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MyLife in Metro DC: Last Minute DC Shopping Secrets Revealed!

Tis the season to be jolly… and unfortunately in DC… to be stuck in the Holiday shopping madness!

Tysons. Pentagon. Fair Oaks.  Take your pick.  They are all packed with the same crowds, same lines and same frustrations.   And with the “12 Days of Christmas” countdown already on the second day, the days left to shop are quickly running out!

It took only one afternoon waiting 20 minutes to park, pushing through angry crowds and standing in lines that had no end for me to decide there HAS to be a better way to shop during the Holidays in DC.

Since I know I’m not the only one trying to avoid the mall mayhem, my Holiday gift to you is my top three “mall alternatives” list; helping you find the perfect gifts for anyone on your list while steering clear of the crowds.

photo credit: www.marketcommonclarendon.net

Market Common of Clarendon

I love living in Arlington and this shopping center has by far been one of my happiest discoveries!  Whether I’m trying to nab the latest Apple gadget or cross a fashionista off my gift list, I can do it all here.

Located at 2800 Clarendon Blvd across from Whole Foods, there are ample parking options. There are two pay to park parking garages (one by the Container Store and one across from Whole Foods).  Or if you are lucky, you can sometimes find a spot on the street (meters on Clarendon Blvd stop charging at 6pm).  There is also the Clarendon Metro stop is located just two blocks away.

Some of my personal favorite stores to find gifts at are: the Apple Store, Crate & Barrel, Ann Taylor LOFT, South Moon Under & Free People. While you’ll most likely have to pay to park, for me, it’s worth it to drop in after work and shop in peace at well stocked stores without the masses.

photo credit: www.mezzogiorno.us/

Old Town Alexandria

When I’m looking for a unique gift for “the person who has everything” on my list, I take a trip to Old Town Alexandria.  All along King Street and Old Town’s “Boutique” District you’ll find adorable stores filled with home décor items, jewelry, fashion apparel, food and wine and a plethora of other gift ideas.

There are a number of parking garages and street spots available or if you are feeling adventurous (and are bundled up) you take the metro and then hop on the free trolley that runs along King Street.

The best part of Old Town is that sprinkled in with all the boutiques are delicious restaurants you can stop at to grab a bite and re-energize for the rest of your trip!

Some of my favorite stores: An American in Paris, Barkley Square (for the Dog/Dog lover on your list), Bellacera, Silver Parrot and the Potomac Bread Company.

Ok, by now I’m sure you are saying, “Those are great suggestions Kristin, but it’s FREEZING OUTSIDE – I want to stay warm while I shop!”

So for those of you trying to avoid the frigid winds on the streets of DC, I give you my last, but certainly not least, suggestion – Etsy.

photo credit: Pear & Peacock, Lisa Hopkins & Tiffany Roundy for Hipchicks Knits

This is by FAR my favorite place to shop any time of the year for the ultimate original presents. Plus, I’ve snagged the MyLife in Metro DC readers a few discounts**!

Etsy is a website that provides its customers with the ability to search for goods created by artisans all around the world on a single site.  Simply type in what you are looking for or browse through showcased items and you’ll find one of a kind treasures that will make the perfect gift.   All of this done while sitting in your favorite chair in the warmth of your home.

Three of my favorite vendors on the site are: Pear and Peacock, Lisa Hopkins Design, and Hipchicks Knits.

I love Pear and Peacock not just for the jewelry but also for the extra thought that is placed behind each piece.  Designer Erin McCloskey uses earth friendly, non-mined, recycled metals along with vintage beads and components to help lessen its impact on the environment.  I think its great to give a gift to someone knowing that designer went the extra mile to be eco-friendly while creating it.

Lisa Hopkins creates etched silver jewelry featuring hand lettered calligraphy and artwork. She takes pride in each of her pieces and is more than willing to work with you on custom orders. I personally have purchased some of Lisa’s jewelry and wear my ginkgo necklace everyday – I absolutely love it.

Finally, there’s Rachel Gallager’s Hipchicks Knits.   Rachel started selling hats when she discovered her passion for knitting could be used for good.  She learned that a baby loses 80% of his or her body heat through the top of their head and wanted to do her part to help.  All of the hats featured on her site are hand knit by Rachel and for every hat you purchase she knits and donates TWO for charity.  What an awesome opportunity to help to a baby in need while sharing warmth with a child on your gift list!

**Special MyLife in Metro DC discounts: When making a purchase on Lisa Hopkins Design enter in the coupon code: MERRY2010 at checkout and receive a special 10% discount from now till the end of 2010 and when purchasing from Hipchicks Knits enter Coupon Code: Holiday10 at checkout to receive a special 10% off all her hats! Thank you both for the Holiday specials!

Well there you have it.  My DC shopping secrets – revealed.  Hopefully you’ll read this early enough for to skip the lines and be able to spend a little extra time enjoying the Holiday season.  Happy Shopping!

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