Category Archives: Museums

Where to Play on the Weekdays: December 5-9

One more activity at the Building Museum: Toss a penny in the fountain and make a wish

One more activity at the Building Museum: Toss a penny in the fountain and make a wish



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Monday – Explore the beautiful grounds and cathedral of the Franciscan Monastery in Brookland. A DC “secret” to many, the “Oasis of Peace” welcomes visitors to stroll through the gardens and tour the church. Hours are 9am – 4:45pm. Admission is free.

Tuesday – Head to the National Building Museum for a few kid activities. The monthly Little Builders Storytime takes place at 10:30am & 11:30am in the Building Zone. You can also see the Small Stories: At Home in a Dollhouse exhibit featuring many dollhouses that take you through London history, all of them beautiful with intricate details. Children will also enjoy areas that encourage pretend play with dress up and props inspired by some of the displays. And the PLAY WORK BUILD exhibit upstairs is always fun for kids. Museum hours are 10am – 5pm. Exhibit admission is $10/adult, $7/child, free for members. I highly recommend checking out membership options if you frequent the museum a few times per year. That’s even a recommendation in this year’s Holiday Gift Guide!

Wednesday – Experience the Magical Holiday Express at the B&O Railroad Museum. Along with festive model train displays, the event features tons of fun and activities for kids. Admission is $18/adults, $12/ages 2-12. Hours are 10am – 4pm Monday – Saturday (11am -4pm Sunday).

Thursday – See a holiday stage favorite on strings as The Nutcracker entertains at The Puppet Co. Showtime is 11am. Tickets are $12. If weather permits, plan to stay at Glen Echo Park after the show for a picnic and playtime, too!

Friday – Explore Air & Space beyond the National Mall — the Steven F. Udvar Hazy Center, the Chantilly arm of the museum, showcases even more fascinating artifacts of flight. See all kinds of air and space crafts, pretend to pilot in a flight simulator, get hands-on in a discovery station, and much more. Hours are 10am – 5:30pm. Admission is free, but parking is $15.


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Filed under All ages, Annual, Christmas, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Fall, Free, Holidays, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Museums, Music, Seasonal, Shop, Theatre, Virginia, Weekdays

The Weekend Round-Up: December 2-4

Scene from a past (snowy) Boat Parade of Lights

Scene from a past (snowy) Boat Parade of Lights



Holiday cheer is abundant this weekend with all kinds of events and activities that celebrate the season. And if you’re still not quite ready to embrace the spirit, there are plenty of activities to sate the bah-humbuggers, too. Happy Weekend!

Smithsonian Holiday Festival
Where: Smithsonian Museums
When: Saturday & Sunday, 10am – 5:30pm
Admission: Free

Celebrate the holiday season at Smithsonian Museums — the Air & Space Museum, Natural History, American History, Hirshhorn, Sackler Gallery, American Indian, African Art, and Smithsonian Castle! This Holiday Festival has tons going on, something for everyone in your crew — concerts by the U.S. Air Force Band, family holiday photo ops; screenings of The Muppet Christmas Carol; trunk shows featuring apparel, jewelry and art; book signings; festive food; and hours of additional family-friendly entertainment. See the schedule for more details.

Georgetown GLOW
Where: Georgetown neighborhood
When: Friday, Saturday, & Sunday 6-10pm
Admission: Free

See Georgetown in a whole new light – literally. Every evening through January 1, the neighborhood will sparkle with modern light art installations on exhibit throughout the bustling community. Works of local, regional, and international artists will be on display in both public and privately-owned spaces, including M Street, along the C&O Canal, and more nearby places. Take the family dinner, then go for a stroll to check them all out.

Holiday Happenings
Where: Around the area
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by locale

There are so many great activities running through the season to celebrate the holidays in DC. Watch model trains buzz around the National Parks and Historic Sites-themed display at the Botanic Garden’s Season’s Greetings exhibit. See the National Christmas Tree on the Ellipse. Take a street car ride with Santa at the Holly Trolley Fest. Join the Frost Fest at Pentagon Row. If you hope to hit ‘em all, you better get on it! A few are highlighted below, but get the complete rundown on all the area’s holiday happenings, see the 2016 KFDC Holiday Guide.

