Congratulations, you’ve survived the stuffing-and-pumpkin-pie season—but that just means it’s time to switch gears and get into serious tinsel-and-lights mode.
But before you head to some big-box store for the usual made-in-China plastic tree and trimmings, you should check out greater Baltimore’s best sources of more original holiday décor. Whether you’re looking for a towering tree, offbeat seasonal bric-a-brac, or unique Hanukkah candles, we’ve got you covered with our roundup of a dozen holiday stores, sources, sights, and services—just think, one for each of the 12 days of Christmas.
Annapolis Country Store
Locally known as stocking-stuffer specialists, the Annapolis Country Store carries old-fashioned, small items for children and adults, from harmonicas and slide whistles to Mason Pearson hairbrushes and home fragrances. Create a cozy holiday atmosphere with glass ornaments, boxed cards, hand-carved German incense smokers, holiday napkins, dinner candles in red, green, and white, or a selection of Robin Reed English crackers filled with small prizes, including a set of whistles with sheet music and a tiny conductor’s baton. And you night- owls can shop late at three Midnight Madness events on December 5, 12, and 19. 53 Maryland Ave., Annapolis, 410-269-6773, annapoliscountrystore.com.
Bearing Gifts/Holiday House at Savage Mills
Find hundreds of ornaments and decorated trees in a range of sizes, from table-toppers to eight-footers, at this jewel-box-sized shop in Historic Savage Mill. Here, Jim Shore resin figurines share space with Fontanini nativities, poseable elves, and berry, green, glitter, and pearl garlands, along with contemporary stocking stuffers like texting gloves. When you’re finished browsing, check out holiday events at the Mill, including visits from carolers and breakfast with Santa. New Weave Building at Historic Savage Mill, 8600 Foundry St., Savage, 301-498-6871, savagemill.com/bearing-gifts.
The Becker Group
The Becker Group certainly has the Baltimore area’s largest selection of Christmas and Hanukkah decorations, with four-foot outdoor ornaments and trees that top 42 feet. (No, that’s not a typo.) Though their primary business is supplying seasonal décor for public spaces like resorts, hotels, and hospitals (including being a sponsor of Kennedy Krieger’s Festival of Trees fundraiser), the Group welcomes ordinary consumers to its website and Facebook page, and throws its warehouse doors open to the public once a year. Falling on December 7 this year, the warehouse sale will offer commercial-level decorations designed to last “forever and ever and ever” at exceptionally low prices.
Stick with favorites like decorated trees and indoor/outdoor reindeer, or get creative with oversized teddy bears, life-sized Norman Rockwell figures, or a weatherproof elf made out of soft play material, sitting on two-by-two-foot blocks. 2008 Washington Blvd., 800-999-1830, beckergroupdirect.com.
Christmas Decor by Hallco
Too busy to decorate? Or get vertigo from hanging the lights? The experts at Christmas Decor by Hallco will help you design an outdoor display, supply all materials and cabling, put everything up, and take it all down. Noted for its signature roof lighting, the company does everything from wreaths, garlands, and trees to lights that highlight architectural features or run along the ground. Clients pay for the season, and though costs vary by complexity, all displays include decorations, timers, installation, two maintenance visits, removal, and followup. Set up a personalized consultation by phone or directly from the mobile-enabled website, and owner Ted Hall with walk you through a portfolio of concepts and colors to help you find the perfect scheme. 888-95-DECOR, christmasdecormaryland.com.
Homestead Gardens offers fun for families throughout the holiday season, with decorating workshops, coin-operated children’s rides, and visits from Santa on weekends from November 30 through December 22 (with a special weekday session for pets). In both of Homestead’s two locations, visitors stroll through themed rooms, each with its own tree, and toy trains wind through miniature villages. Come to the Grand Illumination at the Davidsonville store on November 23 at 6 p.m., pick up this year’s limited-edition ornament, and hear carolers sing as the team throws the switch on 200,000 Christmas lights. 522 Ritchie Hwy., Severna Park, 410-384-7966, and 743 W. Central Ave., Davidsonville, 410-798-5000, homesteadgardens.com.
Irish Traditions and The Green Phoenix
Separate businesses located in the same storefront, Irish Traditions and The Green Phoenix both carry unique gifts and home accessories for the holidays. As the name suggests, Irish Traditions emphasizes heritage pieces from the Emerald Isle. Shoppers will find a broad selection of items featuring Celtic knotwork and Claddagh patterns, from hand-carved wood ornaments to metal advent wreaths (complete with the requisite purple and pink candles), as well as tartan stockings and Santas dressed in plaid. While you’re there, fill a pottery serving tray with classic holiday foods from the island, like iced Christmas cakes, plum pudding, chocolates, and tea biscuits.
