The Making of a Gift Guide: A Cautionary Tale

When we learned that our Stylebook editor would be putting together themed gift guides for the holiday season again this year, we were excited to contribute. We started shopping around thinking of what we could add to the list…and found about 37 potential gifts — for our moms, our dads, our sisters, our brothers, our husbands, our boyfriends, our clients, our teachers, our friends, our vet, our third cousins twice removed, and so on and so forth. There are simply too many great things available around town this year! While we couldn’t possibly narrow it down to one or two gift suggestions, we concluded we could probably pare it down to our absolute favorites (although you should have seen us struggle here).

As we are eagerly awaiting each Stylebook gift guide for more shopping inspiration, we are also putting together our own list to highlight other potential gifts from our favorite stores in Alexandria. And we’re finding that, despite how easy our editor and some of our favorite bloggers make it look, cultivating a gift guide is not easy. Below are some words of advice and cautionary tales to keep in mind as you’re exploring others’ gift guides, or if you’re thinking of creating one of your own.

1. To start, look at your favorite blogs and see how they put it together. Do they arrange the gifts by price point, recipient, or theme?

2. Keep your wallet far away from you as you’re researching other guides. Far, far away. Maybe have your husband hold it hostage. You’ll get it back eventually, but hopefully by then you’ll have forgotten about some of the items, convinced yourself that you don’t need to be buying anything for yourself at this time of year, or thought of an even better gift idea for your sister-in-law. I may or may not have made the mistake of looking at gift guides on Black Friday/Cyber Monday and…well, let’s not talk about what happened next.

3. Look LOCAL! Especially if you’re in Alexandria! You need not go any further than King Street or Del Ray to find great, personal gift ideas. You’re boosting the local economy, and it’s way more fun to wander around amidst trees strung with lights and doors decorated with wreaths than sitting on your couch staring at your computer screen. You’ve already done that enough in your research, anyway!

4. If you’re actually purchasing the gift, do this with a specific person (beyond your abstract gift guide) in mind. Treat this gift guide as a shopping map for yourself. Check off everyone on your list as you shop, knowing that those reading your gift guide will likely have similar relatives and friends for whom they need to buy gifts, too.

5. Maintain perspective. Think about your true reasons for the season. Realize that there are lots of pretty things competing for your attention right now and try not to get too caught up in the commercialism! We know (trust us): easier said than done — but set boundaries. Give yourself a limit and stick to it. Keep your gift guides practical for yourself and your readers. And remember that if you find something great but don’t have an older brother to buy for, store owners will probably love you for giving their product a shout-out and pointing it out to someone who does actually have a notoriously picky older brother!

We’ll post our gift suggestions on Instagram starting tomorrow! Follow along @pattersongroupsothebysrealty.


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Born, raised, and bred in Alexandria, VA, Britt Patterson is a true product of the great state of Virginia. Britt attended Waynewood Elementary (Class of ’96), Carl Sandburg Middle School (Class of ’98) , and West Potomac High School (Class of ’02), she then went on to attend Virginia Tech (go Hokies!) where she majored in Business Marketing and Minored in Real Estate. Britt “officially” joined the family business as a licensed Realtor in 2008 after two years of working the political fundraising field and prides herself on her Alexandria real estate knowledge, alongside her integrity, loyalty, and professionalism as an agent and Vice President for the family business.

The Patterson Group is one of the most experienced and trusted real estate teams in the area, serving Alexandria, VA for over thirty years. We offer professional, hardworking, detailed and friendly service and a large network of contacts and resources accrued over our many years in Alexandria real estate. Comprised of seven Alexandria locals, six of whom are licensed realtors and three of whom are accredited staging professionals, The Patterson Group is passionate and knowledgeable about Alexandria, VA and here for all of your Northern VA real estate needs. Allow us to help you find your home here and discover all that the Alexandria lifestyle has to offer.

400 South Washington Street
Alexandria, VA 22314



  1. Kim says:

    Where can I buy the socks? Thanks!

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