Fun for a Buck — or Free
Where: Baltimore
When: Saturday & Sunday
Admission: Free or $1

In the spirit of the holidays, the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore presents Dollar or Less Days this weekend when participating attractions will open their doors offering free or $1 admission! The Maryland Science Center, Babe Ruth Museum, Port Discovery, National Aquarium, Historic Ships of Baltimore, Christmas Village, and more exciting places will be welcoming guests to take advantage. Go here for the full list of participating venues.

It Takes a Christmas Village
Where: Baltimore Inner Harbor
When: Friday & Saturday, 11am – 8pm & Sunday, 11am – 7pm
Admission: $1 or less this weekend!

West Shore Park in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor has been transformed into a Christmas Village this holiday season, and it’s full of fun for all ages. There’s kids entertainment all day long, photo ops with Santa, gingerbread house making, a bratwurst eating contest, and more. Plus, everyday there are more than 60 booths to browse for gifts, food, entertainment, and lots of holiday fun to celebrate the season. Oh, and this is par of the Dollar or Less Days, so you get in for a buck!

Let There Be Lights
Where: Around the area
When: Evenings
Admission: Varies by locale

Twinkling lights forming enchanting displays are easily a holiday season favorite. Visit one of several parks or gardens (or the Zoo!) that has transformed into a sparkling wonderland. Some you can walk through for an up-close experience, others you tour by car. If you opt for the latter, dress the kids in PJ’s, turn up the holiday tunes, and bring along a thermos of hot chocolate. Either way, be prepared to be dazzled!

Ross Christmas Tree Sale
Where: Ross Elementary School
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Free (but plan to buy a tree!)

Ross Elementary School, located at 1730 R St NW, will kick off their 9th Annual Holiday Tree today starting at 4pm. You can pre-order your tree — delivery is available — here or stop by this weekend to pick out your tree or wreath! All proceeds benefit the Ross PTA.

Santa Fly-In
Where: College Park Aviation Museum
When: Saturday, 12-4pm
Admission: $5

This will be an experience to remember as you watch Santa fly into the historic College Park Airport (it’s the world’s oldest continuously operating airport!). Make some holiday arts and crafts, then have your picture taken with Santa Claus after his big flight.

Bethesda’s Winter Wonderland
Where: Downtown Bethesda
When: Saturday, 1-4pm
Admission: Free, but concerts and events cost extra

Bethesda’s Winter Wonderland is back, turning Bethesda Row into an outdoor street bazaar. The celebration features holiday performances, a live ice sculpting presentation, and a visit from Santa Claus in Veterans Park.

Scottish Christmas Walk Parade
Where: Old Town Alexandria
When: Saturday, 11am
Admission: Free

For the 45th consecutive year, the Scottish Christmas Walk Parade will showcase marching units filled with the magnificent tartans of Scottish Clans, the stirring sound of Scottish bagpipes and drums, Scottish dancers, reenactment groups, Scottie dogs, dignitaries, classic cars, Santa Claus, and more. The parade begins at St. Asaph and Wilkes Streets and concludes at Market Square with a massed band concert. There will also be other festive events throughout the weekend — see the website for details.

Holiday Festival & Boat Parade of Lights
Where: Alexandria
When: Saturday, 4-9pm
Admission: Free

Alexandria’s harbor lights up when more than 50 illuminated boats cruise the Potomac River at the historic waterfront, led by Alexandria’s fireboat Vigilant and Washington, DC’s fireboat John Glenn. Before and after the parade, stop in to the Torpedo Factory Art Center’s Holiday Open House between 4-9pm to enjoy performances by the Alexandria Choral Society plus gift shopping in open artist studios.

College Hoops
Where: Local colleges
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Ticket prices vary

It’s college b-ball season, and with so many universities in the area, there’s always some good hoops action going on. Both the GWU and Georgetown men’s team play in the BB&T Classic on Sunday, while the GWU women host Illinois (tickets here). At George Mason, the men match up against Mercer on Saturday evening (tickets here). The AU and Howard men keep it local tomorow, and the AU women host William & Mary (tickets here). And it’s Maryland vs. Oklahoma State for the men, and against UMBC for the women (tickets here). Go, Terps!

