Over the last few decades, I have become less and less enchanted with shopping malls. They remind me of cable television: lots and lots of choices, but very little of any value. So do not expect to see me in the crowds on Black Friday. Actually, I much prefer to do my shopping with a cup of coffee and a keyboard. However, over the last couple of years I have been stirred from my comfy chair to explore some local offering. I have really been enjoying the "buy local" movement, both for food and for unique gifts.
Here in the DC area, I strongly encourage you to make it over to the Workhouse Arts Center. This is a lively hub of artisans with amazing talent. They will be hosting a special Black Friday showcase from 9am to 7pm. I also love checking out the many refurbished historic downtowns in the area. Old Town Alexandria is probably the most well known, but I love Old Town Manassas. Historic Occoquan also offers cute shops and restaurants.
Virginia wineries offer another great local shopping opportunity. There are hundreds. My favorites are Cobbler Mountain, Barrel Oak Winery, Paradise Springs, Unicorn Winery, and Morais Winery. Ok. I have lots of favorites.
Of course, I still do a lot of my shopping online. I am more of a Cyber Monday person than a Black Friday shopper. This is a great way to support some of our religious communities.
The Dominican Nuns of Summit New Jersey offer a lovely selection of hand crafted soaps and lotions. I highly recommend the oatmeal face soap. And I love the lavender scented hand lotion.
The Carmelite Monks of Wyoming are roasting the best coffee to be found anywhere. Mystic Monks blend is my everyday coffee but I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of my Jingle Bell Java. This coffee is only available for a limited time and it is amazing. Even my dad, who is not usually a flavored coffee drinker, likes this variety.
For those with a sweet tooth, the contemplative nuns of Our Lady of the Mississippi Abbey have high quality chocolate and caramel candies. Rich and smooth, they even come in lovely gift bags so that you have a ready hostess gift on a moment's notice.
The hardworking Trappist monks of Gethsemani Farms offer delicious assortments of cheese, fudge, and fruitcake. You can also add a musical component to your gift with one of their CD's.
I must mention one of my favorite orders, the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of the Apostles. They have just released a new CD of Advent music. I have their previous Christmas CD and I feel like angels are singing to me whenever I listen to it. This order has a special place in my heart because they are devoted to praying for priests. They support their community by sewing liturgical vestments. In their work room they have a large crucifix. Every day they place the name of a priest at the foot of the crucifix and offer their prayers and work for his benefit. I sent them the names of several priests to include in their prayers.
I am not getting any kickbacks for endorsing any of these shopping opportunities. I am just hoping that this post will prompt you to think outside the big box store and the mall and make your gift-giving a more community focused endeavor.
Do you have any favorites?