Category Archives: Charity

History Meets Style at an American Girl Fashion Show (+ Giveaway!)


Girls and their families, friends, and favorite dolls are invited to celebrate the experience of being a girl as the Junior League of Northern Virginia (JNLV) hosts its 3rd annual American Girl Fashion Show. Themed “Styles of Today and Yesterday,” the colorful presentation of historical and contemporary fashions will take place this weekend, April 23-24, at the Sheraton Pentagon City.

A total of five fashion shows — three on Saturday and two on Sunday — will feature more than 200 girls from throughout the DC-Metro region. Guests at each show will enjoy elegant refreshments, enter to win door prizes, and learn how clothing has changed over the years to reflect history, culture, and girls’ individual styles.

Individual tickets, ranging from $40-50, and seven different group packages starting at $119, are available for purchase through the JLNV website. Attendees may also pre-order exclusive American Girl merchandise for pick up on-site, including items exclusive to American Girl Fashion Shows®, as well as reserve a spot for their dolls at an American Girl Fashion Show® Doll hair salon.

Proceeds from the sale of both tickets and merchandise support the JLNV’s community initiatives focused on empowering families to make healthy eating and active living a priority. Their community programs offer hands-on leadership development opportunities for members and directly benefit the Northern Virginia community.

The American Girl Fashion Show will take place on April 23 at 10am, 1pm, and 4pm, and on April 24 at 11am and 2pm. All shows will be held at the Sheraton Pentagon City located at 900 South Orme Street, Arlington, VA. Tickets are available for purchase online.

Giveaway: Do you have an American Girl Doll fan who would love to attend this event? Here is your chance to win two free tickets (1 adult, 1 child). To enter, simply leave a comment telling me the name of your child’s favorite doll. To be eligible you must like KidFriendly DC on Facebook and subscribe to the KFDC blog (see sign-up near the top left). This giveaway will run until Wednesday, April 20, at 5pm, then a winner will be drawn at random and notified shortly thereafter. Good luck!


Filed under All ages, Annual, Charity, Educational, Giveaway, Spring, Virginia, Weekend

The 2015 KFDC Holiday Gift Guide



As we head into the thick of the season, many of us are still searching for those perfect gifts for family and friends. For the first time ever on KFDC, I thought I’d share some things I’ve really enjoyed and/or think would make wonderful presents for a variety of people. This also gives me a chance to highlight a few local businesses offering unique products and experiences as well as other organizations that are doing great things. And then there are some ideas that are simply fun and enriching. None of these recommendations are sponsored; they’re just things that I truly like and think you and yours might, too. Happy gifting!

Tinker Crate's DIY Fiber Optic Stars project

Tinker Crate’s DIY Fiber Optic Stars project

Craft, Doodle, and Tinker!
I first recommended Kiwi Crate, the monthly subscription craft box a few years ago. And now I’m endorsing them with even more fervor. The original kit comes with all the supplies needed to make an adorable craft. Now, Kiwi Crate offers even more: Koala Crate (age 3-5), Doodle Crate (age 9-16+), and Tinker Crate (age 9-16+). While Sasha still enjoys the Kiwi and continues to create all kinds of fun crafts, Owen has been receiving Tinker for the past year, and it’s amazing. Among the many cool projects, he’s constructed a trebuchet, built a drawbot (a robot that draws, of course), and most recently made his own Orion constellation with fiber optics.

An activity bag ready to be delivered

An activity bag ready to be delivered

Craft and Give Back
Similar to Kiwi Crate, but with a philanthropic twist, Little Loving Hands provides pre-packaged children craft kits where the end product is used to contribute towards supporting a philanthropic cause, such as activity bags for patients at the Children’s Inn at NIH. The company’s mission is to provide a fun and educational method for parents and caretakers to engage children in learning about the importance of being kind and giving back to others. Each kit contains materials for the project, as well as documents and other fun items to reinforce what the children are working on and how they are helping others. (Disclosure: We haven’t tried this out yet — our kit is on the way — but I thought the concept was so great, I wanted to include it here.)

