15 quintessential NYC gifts for the New Yorker in your life

December 5, 2023

New Yorkers are full of pride for their city. So when it comes to buying gifts for the special New Yorker in your life, why not lean into that? We’ve rounded up 15 quintessential NYC gifts that either help your loved ones show off that pride, support the city’s institutions, or both! These are also great options for ex-New Yorkers who might be feeling nostalgic for the city around the holidays.

Photo courtesy of Russ & Daughters

Russ & Daughters caviar gift set

A New York City institution, Russ & Daughters’ origin can be traced back to the early 1900s when Joel Russ, a Jewish immigrant from Strzyzow, Poland, “peddled herring from a pushcart” on the Lower East Side. Flash forward to today, and the fourth-generation owners have expanded with two sit-down locations and two pickup spots, all serving the famous bagels, lox, and caviar for which Russ & Daughters is known. While anything from the shop would make a great gift, the Hackleback Caviar Gift Set is an elegant option. The set includes Hackleback Caviar, Russian Blinis, crème fraîche, a mother-of-pearl spoon, and a tote bag. It’s available on Goldbelly for $185.

Photo courtesy of STATE Grill and Bar

Empire State Building martini glasses

A unique gift sold only during the holiday season, these glasses are normally only available to dine-in guests of the Empire State Building’s restaurant STATE Grill and Bar. A set of two glasses sells for $50 and must be purchased in person at the restaurant. The stem of the glass is a full replica of the Empire State Building, whose Art Deco architecture pairs perfectly with an old-school cocktail. Architecture buffs will want to display these proudly in their bar.

Photo by Lidia Ryan

Max Brenner hot chocolate set

There’s nothing like strolling the Bryant Park holiday market with a cup of decadent Max Brenner hot chocolate in hand. The premium chocolatier also has a chocolate shop in Times Square and a full-service restaurant in Union Square famous for its chocolate fondue. But, you can give the gift of making the famous hot chocolate at home with one of Max Brenner’s many gift sets like Hot Chocolate Powder and Hug Mug Set for $46. You can also get single cans of hot chocolate mix in person at the Bryant Park stand or the Times Square shop.

Photo courtesy of The Plaza

Plaza candle

Is there a more iconic NYC hotel than The Plaza? The luxury hotel opened in 1907; “construction of the 19-story building (a skyscraper back then) took two years at a cost of $12 million – an unprecedented sum in those days,” according to the hotel’s history. In 2008, the hotel underwent a $450 million restoration. The Plaza also has its place in pop culture being the famed home of the beloved fictional character Eloise and where Kevin lived in luxury in “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York.” For lovers of The Plaza, the signature scent collection brings the luxury home. Room spray, hand lotion, an oil diffuser, and soap (ranging from $15-$65) are all available for purchase. But you can’t go wrong with the simple Plaza Candle with gardenia scent for $50.

Photo courtesy of NYBG

Caswell-Massey x NYBG Orchid travel-size perfume

Nothing beats the smell of fresh flowers in spring. But the master gardeners at New York Botanical Garden help bring it to life all year long with this special perfume. They teamed up with perfumer Laurent Le Guernec to create a scent for fragrance brand Caswell-Massey that captures the Cattleya Orchid. The collaboration involved studying dozens of orchids before selecting 12 to capture. The perfume, as the description reads, “opens with bright notes of sparkling bergamot and ripe Nashi pear. Cattleya Orchid and fresh-cut freesia blossom at the heart for a dramatic opening to this lush, velvety fragrance. Crystallized vanilla balanced with sheer musk adds a gourmand nuance to Orchid’s deliciously sultry finish.”

Photos courtesy of The Met Store

Unicorn in a Garden tote

The Met Cloisters in Upper Manhattan has a renowned collection of Medieval art, including its famous Unicorn Tapestries dating back to the late 1400s. The large-scale intricate tapestries are truly a sight to behold at the museum, and thanks to The Met Store, smaller versions can be enjoyed at home. A best-seller, the Unicorn in a Garden tote for $38 features a replica of The Unicorn Rests in a Garden (1495–1505), arguably the most recognizable of the Unicorn Tapestries. Other unicorn gifts available include a book, a puzzle, and a paperweight. This is a great gift for lovers of the arts as a purchase from The Met Store “supports The Met’s collection, study, conservation, and presentation of 5,000 years of art.”

Photo courtesy of The New Yorker

The New Yorker embroidered crewneck sweatshirt

Speaking of tote bags, the classic New Yorker tote is probably the most-seen canvas bag in NYC. But for a literary loved one, this embroidered sweatshirt is a chic gift that acknowledges the recipient’s intellectual side as well as their stylish one. The cotton sweatshirt for $75 features the New Yorker’s “iconic logo, drawn by the magazine’s first art editor, Rea Irvin.” It’s available in sizes small through 2XL. The New Yorker shop also sells baseball caps, umbrellas, mugs, puzzles, and more.

Photo courtesy of the New York Times

New York Times personalized book

History buffs will love this personalized book of New York Times front pages from their birthday throughout the years. Priced between $100 and $145, the Custom Birthday Book includes the front page of the paper on the day your loved one was born and every birthday since. The coffee table book is available in various colors and has two material options: leatherette or linen. Other NYT custom gifts include themed front-page books like Space Exploration, Civil Rights, Women’s Rights, WWII, and the New York Yankees.

