University Village in the U-District
2673 NE University Village M
Seattle’s U-District is a pretty varied neighborhood. The gorgeous UW campus sits in the middle: to the west, is the Ave, an eclectic street full of small shops and countless restaurants that sell great food for a fraction for what it’s worth (catering to the poor students.) But to the east of UW is U-Village, a fashionable and upscale outdoor shopping center that boasts a huge collection of luxury stores. U-Village is a good place for Christmas shopping (and there are plenty of stores, so most budgets will work here.) It is a nice place to walk around, as the center is arranged a sort of outdoor villa, and the decorations that they put up for the holidays are absolutely exquisite. You can decorate your entire house for the holidays, buy all the ingredients for your Christmas meal, and get all of your gifts at U-Village, which makes it a big hit for those of us that don’t want to spend more than an afternoon thinking about Christmas.
Buy your holiday wreaths and garlands at Ravenna Gardens, which an amazing nursery and home store. (They also have another store in Fremont.) They have great stuff that is really sturdy and beautiful. They also have workshops and classes around the holidays, if you are interested in learning more about decorating, table settings, or just want to kick off the season with a few new tips for your garden. They have lovely decorations in autumn colors, and their rosehip wreaths look beautiful and smell even better.
Pottery Barn and Crate & Barrel have plenty of decorations for the holidays, and Williams & Sonoma has great ideas for food service and holiday drinks. They also have great seasonal candy (peppermint bark,) and delicious mulled cider, and delicious ideas for cooking game. Mrs. Cooks has great pots, pans, and other cookware paraphernalia. The U-Village Anthropologie is a good place to go for young women, whether you want to buy clothes, or something fun for an apartment. Sephora has a huge selection of makeup and perfume, and Aveda has great skin care products. Other clothing and accessory stores include J. Crew, Banana Republic, Ann Taylor, Eddie Bauer, Chico’s, The Gap, and Coach. There is a giant Barnes and Noble, if you would rather buy someone a book or calendar. If you have an electronics fan in the family, there is a Radioshack and an Office Depot. There are also three Starbucks, if you want to take the safe route and get a coffee card. The Hallmark store is a good place for cards and gift wrapping materials. And if you need to buy a gift for your beloved pet, Mud Bay Grainery has a huge selection of healthy treats and toys for dogs and cats – yes, it’s silly to buy pets presents, but everyone does it. U Villages also has some nice restaurants where you can get someone a gift certificate for the holidays- Atlas is a fun place to go out, and has really good food.
U-Village really goes to town around the holidays, so just walking around and taking in the gold and silver lights, the garlands and bows, and the Santa Claus setting is fun. There is also a little play area in the center square of the mall, which kids love. The QFC at U-Village does great catering ideas for the holidays, and you can also get yourself some nice flowers there. U-Village is a nice community resource, because although the stores are fairly standard, they are also all really nice. You can find something for just about anyone, and you don’t have to drive all over town doing it. And you can avoid downtown Seattle, which can be pretty chaotic as Christmas gets close (don’t worry- U-Village has a tree, too.)