Ready for Elephant & Piggie at the Kennedy Center

Ready for Elephant & Piggie at the Kennedy Center

Theatre Tickets
There are so many wonderful shows both currently running and coming to local stages soon, that would make fantastic presents for kids and adults. A few that I highly recommend right now are Elephant & Piggie’s We Are in a Play at the Kennedy Center (age 3+), Akeelah and the Bee at Arena Stage (age 8+, look for discount tickets), and Kiss Me, Kate at Sidney Harman Hall (for adults, look for discount tickets). And coming soon are Matilda at the Kennedy Center (age 6+), Annie at National Theatre (age 4+), and Bright Star at the Kennedy Center (for adults, look for discount tickets). For even more ideas for the gift of theatre, see this listing of live entertainment on stages through winter.

The beach is a year-round destination when you're fossil hunting

The beach is a year-round destination when you’re fossil hunting

A Family Fossil Hunting Adventure
If your crew likes searching for shark teeth and other millions-of-years-old marine fossils, then you’ll definitely dig this: Ruddy Duck Adventures offers day-long outings in Calvert County that include a fossil hunting excursion with an extremely knowledgeable guide, plus hot chocolate on the beach; a visit to the fantastic Calvert Marine Museum, including lunch brought to you there; and dinner at one of their restaurants with a beer tasting for the adults. We recently enjoyed the Island Tour — detailed post to come soon — and it easily was one of our favorite new experiences this year. When you consider all that you get, the cost is more than worth it for a unique, fun, enriching family adventure. View their packages and note that they offer tours year-round!

This can be your playground

This can be your playground

Adventure in the Trees
If your kids like a thrilling outdoor challenge, consider a gift certificate, or even a season pass, to the Adventure Park at Sandy Spring, one of our favorite outdoor places to play. It’s an exciting aerial forest experience, where adventure-goers navigate ropes courses in the trees, crossing over bridges, whizzing down ziplines, and scaling ladders to get from platform to platform, all many (in some cases, many, many) feet above the ground. There are courses for kids as young as 5 years old — and even more for us older kids grown-ups! Check out their gift options for the 2016 season, and read more about the adventure in this KFDC post.

Hello, Port Discovery?  I'd like a membership, please.

Hello, Port Discovery? I’d like a membership, please.

Play on at Port Discovery
For children who aren’t old enough to zip through trees or appreciate the fossil hunt, a membership to Port Discovery in Baltimore will have them covered. The interactive children’s museum has myriad hands-on, curiosity-peaking, educational, fun exhibits that keep kids engaged for hours. Family memberships for the year starts at $109, making it a great deal if your family of four were to go a couple of times, anyway (admission is $14.95/person). Even better, right now they are offering 10% off, plus one month free if you purchase by December 23!

Find Chew and more at Air & Space

Find Chewy and more at Air & Space

Star Wars at the Smithsonian
In honor of Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens opening next month, the National Air and Space Museum is featuring Star Wars themed gifts for kids and adults including Darth Vader, Ewok and Chewbacca beanies, Yoda plush toys, and M&M Star Wars Light Up Lightsaber. A great time to purchase them is this weekend, December 5 & 6, at the annual Smithsonian Holiday Festival. And you can shop for many more unique items at some of the other museums over the two-day event!

Get your game on at Labyrinth

Get your game on at Labyrinth

Game Time
For board games, you can’t beat Labyrinth Game Shop on Capitol Hill. This is my go-to for birthday party presents and always a stop for some holiday gift shopping. Since I first wrote about the store when it opened five years ago, it’s gotten even better. They have something for everyone — all ages, every interest. And the service is just as great as the inventory. Give them a few details about who you’re shopping for, and they’ll show you just the right game to buy.

