So what are the hottest items at these shops? Here's a sampling, according to the shopkeepers:
Christmas, year round.
The gift shop on the first floor of the House gallery carries Christmas ornaments dating back more than a decade. And they are all the rage, no matter the season, especially the older ones that fly off the shelves as collectors look to complete their sets. Ornaments from the past two years cost $11 and older ones go for the bargain basement price of three bucks. Want next season's ornament? Sit tight. It's not out until this fall.
Things from which to drink
Whether it's coffee or vodka, the gift shops got you covered. The hottest items at the Senate shop include coffee mugs ($7.50) and shot glasses ($3.50), both emblazoned with a very classy and official "U.S. Senate" logo. Drinks not included.
What to wear?
Cufflinks and ties are popular items among men. The Senate gift shop has donkey and elephant ties ($40) in case you want to broadcast which team you're on. There are also adorable baby onesies that read "Future U.S. Senator," a hit among senators.
Need something a little more casual? Embroidered American flag T-shirts ($19.95) are a big seller at the Capitol Visitor Center's gift shops, and are particularly popular around Memorial Day and Fourth of July.
But if what you really want is some fine Tiffany jewelry, you're out of luck. The Senate gift shop used to carry the high-end jewelers' works but stopped when prices were jacked up.
What's more American than a board game? Americanopoly, that's what. The board game ($19.95) is sort of like Monopoly, except you can buy the Golden Gate Bridge or Route 66. Oh, and you get $200 every time you pass by the very patriotic "Go USA!" space. Americanopoly is a popular buy among families shopping at the Visitor Center gift shops. It may seem like a good bonding activity, but c'mon. Have you ever played a game of Monopoly that didn't end in a fight?
Not as popular, but worth a look.
Need an official referee whistle that claims to command attention all over the world? (Listen to me! I'm important!). What about temporary tattoos of Uncle Sam? (It's cool mom, they wash off). Or the all-too-necessary stress ball that advertises a house of Congress/the source of your stress? (They're American-made, in case you're wondering). The Capitol gift shops have got you covered.
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