LET US give you the first gift you'll receive this holiday season: a guide to shopping at the outlet malls in the region.
With Hanukkah, Christmas and Kwanzaa right around the corner, we know it's something you can use. Like most earnest gift givers, we're hoping it's something you'll enjoy as well.
We've included a sampling of stores, tidbits on eating places, driving directions and hours for shopping this weekend. We also worked hard to gather information on amenities, amusements, personal services and more at each mall. We even twisted some arms to get some savvy-shopper secrets for you.
We know you're savvy enough to call ahead or visit Web sites to get mall hours through the holiday season and to check on shopping incentives like coupon books and other discounts.
You don't have to send us a thank-you note.
Just get out there and shop, shop, shop.
7000 Arundel Mills Circle, Hanover
Number of stores: 200.
A sampling of stores: Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World, Bed, Bath & Beyond, Golf America, the Flag Shop, Bath and Body Works, Charlotte Russe, Motherhood Maternity, Off 5th -- the Saks Fifth Avenue Outlet, United Colors of Benetton Outlet, Zales Diamond Outlet.
What the savvy shopper knows: If you're hip and trendy or need to find gifts for people who are, Arundel Mills is the place for you. All the designer brands are here, from Ann Taylor Loft, Perry Ellis and FUBU to Hugo Boss, Liz Claiborne and Kenneth Cole New York.
Entertainment and amusement: 24-screen movie theater, rock-climbing walls, indoor ski and snowboarding simulator, bowling, billiards, arcade games, wildlife exhibits including a waterfall that flows into a 30,000-gallon aquarium.
Personal services: Nail salon, beauty salon.
Amenities: Valet parking, complimentary wheelchairs, stroller and locker rentals, automated teller machines.
Eats: Five sit-down restaurants, ranging from a '50s diner to a white-tablecloth Italian trattoria; 10-stall food court; and a number of snack places scattered throughout selling ice cream, sweets and coffee.
Odds and ends: Arundel Mills measures a whopping 1.3 million square feet, so many people set aside more than a day to do serious shopping. This mega-mall also is a destination for bus trips from around the region, so be prepared for crowds. A number of hotels in Annapolis and the Baltimore area are offering "shop and stay" packages through the holidays.
This weekend's hours: K.B. Toys opens 5 a.m. Friday, other selected retailers open at 6 a.m. and 7 a.m., entire mall is open 8 a.m.-11 p.m. Mall open 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday.
Directions: From Interstate 95, take Route 100 east to Exit 10A, Arundel Mills Boulevard.
More details: 410-540-5100; www.arundelmillsmall.com.
Gettysburg Village Factory Stores
1863 Gettysburg Village Drive, Gettysburg, Pa.
Number of stores: 70.
A sampling of stores: Christmas Tree Hill, Corning Factory Store, Hollywood Hat and Boot, Eddie Bauer, Harry and David, Pfaltzgraff Outlet, Samsonite Company Store.
What the savvy shopper knows: Got kids on your list? Get to Gettysburg. You can buy toys, books and all sorts of apparel in an afternoon's stroll. All of the "in crowd" is accounted for, including K.B. Toys, adidas, Levi's, OshKosh B'Gosh, Old Navy and Gap Outlet.
Entertainment and amusement: Santa and Mrs. Claus arrive by trolley at noon Saturday with free gifts and balloons for children. Your kids can visit with him and have their picture taken. Live entertainment scheduled through the holidays.
Personal services: None here.
Amenities: Stroller and wheelchair rental, ATMs, free Internet access at computers in food court, courtesy trolley that takes shoppers up and down the mall's Main Street and to the parking lot.
Eats: Six-booth food court, assorted candy stores and beverage vending machines throughout.
Odds and ends: Gettysburg Village is just 15 minutes north of the Carroll County line off Maryland Route 97, and only about 10 minutes from Gettysburg and its historic battlefields. Pennsylvania does not tax apparel or a number of other items, so purchases are usually tax-free. During the holidays, parking along Main Street is reserved for drivers with handicapped permits.
This weekend's hours: 8 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday.
Directions: Take Interstate 695 to I-795 north. Follow to Route 140 north toward Westminster. Follow to Route 97 north toward Union Mills and Pennsylvania (a right-hand exit). Continue on 97 into Pennsylvania. Make a left on Gettysburg Village Drive.
More details: 800-868-7553; www.gettysburgvillage.com.
Leesburg Corner Premium Outlets
241 Fort Evans Road N.E., Leesburg, Va.
Number of stores: 110.
A sampling of stores: Bebe, Coldwater Creek, Mark, Fore & Strike/Boston Proper, Liz Claiborne, Smithsonian, Oneida Home, Wilson's Leather Outlet, Bose, Barney's New York, Little Me, Aerosoles, Jos. A. Bank.