Bethesda shops bring holiday cheer


Heidi Thalman

Pottery Barn in Bethesda has put out decorations like Advent calendars to celebrate the holiday season.

By Simone Meyer

At the peak of the holiday season, downtown Bethesda is in a festive mode. Snowflakes drop down from ceilings, bright multicolored lights adorn trees and joyful music blasts from speakers as the area’s shops celebrate the long-awaited holiday season. 

This time of year doesn’t come without a need for businesses to fit the needs of the hustle and bustle of holiday crowds — and many Bethesda shops have risen to the challenge. From Paper Source to Bethesda Chocolates, from Anthropology to Pottery Barn, many downtown stores have extended their hours, pulled out their distinctive decorations and stocked shelves like never before to cultivate a holiday spirit that radiates throughout all of Bethesda. 

Paper Source 

Located at 4805 Bethesda Avenue, Paper Source is a Chicago-based chain known for its wide-ranging selection of crafting supplies and items like cards, aesthetic yearly planners and other personalized presents. Paper Source’s Bethesda location doesn’t hesitate to get into the holiday spirit. Almost immediately after employees removed Halloween decorations in November, customers opened Paper Source’s clear doors to find snowflake decorations sprinkled throughout the store, rolls of wrapping paper on the walls and holiday-specific displays, which contain classic gifts like small advent calendars. 

Preparing these decorations is time-intensive, store manager Ryan Friers said. 

“We do a lot more decorating than other [Paper Source] locations,” Friers said. “I’m proud we’re able to get everything in such a small space.” 

Friers believes that it’s not just the assortment of holiday supplies that draws customers to Paper Source, but also the store’s staff who brim with energy apt for this time of year.

“During down time, staff will make a lot of samples and cards,” Friers said. “It’s a very creative place to work.” 

Bethesda Chocolates

Located at 8003 Woodmont Avenue, Bethesda Chocolates is one of the area’s most popular chocolatiers. Under the lights of their glass display, coffee-bean dark chocolates, light milk chocolates and creamy white chocolates shine, waiting for store employees to wrap them in edible, chocolate gift boxes. Store employees carefully package other boxes containing hot chocolate mix in wrappings featuring depictions of Santa and wreaths. These boxes are ready to go before the rush of holiday shoppers begins, employee Kahya Hurley said. 

Holiday-themed treats on display at Bethesda Chocolates (Heidi Thalman)

Bethesda Chocolates’ customizable chocolate products, such as personalized edible advent calendars, are made in-store.

“If there’s anything you want, we can definitely do it and then deliver it,” Hurley said. “Everything is done here.” 

Bethesda Chocolates caters to various customers during the holiday season, from chocolate-craving individuals who just got out of work to parents who are purchasing treats for their families. The store’s display of chocolates that are crafted to resemble shoes, Christmas trees, angels and other holiday shapes lures customers in, Hurley said. 

“The presentation here and also the flavors here are really good,” Hurley said. “When people come in, they see all the different flavors of chocolate, and they get excited.” 

Montgomery Farm Women’s Cooperative Market

Located at 7155 Wisconsin Avenue, The Montgomery Farm Women’s Cooperative Market, a farmers market, is part of the county’s Master Plan for Historic Preservation. This plan intends to protect historic sites; the Women’s Market opened for business during the Great Depression. With both indoor and outdoor vendors, the market is open every Wednesday, Friday and

A festive display inside the Montgomery Farm Women’s Cooperative Market (Heidi Thalman)

Saturday from 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., selling everything from plants to artisanal foods — their most popular item during the winter months.

On the first Saturday of December, the market puts up its holiday decorations and welcomes children through their doors to satisfy sweet tooths during families’ seasonal shopping. 

Around the festive season, the market highlights its tasty treats, such as mini-canelés and apple turnovers. Employee Bianca Bonnie said that the people — customers and staff alike — make the market popular during the holiday shopping season.

“It’s just a good community,” Bonnie said. “It’s low-key, and it’s not too much of a rush, especially in comparison to malls where there are a lot of crowded people.”


Located at 4801 Bethesda Avenue, Anthropology offers clothing, home decorations and beauty products. Bookstore Barnes & Noble was open in Anthropology’s location until 2018. Beginning around mid-October, a larger-than-life-sized Christmas tree and menorah are erected in front of their building. The arrival of holiday decorations marks the start of the holiday season for Anthropology and many Whitman students. 

Christmas tree decorations in Anthropology’s candle section (Heidi Thalman)

While Anthropology’s target demographic is middle-aged women for most of the year, the store becomes the peak shopping destination for all ages during the holidays, store manager Jessica Glace said.

“Over the holiday season we get an age range of mid-teens to late-seventies,” Glace said. “We shift to more gift-giving over the holidays, so we get more male shoppers shopping for their significant other.”

Holiday-related outfits, in particular, are in high demand at Anthropology during December. Glace believes that Anthropology’s distinctive assortment of patterns, colors and paired pieces in their clothing department lends to the store’s success, she said.

“Really great holiday outfitting goes early, so anything with sparkle and shine,” Glace said. “I think we offer things that aren’t offered anywhere else: unique styles for women of all ages.” 

Pottery Barn 

Located at 4750 Bethesda Avenue, Pottery Barn is a furniture and home decoration store specializing in items for babies and adolescents. In October, Pottery Barn begins stocking their store with holiday products ranging from Christmas stockings to cozy winter-themed decorative setups. The store highlights its holiday bedding, particularly when the gift-giving season rolls around.

During December, it’s common to see families tucked into Pottery Barn, picking out holiday-themed items for their little ones, employee Barbara Cushman said. 

“Over the holidays, we usually sell out of stockings and bedding first,” Cushman said. “But we offer the whole package, down to pajamas that match the beddings.” 

Even after December 31, customers continue to purchase holiday items on sale to get a head start for the next year, Cushman said. 

“We offer the whole package,” Cushman said. “We even move our decorations every week in this store just for visual purposes.”


This December, Bethesda’s employees have set the scene for a bustling, joyful rest of the holiday season.