Star Wars Days
Where: Garfield High School in Woodbridge
When: Saturday & Sunday
Admission: $10, 4 and under are free

Star Wars Days is a one of kind place for all things Star Wars, Sci-Fi, Comics, Anime, Cosplay, Scouting, and STEM! Over 20 artists will showcase their crafts and more. And you can browse more than 30 tables of toys, clothing, jewelry, collectibles, lightsabers, comics, glassware, custom products, geek candies, and lots of other great items.

Holiday Book Sale
Where: Silver Spring Library
When: Saturday, 12-4pm
Admission: Free

Browse a great selection of gently used books for children and adults at the Silver Spring Library’s Holiday Book Sale. Stock up with good reads for the winter and find like-new bargains for gift giving! All proceeds will be used to supplement library programming and services at the Silver Spring Library, via Friends of the Library Silver Spring Chapter, organizer of the event.

hiSTORYtime: Numbers
Where: National Museum of American History
When: Saturday, 11am
Admission: Free

Check out the new program for children ages 0 to 6 with various themes, this week numbers. Early learners and their caregivers will have the chance to hear a story and participate in hands-on activities and crafts inspired by objects from the museum’s collection. Children can listen to counting stories, create art with numbers and learn about numbers, colors, and shapes with toy clocks.

Winter Wonderland
Where: Burke Lake Park
When: Saturday & Sunday, 10am – 4pm
Admission: $15/advance, $20/at event

Celebrate the season with a train ride on the Holiday Express at Burke Lake’s Winter Wonderland. Enjoy a tour on the U.S.S. Reindeer, then take a spin on the Carolers Carousel, experience the Snowman’s Wagon Ride, play Gingerbread Man’s Golf, or warm yourself by the fire and toast s’mores. Hot chocolate, spiced cider and candy canes will also be available. And don’t miss a visit with Santa!

A Spin on the Carousel
Where: Arena Stage
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Tickets start at $64

The Rodgers and Hammerstein classic, Carousel, is running at Arena Stage — and it’s wonderful! Owen and I saw the musical a couple of weeks ago, and we were both completely captivated and moved by the show. Brilliant performances by the talented cast, a simple yet beautiful theatre-in-the-round-setting, and a story that is emotional and hopeful make for a superb theatre experience. I recommend it for ages 10 and up, or make it a date night.

The Secret Garden
Where: Sidney Harman Hall
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Tickets start at $44

Shakespeare Theatre Company brings the beloved children’s story to life on stage in a beautiful, enchanting production. When orphaned, 10-year-old Mary Lennox moves to England to stay with her uncle, she seeks refuge in her late aunt’s mysterious walled garden and discovers amazing secrets. The show is getting rave reviews — Sasha and I think they are well-deserved. It’s one that kids and adults can enjoy, though the long running time (2.5 hours with intermission) and somber tone could make some some children antsy.

Holidays on Stage
Where: Local theatres
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by venue

If you’re looking for holiday-inspired entertainment, there’s plenty of that now. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe opens at Adventure Theatre this weekend. Enjoy the ultimate holiday classic The Nutcracker performed by the Washington Ballet at Warner Theatre or catch a tot-friendly version at The Puppet Co. Join the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future as they lead Scrooge on A Christmas Carol journey at Ford’s Theatre, or see Disney’s Beauty and the Beast at Imagination Stage. Get details on these shows and see what else is coming up in the 2016 Holiday Guide.

Show Time
Where: Around the area
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by venue

For shows without the seasonal trimmings, see InterAct Story Treatre’s Cantaré. Reserve free tickets to Music Around the World, this week’s Saturday morning at the National performance. Enjoy Adventures with Mr. Bear at The Lab at Convergence. Or take little ones to Aquarium at Imagination Stage.