Photo courtesy of NY Coffee Cup

NY Coffee Cup

No, we are not suggesting you go to the corner bodega and gift your loved ones a cardboard coffee cup. Instead, get a cute and kitsch set of ceramic cups modeled after the iconic Anthora cup for $33. It’s dishwasher- and microwave-safe and equipped for hot liquids even without a handle. NY Coffee Cup is an Ithaca-based company that has a mission to #savethecup. “Although it no longer dominates the urban landscape as it once did, we have made it our mission to keep New Yorkers cradling the original cup, with its crisp design and snug white lid, the stuff of life inside,” the site states. It also offers a history of the cup, which was created in 1963 by Leslie Buck, a Czech-American immigrant, who designed the first-ever to-go coffee cup to appeal to Greek-owned coffee shops and diners. The site also sells disposable versions of the cup in bulk, espresso-sized ones, and other fun memorabilia.

Central Park Conservancy shop

Did you know Central Park has a gift shop? Tucked away in the park, the Central Park Conservancy’s store is a treasure trove of gifts for a NYC lover — especially one who cares about the park. The Conservancy is a non-profit organization dedicated to maintaining and improving the park, and gift shop purchases go towards supporting that mission. Here, you’ll find everything from embroidered Central Park map pillows ($225) to baseball caps ($24), coffee table books (25.99), sweatshirts ($45), and more. There are also more niche things for the true park lover, like a blanket featuring the “Imagine” mosaic from the John Lennon memorial at Strawberry Fields ($49.50). All products are available online, but if you find yourself in the park, it’s a good break from the cold.

Photo by Lidia Ryan

Tavern on the Green shop

Tavern on the Green is a Central Park institution. Since opening its doors in 1934, the restaurant has served as an elegant space in the park for classic food and drinks. In 2014, the restaurant and menu were redesigned in a way that honors the original landmark featuring “warm, celebratory dining spaces, classic cocktails, a robust wine list and an elegant American menu,” according to its website. During the holidays, Tavern on the Green is decked out in cozy decor and lights, inviting park-goers in from the blustery NYC winter. And, there’s a gift shop. For the person on your list who appreciates old-timey NYC and perhaps likes to cook, consider a Tavern on the Green-branded cutting board ($46-$58) or apron ($36). An elegant branded candle sells for $40, and other items in the store include glassware, ornaments and trinkets.

Photo courtesy of Strand

Strand NYC Readers tote

One of NYC’s most iconic bookstores, Strand Book Store has been an independent bookseller in the city since 1927. The shop first opened on 4th Avenue on “Book Row,” which was a six-block area between Union Square and Astor Place with 48 bookstores. Now the only store from Book Row remaining, the Strand was started by Ben Bass as a used book store and remains in the family today with 2.5 million used, new, and rare books, and four NYC storefronts. New Yorkers are proud of their bookstore and you will often see people walking around with branded totes — of which the store sells many designs. For the book lover in your life, the NYC Readers tote for $24.95 features cute illustrations of (presumably) New Yorkers living their lives.

Gingerbread Negroni. Photo courtesy of Giada Paoloni/Dante

Dante cocktail kit

Downtown staple Dante is sharing its cocktails so you can enjoy them at home. Established in 1915, this New York City landmark was ranked on the World’s 50 Best Bars list in 2022. After the space was taken over by Mario Flotta Sr. in 1971, Dante became a frequent hangout spot for celebrities like Al Pacino, Alec Baldwin, Jerry Seinfeld, and Bob Dylan, among others. Today, there are two locations: On Macdougal Street in Greenwich Village and on Hudson Street in the West Village.

The Ultimate Holiday Gift Box ($350) includes a bottle of the following cocktails — Gingerbread Negroni, Toffee Apple Manhattan, Fireside Old Fashioned, and Dante’s Mulled Cider — as well as a “hand forged silver plated cocktail tray, two Reidel cocktail glasses, a Dante bar spoon, Dante’s Negroni candle, illustrated coasters, matches, and our legendary Dante holiday playlist.” For something a little more simple, the Fireside Old Fashioned Gift Box ($150) and the Mulled Cider Gift Box ($180) each contain a bottle of premade cocktail and accessories.

Photo courtesy of Literie

Literie x Serendipity Frrrozen Hot Chocolate candle

Known for its kitschy candle scents, Literiet has released a Serendipity Frrrozen Hot Chocolate candle for this holiday season. An iconic NYC tradition (also made famous by the 2001 rom-com featuring Jack Cusak and Kate Beckinsale) the oxymoron of a treat has become a favorite among tourists and locals alike. This cute white and pink soy candle ​“has notes of chocolate and whipped cream which means your home can smell like the iconic dessert year-round, and without the calories,” the description reads. For $45, it can be picked up at the restaurant on 60th Street or purchased online.

Bagel & cream cheese-making kit

If someone asks what NYC’s most iconic food is, there are probably two answers: pizza and bagels. For lovers of the latter, this Brooklyn-assembled bagel and schmear kit is the perfect DIY opportunity. Choose from everything or cinnamon raisin. The kit comes with cheesecloth, bagel mix, malt syrup, baking yeast, vegetable rennet, and your flavoring of choice. If you have a loved one who moved away and misses those iconic NYC bagels, give them the gift of taking matters into their own hands!

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