By Maureen Schweers
Alexandria, VA – It’s the most wonderful time of the year in Del Ray! The holiday season reflects the community’s reputation as a dining, retail, wellness, and arts destination in our region, along with its commitment to supporting Alexandria nonprofits year-round, a community vibe led by the independent businesses that line Mount Vernon Avenue.
“Our small businesses are truly the heart of the Del Ray community,” said Del Ray Business Association President Sue Kovalsky. “This year has been unbelievably challenging for locally owned shops and restaurants. Small businesses do so much for our community. As we brace for what looks to be a difficult winter, they need our support now more than ever.”
Here are five ways to get in the holiday spirit while supporting local businesses:
1. Shop local. This year’s holiday shopping season is more important than ever for independent retailers. Skip the big box retailers and find the perfect gift for everyone on your list while supporting Del Ray’s small retail shops, including Kiskadee, Bellies and Babies Consignment Boutique, The Purple Goose, Del Ray Monograms, Top It Off, La Brocante, and the new The Company of Books. Don’t forget gift baskets or sweet treats from Planet Wine, Dolce & Bean, and Cheesetique, and gifts for your best friend at The Dog Store and Nature’s Nibbles.
In addition to safe in-person shopping with all social distancing measures in place, many shops offer online shopping, individual shopping appointments available either virtually or in person, curated gift baskets, and more. For gift giving made easy, go to visitdelray.com/marketplace for a list of gift cards available from shops, restaurants, and wellness providers.
2. Support local restaurants. At the beginning of the pandemic, restaurants quickly pivoted to curbside pick-up and outdoor dining, placing a priority on safety while continuing to provide the neighborhood’s favorite dishes. As the weather gets colder, virtual schooling continues, and your holiday to-do lists get longer, add a regular take-out to your dinner rotation to take one thing off your plate and support our local restaurants.
In addition to take-out offerings and outdoor dining, some restaurants offer unique experiences, such as virtual cheese tasting classes with Cheesetique or virtual beer tastings with Hops N Shine. Some, including Junction Bakery & Bistro, offer grocery staples with curbside pickup to help customers avoid crowded grocery stores, while the team behind Evening Star Cafe now offers full meal kits through their delivery service, Neighborhood Provisions.
3. Shop creatively. Finish your list and discover handmade gifts online 24/7 at Art on the Avenue’s virtual festival, or in person at the Del Ray Artisans’ 25th Annual Holiday Market, held each weekend in December. “All of this year’s shows have been canceled or drastically scaled back, and our artists are really hurting,” said Art on the Avenue chair Pat Miller. “We’ve curated a list of over 200 of the region’s top artists, featuring everything from jewelry for that special someone, to statement art pieces, to hand-knit dolls, and more. For 25 years, Art on the Avenue’s goal has been to make art accessible for all. In our virtual show, you’ll find something for everyone, and at every price point.” Shop online at artontheavenue.org.
4. Make time for self-care. From Dec. 5-16, the Wellness District of Del Ray presents Twelve Days of Wellness. Follow @thewellnessdistrictdelray on Facebook and Instagram for short videos on Wellness Wisdom during this unique holiday season. And when you’re making your new year’s resolutions, check out the award-winning fitness studios of The Wellness District, including Ascend Cycle, Crossfit MVA, Foundation Fitness, Mind the Mat Pilates & Yoga, Studio Body Logic, and Yoga in Daily Life for safe outdoor classes and virtual classes.
5. Give back. In the spirit of the season, the Del Ray Business Association is collecting toiletries for Carpenter’s Shelter to help the homeless achieve sustainable independence. Needed supplies include unscented lotion, deodorant, body wash, shampoo, and conditioner. Donations are being collected now through Christmas at designated bins along Mount Vernon Avenue. For locations, visit visitdelray.com/holiday.
BONUS: Local artists have been commissioned to complete hand-painted holiday windows at businesses along Mount Vernon Avenue. Starting Dec. 5, visit the Pat Miller Neighborhood Square to pick up a scavenger hunt, or download one at visitdelray.com/holiday, pick up a coffee or hot chocolate and treat at your favorite coffee shop, and complete the holiday hunt for a chance to win gift cards to local businesses.
THE DEL RAY DOCKET
Art on the Avenue Virtual Festival
Now through Dec. 25
Art on the Avenue is celebrating its 25th anniversary with a virtual festival featuring 200 of the region’s top artists. Support local artists and find one-of-a-kind handmade holiday gifts at artontheavenue.org. Free children’s art kits are available every Saturday through Dec. 19 at the Del Ray Farmers’ Market, while supplies last.
Del Ray Artisans’ 25th Annual Holiday Market
Dec 4-6, and Dec. 11-13, and Dec. 18-20
Del Ray Artisans Gallery, 2704 Mount Vernon Avenue
Fridays: 6 p.m.-9 p.m., Saturdays & Sundays: 11 a.m.-6 p.m.
Del Ray Artisans’ Annual Holiday Market offers unique handmade fine arts and crafts from local artists, including pottery/ceramics, photography, jewelry, fiber, paper crafts, and glass. Different artists will be featured each weekend. For more information, visit www.delrayartisans.org.
Del Ray Farmers’ Market
Dec. 5, 12, 19, and 26
The Pat Miller Neighborhood Square, located at the intersection of Oxford and Mount Vernon Avenue
8 a.m. to 12 p.m.
This year-round market features fruits and vegetables, meat, poultry, fish, eggs, cheeses, bread, fresh pasta, baked goods, cut flowers, and more.
Twelve Days of Wellness
Make time for self-care during the busy holiday season! The Wellness District of Del Ray will offer twelve days of self-care during the holidays. Follow @thewellnessdistrictdelray on Facebook and Instagram for short videos on Wellness Wisdom during this unique holiday season.