Carpe Noctem
Where: St. Jerome Academy in Hyattsville, MD
When: Saturday
Admission: $5/adult, free for kids

Seize the night while you sip and shop, perusing the aisles for beautiful, unique gifts. The event supporting the students of St. Jerome Academy features two levels of shopping fun. In addition to many talented vendors and live music throughout the evening, Carpe Noctem has various dinner options, wine, beer, tasty desserts, and warm drinks for kids available for purchase. Children can enjoy face-painting, a photo op with St. Nicholas, and coloring activities. Customers will receive a complementary drink with their paid admission.

Photos with Santa
Where: Fellowship Hall at Foundry Church
When: Saturday, 10am – 12pm
Admission: Free

Friends of Stead Park and Foundry Church are hosting a Community Christmas Festival in the beautiful, new Fellowship Hall at Foundry. Kids can take a photo with Santa, write a him letter, create an ornament, or make a gingerbread house ($15). To order a gingerbread house in advance visit go here.

Christmas is Afoot
Where: Fall Church, 384 N Washington St.
When: Saturday, 4-8pm,
Admission: Free

Take a walk through Bethlehem! All are welcome to go on historically-themed journey to interact with Bethlehem street vendors and artisans, and explore the booths of potters, scribes, woodworkers, and the like, as Mary and Joseph would have seen in their travels. Head into the marketplace, where you will be able to participate in a service project putting together health kits for unhoused people in the community. End the passage through time outside with warm refreshments and carol singing around fire-pits.

Make Room for Latkes
Where: Edlavitch DCJCC
When: Sunday, 10:30am – 12pm
Admission: $10/family in advance, $15 at door

Get the Chanukah celebration started early with the DCJCC! At this family event, activities include crafts, cooking, singing, candle lighting, latkes, a mitzvah (good deed) project, and take-home goodies. It’s a perfect morning for Jewish and interfaith families with children ages 3 and older.

Holiday Shop
Where: Markets around the area
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Mostly free

Get through your gift list and have a good time! There are several special holiday markets around the area, where you can find unique presents and then some. Head to Penn Quarter or Dupont Circle or Alexandria for great seasonal markets or to Capitol Hill for a weekend institution. More info about them all is available in the 2016 Holiday Guide. And if you need gift ideas — for all ages, interests, and prices (even free!) — be sure to check out the KFDC Gift Guide!

Skaters Gonna Skate
Where: Local ice rinks
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by venue

‘Tis the season for outdoor ice skating, so lace up and get gliding. Enjoy art as you skate at the Sculpture Garden; circle the rink at Washington Harbour on Saturday morning; meander the paths at Canal Park; or do some holiday shopping then skate at Pentagon Row, Veteran’s Plaza, Rockville Town Square, or Reston Town Center. This post has details on alfresco (and indoor) ice skating options in the area. And note Washington Harbor is hosting Cartoon Skate on Saturday morning!

Go East
Where: National Gallery of Art
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Free

For some museum-ing on the Mall without festival crowds, head to the National Gallery. The recently reopened East Building is remarkable and will impress all ages. I just posted about it with lots of pics to give you a glimpse, but plan a visit for yourself.

Chill Out(side)
Where: Around the area
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by locale

I’m a big proponent of getting outdoors, no matter what the weather. So, just because the temps are dropping, that doesn’t mean you can’t spend time outside. Roam free at Dumbarton Oaks (no admission fee this time of year). Hit the trail at Riverbend, Cunningham Falls, Rock Creek, and more. Explore the National Arboretum or Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens. Hang out at Hains Point. Hit the playground at Watkins, Cabin John, or ClemyjontriParks. Find even more ideas in this post about great outdoor pursuits with kids.

The Great Indoors
Where: Around the area
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by activity

If you’d prefer to spend the day indoors, or just want to see what else there is to do around town, this post has 80+ ideas for activities.


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Scenes from the National Gallery of Art East Building

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It’s been a few months since the reopening of the National Gallery of Art’s East Building. The wing that houses museum’s modern and contemporary collections was closed for several years while it was being renovated. The upgrade didn’t just enhance the interior; it also added over 12,000 feet of space. There is now a rooftop with views of the Capitol, Smithsonian Castle, and downtown DC, as well as two tower galleries — one of them dedicated to Alexander Calder’s mobiles, the other showcasing Mark Rothko’s abstract works. Both excellent additions to an already remarkable place.

