Category Archives: Shopping

Do something FUN on Thanksgiving Day

“Be thankful for what you have. You’ll end up having more.” — Oprah Winfrey

How long, really, does it take you to eat Thanksgiving dinner? An hour, tops? That leaves plenty of time left over. Fortunately, there are plenty of fun options for Thanksgiving Day.

Watch the Macy’s Day parade or other parade on TV.

Go walking, jogging or running. Register for the Reston Turkey 5K (a 1K and kids’ race is also available), the Fairfax Turkey Trot or the Alexandria Turkey Trot.

Play Thanksgiving games. This is the best article: it lists 17 really fun-looking Thanksgiving games, including Mad Libs, an Escape Room, pumpkin races, guessing games and more. Some of these would be good for classrooms, too. Check it out!

Soak up some culture. All the Smithsonian Museums, the National Zoo and the U.S. Botanic Gardens are open on Thanksgiving Day. Mount Vernon and Luray Caverns are also open to visitors. Tickets are available for the 7:30 p.m. performance of The Nutcracker by the Atlanta Ballet at the Kennedy Center. The Kennedy Center also presents a free Millenium Stage concert at 6:30 p.m.

Have a laugh. Watch the Thanksgiving episodes of Friends. Listen to old radio show Thanksgiving programs — Jack Benny and Our Miss Brooks are funny ones. You can find them on YouTube.

Read the kids a story. I like The First Thanksgiving by Linda Hayward and One Little, Two Little, Three Little Pilgrims by B.G. Hennessy.

Play Turkey Day Trivia. You can play in teams and take turns drawing questions, or play with just two people. Here is the Word file so  you can download and print it, or customize it with your own questions: Thanksgiving Trivia.

Shop for early Black Friday bargains. Dulles Town Center, Tysons Corner and Fair Oaks will be open for shopping on Thanksgiving Day at 6 p.m.

Go to the movies. Recent releases on Thanksgiving Day will include Past Christmas, Frozen II, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, and Knives Out, a “whodunnit” starring Daniel Craig, Chris Evans, Don Johnson, Jamie Lee Curtis, among others. Be sure to order your tickets in advance (e.g., on Fandango) so you aren’t disappointed.

Take a trip. Williamsburg is a great destination for Thanksgiving. Hotel prices are low, attractions are open (including Colonial Williamsburg and Historic Jamestown) and there are wonderful places to enjoy a Thanksgiving meal, not to mention Christmas Town at Busch Gardens. Richmond is also a close-by option. The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts is open and you can even make reservations to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner at the Amuse restaurant in the museum. Luray Caverns is also open on Thanksgiving Day.

Volunteer. The Reston Community Center needs volunteers on Thanksgiving Day. Other places to volunteer: animal shelters, food banks, etc.

Holiday Party Dress Ideas

I cruised the web looking for the most adorable holiday dresses I could find.  Here are some of my Cool Yule picks for this year, from Anthropologie, Nordstrom, Dots, Wet Seal, and JCPenney. It’s like an online fashion show! Which one is your favorite?

blue lace wet seal 35

I’m showing the rear view of this fantastic $35 blue lace plus-size dress from Wet Seal because I think it makes the dress really special. The front is a modest scoop neck, and with the sleeves, this is an holiday office party appropriate choice, but it still stands out in that fabulous royal blue color. Classy but still vroom vroom!

This flirty red plus-size dress from Nordstrom was almost sold out online the last time I checked, but you may be able to find it in stores. A great antidote to the little LBD in a feel-good color and easy-to-wear cut make it a winner at just $88.

This flirty red plus-size dress from Nordstrom was almost sold out online the last time I checked, but you may be able to find it in stores. A great antidote to the little LBD in a feel-good color and easy-to-wear cut make it a winner at just $88.

This luxurious looking gold lace dress from JCPenney was actually quite a bit more pretty in the store than it shows in this photo, IMHO. It's one of the few longer dresses this season, too, for those who prefer that look.

This luxurious looking gold lace dress from JCPenney was actually quite a bit more pretty in the store than it shows in this photo, IMHO. It’s one of the few longer dresses this season, too, for those who prefer that look. This would be a lovely dress for that photo-op by the Christmas tree.

Nordstrom has some of the hottest dresses in plus sizes. This well reviewed sequin dress is $168. I love the not quite black color - universally flattering.

Nordstrom has some of the hottest dresses in plus sizes. This well reviewed sequin dress is $168. I love the not quite black color – universally flattering.

Okay, no Christmas tree will compete with you in this red sequin number. Check out the back on this dress! You'll turn heads, that's for sure. It's $188 from Nordstrom.