Steps away, The Green Phoenix specializes in handmade glass objects with a local focus. Its artisan-produced inventory encompasses both the quirky (angels with the heads of cats and dogs) and the quintessential (hand-blown ball ornaments and stars made from recycled glass). Don’t miss the angels crafted from reclaimed movie-theater marquee and projector bulbs. Irish Traditions, 141 Main St., Annapolis, 410-990-4747, irishtraditionsonline.com. The Green Phoenix, 410-626-0739.
Kingsdene Nurseries and Garden Center
Kingsdene transforms itself for Christmas with one or more themed trees in each room, swags, mantlepieces, and small decorations like plush pillows, plaques, evergreen picks and sprays, and seasonal figurines, as well as larger-scale pieces like holiday-themed ironwork and four-foot grapevine reindeer. The staff is happy to help customers create decorative concepts from photos while the nursery hosts an open house with hot apple cider and homemade cookies the first weekend in December. 16435 York Rd., Monkton, 410-343-1150, kingsdene.com.
Outdoorsy types (and weekend woodsmen) come from all over Maryland and Northern Virginia to cut their own firs and spruces on the 50-plus acres at Sewell’s Farm. Beginning the weekend before Thanksgiving, the Sewell family provides handsaws, pickup assistance, and free baling for cut-your-own trees. They also run a country- and woodland-themed gift shop selling handmade wreaths (some adorned with antlers), decorated sleds, and gifts; and they serve breakfast, lunch, snacks, and free hot cider on the weekends. No pets and no chainsaws, please. 3400 Harney Rd., Taneytown, 410-756-4397, sewellsfarm.com.
Sweet Elizabeth Jane
Located in the old Caplan’s department store building in historic Ellicott City, Sweet Elizabeth Jane specializes in “cute, functional items with vintage flair.” The Christmas selection starts in the kitchen department, where holiday-themed Nordic Ware baking pans and specialty mixes join texturized dinnerware resembling a snuggly winter sweater (with table linens to match), along with seasonal wine bags and bottle stoppers. The winter wonderland winds through the apparel department and into home goods, with glittery ceramic Cody Foster cottages and uniquely Maryland lighted crab-pot Christmas trees. 8125 Main St., Ellicott City, 410-465-6400, sweetelizabethjane.com.
Among the “artful objects” at Trohv Home & Gift are the classic pickle ornament, felted mistletoe, humorous holiday cards, and a modern menorah that anchors pewter candleholders in a wooden base. But the shop really shines at entertaining. Pick up winter-themed entertaining guides like Ellen Parnavela’s Fireside Feasts & Snow Day Treats, and prepare to party with Christmas-printed napkins and table linens, cocktail glasses with etched snowflakes and silver branches, and small-batch foods from local producers. In addition to the usual red and green stuff, Trohv also stocks home goods like pillows and dishcloths that can be tied to the season but are designed to be used year-round, lending longevity to holiday purchases. 921 W. 36th St., 410-366-3456, trohvshop.com.
Valley View Farms
A Christmas institution, Valley View Farms finds ways to keep its selection of more than 6,000 gifts and decorations balanced between classics like Steinbach nutcrackers and new favorites like low-voltage lighted artificial trees that can be switched from colored to white lights, or set to fade in and out between the two. In addition to artificials in a range of tones, from pale blue tinsel to realistic green, Valley View also carries fresh-cut and live traditional plants starting the week before Thanksgiving. In-house artist Carey Wilkerson personalizes ornaments on weekends until Christmas, and WBAL broadcasts its morning show from Valley View Dec. 23 and 24, accompanied by local children’s and adults’ singing groups. 11035 York Rd., Cockeysville, 410-527-0700, valleyviewfarms.com.
Watson’s Garden Center
For more than 40 years, Watson’s Christmas Wonderland has offered gifts, collectibles, and a huge lighting department, in addition to artificial greens, live plants, and a DIY “creation corner” for customers to make their own decorations. Focused on American-made and regional products, Watson’s carries Byer’s Choice carolers from Pennsylvania, signs from the Eastern Shore, and Alice’s Cottage linens and kitchenware from Hagerstown. A different kind of local color shows up the Tuesday before Thanksgiving in the form of live alpacas from Monkton.Kids can pet the animals and adults can wrap up soft hats and scarves made out of their hair. 1620 York Rd., Lutherville, 410-321-7300, watsonsgarden.com.