December first and I’m just as shocked as you are by how quickly it got here.

However, as I was sunning myself on foreign beaches last December, quaffing numerous rum punches, and feeling a bit confused by having them handed to me by Santa-clad Rastafarians in flip-flops, I intend to embrace the cold, the brown, the windy and the thoroughly Mid-Atlantic this year and enjoy a month of merrymaking with less in the way of punch and more in the way of ‘hot buttered.’

So it’s time to pull out the party invite and Christmas card lists, figure out how many crackers to buy for the table and find some fun gifts to delight both my gardening and non-gardening friends and family.  It’s also time to fill the calendar with just enough in the way of holiday events to keep us all feeling festive without losing our minds in the process.  That can be challenging, but I do think it’s possible.

To help you with both, I’ve compiled a list of great gift ideas AND local and semi-local events that I’m super excited to attend this year.

Because I’m a country mouse living in the DC Metro area, my must-dos and must-gives will be different than those of my city cousins who dwell in lands where mythical stores such as Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods exist. So when you’ve finished with my picks, check out a few of the links at the bottom – especially where horticulturist Peggy Ricco tirelessly scouts for garden related monthly events & workshops in the DC Metro area.


Handel’s Messiah at The National Cathedral, Washington DC

Move quickly on this one!  It’s only for one weekend  – December 1,2 and 3rd. Admission.

“Celebrate the Christmas season and the birth of the Prince of Peace with Handel’s Messiah, performed in a space like Handel would have imagined.

With a period Baroque orchestra and a world-class team of soloists, Messiah unveils the story of Christianity in a way few artists have been able to capture. The Cathedral’s soaring architecture reflects the majesty of the music.”


Candlelight Historic House Tour, Frederick, MD

Another one very early in the month – Dec 2 and 3rd, 5-9pm and Noon to 4pm. Admission.

“This self-guided walking tour takes visitors inside private homes elaborately adorned with holiday decor throughout Historic Frederick.  Visitors are delighted year after year with the architectural nuances, decorations and historical significance of these magnificent homes.”


40th Annual Festival of Lights at the DC Mormon Temple, Washington, DC

Now thru December 31st. Dusk – 10pm. Free.

“The Festival of Lights is one of the D.C. area’s great community traditions. Beginning November 30th, the Festival features free performances nightly in the comfortable, state-of-the-art theater located in the Visitors’ Center.

A different performing artist or group is showcased each night, including bell ensembles, choirs, orchestras, and more! Each performance is presented twice nightly.”


Brookside Garden of Lights Wheaton, MD

Sunday – Thursday: 5:30 – 9:00 p.m. Friday – Saturday: 5:30 – 10:00 p.m. Admission.

“Step into a magical winter wonderland illuminated with more than one million dazzling colorful lights shaped into hand-crafted, original art forms of flowers, animals and other natural elements. Stroll from garden to garden enjoying twinkling tree forms, sparkling fountains, and whimsical winter scenes. The Garden of Lights celebrates its 19th season as a Baltimore/Washington, DC area family holiday tradition.

The night wouldn’t be complete without a visit inside the Conservatory to enjoy watching G-Scale model trains wind through a seasonal landscape. Afterward, warm up inside the Visitors Center while you sip hot cocoa and listen to one of the nightly musical performances.”


A Longwood Christmas , Kennett Square, PA

Now–January 7, 2018 Timed admission tickets required.

Our exquisite Conservatory is reminiscent of the splendor of France’s Versailles with fanciful topiaries, imaginative wreaths, ornate mirrors, and more than 50 trees trimmed in classic holiday hues and sparkling crystal ornaments. Thousands of floating cranberries, apples, and gilded walnuts create an intricate mosaic in the grand tradition of a French parterre garden. Outside, colorful fountains dance to holiday music, strolling carolers herald the season with song, and a wonderland of a half-million twinkling lights await.”


Winter Lights at Seneca Creek State Park, –Gaithersburg, MD

Tues-Sun 6-10pm. Admission fee.

“See more than 350 illuminated displays and along a 3.5-mile drive through the park. Driving through the enchanted forest setting, you will experience an array of displays that light up the night. Themed areas include Winter Woods, Teddy Bear Land, Victorian Village, the North Pole and much more. Winter Lights benefits local charities such as Andy’s Safe Haven, Asbury Methodist Village in support of Gaithersburg Beloved Community Initiative, Baby’s Bounty MC, Inc., Friends of Wells/Robertson House, Inc., Gaithersburg Community Soup Kitchen, and Pain Connection – Chronic Pain Outreach Center, Inc.”


DC Holiday Mart Downtown Washington, DC

Now – December 23, Noon-8pm. Free.

