With a busy lame-duck session and the long hours that come with it, Hill staffers may find themselves crunched for time this holiday season when trying to check everyone off their lists.
While the Capitol Hill gift shops always serve as a trusty fallback for procrastinating buyers before the holiday recess, a host of shops just outside the Capitol complex offers a wider array of gifts to give a more personal touch.
Whether you’re looking for clothes, wine, toys or books, there’s a shop for you just outside the confines of your workplace.
Located just outside the Eastern Market Metro, Hill’s Kitchen has gifts for the chefs on your shopping list.
For the friend who thinks he or she is “Iron Chef” material, bamboo cutting boards shaped like the District are a fun choice. And at $24.95 each for the 10-inch-by-10-inch boards, they won’t break the bank, either. If you have college football fans on your list, boxes of pasta in the shape of university symbols and mascots are $6.50 each. More than 60 colleges are available.
Cocktail connoisseurs will love the silicone ice-cube trays in a variety of shapes to put a fun spin on holiday drinks. A set of two is $11.50.
Bored with the best-sellers lining the shelves at Barnes & Noble? Look no further than Capitol Hill Books and Riverby Books, two eclectic used bookstores just blocks from the Capitol.
Capitol Hill Books’ packed shelves offer a wide array of potential gifts for political junkies and fiction lovers alike. Its selection of nonfiction on foreign policy includes titles such as “The End of Iraq: How American Incompetence Created a War Without End” by Peter Galbraith and Robert Kagan’s “Dangerous Nation,” a survey of America’s increasing global power since colonial days.
For history buffs, David McCullough’s “The Greater Journey” tells the story of influential 19th-century American expats working in Paris, including James Fenimore Cooper, Samuel F.B. Morse and Mary Cassatt. Or there’s “The Essential Wisdom of the Founding Fathers,” a slim volume with quotes from the likes of George Washington, Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson.
Riverby Books is a friendly, well-organized shop just four blocks east of the Capitol. Its extensive collection of new releases and old classics includes “George F. Kennan: An American Life” by John Lewis Gaddis, “The American Way of Strategy: U.S. Foreign Policy and the American Way of Life” by Michael Lind and, for lovers of dogs and philosophy, “Lunch with Diogenes: The Greek Philosopher and the Philosopher Dog” by Paris Singer and Adam Russell.
If you’re around Capitol Hill on the weekends, Eastern Market is one of the best places to shop for gifts. Shoppers can find vendors selling handmade hats and scarves, silver and gold jewelry and paintings, prints and photographs. Foodies will love gifts from local food vendors. Homemade hummus, fair-trade coffee from Hondo Coffee and loose-leaf teas from Tea & Co. are just some of the options.
Across the street at the flea market, tenacious bargain hunters can find interesting, off-the-beaten-path items such as vintage advertisements, African crafts and handmade leather purses. Whether it’s Turkish rugs, 1970s toys or handcrafted pottery, the market is always worth a look for the adventurous gift shopper.
This brand new boutique in Union Market owned by D.C. food writer Amanda McClements offers unique gifts without the hustle and bustle of the outdoor Eastern Market vendors.
For the entertainers on your list, the charming mid-century champagne flutes ($10-$15 each) would add pizzazz to get-togethers. Beautiful fabrics made by a local family-owned business can be used as tablecloths, throws or even scarves. They are available in small ($17.50) and large ($62.50) sizes.
This women’s store offers everything from clothing to beauty to food to housewares, making it a one-stop shop for fashionistas on your list.
Shopping for a girl on the go? Personal accessory kits featuring tiny versions of necessary grooming tools — think toothpaste, fashion tape, tweezers, nail files — are a great option. The sleek kits can pass for a clutch and come with a removable strap, so they’re easy to tote. As a bonus, they are approved for carry-on luggage. The three sizes are available: micro ($35), mini ($45) and original ($55).
Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., takes a selfie with his cut-out head during the Hoops for Youth 16th annual charity basketball game held at George Washington University's Smith Center, September 8, 2014. The members of Congress team beat the lobbyist team 46-40. Buy photo here.