee Fleming and Norm Lewis. Of course, if you just want to dip someone’s toes into the world of choral music, consider individual tickets as a stocking stuffer — Fleming and Lewis’ show, set for May next year, is available for just $29. The Choral Arts Society of Washington, 5225 Wisconsin Avenue NW, Washington, D.C. Call 202-244-3669 or visit choralarts.org.
If you’re hoping Santa will bring you a man this Christmas, you’re in luck! Hourly Husbands Handyman Service won’t cook you dinner, meet your parents or validate your life choices, but they can do most DIY jobs you’d pass off to the other half while you’re enjoying Netflix with a glass of wine. From cleaning winter detritus out of drains, to fixing that leaky faucet, to sorting the fuses after that extravagant Christmas balcony display knocked out your whole apartment, treat yourself — or someone you know — to an Hourly Husband, available for $120 for the first hour and $75 every hour after that. It’s the perfect gift for those with lengthy chores lists that won’t be conquered until well into the New Year. Book online at hourlyhusbands.com, or call 202-455-9100 for more information.
“Your search for the perfect holiday gift is over: just buy a bunch of tickets to Kiss Me, Kate and start stuffing stockings.” So said our theater critic Kate Wingfield in her five-star review of Shakespeare Theatre’s wondrous production of Cole Porter’s musical, but if you’d rather not splash on specific tickets, you could instead offer one of the theater’s customizable gift certificates. While they can be used to purchase tickets, they’re also valid for classes and Camp Shakespeare. If you know any aspiring actors, Camp Shakespeare offers those aged 7 to 18 the chance to dive into a two-week performance intensive, where they’ll hone their Bardian craft. Adults aren’t left out, though — classes are available, either as six-week courses or one-day workshops, ranging from an introduction to acting, to advanced courses for professionals. The perfect way to help someone sample the world of Shakespeare, or a polite way to suggest a friend work on their Othello. Shakespeare Theatre, Sidney Harman Hall, 610 F Street NW, Washington, DC. Call 202-547-1122 or visit shakespearetheatre.org.
Studio has introduced a new package for theater junkies, with the Create-Your-Own Subscription letting theatergoers mix and match from the theater’s main series and the Studio X series — Bad Jews, Between Riverside and Crazy, Constellations, Moment and more are all currently available. What’s more, it comes with all of the benefits of a normal subscription, such as free ticket exchanges and the option to attend Studio’s Artists in Conversation and Plays in Context series, which put theater fans up close and personal with actors, directors, scholars and more. If you know someone who loves theater — and particularly Studio’s contemporary offerings — this is a no-brainer Christmas gift. If you need further convincing, the package is available from as little as $108. That’s a lot of quality theater for the money. Studio Theater, 1501 14th Street NW, Washington, D.C. Call 202-332-3300 or visit studiotheatre.org.
We’re used to fairtrade coffee, so why not fairtrade art? That’s the concept behind Ten Thousand Villages, started more than 60 years ago. Connecting artists in 30 countries with buyers in Alexandria, Ten Thousand Villages prides itself in offering beautiful, unique art that also benefits artisans who otherwise wouldn’t have access to American homes. Perfect for artsy or socially conscious giftees — or those who appreciate handmade curios — there’s gifts for all budgets and tastes. If you need holiday gifts, there’s handcrafted tree ornaments from Vietnam and Peru ($6), or the Holiday Chocolate Gift Pack ($18), which pairs well with Share – The Book that Celebrates Our Common Humanity (with a foreword by Meryl Streep, no less). ($40) For wine lovers (or cycling enthusiasts), there’s the Bike Chain Wine Rack ($49) and Bottle Opener ($10), or perhaps for the dashing gentleman in your life, the Dash of Fancy Bowtie ($12), handcrafted in Guatemala. Ten Thousand Villages, 915 King Street, Alexandria, VA. Call 703-684-1435 or visit tenthousandvillages.com.
If you know someone who loves theater, but you can’t afford to splurge on a subscription — or even a full-price ticket — Theater J has a remarkable program this 2015/16 season that’s perfect for arts lovers on a budget. The J Row “10 for $10” discount is available at every performance of every show this season, with ten seats up for grabs at just $10. Theater J is committed to making theater accessible to everyone, so if you’re cash-strapped, it’s the perfect way to enjoy their incredible content. If you can afford a subscription, however, you’ll find a multitude of benefits. Not only can you give someone access to up to seven plays, prices start at just $80. That’s a bargain — and even the cheapest subscription nets unlimited and free ticket exchanges, a free bring-a-friend coupon, $10 discount on additional tickets, and priority seating. That’s enough value to make even Scrooge crack a smile.
D.C.’s “Premier Fetish Gear Boutique” may seem like a niche place to buy gifts, but it’s the perfect way to treat a friend or partner who enjoys the kinkier side of sex this holiday season. With a variety of items big, small, expensive and affordable, you’re sure to find a stocking stuffer, main gift, or amusing trinket. From colorful leather wristbands ($24), to Lambskin Neckties ($59), to Barcode Berlin Football Socks ($19 a pair), there’s something for everyone, covering leather, rubber and sports gear. For first-time buyers unsure of what to get, TrickBox’s staff is more than happy to offer suggestions and advice. What’s more, everything in the store has been chosen for its quality, so that 5 Buckle Wristband ($68) won’t fall apart the first time you strap it on. TrickBox, 2300 Rhode Island Avenue NE, Washington, D.C. Call 202-248-1192 or visit trickboxdc.com.
Universal Gear has exploded from a boutique store for fashion-conscious men to a mini-department store of clothing, accessories, skincare and furnishings — all tailored to a male audience. If you’re trying to find something for a particularly fussy giftee, chances are Universal Gear will have something they’ll love. If you know someone who’s always running late, grab them a Diesel watch ($99 to $149), available in a variety of styles. Have that friend whose pockets are always full of loose change and dollar bills? A new wallet is the perfect gift, with Penguin and Ben Sherman offering a variety of classic, stylish designs ($37.95 to $44.95). For the perfectly groomed gentleman, consider Fellow Barber’s premium grooming range ($22.50 to $24.50). Archipelago’s Boticario De Havana range is perfect for melting away the stresses of winter weather. Containing extracts of sugarcane, orange oil and pineapple among others, they’ll transport recipients to Cuba as the body wash cleans winter grime and the lotion softens ravaged skin ($29.50). Universal Gear, 1919 14th Street NW, Washington, D.C. Call 202-319-0136 or visit universalgear.com.
Arguably one of the most impactful venues in the DMV, if you want to give someone an unforgettable experience for Christmas, consider something from Wolf Trap. The Filene Center, with its stunning, outdoor amphitheater, is an incredible space for experiencing a live performance. Bring a picnic, cuddle up on blankets, and soak up the entertainment. Whether rock, blues, jazz, orchestra or choral, there’s sure to be something to delight at Wolf Trap this season. However, if you know someone who’d like to be up on stage rather than watching from the grass, consider purchasing private lessons in voice, guitar, drums and piano — they’re not cheap, starting at $440 for 30 minute lessons, but your chosen giftee will be learning from proven instructors. Thankfully, you can scale your gift large or small, with either a gift certificate or a full membership, available for as little as $75, which grants exclusive presales, pre-performance dinners, discounts, and — depending on membership level — preferred parking, free alcohol and snacks, access to VIP lounges and private restroom facilities, and a free season pass. Wolf Trap, Filene Center, 1551 Trap Road, Vienna, VA. Call 703-255-1868 or visit wolftrap.org.
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