Small Business Saturday deals have come and gone, but at this time of year, local shops should be front-of-mind every day. There’s no need to worry about shipping delays when browsing for presents in person, and recommendations from booksellers and shopkeepers are more helpful than any algorithm.

With that in mind, we’ve crafted shopping itineraries in five neighborhoods that allow you to knock multiple items off your lists while supporting independent businesses. And because shopping is hard work, we’ve also suggested where you can put your feet up with some food and drink afterward.

Capitol Hill

Eastern Market’s vendors and flea market make it the go-to weekend shopping destination on Capitol Hill for residents and tourists alike, but the area is home to much more. Hill’s Kitchen (713 D St. SE) is where you go for gorgeous French pie plates for foodie friends or to pick up a proofing basket for your favorite baking show binge-watchers, but it’s full of ideas for giftees whose skills lean more toward entertaining than cooking, such as small-batch cocktail mixers and pretty kitchen linens. (Don’t overlook the aprons for the littlest cooks.) The converted townhouse is the place to shop for the D.C. transplant in your life, as Hill’s Kitchen stocks state-shaped cookie cutters and wooden cutting boards, which can double as cheese boards.

For more than a decade, Labyrinth (645 Pennsylvania Ave. SE) has been the game stop: It’s the place to go when you’re looking to buy an after-dinner party game to play with housemates at the beach; the shop that has the newest Euro-style tabletop games for fans of Settlers of Catan or Ticket to Ride; and the one store you know will have precisely detailed Dungeons & Dragons miniatures and a selection of multisided dice for that last-minute dungeon crawl. There’s also a wide selection of puzzles for all ages, and boxes of Legos that run from Duplo to Architecture. If browsing feels overwhelming, Labyrinth offers a personal shopper service: Tell them a little about the person you’re puzzled over, and they’ll recommend items in stock.

Whether your giftee fell in love with plants during the pandemic or already had the best-looking backyard on the block, Ginkgo Gardens (911 11th St. SE) has something that will make their lives and living space more attractive. The scale is impressive, from giant planters and metal lawn decorations outside, and rows of mini potted succulents, terrarium-building kits and fox-shaped planters. Don’t be afraid to ask the staff for recommendations, such as which plants grow best in English basements.

Reward yourself at the Roost (1401 Pennsylvania Ave. SE), a comfortable food hall with options that include tacos from Hi/Fi Taco, maki rolls from Ako by Kenaki, Detroit-meets-Sicily square pizza at Slice Joint, and smashburgers from Red Apron Butcher, as well as 50 beers on tap. If you realize mid-pint that you’ve forgotten to pick something up for your cousin, the Roost is also home to a branch of Shop Made in D.C. — F.H.

Mount Pleasant

Walk down one side of Mount Pleasant Street and you’ll encounter Suns Cinema, an indie film spot; AddisParis Cafe, an Ethiopian restaurant; and the dive bar Raven Grill. And that’s just in the first 200 feet. Sandwiched between Columbia Heights and Adams Morgan, Mount Pleasant is a charming and quiet balm to its always-bustling neighbors.

The neighborhood is a treasure trove for the epicure or chef. Stop at the recently opened Bold Fork Books (3064 Mount Pleasant St. NW), which replaced Pear Plum Cafe. (A Bold Fork employee told me they still get customers asking if they serve coffee. Spoiler alert: They don’t.) In addition to shelves of cookbooks and food-related reading, the store has expanded, offering knives, pans and dishware. They’ve got everything you need for the foodie in your life — except the food.

To rectify that, head a few blocks down to 3155 Mount Pleasant St. Enter the building and on the left, you’ll find Nido Wine Shop and Market. The shop is warm and inviting, with half a wall lined with endless wine selections, while the rest of the market offers paella, cheese and fresh antipasti offerings. Owned by Erin Lingle (who co-owned Mola, the Spanish restaurant that previously occupied the space), Nido also offers a lunch and sandwich menu. The market challenges you to up your Wine Night game, with plenty of snacks and friendly staff ready to guide you.

Across the hallway from Nido is the Purple Patch Pantry, which is run by the Philippine restaurant of the same name located in the building. Look one way and you’ll see Gina mango nectars and Calamansi fruit sodas. Turn around, and you’re met with refrigerated specialty jams, Philippine spaghetti and mouthwatering ube cheesecake. If you come with one or two items in mind, you may leave with more than you (deliciously) bargained for. — A.G.

Union Market District

This NoMa neighborhood is always teeming with people. Union Market itself features more than two dozen food vendors, and the streets surrounding it have more than enough to keep you entertained, full and shopping all day long.

Candle smoke and “Red (Taylor’s Version)” welcome you to the snug and well-curated Shelter (1258 Fifth St. NE). Brass and linen wall hangings are perched next to jewelry displays that hold handmade pieces — some created in the back workroom of the shop by owner and designer Mallory Shelter. Near the front of the store is a space that’s dedicated to the newest jewelry trend: welded endless bracelets. These delicate bracelets are welded together on your wrist; appointments are required and can be made on Shelter’s website.