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We visited the updated museum the first weekend it was open and have been back several times since. (I really can’t express enough how incredibly lucky we are to have world-class museums right in our backyard that we can easily pop into without having to pay an admission fee. Sometimes we go on whim when we’re out on a bike ride or happen to be driving nearby and see a free parking space.) I’m just now, though, getting around to posting some photos from our visits.

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Surely, by now you’ve seen pictures of the giant, royal blue cockerel that stands on the rooftop (a sculpture called Hahn/Cock). It’s quirky and cool, for sure, but there are plenty more eye-popping, beautiful, and evocative works to view. Here’s a glimpse of some of them. But you need to pop in or make a plan to go and experience it all for yourself.

The National Gallery of Art is open Monday – Saturday 10am – 5pm, and Sunday 11am – 6pm. Admission is free.

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Filed under All ages, Art, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Free, Museums, Ongoing, Weekdays, Weekend

The 2016 KFDC Holiday Gift Guide

Presents!

Presents!


As the holiday season hits full swing, many of us are thinking about gifts for family and friends. So just like last year, I’m taking the opportunity to 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 local businesses and people offering unique products and experiences as well as organizations that are doing great things. And then there are some ideas that are simply fun and enriching. You might notice some things are back from last year, but that’s because they’re worth repeating (kind of like the photo above). None of these recommendations are sponsored; they’re just things that I truly like and think you and yours might, too. Happy gifting!

Made by Sasha: Glowing space mobile

Made by Sasha: Glowing space mobile

Tinker, Create, and Innovate
Just when I thought my kids were moving on from Kiwi Crate after several years of receiving the monthly craft box subscription, they have assured me they still love it, recently delving into projects like a glowing space mobile and groovy lava lamp. Hence, I’m endorsing the products with fervor once again. The original kit comes with all the supplies needed to make an adorable craft. There is also the Koala Crate for ages 3-5, the Doodle Crate for ages 9-16+, and the Tinker Crate also for ages 9-16+. Sasha still enjoys the Kiwi, while Owen likes Tinker-ing away. They’re great to have on hand for rainy days or anytime kids want a ready-to-go (ie, minimal work for you) project at home.

An activity bag ready for delivery

An activity bag ready for delivery

Craft and Give Back
Similar to Kiwi Crate, but with a philanthropic twist, Little Loving Hands provides pre-packaged children’s craft kits where the end product is used to contribute towards supporting a philanthropic cause. 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. One Sasha worked on was a sweet little activity bag that was sent to a patient at the Children’s Inn at NIH.

Cover to cover inspiration

Cover to cover inspiration

Banish Boredom
This book is a bible of fun, educational, and just really awesome ideas for crafts, science projects, outings, and other activities with kids. And, as its title states, parents will enjoy them just as much as their babes. Banish Boredom: Activities to Do with Kids That You’ll Actually Enjoy is written by my friend Rebecca of the fantastic blog Not-So-SAHM, so I can assure you all of these ideas come from a cool, creative, smart, fun source. (Really, after reading her book and blog, you’ll want to hang out with her and her kids, too!) With a wealth of ideas and tons of good tips, it’s perfect for parents who like DIY pursuits, but sometimes need a little extra inspiration.


Currently on stage at Sidney Harman Hall

Currently on stage at Sidney Harman Hall

Hot Tickets
There’s so much great live entertainment both currently running and coming to local stages soon, that would make fantastic presents for kids and adults. A few shows to consider this season are The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe at Adventure Theatre; Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas at the National Theatre; The Secret Garden by Shakespeare Theatre Company; Disney’s Beauty and the Beast at Imagination Stage; Carousel and Moby Dick at Arena Stage; and Into the Woods at the Kennedy Center. And coming up next year: A National Symphony Orchestra concert especially for children, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood at Lisner Auditorium, Monster Jam at the Verizon Center, or The Harlem Globetrotters at EagleBank Arena.

