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Where Shopping Gets Personal

Linens of London (62 Maryland Ave.; 410-990-4655) carries reproduction Victorian and Edwardian-style bed linens, antique and vintage table linens, European and American soaps, and adorable baby clothes. (This being Annapolis, consider a terrycloth bib with sailboats, $8.) There are Christmas stockings made of new fabric and luxe vintage trim, $29 to $45; and for an aromatic stocking stuffer, try a bar of French lavender soap, $8.

A self-taught artist who has been wholesaling her whimsical fabric ornaments for years, Natalie Silitch now sells them in her eponymous retail craft and antiques shop (66 Maryland Ave.; 410-266-9311; www.nataliesilitch.com). The store interior is all beach house-beach glass pastels. Ornaments start at $12 for a four-inch snowman, $30 for a seven-inch mermaid. She also sells antique furniture and garden accessories, including an eight-foot, 19th-century country pine table for $1,500.


Shoppers stroll Maryland Avenue in Annapolis. (Photo Craig Herndon for The Washington Post)

Mary Mary for Cottage and Garden (68 Maryland Ave.; 410-267-7731) is known for old stained glass windows and dramatic doors. These days, owner Mary Mullins is having herself a maritime old Christmas: Gold string and white glitter transform real shells and starfish into $8 ornaments. A wreath of faux evergreens and starfish is $60; seashell picture frames are $35 and up. Need a place to hang your stocking with care? Consider the $1,575 antique fireplace surround and tall mirror painted winter white.

I lunched at Galway Bay Irish Pub and Restaurant (63 Maryland Ave.; 410-263-8333), where the duck breast sandwich smothered in sauteed onions, mushrooms and melted cheese was a winner. And I remembered to call those big fat fries "chips."

By day's end, I gave my "best indigenous souvenir" prize to the Annapolis Pottery (40 State Circle; 410-268-6153) for its $8 ovenproof ceramic crab shells glazed in teals, purples and blues. Price includes a recipe for crab imperial, that venerable Chesapeake Bay delicacy.

Survival Tip A: Many Maryland Avenue stores are closed on Wednesdays, so call ahead.

Survival Tip B: Parking is tough. Try the city's public garages first, which can reach capacity as early as 10 a.m. If you're forced to park on the street, know that traffic enforcers mark tires with chalk to establish time-limit and meter violations. One merchant confessed to wiping off chalk to avoid a ticket. Gee, isn't that illegal?

Annie Groer

D.C. Museums

Don't forget to consider including Washington's many museum shops on your holiday shopping itinerary, especially if you're pressed for time. They tend to be quite small, with a carefully edited selection of gifts in an accessibly wide price range. With so many of our best museums within a short distance of one another, all you'll need is a Metro card with a few dollars left on it and a decent pair of walking shoes to hit the seven we've singled out here. In each, you'll be rewarded by an inventory of small-scale home furnishings and objets d'art that you're unlikely to find anywhere else in the area.

Just a short stroll from the Dupont Circle Metro station on the Red Line (and not far from each other) are the shops at the Phillips Collection (1600 21st St. NW; 202-387-2151, ext. 238) and the Textile Museum (2320 S St. NW; 202-667-0441, ext. 29). At the former, still in the midst of its exhibition featuring the works of Alexander Calder and Joan Miró, gifts include a green, Calder-designed elephant mobile ($57). There's also a collection of ceramic tableware by artist Jody Mussoff, whose cute obsessions -- dogs, fish and gamines -- play out in whimsical, clever designs. On a shelf at the latter, keepsake boxes covered with ornamental Japanese washi paper ($28 and $34) sit beside elaborately decorated Kashmiri papier-mâché letter holders ($28).


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