Whether or not you live in the Big Apple, there’s always a reason to celebrate its famous icons and customs. We bring you a selection of gifts that say I LOVE NY in the nicest way.
Nilu, Harlem’s Gift Store
From books, prints, mugs, home goods, puzzles, soap, you will find something one-of-a-kind in this shop. Nilu features designs by city locals, who keep it real by supporting a made in New York pledge. Founded by Katrina Parris in 2015, she creates a platform for independent makers, much to our joy. What caught our eye: the Sheila Bridges Harlem Toile de Jouy Square Silk Scarf. This is Bridges’s modern take on an 18th-century toile was inspired by archival maps of Harlem. The colors can brighten up you day, and outfit. 100% silk twill. 35 inches square. $89
Add a heady scent to your space. Ellington Candle depicts the speakeasies and musicians who were the stars the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920’s and 1930’s and one of its most famous Jazz musicians, Duke Ellington. Scent notes: Bergamot, Cinnamon, Clary Sage Mid: Muguet, Rose, Lavender The Harlem Candle Co. launched in 2014 in founder Teri Johnsons Harlem apartment. She now designs fragrances alongside award winning perfumers to produce these beautifully scented candles. Each candle is handcrafted using top grade soy blend wax. $54. shopnilu.com
NYC Skyline Chess Set
Hold the city in your fingertips while strategizing your next move. This chess set celebrates NYC’s iconic architecture that all the world comes to see: the Flatiron Building, the Chrysler, Freedom Tower, Guggenheim, corresponding to their relative heights.
Available at the MoMA Design Store, with black and white checkerboard. $135 (Non-Member); $121.50 (Member). For more deluxe editions, head to the source at Skyline Chess, whose collections feature not only New York, and other cities, including Chicago, London, San Francisco, Paris. They offer a city map as the board in dramatic black, a wooden or marble board. $237. skylinechess.com
Cheesecakes New York Style
Carnegie Deli This NYC staple sadly closed in 2016, but you can still get a taste of their famous, velvety classic cheesecake. It’s what you imagine when you fantasize about cheesecake, a soft, luscious filling sitting atop a crumbly cookie crust. The cake is 8-inches, and serves about 10-12 people. It would be a good idea to buy one as a gift for a friend, and one for yourself, as the cakes can be stored in original packaging in the freezer for up to 6 months. carnegiedeli.com
Junior’s There are 35+ ways to order with swirls and toppings to suit your fancy. Founder Harry Rosen and his Master Baker, Eigel Petersen, conducted laboratory-like experiments in the bakery at Junior’s testing and tasting until they hit upon the formula for the perfect cheesecake. Original Plain $56. Raspberry Swirl, $56. juniorscheesecake.com
New York Times Store
There are so many items that catch my eye on this site, especially since I am an avid games player—that is Spelling Bee, Wordle and Crosswords. If you know someone like me, then you can delight them with mini crossword books, Wordle, the game, or crossword puzzle socks. For something really special, go custom. In addition to t-shirts and hats, you can create books or jigsaw puzzles according to the recipients birthday, anniversary, or interest. Sports fans can get a bound book of NY Times front pages on the Yankees or the Mets. You can also have any page of the newspaper framed. I love the idea of creating a puzzle of the front page of the day you request, as seen in the photo above. store.nytimes.com
Katz’s Birthday Box
Anyone who’s eaten the famous pastrami sandwich at Katz, will attest to its melt-in-your-mouth tower of deliciousness. Treat your loved one to a gift like no other. The epicurean package includes all the ingredients to make their famous sandwiches—Pastrami on Rye and a Corned Beef Reuben—with a pound each of pastrami and house-cured corned beef, half loaf of deli rye, one pound Swiss cheese, a quart of both the full-sour and half-sour deli pickles, and all the classic sandwich fixings. For dessert, the classic black-and-white cookies complete the picture. $135. katzsdelicatessen.com
“I’ll Have What She’s Having”Jewish Deli Exhibit
Speaking of Jewish delis, The New York Historical Society’s latest exhibit shows how Jewish immigrants from Central and Eastern Europe created a culture that has become an integral part of the New York City experience. The exhibition explores the cuisine of immigrants; delis in New York’s Theater District; stories of Holocaust survivors and war refugees who found community in delis, and more. The exhibit runs from November 11, 2022 – April 2, 2023.