A super fly gift

A super fly gift

Take Flight
For kids and adults who like thrilling adventures, consider a gift certificate to iFLY Loudoun. This opportunity to experience “flying” without stepping foot in (or out of) an airplane is fairly new to the area — and guaranteed to make any thrill seeker’s day. Meant to simulate skydiving, flights take place in a vertical wind tunnel on a smooth cushion of air created by high-powered fans that enable people to float. It’s incredibly exhilarating, but also a splurge, making it a special and unique present. Read more about the experience here.

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

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

Members Only
For children who aren’t quite old enough to fly or take in a big show, consider a membership to a museum. The National Building Museum offers family memberships for $90/year, getting you all into the Building Zone and most exhibits free of charge (regularly $3-10/person). Port Discovery in Baltimore is another great one with loads of hands-on, curiosity-peaking, educational, fun exhibits that keep kids engaged for hours. Family memberships for the year start at $114 (admission is $14.95/person), and right now they are offering 10% off if you purchase by December 31!

Get your game on at Labyrinth

Get your game on at Labyrinth

Game Time
DC’s best shop for board games and puzzles recently expanded, so they have even more fantastic options for holiday gifts at Labyrinth Game Shop on Capitol Hill. This is one of my go-tos for birthday party presents and always a stop for some shopping this time of year. Since I first wrote about the store when it opened six 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.

A robust selection of kids' reads

A robust selection of kids’ reads

Book It
Combine your shopping trip to Labyrinth with a stop next door at East City Book Shop, one of the newest retail establishments to open on Capitol Hill, and a really great one, at that. The store doesn’t just have an excellent selection of books from all genres, you’ll also find gifts for children and adults, some of the cutest and most clever greeting cards, and friendly service from staff who will also offer good recommendations if you’re stumped on what to get. You may also end up making plans to return to one of their events — they host weekly story time for kids, book discussions, author readings, and more.

Capture them with this gift

Capture them with this gift

Picture Perfect Presents
How about a gift that includes your whole gang? Present them (and yourself!) with a family portrait session — I know just the right photographer for it. I have adored Darcy Troutman’s photos forever, mostly on her blog No Monsters in My Bed. But over the last couple of years, she has started her own photography business capturing families and weddings, helping people make and preserve memories. Her style is unique and the photos gorgeous, but her approach to her work is what really makes it special. Also, she’s funny and sweet and really comfortable to be around, the ideal personality for the job. Plus, her photos will not only capture this time in your lives, they’ll make for great gifts for extended family throughout the year, too.

DC Kid

DC Kid

T’s That Salute DC
If you’re looking for a fun “DC” gift, check out Sneekis. I discovered this local T-shirt company that specializes in DC-themed wear through Instagram last year. Their clever designs incorporate local sports and recreation, plus a zeal for the District that giftees can proudly boast across their chests. Since then, they’ve also started making T’s in children’s sizes, so tiny Washingtonians can represent, too! Read more about them here.

Out of the mouths of babes

Out of the mouths of babes

T’s with ‘Tude
Recently launched by the fabulous Shannon who writes But I Do Have a Law Degree, Kidsults is an online store of t-shirts, onesies, and other products featuring her kids’ best (hilarious!) insults. “Your hugs are boring,” “I will never forgive you, even when you’re dead,” “I didn’t like you when I was a baby,” are just a few of the zingers printed on a variety of items. Perfect for parents and kids with a great sense of humor — just like Shannon. If you check out the Kidsults website, you’ll see exactly what I mean.

Love my LuLaRoe dress

Love my LuLaRoe dress

Clothes for Comfort
You’ve probably heard by now about the LuLaRoe clothing line for women and children, as online boutiques have been popping up all over social media. I was recently introduced to it by local seller Jill O’Hanlon and now understand what the hype is all about. The clothes are incredibly comfortable — and really cute, too. There are dresses, t-shirts, tunics, cardigans, and you can mix and match many of them. But the leggings, which are super soft and in all kinds of fun prints and colors, are their signature piece and would make great stocking stuffers. The kids clothes are also adorable and comfy, and the prices are reasonable, too! Join Jill’s Facebook group to start shopping.

gift_gtghGifts That Give Hope
How about boxing up hope and happiness? 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 Saturday, December 10, at Discovery Elementary School from 10am – 2pm. You can also purchase online.