A few shops down from Shelter is the Village DC (1272 Fifth St. NE), where you can snack on a seasonal cinnamon sugar Cronut (warmed, of course). The coffee shop has plenty of vegan and gluten-free options for weary shoppers, as well as a large selection of teas and coffees.

To find a wooden or fluffy friend for your favorite child head a couple of blocks over to Three Littles (1260 Fourth St. NE). This sustainably minded shop wants to provide long-lasting toys that can be enjoyed by generations of creative kiddos. Wooden toys, such as nesting dolls and tea sets, line the shelves alongside winter necessities including soft sweaters and hats.

Next weekend, don’t miss Neighbors DC, a small pop-up market located outside Lululemon (1256 Fourth St. NE). The market focuses on handmade goods from small, independent businesses, with an emphasis on Black and women-owned brands. Four vendors will each be featured on Dec. 11 and 12, including the Other Cat (embroidery and alcohol ink art), Niftee Nest (African print decor and gifts) and London Wick Candle Co. (Don’t worry if you miss Neighbors at Union Market, it also will run pop-ups at the Brookland Arts Walk Dec. 4 and 18.) — O.M.

Old Town Alexandria

With cobblestone streets and colonial-era architecture, Old Town Alexandria is always picture perfect. But it really shines during the holidays, and not just because of the illuminated streets and Christmas wreaths decorating stately homes.

This historic district prides itself on shopping small, and King Street and the blocks beyond are home to an assortment of independent boutiques, including stationery store Penny Post (1201 King St.). Fountain pens and mechanical pencils are arranged like jewels here, and there’s something for everyone who wants to get more organized, from calendars to washi tape. It’s worth visiting just for the holiday card wall, covered with sassy and sweet greetings.

For a more minimal aesthetic, shop “slow fashion” boutique Threadleaf (102 N. Fayette St.). Attorney/shop owner Nicole McGrew sells clothing and accessories with a focus on ethically made items that stand the test of time. Peruse thoughtful gifts and stocking stuffers like hemp-and-cotton socks, baskets hand-woven in Zambia or nontoxic nail polish.

Near the water, Old Town Books (130 S. Royal St.) moved into a new space this year and it already feels like this independent bookstore has been in the neighborhood for ages. New bestsellers and classics are stacked high on wooden shelves, with a photogenic mural painted outside. Pick up signed copies, tote bags and other swag for book lovers or splurge on Old Town Books’ subscription service that includes a book club invite.

Shop for hostess gifts such as fancy candles right next door at Boxwood (128 S. Royal St.), and then head over to Misha’s Coffee’s new location. The independent roaster’s shop at 6 Prince Street near the waterfront is often less crowded than the King Street original, and there’s a rooftop where you can sip such treats as bourbon apple cider and Nutella lattes. — A.C.


Downtown Hyattsville’s funkier, edgier side makes it the perfect place for hard-to-shop-for friends. (Free parking through the holidays is an added bonus.)

If you can’t find something perfect for your best friend, favorite nephew or office Secret Santa at Franklins General Store (5123 Baltimore Ave.), you’re not really trying. Franklin’s has been a fixture in Hyattsville since 1992, and that experience shows in the quirky, wide-ranging selection of items that overflows into a neighboring building. There are walls of hot sauces and coffee mugs; enamel pins shaped like Van Gogh paintings; votive candles featuring the “Golden Girls” or Meghan, Duchess of Sussex; sombrero-shaped tea infusers; chemistry sets and volcano models for budding scientists; unicorn tea sets; Star Wars Legos; slide whistles and harmonicas; rubber chickens and “a sack of mustaches.” A funky selection of holiday cards makes Franklin’s a one-stop shop for those on the way to a gift swap.

Pyramid Atlantic Art Center (4318 Gallatin St.) is known for its artist studios and classes in techniques such as screen printing and bookmaking. But the building also houses a fun shop area featuring gifts made by resident artists. Pick up coasters printed with 45 rpm record adapters or biohazard symbols, handmade notebooks or holiday cards that tell everyone you’re “Spending the holidays crying to ‘Love, Actually.’ ”

There are multiple vendors inside the Shops at SoHy building (5132 Baltimore Ave.), but they flow together seamlessly. While you’re wandering through the maze of shelves that make up My Dead Aunt’s Books, a used bookstore with well-stocked African American and local-interest sections, your eye might be caught by the vintage kimonos and brooches at Suffragette City, or a shelf of 1950s barware. There are bins of 1960s records to flip through, and restored furniture that you might just want to bring home yourself.

In addition to restaurants, Hyattsville is home to a number of beverage producers, including Sangfroid Distilling (5130 Baltimore Ave.), which specializes in fruit brandies and Dutch gin; Franklins Brewery (next to the General Store), where sours and maltier beers, such as Rubber Chicken Red, are stars; and Streetcar 82 Brewing (4824 Rhode Island Ave.), which has an expansive outdoor patio and was founded by a trio of Gallaudet graduates. — F.H.