Archive for the ‘Shopping and Gift Ideas’ Category

Merrifield Garden Center’s Ladies Night Out

November 19, 2015

This is one of my favorite events of the holiday season, and it’s free! Visit one of three Merrifield Garden Center locations (I’ll be at the one in Merrifield) for a fun evening of beautiful Christmas tree displays, shopping, music, appetizers, and wine tasting tonight from 6 pm to 9 pm.

Don’t forget your camera!

For more information, visit Merrifield Garden Center online


Start December with the Jacquie Lawson Advent Calendar

December 1, 2013

snowglobeToday is the first day of December and the first Sunday in Advent. What more appropriate way to celebrate the season every day than with an advent calendar for December?  Here’s one you can download online and place right on your computer desktop: the Jacquie Lawson Advent Calendar.

For the second year in a row, I have been gifted by my dear friends and PRofessional Solutions, LLC clients, Kate and Melanie, with a Jacquie Lawson Advent Calendar.

They are $4.00 each (or less if you order more and gift them to friends).  I can’t describe sufficiently how much fun they are. There are puzzles and games to play, and little scenes that develop as each day progresses. The application appears as a snow globe that dwells on your desktop. Animal friends visit throughout the scenes (dogs and cats).

You have your choice this year of two themes: the Alpine Village, a reprise from last year, or the new Edwardian version (think: Downton Abbey).

3362001 3345141The site describes the new theme like this:

Our new Edwardian period Advent Calendar will transport you to a grand English country house as the staff make the elaborate preparations for Christmas. You can even help with the decorations yourself, while every day there’s a delightful little animated story to watch, or a fun new game to play. Explore the magnificent house and gardens, settle down in the Library to read fascinating facts about the period, and enjoy our gorgeous artwork, beautifully observed animation, and atmospheric Christmas music.

It’s an official Cool Yule pick — you just have to get one of these! Let me know which one you select this year!

Cool Yule Picks for Small Business Saturday

November 30, 2013

SHOP_SMALLTomorrow is Small Business Saturday, an initiative that encourages holiday shoppers to frequent small business retailers.  Here are some local area favorites…

  • Books: Hooray for Books, Alexandria, VA
  • Toys: Doodlehopper 4 Kids, Falls Church
  • Cameras: Penn Camera, Fairfax, VA
  • Ornaments and decorations: Merrifield Garden Center, Merrifield, VA
  • Candles and stocking stuffers: Decorium, Alexandria, VA
  • Retro glassware: The Hour Cocktail Collection, Alexandria, VA

Retailers Prepare for Small Business Saturday

November 29, 2013

SHOP_SMALLNovember 30th marks the fourth annual Small Business Saturday, a day to support the local businesses that create jobs, boost the economy and preserve neighborhoods around the country. Small Business Saturday was created in 2010 in response to small business owners’ most pressing need: more customers.

Why Shoppers Are Shopping Small

The trend for shopping small is increasing, with 35% of consumers stating that they like to shop at local small businesses, up from 27% last year.  New research indicates why shoppers are drawn to small businesses for their holiday shopping

  • 57% believe it’s important to support local businesses
  • 49% are attracted to unique merchandise
  • 39% say local businesses offer personalized service and suggestions
  • 25% say area businesses typically offer good prices

Retailers Get Ready for Small Business Saturday

With five fewer shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas in 2013, many small business owners say they’ll be pulling out all of the stops to get customers into stores during the holiday shopping season.

For many of the small business owners who are aware of Small Business Saturday, the day will be a part of their promotional calendar. Of those small business owners incorporating Small Business Saturday into their holiday plans, 70% say Small Business Saturday will be helpful in attracting new customers. Additional findings from the surveyed owners reveal

  • 67% will offer discounts
  • 39% will collaborate with other small businesses to promote Small Business Saturday
  • 36% will offer coupons for future offers or discounts
  • 33% will offer a gift with purchase
  • 33% will rely on social media most to promote Small Business Saturday to their customers
  • 32% are starting their holiday promotions earlier than last year
  • 21% will increase the number of employees working on Small Business Saturday

Ladies Night Out tonight at Merrifield Garden Center

November 21, 2013


When to Mail Your Holiday Cards: USPS 2013 Mail-By Dates

November 18, 2013

09109_467_11_10_2009When do you mail holiday cards and packages?  Do you like to do it early, or do you wait until the last minute?

Mail-By Dates

To ensure that holiday mail and packages are delivered on time, the U.S. Postal Service recommends keeping the following mailing and shipping deadlines in mind:

Nov. 12 APO/FPO Military Standard Post
Dec. 2   Priority Mail International
Dec. 10 APO/FPO Military Priority Mail and First-Class Mail
Dec. 10  Priority Mail Express International
Dec. 14  Standard Post
Dec. 16 Global Express Guaranteed
Dec. 17 Priority Mail Express Military Service
Dec. 20  First-Class Mail
Dec. 21 Priority Mail
Dec. 23 Priority Mail Express

The dates listed above are the earliest deadlines for international and military mail. For a complete list of shipping deadlines, visit

Projected 2013 Holiday Season Mail Volume

Did you know that the U.S. Postal Service delivers holiday greetings and gifts to more than 152 million residences, businesses, and P.O. boxes nationwide? The self-supporting U.S. Government enterprise expects to process 545 million pieces of mail every day throughout this holiday season; totaling nearly 15 billion pieces of mail to be delivered between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve.

The busiest mailing day this season is projected to be Monday, Dec. 16, when more than 600 million pieces of mail are expected to be processed. The same day, 6 million customers are expected to visit Post Offices nationwide.  There are 31,000 retail locations!

The busiest delivery day for mail is projected to be Wednesday, Dec. 18 and the busiest day for packages will be Thursday, Dec. 19.  USPS expects to deliver 12% more packages this year than last year.

