With Thanksgiving over, now is the best time to do all your holiday and Christmas shopping in New York for the 2016 season. Whether it’s for a family member down the hall or a friend states away, NYC themed gifts makes for the best present. But with various tourist traps and souvenir shops selling the same drivel, where can you find beautiful gifts that truly illustrate a New York feel?
Buying gifts can be difficult, so instead of searching endlessly for the best NYC holiday markets in 2016 with one-of-a-kind gifts, here’s a New Yorker gift guide of the 14 best holiday gift shops and holiday markets around New York City.
#1 Unique Gifts NYC - Handcrafted Holiday Gifts
33 West 19th St 4th Floor
New York, NY 10011
Since the fall of 2015, Souvenirs NYC burst onto the gift scene by connecting exclusive New York artists creating one-of-a-kind products with those looking to take home a little piece of NY.
This holiday season they are featuring an all new item made by master wood carver, David Raz. The intricately designed and handcrafted Christmas Tree features a delicate filigree design, a base etched with snowflakes and the words New York City, with a Big Apple Skyline ornament hanging from the tree itself off of a gold plated jewelry quality chain. Check it out HERE.
The shop, which is both online and in-person, stocks unique handcrafted gifts ranging from laser cut and screen printed vinyl records to wood carved accessories to handcrafted jewelry from Manhattan and Brooklyn.
If you’re looking to buy edible gifts, the local, organic candies are delicious and the Greenpoint-grown holiday spices set will add the fullest flavor to any meal. So you're sure to find the perfect gift for kids, friends, family, and everyone on your Christmas list!
Recently the shop moved to a larger space due to high demand with the holiday season encroaching. With the extra room comes more holiday oriented offerings including wood carved tree ornaments, sculpted snow globes, intricately designed miniature chests, and more, all of which make for great secret Santa gifts and corporate gifts.
This annual bazaar runs daily from the end of October through just after the New Year. Almost everything sold here has a holiday or Xmas theme to it, from the illustrated postcards and park scenes to clothing apparel and home decor to toys for children. Here you can find and purchase something artisanal for everyone from your parents to your boss--but the craftsmanship comes with a luxury price.
This marketplace relies heavily on the “indie” vibe that has grown more prominent in Brooklyn and spilled over into Manhattan. Here you’ll find handcrafted merchandise that is more retro and vintage in scope. However, since there is a new array of artists and designers every week, the prices (and quality) may vary, as well as the selection of unique holiday gifts and Christmas shopping.
If Bryant Park is too close to all the crowds in Midtown, Union Square offers its yearly forum of vendors, makers, and chefs selling holiday cheer in the form of edibles and holiday gifts for her and for him and handmade trinkets and clothing. Be warned, though: the lines are long and slow-moving while the prices skyrocket for the effort. But if NYC Christmas window shopping is your goal, this is a great place to accumulate your Christmas ideas!
No, it’s not a new species. Rather, Catbird in the heart of Williamsburg offers everything from wedding engagement jewelry to cheap stocking stuffers for the holiday season. If you’re looking to get married or just want a nice candle or home accessory, this little shop is the place to go, especially for gifts for her. The rates on the gifts tend to fall on the side of luxury, but when you’re paying for quality, what price isn’t worth it?
The other end of the spectrum, MoMA offers gifts the like ThinkGeek fans would love. Although the prices increase and the items aren’t as unique at more niche stores, the options are clever and vast, appealing to anyone from children to senior citizens.
This gift shop is a little different from everything else on the list. There’s no specific store hours, and its operation is entirely non-profit in support of 826NYC, an organization dedicated to assisting adolescents improving their writing skills. The inventory is almost exclusively superhero-related supplies (capes, masks, superpowers, etc.) and gifts for kids. But what kid doesn’t want to be a superhero?
#8 The Strand
The Strand’s claim to fame is its eighteen miles of books. While the literati will surely find something to love both in and out of the stacks, the knick knacks, gifts, and apparel will offer something even for the non-readers in your life. Trendy shirts with book cover artwork and pretty stationery take the place of NYC souvenirs, though.
Here’s a deep cut in Astoria, Queens, which is basically the new Williamsburg. Lockwood doesn’t have the widest selection, but when your shop offers a locally made, handcrafted I Heart NY onesie, do you really need all the other keychains and tee shirts every other shop has?
#10 Planet Cute
The name of this shop couldn’t be more accurate. If you’re looking for a Pusheen cat plush or a number of do-it-yourself decorations and artwork, Planet Cute is where you’ll find it. Everything in the shop will make you smile or laugh, but the selection is less focused on NYC gifts and souvenirs for out of state friends and family.
#11 NYC Webstore New York Souvenir and Gift Shop
This was the first (and for a long time, the only) online shop for NYC themed gifts. If you imagine a typical tourist shop full of the decades old, massed produced in China kitsch trinkets that you’d find in Times Square or Rockefeller Center, put it online, and you have NYC Webstore. There’s everything from mugs and corporate gifts to taxi cab toy cars and subway magnets. You won’t find any boutique or handcrafted goods here, but shopping online would save you a trip and keep you out of the crowds.
#12 Grand Slam New York New York City Souvenir and Gift Shop
If you’d prefer to physically purchase items in the same vein as NYC Webstore, Grand Slam New York offers a similar selection with the full-fledged tourist feel located in the heart of Times Square. In addition to the usual generic offerings, Grand Slam has sports paraphernalia ranging from jerseys for every team (with a specialty in the New York Yankees) to baseballs and other sports goods.
#13 Murray’s Cheese
Perhaps the most niche shop on this list, Murray’s Cheese has been around since 1940, also making it the oldest shop here. What began as a local cheese grocer has transformed into a landmark delicatessen of dairy from all over the world. Don’t worry: if your friend is lactose intolerant, they have a great selection goat cheeses as well as kitchenware to delight everyone on your list.
#14 Phantom of Broadway Gift and Souvenir Shop in NY
This souvenir shop has been haunting Midtown since 1994. It offers the typical I Love NY merchandise and other NYC themed gifts while also providing NYPD, FDNY, and sports teams relics to show your NYC pride. While you can get a majority of these items (like the Statue of Liberty and snowglobes and ) at any given tourist trap in Times Square, Phantom has established itself as a mainstay in the New York City souvenir marketplace.
Bonus: Greenwich Letterpress
This paper goods shop has a good selection of cute tchotkes and pins, but it excels when it comes to holiday greeting cards. If you’re looking to send thoughtful holiday cheer through the mail, Greenwich Letterpress has you covered for this holiday season (as well as every other holiday).
Even though there is a decent selection of gift shops, few have items that truly deliver a New York feel. Most maintain the overrated I Heart NY merchandise while others are extremely precise in the collection they offer, which would alienate customers looking for something with that specific NYC feel.
That’s where Souvenirs NYC enters, to fill in the void left behind by other extremely niche stores or overly generic tourist shops. With handcrafted goods made only by New York artists and designers, Souvenirs NYC has something for everyone on your shopping list this Hanukkah and Christmas.