Let imagination lead with Nene puzzles

Let imagination lead with Nene puzzles

Nene Imagination Puzzles
Last year, I wrote about these unique puzzles that go beyond the usual putting-pieces-in-their-places jigsaw. With Nene’s Puzzles Without Borders (for younger children) and Tiles of Infinity (for older kids), each piece fits every other piece, so you can make all kinds of configurations. And they’re just as pretty to look at as they are fun to build. Even better, the tiles are magnetic, so you can put them on the fridge. We keep some there, and just about every kid (and some adults) who enters the kitchen makes some kind of playful pattern. The puzzles are available for purchase online for $21.99 or you can find them at local retailers.

Baseball & DC on a T

Baseball & DC on a T

T’s that Salute DC
If you’re looking for a fun “DC” gift for an adult, check out Sneekis. I learned about this local T-shirt company that specializes in DC-themed wear through Instagram. Their clever designs incorporate local sports and recreation, and a zeal for the District that giftees can proudly boast across their chests.

Soft as a scarf, snuggly as a blanket

Soft as a scarf, snuggly as a blanket

Denada Designs
Another Instagram discovery, these scarves, hats, and other handmade knit accessories are just gorgeous, a perfect gift for an adult in your life. While the company is local, the designs are Peruvian-inspired and made from alpaca blend wool, so they are really soft. I recently received an aptly named blanket scarf as a birthday gift, and it’s as sumptuous as it is pretty, probably the coziest scarf I’ve ever owned.

Build like a LEGO master

Build like a LEGO master

LEGO Architecture
LEGO sets are growing up with our kids. Owen just got the LEGO Architecture Louvre as an early Chanukah present, and it is pretty awesome. Even though it’s for 12 and up, younger kids can definitely tackle it, too (Owen is just shy of 10). There are many iconic landmarks available, including the White House, if you want to put a DC spin on the gift.

Give as a gift and get one for yourself

Give as a gift and get one for yourself

Humans of New York Stories
If you follow KidFriendly DC on Facebook you might be aware that I’ve been kind of obsessed with Humans of New York for the past couple of years. I share the posts from time to time because the stories accompanying the portraits are some of the most heartwarming, heart wrenching, thought-provoking, and inspirational reflections of the human spirit. This hardbound version captures it all in one beautiful book.

gift_gtghGifts That Give Hope
How about boxing up hope and happiness this year? At a Gifts That Give Hope event, you can support the community and find unique and meaningful gifts for loved ones, co-workers, teachers, and holiday hosts. Learn more about 16 locally based nonprofit organizations, while enjoying festive holiday music and refreshments, visits with Santa, face painting, and other children’s activities. The Arlington Fair will take place this Saturday, December 5, at Key Elementary School from 10am – 2pm.

Love these T's!

Love these T’s!

Spread the SuperLove
I love the shirts from SuperLoveTees, not only because they’re supercute, but because they spread a good vibe with positive, inspiring messages. They are also super soft and comfy, and made to order with Fair Labor Practices. It makes me happy to wear the one I have and to see others wearing the ones I have given. (PS: The “Teach Peace” tee would make a perfect gift for a teacher.)

Kids' clothes that make a statement

Kids’ clothes that make a statement

Empowering Threads
Cute clothes with cool messages aren’t just for adults. Svaha makes them for children – and they do so with unique, bold flair. The company was started by local mom, Jaya Iyer, after she couldn’t find an astronaut shirt for her space-obsessed daughter. Offering “clothing to empower your children” with apparel that plays with gender stereotypes, you’ll find butterflies and prism rainbows on boy shirts, dresses with cars and soccer ball prints, even pink and purple underpants for boys (dinos for girls!). These are gifts that kids and adults can appreciate for many reasons.

A box of Italy for kids!

A box of Italy for kids!

Surprise Ride
We just had the opportunity to sample this subscription service of monthly curated activities for kids, and it’s pretty fantastic. Everything is a surprise when it arrives (hence, the name), so you don’t know what you’re going to get, but that adds to the excitement. The box my kids received was Italy-themed, and included a little booklet with facts and other info about Italy, a mosaic tile project, an Italian architecture charcoal drawing kit, a Magic Treehouse Book about Leonardo DaVinci, a soccer ball toy, and even an Italian-inspired snack. Fun, artsy, and educational…I’ll likely surprise my kids with a subscription myself!