Your Online Post Office

Many post offices will be open until noon on Christmas Eve.  Don’t like waiting in line?  You can go online! Nearly 75 million customers will skip the trip to the Post Office altogether and take advantage of online shipping. Click-N-Ship and other online services allow customers to print shipping labels, order free Priority Mail boxes, purchase postage and even request free next-day package pickup.  You can even buy stamps and gifts.  For more information, please visit

New Offerings in Priority Mail

This is the first holiday season that consumers and businesses can take advantage of the recently revamped Priority Mail, which now comes with free insurance, day-specific delivery and free tracking.

Gifts for Letter Carriers and Mail Clerks

Postal employees may accept gifts valued up to $20, including gift cards, but not cash, liquor, or wine. The gift card must be from a single company but may not be from a bank or shopping mall.

Do you know their Myers-Briggs type? Then you know what to give them for Christmas

November 28, 2012

I read an interesting article from the folks at Keirsey Temperaments that presents the kinds of gifts people with different personalities will like.  Keirsey lumps the Myers-Briggs types into 4 categories of people.  Here is a summary of their Christmas gift recommendations (read the full article here)

ESTJ, ISTJ, ESFJ, or ISFJ?  Then she/he is a GUARDIAN.

For her: sentimental, engraved gifts.  For him: practical, useful gifts.

ESTP, ISTP, ESFP, or ISFP?  Then she/he is an ARTISAN.

For her or him: handmade gifts.

Is she an ENFJ, INFJ, ENFP, or INFP?  Then she/he is an IDEALIST.

For her or him: fun gifts you enjoy together, like trips.

Is she an ENTJ, INTJ, ENTP, or INTP?  Then she/he is a RATIONAL.

For her or him: the latest, state-of-the-art tech gadget.

What do you think?  Are these recommendations spot-on? Or would you gift differently?

Support area nonprofits with holiday shopping on Nonprofit Sunday!

November 25, 2012

Wait, you haven’t heard of Nonprofit Sunday? I’m sure you’ve heard of Black Friday…and Small Business Saturday…and Cyber Monday! Are you telling me you haven’t yet heard of Nonprofit Sunday?

Well, maybe that’s because I just made it up.

It’s a natural extension of the theme, though, on the busiest shopping weekend of the year. Think about it. Where can you find the most unique, high quality gifts, at very good prices, in historic or aesthetically beautiful settings, and know that the money you spend is going for a good cause? At our area museums, national parks, and historic sites, of course!

Here are two nonprofit sites where you can find amazing gifts at wonderful prices — and all the proceeds go to further historic preservation and education.

The Gate House Gift Shop at Claude Moore Colonial Farm Park

6310 Georgeown Pike, McLean, VA 22101 (703) 442-5577 Hours: Wed – Sun 10 am – 5 pm

The Claude Moore Colonial Farm Park is a National Park and a true local treasure. All of the proceeds from sales in the shop fund quality educational programs. Shopping in the beautifully decorated Gate House Gift Shop is a real holiday experience.

Among the many terrific gifts, you will find a selection of new and antique books, farm-produced honey and preserves, exquisite soaps and bath items from France, Scandinavia, and around the world, beautiful jewelry, vintage linens in immaculate condition, wonderful children’s toys, crafts and games that don’t need batteries, a selection of unique boxes, compasses, and other items that would appeal to the man or boy in your life, as well as Christmas ornaments.

Don’t miss the special Book Sale on Saturday, December 1.

The Freeman Store and Museum

131 Church Street NE, Vienna, VA 22180 (703) 938-5187 Hours: Wed – Sun 12 Noon to 4 p.m.

This ante-bellum historic site is maintained by the Historic Society of Vienna. Shopping in the store feels like you are stepping back in time. The store sells a number of historically inspired gifts, including cast iron penny banks, as well as a wide assortment of “Made in Virginia” items, such as Graves Mountain preserves and jellies, soaps, afghans, pillows, candles, prints, and cards. You will also find a terrific variety of quality toys, puzzles, books, and candies.

On Monday, November 26, the Freeman Store will be open for additional hours for the Church Street Holiday Stroll and tree lighting from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Area choral groups will perform and Santa will visit at 6:15 p.m. Santa visits the Freeman Store on Sunday, December 2 and Saturday, December 8 from 1 pm to 3 pm.

Holiday Open House at the Gatehouse Shop, McLean, Thursday, November 17

November 16, 2011

This is a fun place to shop for Christmas gifts.  Read my review from last year for more information, photos, and video.

The Gatehouse Shop

Claude Moore Colonial Farm

6310 Georgetown Pike, McLean, VA 22101


Time to get your 2011 “Holiday Baubles” postage stamps

October 17, 2011

Do you send Christmas cards?  I do.  And I love the special Christmas stamps.

Today, I picked up two books of the new U.S. holiday postage stamps, which were just issued last week.

As you may know, each year the U.S. Post Office puts out a different secular holiday stamp design and a religious one featuring an artistic masterpiece.

This year, the secular design is called Holiday Baubles.  The first class postage stamps feature four ribbon-bedecked ornaments inspired by 1950s design and are delightfully retro and colorful.

William J. Gicker art directed these stamps using illustrations by Linda Fountain. Drawing on styles popular during the 1950s, she first sketched the ornaments then rendered them using cut paper. These renderings were scanned and turned into digital files. The actual objects are slightly larger than a sheet of typing paper.

These stamps are being issued in books of 20 self-adhesive Forever stamps.  They cost $8.80 for a book of 20.  Stock up now, because you know the holiday stamps always sell out early, especially when they’re this winsome!  You can buy them at your local post office, or purchase them online.

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