At this time each year, many of us find ourselves asking “Where does the time go?” Just as we finish wrapping, we discover, I forgot a hostess gift…There’s nothing for Granddad…That’s not enough for my wife…! The horror of last minute shopping doesn’t have to rival a Stephen King novel, if you focus and use your assets--namely, neighborhood shopping centers.
During a pleasantly easy parking experience in the shopping center off Sangamore Road in the western part of Bethesda, a.k.a. The Shops of Sumner Place, I took in a panoramic view of my options. Although nothing screamed “Apple Store,” I did have some choices, none of which required standing in long lines.
In fact, the first stop was a delightful discovery, Edible Arrangements. Who knew you could just walk in and grab a freshly-prepared arrangement of fruit cut in pretty shapes? Candi Rittenberg, owner of the Sangamore Edible Arrangements took a few minutes out of her frantic morning of creating giant fruit sculptures to show me some options. The Triple Sweet Indulgence Platter - $25 for 30 pieces of truffles and fruit - works as a both a centerpiece and dessert. “This gift will go a long way,” noted Rittenberg. She points out festive mugs and fluted vases perfect for a business-thank-you or staff at your doctor’s office.
“You can even come in on your way, and pick something out of our refrigerator case, although it’s best to call ahead (the number to the Sangamore location is 301-263-1020),” says Rittenberg.
Edible Arrangements offers weekly specials, like the porcelain snowman filled with chocolate-dipped strawberries, skewers of purple grapes and green apples dipped in chocolate then rolled in cinnamon for $96. There’s also the $73 Festival of Fruit to help heighten your Hanukah celebration - or try the gingerbread man atop a “daisy” of fruit for $40. It’s easy to find a coupon code on line to save even more, and Rittenberg is offering Patch readers: $5 off of all orders when you mention code FLYR2010.
Next door to Edible Arrangements is a Starbucks store. I always buy Starbucks gift cards for my children’s teachers, but this year, I’ll dress them up by adding a six-pack of holiday blends for $9.95. Starbucks sells Tazo teas with matching mugs, or a Cake Pop Kit, both for $9.95. Starbucks still promotes music CDs, including their 2011 holiday album. This year, consider treating your college student to a coffee brewing machine or a tea pot. For that special someone, try Starbucks Coffee Traditions Tour, where over twelve months, Starbucks sends six seasonal pounds of coffee to his or her door.
Praline Bakery is a store that is sure to help you get in the holiday spirit. A sparkling tree and the whirring of an espresso machine is the perfect backdrop to buy desserts and gifts for everyone left on your list. The decorated sugar cookies and gingerbread men are works of art. Praline Bakery sells Yuletide log cakes, boxes of hand dipped candies and gift boxes to stuff full of macaroons and homemade preserves.
CVS, while maybe not the most original gift store, can be a life-saver with a sizable number of gifts, wrappings and treats to stuff in your stockings. With sections dedicated to both Hanukah and Christmas, CVS sells gift options from bath sets, fragrance and cosmetics, toys and games, to holiday mugs waiting to be filled with candy.
While not a traditional food gift, what about feeding our fine feathered-friends? Holidays are a busy time, but as the weather turns frigid, let us not forget the birds. The Shops at Sumner features a Wild Bird Center where you can pick up edible ornaments for just $5.99, then enjoy the sounds of happy tweets outside your window. Wild Bird Center sells small $19.99 and large $39.99 birdhouses covered with seed, so when the birds are done feeding, they can make their nest inside. I bet someone you know will appreciate the gift of birdsong through the cold winter ahead.
For Bethesda residents to the north, the Shops at Wildwood are a haven for great gifts. While they have CVS, Starbucks and Balducci’s gourmet grocery, they also welcomed the area’s first Capital Teas with a stunning array of teapots, teacups and loose tea. Capital Teas has gifts for every taste—from traditional British tea to exquisite Asian pottery. One new item sure to enchant is their whimsical "Alice in Wonderland" collection.
Capital Teas has so many beautiful works of art that you might forget to buy some tea - but the friendly shopkeepers enthusiastically invite customers to test and sample their stunning variety of flavors. Can’t decide? Consider giving Tea of the Month Club for the holidays, with seven options including connoisseur, flavored, green, black and herbal teas. Before you shop, go their web site to find the “Deal of the Day” for substantial discounts on various teas. Capital Tea sells lots of honey for your honey, cookies and elegant Alessi products too.
So, don’t fight the crowds; do your last minute holiday shopping in your own neighborhood. Then, surprise family, friends and service providers with something out of the ordinary.
The Shops at Sumner Place is located at 4701 Sangamore Road.
The Shops at Wildwood is at the intersection of Old Georgetown Road and Democracy Boulevard.
Capital Teas can be found in the Wildwood Shopping Center, or on Bethesda Row.