You know the feeling: Christmas is less than two weeks away and you haven’t started your holiday shopping yet. You can forget about ordering anything online because, as we all know from nightmares of seasons past, the shipping date is never a guarantee around the holidays. (Even when they promise you it is.) We, The Procrastinators, seem to never learn our lesson.
But relax, we’re in it together this time. And perhaps it’s a blessing in disguise- we just so happen to live in the most Winter Wonderland-ey city in the country and it never hurts to grab your warmest coat and a hot chocolate to go hunting for unique, local gifts. Your best bet is to head over to one of NYC’s Holiday Markets (Union Square, Grand Central, Bryant Park, Columbus Circle). Oh, and just one tip: don’t you dare visit a holiday market on a full stomach. Make room for all the foodie booths you’ll encounter and be tempted by while shopping. Our suggestion is to get yourself not one, but at least two, arepas from Top Arepas. (Try the one topped with gouda cheese and sundried tomatoes.) It’ll be so worth it, trust us.
Now, on to gift shopping:
Brooklyn Academy of Music: The Brooklyn Academy of Music is a cultural gem that we don’t think enough people take advantage of. The institution has been around for over 150 years and is home to world class artists across many disciplines. Take a browse through their site and discover all the events that take place in the span of just one week! If you know anyone who loves films, art, theatre, literary events or anything in between, consider buying them a gift membership starting at $85 dollars. And if that’s too much of a commitment, just snag tickets to an event that you think they’ll enjoy! There are plenty to choose from!
Our pick: Non Solus
Verrier Handcrafted: Verrier Handcrafted is a women-led and operated (It was founded by a mother-daughter duo!) lifestyle and paper goods brand born and based in NYC. All their products (prints, greeting cards, tote bags, cell phone cases, pillows and more) incorporate the original illustrations of co-founder, Ashleigh Verrier, and are hand-painted and hand-glittered by women artisans in their Union Square Studio. These are the gifts you buy for your colorful, glitterful friends or anyone who’s day you want to brighten. A smile is guaranteed. Verrier Handcrafted specializes in NYC-themed and fashion-filled greeting cards, which usually include a sassy, clever or uplifting saying along with the illustration. Grab them for anyone you’re planning to give holiday cards to because these are the kind that don’t get tossed during the first week of January. They live on many people’s walls and in their memory boxes!
Our pick: Would Rather Be In Brooklyn Print
Min and Mon: Min and Mon offers fun and artsy handbags for those who believe in the power of a statement accessory. Their bags are designed in New York and hand-made in Colombia. Purchasing one of these is not only a major fashion statement, but helps support a fair wage for Colombian artisan families. Think lots of color and crazy (the good kind of crazy) illustrations. It’s like walking around holding a piece of art. We personally love their hand-painted pieces and the fact that they offer changeable straps!
Our pick: Vali Handprinted
Pageant Print Shop: Pageant is one of those rare New York treasures that has survived the test of time. The shop was founded in 1946 by Sidney B. Solomon and Henry “Chip” Chafetz as a used book shop in New York City. It had its home in several locations along Fourth Avenue, known as “Book Row of America,” for 35 years before moving around the corner to East 9th Street. Pageant now houses some of the rarest, oldest and most unique prints. During the holidays, they also show at the Union Square Holiday Market, but for their biggest selection, visit their Lower East Side location.
Our pick: East Side Characters Print
Independent Book Shops: Speaking of books, many book lovers were outraged when Amazon announced their LIC headquarters in November with the belief that it was the final symbol of the destruction of NYC’s independent bookshops. But believe it or not, indie bookshops are here to stay. To show your support, gift your literati friends and family books and all literary-related objects from some of NYC’s most beloved independent bookshops. A few of our favorites? The Strand, McNally Jackson, Three Lives and Co., Books Are Magic, The powerHouse Arena, Joanne Hendricks Cookbooks, Molasses Books and of course NY’s oldest independent bookstore, Argosy.
Our pick: Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly
Pop Chart: If you’re in the know in the design world, you know that the growth of data has led to infographics and charts being a hot commodity. Now, that seems like a useless fact for the average consumer, but Pop Chart has taken the infographic obsession and created the perfect prints for any occasion. Got a friend who REALLY likes beer? They make infographic prints for the beer-obsessed. A friend who’s a stickler for grammar? Snag them the English Usage Chart or the Pop Culture Guide to Proofreading. And for your photographer friends? We love the Cameras Compendium. They’ve basically created a chart, a graph or a guide for every curiosity, quirk and obsession your friends are interested in. The best part? They’re super affordable!
Our pick: Splendid Structures of NYC Print
American Design Club: American Design Club was founded in 2008 when the influence of American designers was being questioned in comparison to their European counterparts. The goal was to create a community for innovative designers to display and showcase their designs in the US. And because many of these designer’s work comes in the form of shoppable gift items, the American Design Club opened up shop and offers a ton of fun and quirky (and not to mention, impeccably designed) products to give your family and friends this holiday season.
Our pick: Coast to Coasters
Spices and Tease: Spices and Tease is a fourth generation business started in Naples, Italy. The brand has now expanded to the South of France, Paris and the US. Their specialty spice blends make any dish stand out. Oh, and they carry over 180 imported exotic teas for all the Tea Lovers out there. If you happen to pass by one of their shops at the holiday markets, just a whiff of exotic spices and herbal teas alone will sell you. You’re going to want to stop and check it out.
Our pick: Black Lava Salt