“Celebrating its thirteenth year, this event boasts one of the most spectacular outdoor shopping environments in the region…

[and]  is located on the F Street sidewalk in front of the Smithsonian American Art Museum & National Portrait Gallery between 7th & 9th Streets, NW. Bringing a unique and festive shopping “village” to the heart of Downtown DC, the market features more than 150 regional artisans, crafters and boutique businesses of ethnically produced goods.

Hundreds of diverse gift items, such as jewelry, pottery, paintings, and textiles will be offered by 60 exhibitors each day. Check back as the exhibitors rotate and the selection of goods will vary daily. You’re sure to find something special for everyone on your list.”




Just a few….but they’ll take care of most people on your list!
Links are provided for your convenience and also help to support this site.

Big Dreams, Small Garden








Okay okay, pretty shameless, but I’m passionate about getting this book and its message to as many people as possible. There are a lot of garden books out there to give as gifts, but this one is just as conversational as it is instructional – and it’s funny. It’s terrific for the people in your life who are thinking about gardening, not sure if they should garden, downsizing or upsizing their garden, or just wondering what this garden thing is all about anyway and why on earth they should enjoy it.  You don’t have to take it from me – check out the many wonderful reviews on Amazon (I promise they weren’t written by my mother).

Copper LED lights

I saw these beautiful, versatile LED lights for the first time last Christmas and they have become steadily more popular – for good reason.  You can now get them in a solar version which discretely hides the panel away from the main light display, or in a battery version.  I prefer electric in the house, but LOVE the solar in the garden.  Great price and terrific for anyone who wants to beautify a display or tablescape inside or out.

Botanical Interest Microgreens Growing Kit

If you’ve been to a hip restaurant lately, you understand the popularity of microgreens on everything from saltimbocca to salad.  But you don’t have to pay exorbitant prices to enjoy these healthy greens in your own cooking.  Botanical Interests offers a kit to get growers started on their own homegrown microgreens – what a terrific gift for those who love to eat and would love to grow (without hassle!)  They also offer a rich variety of seed mixes and a seed sprouter for those who love the crunch of alfalfa or sunflower sprouts on a sandwich.

Cobrahead Mini Weeder and Cultivator

I have always struggled with the awkward size of my CobraHead cultivator, so when they came out with a new size last year, I was excited to try it.  It has now become my tool of choice for planting seeds.  Perfect size in my hand for making furrows and smoothing soil in a seed bed.  Also a great size for a stocking!

Waxed Canvas Bags, Aprons & Firewood Carriers from Lineage Goods








I am so excited to tell you about this Harrisonburg, Virginia company that began with a husband making a simple diaper bag for his wife and which is now creating some of the most durable and functional bags, aprons, carriers and wallets available.  With a timeless, old world look, they are handcrafted from USA materials and it gives you a great feeling to own something so well-made and beautiful.  I bought a waist apron last year and absolutely love it.  There are great things in store for this company.

Solar Phone Charger

How many of us go outside and find that we left our cell phone unplugged?  Probably no one under the age of 30, but for the rest of us, there are wonderful gadgets like this solar phone charger.  It means I can still listen to the RHS podcast while I plant potatoes in the early morning even if I couldn’t be bothered to get out of bed the night before and find a plug. Great gift, good price.

reCap Mason Jar Bug Catcher

I seriously thought about keeping one of these for myself, instead of giving it to my nieces, but that’s what fireflies and summer nights inspire in the middle-aged.  This cool little bug catcher with magnifying lid makes any wide mouth mason jar a mini terrarium for a hour or a few hours and can provide the kids in your life with some real, down-to-earth fun, not to mention a terrific learning experience, sans technology.

Greens Fence Raised 4×4 Garden Bed

Sometimes it just takes a little encouragement and direction to turn the would-be gardeners in your life into fully fledged gardeners.  This tool-free raised garden bed kit made from 100% cedar might be just the thing to finally get them growing tomatoes and peppers next spring!

Wireless Indoor/Outdoor 8-Channel Thermo-Hygrometer with Three Remote Sensors

It’s not just gardeners that like to know what the temperature is in various areas of the house, the garden or in outbuildings.  This one will read temps up to 500 ft away from three stations – though that number goes down with each wall you have to go through. It allows you to painlessly check if your greenhouse is falling below zero, if the chickens are baking in a summer coop, or if the dormant tubers in the garage are getting a little too warm to stay dormant.  An incredibly useful tool.

For more timeless ideas from Holiday posts on this site, including DIY gifts, browse, here, here and here.  And don’t forget to check out more DC Metro Area happenings at

I’ll add more links through the month of December from other garden writers and bloggers below:

From Garden Media Group

From Small Garden Ideas

From Cats In Gardens

From Washington Gardener Magazine

…and also from WDCGardener, the Top 10 gardening books of 2018 (and no, I didn’t pay the editor for the mention!)

…and some great gifts for foragers or would-be foragers at Atlanta Veggies