Let’s be honest, during the holiday season, one thing is on everyone’s mind — shopping. And what better place to check the nice people off your list than by picking up treats in NYC? From the famous Macy’s department store to chic outdoor markets and a cheese shop worthy of a visit, these five places will surely help you find gifts for all your friends and family.
The Shops at Columbus Circle
Manhattan doesn’t have much in the way of a mall, but for those looking for an indoor complex to shop in, the Time Warner Center is where you should go. First of all, it’s right across from Central Park and features a stunning row of light-covered trees out front, perfect for getting you into the holiday spirit. Second, you have an array of stylish and high-end shops to choose from. Stop by Williams-Sonoma to score peppermint bark, a solid marble rolling pin or a deluxe popcorn maker. Afterward, head to Cruciani for Luca Caprai’s Italian crochet bracelets, grab snappy men’s shirts from Thomas Pink or pick up fanciful kids toys at Toytoise. Once you are done perusing the racks and shelves, settle in for a hot chocolate and pastry from Bouchon Bakery & Café, or go the extra mile and have your shopping revolve around a pre-planned reservation at Per Se, a Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star restaurant. After all, you deserve a little holiday cheer as well.
For the ultimate foodie gift, head to this West Village shop for some of the best cheeses and cheese board accoutrements in the city. Sample slivers of imported French gabietou and locally sourced, cave-aged Hudson Flower from Old Chatham Sheepherding Company before creating your own gift set. Or, choose from the store’s carefully curated crates like Top Shelf, a box brimming with Ibérico ham, small-batch Parmigiano Reggiano, fig and almond cake and more. If you want a true Big Apple gift, though, get the New Yorker box, which features local offerings from spicy honey to saltwater taffy and, of course, local cheeses like Nettle Meadow’s kunik. The best part: if you are sending the present out of state, the store will ship items for you.
If you are looking for gifts for those artsy friends (or merely something interesting for that person who seems to have everything), head to the MoMA’s shop. Browse the clever kids’ section where you can get junior a modern mobile kit, then head to the design area and pick up a ceramic crinkle bag vase, an Olafur Eliasson solar-powered flower light, or a delicate glass Empire State Building ornament. The store also sells prints of its most famous works, and has a whole library of art, film, music and food books. If you schedule things ahead of time, you can make a day of it by taking in the special exhibit Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs (through February 8, 2015), shopping and then dining at Four-Star The Modern.
Union Square Holiday Market
Every year, the southern corner of Union Square fills up with candy-striped stands brimming with kids’ toys, artisanal chocolate, chic ornaments and other holiday trinkets. More than a million people visit this market each December (open through Christmas Eve), and trust, all of them can find something along these aisles — even if it’s just a gourmet soft pretzel or that essential cup of hot cider. Expect to see local jewelry made by Brooklyn Charm, Dead Sea mineral-based bath products from Nio, bright, Indian leather wallets sold by Cala Design, and unique items from dozens of other quaint shops. Just make sure to bundle up — the market sells all its goods alfresco.
OK, so maybe you don’t really want to shop at this hectic landmark during the holidays, but you do want to make a journey to the Herald Square department store to check out its fabulous window displays. Each year, elves magically set up one section to depict a scene from Miracle on 34th Street, while the others change depending on whatever out-of-this-world theme designers come up with — that might explain this year’s “Santa’s Journey to the Stars” angle. Of course, you will also want to head upstairs to the 13,000-square-foot Santaland village, too, especially if you have kids in tow. But even if you don’t, the place has countless Christmas tree ornaments and just about anything else folks might dream of getting on December 25.