Okay, no Christmas tree will compete with you in this red sequin number. Check out the back on this dress! You’ll turn heads, that’s for sure. It’s $188 from Nordstrom.

The metallic touches in this simple dress make it a classy choice from Anthropologie, $168

The metallic touches in this simple but elegant dress make it a classy choice from Anthropologie, $168. This is the dress you want for the after-five holiday party or networking event, don’t you agree?

This is the dress you want to wear to the Kennedy Center to see the Nutcracker ballet, am I right? The copper lace is gorgeous. It's $228 from Anthropologie

This is the dress you want to wear to the Kennedy Center to see the Nutcracker ballet, am I right? The copper lace is gorgeous. It’s $228 from Anthropologie

dots dress 16

This adorable black chiffon cocktail dress from Dots is only $16! Love the sequin detailing at the shoulders.

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This show-stopper from Dots will only set you back $22. If you’ve got the body for this dress, flaunt it! I can see this on New Year’s Eve on the dance floor.

jcpenney emerald dresss 31 99 _80

Tired of LBDs? This well-reviewed dress in emerald from JCPenney is marked down to $32 from $80 this weekend. I bought the black version and I love it! It’s a flattering fit if you’ve got curves.

Tulle is a hot trend this winter. This is a classy number and it's only $30 at Wet Seal. Pair it with a soft cardigan if you feel chilly.

Tulle is a hot trend this winter. This is a classy number and it’s only $30 at Wet Seal. Pair it with a soft cardigan if you feel chilly, or check out their website for an edgier look with black tights and a blazer.

Cool Yule Picks for Small Business Saturday

SHOP_SMALLTomorrow is Small Business Saturday, an initiative that encourages holiday shoppers to frequent small business retailers.  Here are some local area favorites…

  • Books: Hooray for Books, Alexandria, VA
  • Toys: Doodlehopper 4 Kids, Falls Church
  • Cameras: Penn Camera, Fairfax, VA
  • Ornaments and decorations: Merrifield Garden Center, Merrifield, VA
  • Retro glassware: The Hour Cocktail Collection, Alexandria, VA

Support area nonprofits with holiday shopping on Nonprofit Sunday!

Wait, you haven’t heard of Nonprofit Sunday? I’m sure you’ve heard of Black Friday…and Small Business Saturday…and Cyber Monday! Are you telling me you haven’t yet heard of Nonprofit Sunday?

Well, maybe that’s because I just made it up.

It’s a natural extension of the theme, though, on the busiest shopping weekend of the year. Think about it. Where can you find the most unique, high quality gifts, at very good prices, in historic or aesthetically beautiful settings, and know that the money you spend is going for a good cause? At our area museums, national parks, and historic sites, of course!

Here are two nonprofit sites where you can find amazing gifts at wonderful prices — and all the proceeds go to further historic preservation and education.

The Gate House Gift Shop at Claude Moore Colonial Farm Park

6310 Georgeown Pike, McLean, VA 22101 (703) 442-5577 Hours: Wed – Sun 10 am – 5 pm

The Claude Moore Colonial Farm Park is a National Park and a true local treasure. All of the proceeds from sales in the shop fund quality educational programs. Shopping in the beautifully decorated Gate House Gift Shop is a real holiday experience.

Among the many terrific gifts, you will find a selection of new and antique books, farm-produced honey and preserves, exquisite soaps and bath items from France, Scandinavia, and around the world, beautiful jewelry, vintage linens in immaculate condition, wonderful children’s toys, crafts and games that don’t need batteries, a selection of unique boxes, compasses, and other items that would appeal to the man or boy in your life, as well as Christmas ornaments.

Don’t miss the special Book Sale on Saturday, December 1.

The Freeman Store and Museum

131 Church Street NE, Vienna, VA 22180 (703) 938-5187 Hours: Wed – Sun 12 Noon to 4 p.m.

This ante-bellum historic site is maintained by the Historic Society of Vienna. Shopping in the store feels like you are stepping back in time. The store sells a number of historically inspired gifts, including cast iron penny banks, as well as a wide assortment of “Made in Virginia” items, such as Graves Mountain preserves and jellies, soaps, afghans, pillows, candles, prints, and cards. You will also find a terrific variety of quality toys, puzzles, books, and candies.

On Monday, November 26, the Freeman Store will be open for additional hours for the Church Street Holiday Stroll and tree lighting from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Area choral groups will perform and Santa will visit at 6:15 p.m. Santa visits the Freeman Store on Sunday, December 2 and Saturday, December 8 from 1 pm to 3 pm.