Seen in the photo above: Anne Russ Federman serving customers at New York’s Russ & Daughters, with Hattie Russ Gold in the background, 1939 (From the collection of Russ & Daughters) The story: Joel Russ founded his appetizing store out of a barrel in 1907. He moved up to selling herring and other salt-cured and smoked fish out of a pushcart and, finally, opened a brick-and-mortar store in 1914. Russ required that his young daughters, Hattie, Ida, and Anne, work in the store after school and on weekends. In 1935, he renamed the store Russ & Daughters and made them partners in the business. nyhistory.org
Maison 10: Original Gifts from Artists
Maison 10 provides a platform for talented designers and artists focusing on selected, high-caliber products, changing their inventory every 10 weeks to keep it fresh. If you are looking for an original gift, this is a cool spot, as they pluck the coolest designers with the most fun stuff.
For something wild and unusual, gift the Green To Pink Mood Change Crème Lipstick. It was inspired by the colors of a psychedelic experience and the colors associated with the Anahata Chakra, green and pink. Packaged in a limited edition embossed gold vessel. Composed of a moisturizing blend of oils and waxes and nourishing essential oils. Designed in Brooklyn, made in the USA $35.
Maison 10 are known for their premium and unexpected scents. In this candle, Maison 10 has collaborated with the 125 Collection to create a bah humbug take on the holidays. Scent notes: Sparkling birch freshness from pine flowers with touches of shimmering white pepper, and sparkling pearl. The perfect fragrance for a cozy evening at home for the holidays. Made with soy wax, a lead-free cotton wick and produced with premium fragrance oils created by a top perfumer in NYC. $55. maison10.com
Public Radio Fans: WNYC nostalgia
In addition to the standard hoodies, mugs, baseball caps, and such, WNYC sells their original vintage posters of the station when it launched in 1937. They have the style of something out of a Wes Anderson movie, and show a simpler time when radio was considered cutting edge. The two renderings were created by architect Allan Gordon Lorimer and show the radio station’s AM signal being broadcast from twin antennas. The site is now a waterfront park in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Available in three sizes: 12 x 16.5, 19.5 x 27, and 24 x 33.25 inches. Prices range from $70 for an art print, to the large, fully matted and framed, $515. shop.wnyc.org
The Art of the Japanese Cocktail
Here’s a book that shows you how to re-create cocktails from a top New York City mixologist. If you’ve been to Katana Kitten in the West Village, you have probably enjoyed drinks prepared by the charming Masahiro Urushido. This book gives you his back story—from a youth in Japan to becoming a leading bartender in NYC. The book has 90 gorgeous recipes for both cocktails and bar snacks, with stunning photography by Eric Medsker. Master the art of the highball, boilermaker, and Japanese-inpired cocktails, plus learn how to make the stunning garnishes and powders that take the cocktails up to the next level. Snack recipes include Japanese-styled: deviled eggs, grilled cheese, crispy chicken, and nori fries. Gift this to the person who loves to shake it up… and hopefully makes cocktails for you. www.amazon.com
500 Hidden Secrets of New York
Of course, this list would not be complete without a book that has recommendations that could take many years to cover all. Take a gander at 500 Hidden Secrets of New York, written by moi, which gives you, not necessarily secrets, but expert advice from someone who loves the city and lives to explore it’s many wonders, especially in the epicurean realm. Make sure to get the updated version with Wonder Wheel on the cover. amazon.com
New York Adventure Club
The city has endless things to do and see. Here’s a group that really delves into historical wonders, ethnic customs and eating rituals, and in-depth explorations that open your eyes to things you have walked by a million times. The New York Adventure Club features ten or more fun outings a month that will get you stomping around town. There are also virtual events, for those who want to love the city from afar. Events cost start at $10 for virtual events up to $105, for a private pop-up dinner. Gift cards start at $25 and go up to $200 (which gets you a $30 gift for yourself) with fun graphics on the card (as seen in the photo above). The gift card lets the recipient choose the event they like, the card never expires, so can be used whenever. nyadventureclub.com
Eleni’s New York New York Cookie Gift Set
Rich, butter cookies in iconic New York, New York. Almost too cute to gobble. 11 to a box, hand-iced cookies. $59.95 elenis.com
Gift a cool remembrance of New York City with ornaments made of beads and glass by Sudha Pennathur. The Metrocard Beaded Ornament, $25; NYC Taxi Beaded Ornament, $30. Available at Bergorf Goodman, bergdorfgoodman.com
John Derian, known for his cool East Village shop offers a wealth of funky Christmas ornaments, including this one of One World Trade Center. $36. johnderian.com