Gifts to Acknowledge and Cope with the Dumpster Fire that was 2020

What can we say? It’s been a year. But we are finding ways to remain hopeful, to laugh, and to cope. And with the holidays around the corner, we are leaning into everything these past several months have challenged us with and revealing ways to help friends and family do all of those things. We’ve taken the liberty of selecting some of our favorite items that resonate harder given the year we are swiftly exiting. The following assortment can all be found at Penny Post.


  1. First up, a hilariously elegant, gold foil puzzle that spells out the word “CRAP”. The perfect activity and sentiment for month 10 of quarantine. (Crap Puzzle, $18)
  2. Next, the Social Anxiety Candle. A calming scent to keep you cozy for all those I’m-never-leaving-the-house-ever-again nights. (Cancelled Plans candle, $36)
  3. A beautiful reminder to keep up on display. (11 x 14″ Hope Is Essential print, $45)
  4. A charming collection of illustrations that actually say what most of us are thinking. (Everything is the Worst book, $12.95)
  5. A card for the times. No offense, Karens. (Speak to the Manager card, $6.50)
  6. An ornament that reads, “Thanks for nothing, 2020” to commemorate this unforgettable year. The inspiration for this very list in fact. (Dumpster Fire ornament, $18)
  7. This one strikes a more positive chord. The past few years have triggered a spark in political activism around the world, around the rights of minorities, women, the LGBTQ community, and the environment. In the midst of this turmoil, nearly 300 designers from around the world answered the call to create this collection of 50 tear-out posters for people who want to make their voices heard in a time of unprecedented uncertainty and apprehension. (Posters for Change, $25)


Our picks from Red Barn Mercantile lean more towards the self-care/coping-with-chaos end of the spectrum.

  1. Naturally, our first pick is this Spa Kit. Everything inside provides head-to-toe comfort. This set includes Honey Body Butter, Salt Soak, Honey Body Scrub, and Sweet Lips Honey Lip Balm. Best of all, all of these wonderful products are made on the Eastern Shore! (Lavender & Citrus Spa Kit, $79)
  2. Artisanal chocolate, mallows, and grahams. The warmth of the fire combined with the comfort of a fancy version of a childhood treat is a gift everyone can get on board with. (Artisan S’Mores Kit, Ticket Chocolate, $19.50)
  3. Starting with farm-raised tomatoes, there is nothing ordinary about this bloody mary mix. This mix is layered with fresh lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, anchovies, and a little pickle brine. Pairs quite nicely with vodka. (Ordinary Mary Mix, Stone Hollow Farm, $24)
  4. These designer matchboxes are reusable, and each comes with 50 matches tipped in a custom color to coordinate with the box’s design. Pairs beautifully with scented candles. (Victorian Holly Matches, $4.50)
  5. Forest-fresh scented Roland Pine candles are clean-burning, made of pure soy, and packed with notes of Siberian Fir, Pine boughs, and fresh-picked Cilantro. They’re presented in gorgeous mirrored glass, with speckles so when the candle is burning you really see the twinkling light! Calming vibes all around. (Roland Pine Lumiere Candles, $40).
  6. Going in for a facial may not be in the cards right now, but as the temperature drops, everyone’s skin will need some TLC. Made with a refreshing blend of Chamomile, Lavender, Rose Petals, Rosemary, Juniper, and Spearmint, this facial steam will help them relax and unwind. (Spearmint & Lavender Facial Steam, $30)
  7. A nourishing bath soak is a decadent treat after a long day. Or year. (Soothe Rose & Coconut or Relax Lavender & Aloe Bath Soak, $30)

And there you have it. One-size-fits-all gift ideas sure to bring light and moments of relief and relaxation to just about anyone on your list.


  • The latest from Lisa
Born and raised in St. Louis, Lisa graduated from the University of Missouri with a degree in journalism and strategic communications. She began her career in publishing, working for a local magazine in St. Louis. In 2011, she moved to Old Town, Alexandria with the love of her life, Nelson. They immediately fell in love with the area and after a few years of renting, decided to buy a very sweet house (that needs a new kitchen). Lisa worked in D.C. for a Fortune 500 company as a senior design and production associate for the better part of seven years. She recently jumped ship to pursue more creatively fulfilling and inspiring endeavors. She is currently a freelance florist for Sweet Root Village, and a digital media manager for her two favorite businesses in Old Town, Penny Post and Red Barn Mercantile.

Penny Post is a paper goods store offering witty and sophisticated greeting cards, notebooks and note pads, pencils and pens for the novice and professional alike, desk accessories and office supplies plus wrapping paper bags, ribbon, party supplies and balloons.

1201 King Street
Alexandria, VA 22314


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