A Gold Mine of Holiday Dresses in Gold, from $17 to $258

This knockout dress from Anthropologie will set you back $258 but you’re sure to be wearing one of the most memorable dresses in the room!

For the holiday and New Year’s Eve, it seems a shame to me to play it safe and go with a little black dress, when you could really shine at your holiday party or big night out.

Metallic fabrics and sequins are the big fashion look of the holiday season this year, but why stay with safe black?  Gold is flattering to many skin tones and it looks great next to a Christmas tree in holiday photographs!

Here are a bevy of glittering gold dresses for every budget.  Click on the dress photo to order.

Prefer long sleeves in winter? Here’s a gold sequin dress from Coldwater Creek for $200

This gold and polyester lurex dress has a pretty cut and is a steal from Wal-Mart for $17.88 plus .98 shipping!

A gold sequin Michael Kors wrap dress is $150 at Macy’s.

This gold sequin number from Dress Barn retails for $62.

When it has to be a RED dress: my holiday red dress picks

Nothing beats the attention-getting power of a red dress, and there’s no better time than the holidays to wear one.  Hear are five red dresses to consider for your holiday parties and nights out this year…these are selling out fast online, so don’t wait until December!

If you have a fair complexion, a deep red might be more flattering than a bright red.  This dress is festive but low-key enough for business and office events.  Snap it up from Dillards in limited sizes left for $36.

 

What a beautiful red satin dress from Dress Barn.  Love the twist detail!  This one is $70.

Here’s a frankly romantic dress with print roses and ruffles that you would want to pull out again for Valentine’s Day night out.  This one is from White House | Black Market and retails for $140.

Another great dress from Dress Barn, with just a hint of sequins at the hip…at $42, you can’t beat the price!

 

If you can wear junior sizing, then you might like this $40 JCPenney dress.

 

5 Cool Yule Tips for Saving Money on Beauty this Holiday

Dress from Dress Barn; necklace from Claire’s.

The recession changed the way I spend money.  I thought I would share some money-saving beauty tips with you.

  1. Do your own nails. You know, the look is for shorter nails, which is great because they are low-maintenance and easy to shape and lacquer yourself.  Thanks to the recession, I have saved a small fortune since I gave up salon manicures and pedicures.  Polish your nails with a trendy shade from Sephora for less than $5 a bottle (look for the small bottles), like a sophisticated silvery grey, or try a sexy Christmas red glistened with gold lustre; like my favorite Revlon shade, “Frankly Scarlet” (just under $5 bottle).
  2. Shop smart for holiday dresses. If you absolutely must have something new this season for your holiday parties, and you usually shop at Ann Taylor or Macy’s for dresses, consider budget-friendly shopping alternatives.  I purchased one of the prettiest cocktail dresses I own, a teal satin number, from Wal-Mart! I also found a great sleeveless top. The dress was — brand new, not on sale — $18, I kid you not.  The top was $15. So, if you’re on a recession budget, keep an open mind about discount stores. Dress Barn has some of the prettiest dresses I have seen anywhere this season. That’s just my personal taste, perhaps, but they really are nice, and they also have plus size versions. The dresses at Dress Barn top off, when they’re not on sale, at about $79, which is about half what you’d pay at a higher-end department store. But there are also plenty of great dresses at Dress Barn for $39 and $49. There is no reason to buy more when you might only wear the dress a few times or maybe even once.
  3. Shop smart for jewelry, accessories and evening bags. Costume jewelry can get pretty pricey.  Because I don’t have pierced ears, I have long been a fan of Claire’s for their clip earrings.  It’s really not just for kids!  I have received many compliments on the jewelry I have purchased there.  I once saw the identical scarf sold elsewhere for more than $20 in department stores for less than $15 at Claire’s.  And everyone was wearing that style scarf this fall. Target should be your destination for unique and gorgeous evening handbags for fantastic prices.  The look this year is not too matchy-matchy; go for a contrasting bright color, or skip matching your bag and shoes.
  4. Festive shoes for less. The most comfortable pair of black satin evening heels I wear that everybody goes crazy for was bought at Payless on sale for less than $20.  I also have a pair of silver flats I bought there that really kick up jeans that I snagged for less than $15.
  5. Scent and sparkle. Bath and Body Works often has a terrific deals on lightly scented, sparkly moisturizers; $5 a tube.  My favorite is Warm Vanilla Sugar.  I think a little lustre on your shouders, cheeks, and decolletage is really delightful during the holidays. I also like the their scented body sprays (3 for $10), which I find less cloying than expensive perfumes.