Experience the wonder...

Experience the wonder…

Give Freely
Of course, not all gifts have to come with a hefty price tag. There are so many magical yet still inexpensive experiences to be had in the DC area, some without even spending a dime. You can creatively package them up — perhaps a big, fun card with a photo — and promise a visit. Some suggestions: The new WONDER exhibit at the Renwick, the Fairy Lolly and art experiences at Annmarie Sculpture Gardens, the Wizard of Oz playground at Watkins Regional Park, the awesome displays at the U.S. Navy Museum, the gardens at Dumbarton Oaks, a hike at Huntley Meadows. And there are so many more right in our backyard.

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Filed under All ages, Annual, Chanukah, Charity, Christmas, Date Night, DC, Discount, Educational, Holidays, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Museums, Outdoor, Product, Seasonal, Shop, Theatre, Virginia

Shop a Local School’s Holiday Craft Fair to Help Support Education in Africa


This Saturday, November 21, TC Williams High School will be hosting their 6th Annual Handmade Holiday Craft Fair. Organized by TC Williams teacher Jen Ushe and her students, the event is held to raise money for Joining Hearts and Hands, an organization that promotes economic and social improvements in Kenya and Tanzania. Over the past five years, students have helped raise enough money to build a fourth grade classroom in Tanzania!

The event will run from 10am – 4pm, with over 50 local vendors selling items such as handmade soaps, jewelry, stationary, and many more items that would make great holidays. There will also be food sales, baked goods, and live music from the TC jazz band. Admission is free.

TC Williams High School is located at 3330 King Street in Alexandria, VA. You can view the vendors in advance here and here. More information about the Fair is available on the Facebook page.

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Filed under All ages, Annual, Art, Cause, Charity, Fall, Fundraiser, Holidays, Live Entertainment, School Event, Seasonal, Shop, Virginia, Weekend

Where to Play on the Weekdays: November 16-20

The enchanting Fairy Lolly at Annmarie Sculpture Gardens

The enchanting Fairy Lolly at Annmarie Sculpture Gardens

Monday – Take a drive out to Solomons, MD, to Annmarie Sculpture Gardens for artistic delights and autumn splendor. Tour beautiful works, both indoors and out, play in the Fairy Lolly, and create some of your own art with inspiration from all you see there. Even better, the grounds are gorgeous there now. Trust me, it’s worth the hour-plus drive. Hours are 9am – 5pm in the gardens, 10am – 5pm at the arts center. Admission is $5/adult, $3/ages 6-17, free for 5 and under.

Tuesday – Check out your local library. Drop in for story time, sing-a-longs, art & crafts, and other activities, or just go to browse for books. See this post from the early KFDC days for a little background and quick links to libraries around the area.

Wednesday – See a show especially for little ones at The Puppet Co. The lights stay on, and doors remain open during Tiny Tots performances for the youngest audiences. Old McDonald’s Farm is this week’s production. Showtime is 10am. Tickets are $5 for everyone, including babies.

Thursday – Bring girls ages 4-14 on a fundraising play date. Cookies and Confidence with Rosie will help support Rosie Riveters, a non-profit that aims to provide a fun space for girls ages 4-14 to imagine, create, and play while developing their skills in STEM.


From 9:30-11:30am at Tea with Mrs. B, guests will use math skills to identify shapes and use them to build turkey puzzles, while gobbling down scrumptious cookies. A $5 donation per participating child is suggested. And you can find STEM fun for both girls and boys at the Children’s Science Center Lab at Fair Oaks Mall in Fairfax. Hours are 10am – 6pm. Admission is $12.