A trove of international treasures

A trove of international treasures

Global Gifts
Help support people in developing countries while you shop for fabulous, unique, hand crafted gifts, all brought to you with fair trade practices. This is what you can expect at Trade Roots in Arlington. I visited the store for the first time a couple of months ago and was so impressed by both the amazing selection — jewelry, accessories, art, house wares, neat items for children — and values on which the shop operates. As owner Lisa Ostroff explains on her website, “Fair trade respects and appreciates hardworking people, provides a living wage for marginalized populations, supports the conservation of the environment, and empowers women and minorities.” These are gifts that go a long way…all around the world.

Gifts for all ages at the National Gallery

Gifts for all ages at the National Gallery

Enter Through the Museum Gift Shop
We have some pretty amazing museums in our city, and many of their gift shops echo the impressive collections and have items that are an extension of their programs. It’s not just prints of paintings you see; you can buy books, puzzles, accessories, games, housewares, and lots of children’s items that are artistic, clever, and innovative. For instance, Smithsonian’s Spark!Lab Kit is available at the National Museum of American History — and a great time to purchase it is this weekend, December 3 & 4, at the annual Smithsonian Holiday Festival. And I highly recommend browsing shops at some of the other museums in town: The National Building Museum, International Spy Museum, and Newseum all have particularly great inventory.

Free to be at the Arboretum

Free to be at the Arboretum

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 and phenomenal National Museum of African American History & Culture; the Washington Youth Garden, Bonsai Museum, and old Capitol Columns at the National Arboretum; the recently reopened East Building of the National Gallery of Art; the Fairy Lolly and art experiences at Annmarie Sculpture Gardens; the Wizard of Oz playground at Watkins Regional Park; a trip through history at Fort Washington; a nature walk among the lily pad laden ponds at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens. And there are many, many, many more right in our backyard.

Happy Holidays!


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Where to Play on the Weekdays: November 28 – December 2

Walk among "icebergs" at the Ragnar Kjartansson exhibit

Walk among “icebergs” at the Ragnar Kjartansson exhibit



Designed for maximum fun and minimum difficulty. Shop PUBLIC Kids' Bikes from $129 Today!

Monday – Zip over to DC’s big train station to check out the little trains. Union Station’s annual Holiday Train Show is back in the West Hall, featuring an elaborate Norwegian mountain landscape. Plan to grab a bite to eat at one of many options there or pop over to the National Postal Museum next door for more fun. Admission is free to both the train exhibit and the Postal Museum.

Tuesday – Make your way up to Baltimore to visit the Maryland Science Center to explore a variety of neat hands-on exhibits, play in the Kids Room, build in the Science & Main area, and so much more. Hours are 10am – 5pm. Admission is $20.95/adults, $16.95/ages 3+, free for 2 and under. (I suggest checking out their membership options — if your family of 4 goes just twice in a year, it’s worth it. Plus, there’s reciprocity with other museums around the country.)

Wednesday – Head to the Hirshhorn to view the Ragnar Kjartansson exhibit. The must-see for modern art fans is a mix of performance art, video installations, paintings, dioramas, and more inspired works that are intriguing, moving, and visually stunning. After, treat kiddos to a ride on the carousel located on the Mall very close to the museum. Hours are 10am – 5:30pm, and admission is free.

Thursday – Watch the airplanes, kick a soccer ball, have a picnic, or just hang out at Gravelly Point. The park located right off the GW Parkway next to Ronald Reagan Airport is a great place to enjoy a nice day, offering views of the river and airplanes taking off or landing right overhead. (Warning: Some kids find that part exciting, others might be frightened by the loud noise and sight of an airplane coming right at them.) Admission is free.

Friday – Enjoy a little time trip back to the 18th century at Claude Moore Colonial Farm. The living history farm welcome visitors to explore the grounds, where there is a tobacco barn, farm house, garden, orchard, and animals. Guests can also interact with a family portraying life as it was back then. Hours are 10am – 4:30pm Wednesday through Saturday. Admission is $3/adults, $2/children ages 3 and up, free for 2 and under. Read about our first experience there in this post.


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