Gather your credit cards, notify your bank, take an aspirin to ease the stress you’re going to be putting on your heart and get ready to spend those savings you’ve carefully hoarded all year. Yes, it’s holiday season, and that means it’s time for us to spend inordinate amounts on our friends and loved ones — because giving is just as much fun as receiving, apparently. 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, and leather, we’ve collated a half dozen shopping ideas guaranteed to please this holiday season.
For those who think of 9:30 Club — and its sister venues — as merely a place to watch live music, think again. 9:30 offers several extraordinary items for fans of musical history in the D.C. area. Chief among them is a section of actual stage floor from Merriweather Post Pavilion, showcased in a shadowbox. The handcrafted, 12″ x 15″ segment of stage is mounted atop custom matting and features a photo from a 1984 Grateful Dead concert. Text overlay lists in alphabetical order artists who have graced the stage over the past 49 years. Meanwhile, the handsome, 264-page coffee table tome 9:30 – A Time And A Place is jammed with never-before-seen photos, stories and firsthand insider accounts of experiences commemorating the club’s 35 year old history. Clothing items on offer include 9:30 socks, a 9:30 onesie, 9:30 t-shirts and a 9:30 fitted hat. For pricing or to order, visit merch.930.com.
If a family member, loved one, or particularly close friend enjoys nothing more than escaping to the cozy darkness of the theater, treat them to a show at one of the country’s finest regional theaters. Currently, Arena has two critically-acclaimed shows running through Dec. 24 — Carousel and Moby Dick. But there are five richly provocative shows to come 2017 that can be combined to create mini-subscription, including Lisa Loomer’s timely Roe, Lillian Hellman’s gripping Watch on the Rhine, starring Marsha Mason, and Lorraine Hansberry’s soul-stirring A Raisin in the Sun. The new comedy Smart People and Intelligence, which dramatizes the events surrounding CIA operative Valerie Plame, fill out the season. For pricing and gift information call 202-554-9066 or visit arenastage.org.
Bite the Fruit’s items 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. And Bite the Fruit has a singularly provocative collection of toys and gear to make the season bright. Give a loved one JO’s very adult flavored gelato lubes — Tira Misu or Salted Caramel. Or how about a onesies or handle harness from Nasty Pig? Colt Playing Cards 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). And the FemmeFunn Massager is sure to make any ladies in your life abundantly happy. The store has many items under $25. Bite the Fruit is at 1723 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington, DC. Call 202-299-0440 or visit shop.bitethefruit.com.
MetroStage has put its traditional Broadway Christmas Carol on hiatus for a year and is presenting in its place the vastly gifted Tom Story, playing 32 characters in the hit comedy Fully Committed (Peter Marks of the Washington Post called it one of the top ten shows of the year). The one-man tour de force makes the perfect stocking stuffer and runs through Jan. 8, so there’s plenty of time for your giftees to catch it. The theater also offers gift certificates and subscriptions — and its two remaining shows in the season — D.L. Coburn’s extraordinary The Gin Game and Terrence McNally’s masterful Master Class — are both sure to be winners. MetroStage is at 1201 N. Royal St. in Alexandria, Va. Call 703-548-9044 or visit metrostage.org.
Arguably one of the most breathtaking venues in the region, if you want to give someone an unforgettable experience for Christmas, something from Wolf Trap does the trick. The Filene Center, with its gorgeous outdoor amphitheater, is an incredible space for experiencing a live performance. Bring a picnic, cuddle up on blankets, soak up the entertainment. Whether rock, blues, jazz, orchestra or choral, there’s sure to be something to delight at Wolf Trap this season. But let’s not forget The Barns, an intimate indoor performing space with an impressive winter lineup, including dreamboat Aaron Tveit, Ari Heist, Jim Brickman and the legendary Kathy Mattea. You can scale your gift large or small, with either a gift certificate or a membership, available for as little as $75, which grants exclusive pre-sales, pre-performance dinners, discounts, and — depending on membership level — preferred parking, free alcohol and snacks, access to VIP lounges and private restroom facilities. Wolf Trap, Filene Center, 1551 Trap Road, Vienna, Va. Call 703-255-1900 or visit wolftrap.org.
Woolly has a brilliant way of sharing theater with your friends. The company’s “Six-Packs,” while neither alcoholic nor muscular, offer an amazing way to give someone the gift of theater, including granting the recipient six tickets to use in whatever combination they so choose, with ticket reservations up to one day before the show, the best available seats and up to 40 percent off single ticket prices. And when you buy six you get a seventh ticket free, valid through Dec. 31. Even better, the tickets are good through Dec. 2017. And the theater offers special pricing for those under 30 (valid ID required) and a Lite version which excludes Friday and Saturday night shows. Urge your recipient to start with the currently running Black Side of the Moon from the uproarious and outrageous Second City comedy troupe. Nothing beats the gift laughter as an antidote to a truly taxing 2016. Standard gift certificates are also available. Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, 641 D St. NW, Washington, D.C. Call 202-393-3939 or visit woollymammoth.net.
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