Friday – Go ice skating under the sky! All of our local outdoor rinks are open and welcoming folks to glide. Several offer push aids to help newbie skaters, and most are located in places with even more to do beyond the rink. This post has all the details on all of them.

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Filed under All ages, Art, Charity, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Fall, Free, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Nature, Outdoor, Theatre, Virginia, Weekdays

The Weekend Round-Up: June 26-28


From big, exciting events to mellower pursuits, you’ve got your pick of ways to enjoy the weekend. And with a mixed forecast, the list of indoor activities and post about outdoor places are good ones to keep on hand, too. Happy Weekend!

Smithonian Folklife Festival
Where: National Mall near the American Indian Museum
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Free

The annual Festival celebrating living cultural heritage and community traditions is underway. Visitors of all ages will have ample opportunity to discover and explore the culture of Peru through special exhibits, workshops, performances, exhibits, demos, and more, including plenty of activities especially children. For specifics, see the festival schedule. And it all takes place right on the National Mall where you can easily pop into museums in case of rain.

Lovin’ Summer
Where: Throughout the area
When: All weekend long
Admission: Varies by activity

Free concerts, outdoor swimming, movies under the stars, sprayground fun… Activities exclusive to the season can be enjoyed all weekend long (as long as the weather cooperates, anyway). Get the full scoop on all of these joys of summer.

National Capital Barbeque Battle
Where: Pennsylvania Avenue NW
When: Saturday 11am – 9pm & Sunday, 11am – 7:30pm
Admission: $15/adults, free for ages 12 and under

Join one of the biggest summer barbeques around as the Safeway National Capital Barbeque Battle returns to pit some of the nation’s best barbequers against each other as they compete for big prizes. The reward for attendees: Samples from all the entrants (plus, more food), live music, cooking demos, kids’ fun, and more. It all takes place along Pennsylvania Avenue NW, from 9th to 14th Streets.

Heritage Days
Where: Various locales in Montgomery County
When: Saturday & Sunday, 12-4pm
Admission: Free

Celebrate the history, culture, and natural beauty of Montgomery County, MD, as more than 30 historic sites welcome visitors for guided tours, re-creations of historic events, children’s activities, and more — all free of charge. Be sure to check the list of places on the website, as some are only participating for one day.

World Police & Fire Games
Where: Various DC-Metro locations
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Free

This weekend is the start of the second largest multi-sport event in the world! The World Police and Fire Games include over 60 sports and first-responder-specific activities will take place throughout Fairfax County and the general DC Metro area from June 26 – July 5. Watch challenges like the firemen’s ladder climb & muster and police service dog events. Visit the website for details on events and locations.

Show Time
Where: Local Theatres
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by venue

* Cat-ch Garfield: The Musical with Cattitude at Adventure Theatre
* The Chamber Dance Company is performing a special Family Matinee show on
* Fly away to Neverland with Peter Pan in the ThreeSixty Theatre at Tysons
* Experience Double Trouble on the Imagination Stage
* And little ones will live Aquarium, just opening at the Bethesda theater
* Curtis Blues: Delta Blues kicks off the summer season of the Saturday Morning at the National series
* Take the fam to Shakespeare in the park as Chesapeake Shakespeare Company presents The Comedy of Errors at Patapsco Female Institute Historic Park
* See a show on strings at The Puppet Co. where Snow White and the 7 Dwarves is the current main stage production
* And Baby Bear’s Birthday is the featured Tiny Tots show at the puppet theatre
* The Imagination Movers are playing a special concert at the Maryland Zoo on Sunday
* IMPOSSIBLE: A Happenstance Circus opens this weekend at the Round House Theatre
* Rocknocerous is playing an album release show on Saturday morning at Jammin’ Java

Magic of Spying
Where: International Spy Museum
When: Saturday, 2-3pm
Admission: $10

In the real-life world of espionage, spies often call upon the art of magic and illusion to distract the enemy, make evidence disappear, and escape unnoticed. Join professional magician, Peter Wood, as he demonstrates the art of misdirection, sleight of hand, and other illusions used by skilled spies. This one of a kind performance, custom-designed for the Spy Museum, is guaranteed to fascinate children and adults alike. Recommended for ages 6 and up.

Where: Wakefield Park – Annandale, VA
When: Friday & Saturday
Admission: Free for spectators

Want to see some amazing skating tricks and skills or show off some of your (or your kids’) own? SkateFest is an epic event full of skateboarding, free gear, and a ton of the most legendary prizes to ever hit the DC Metro area. The weekend celebrates Go Skateboarding Day with family friendly activities for all ages: music, games, food, giveaways, skateboard vendor tents, and Sk8 For A Cause, a Skate Competition all to benefit Children’s National Medical Center. Friday is a registration/prelim day with some extra activities, and the main festival take place on Saturday. See the online schedule for specifics.

Beachy Keen
Where: Flag Ponds Nature Park
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: $6/car

It looks like we’ll have at least one nice day this weekend, so why not hit the beach? There are several places within day trip-distance from DC that are great for sand and surf…and fossil hunting. (That’s right, many spots in the Calvert Cliffs area are well known for shark teeth finds.) We just spent a day at Flag Ponds Nature Park and loved it. This new post has all the details, plus a bit of info about another fave (though a pricey one) out that way, Brownie’s Beach.

Big Screen, Baby
Where: Local movie theaters
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Ticket prices vary by theater

Give the kids some screen time at a movie! Catch an IMAX at the Natural History or Air & Space Museums — Dinosaurs Alive! 3D is sure to enthrall dino lovers. We recently saw Inside Out and Pitch Perfect 2 and loved both (you won’t stop singing the tunes from the latter). And Max and Jurassic World are some other family films out right now. Find out what’s playing at a theater near you.

Savor Alexandria
Where: Oronoco Bay Park
When: Saturday, 12-6pm
Admission: Free

Alexandria’s Food & Wine Festival may sound like a grown-up event – and the main festivity is, for the most part – but there will be activities for little ones, too. The festival will showcase some of the best of Alexandria’s restaurants and Virginia wineries. And to complement it all will be live entertainment, a children’s corner (moon bounce, arts & crafts, and more), and cooking demos. While admission is free, you will need to purchase tickets to sample food and wine – $20 for 8 tickets, $20 for the wine garden. Rain or shine.

Feasting on Film
Where: National Gallery of Art
When: Saturday, 10:30am & Sunday, 11:30am
Admission: Free

Give the kids a taste of documentaries at the National Gallery. In these screenings, children from around the world invite you into their homes, food, community, and culture through a series of delicious documentary shorts films from the series There’s No Food Like My Food, which documents customs and cuisine from across the continents.

Portrait Story Days & Discoveries
Where: National Portrait Gallery
When: Saturday, 1-4pm & Sunday, 2-5pm
Admission: Free

Drop in at the Portrait Gallery to listen to a story about American Olympic swimmer, Gertrude Ederle – the first woman to swim across the English Channel in 1926, and complete a hands-on activity. When you’re done there, pick up a Portrait Discovery Kit to explore the museum. For more about the program, see this post about one of our experiences there.

Ah Love Kids Who Cook Competition
Where: Mosaic District
When: Sunday, 11am – 5pm
Admission: Free

Enjoy some culinary fun with cause! With a portion of the day’s sales benefiting nonprofit Martha’s Table, Ah Love Kids Who Cook will bring teams of kids ages 8-12 together for some fun cooking competition led by panels of judges from the culinary industry and mentors to help the children as they explore the different available ingredients. Through each one-hour round of competition kids will be asked to make an appetizer, main dish, and dessert. More importantly they’ll learn about healthy food options, being creative with food, and helping others who don’t have enough to eat.


Filed under All ages, Annual, Charity, DC, Eats, Educational, Exhibit, Festival, Free, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Museums, Music, Nature, Outdoor, Seasonal, Summer, Theatre, Virginia, Weekend