I suck at pretty much everything. For those of you who have been following along, you already know I dance like an awkward teenage boy alone by the punch bowl at senior prom, I can’t go anywhere without the fear of death by bird, I need an instruction manual and training wheels just to get within 10 feet of a bicycle, and somehow my memory is wiped clean of all knowledge of New York City the minute my friends come into town.
But Christmas – that’s my redemption. My Holy Grail. My 15 minutes of fame. Why? Because I give the world’s best Christmas presents. Ever. Seriously, it’s as if I’m the secret love child of Santa, Mrs. Claus, Frosty, Elf on the Shelf, and all of Rudolph’s Reindeer Crew (if orgies are a thing in the North Pole). The stocking I put together for my mom puts all other stockings to shame. I couldn’t tell you where this awesome gift-giving talent comes from (though based on getting bacon and cheddar flavored crickets last year – I don’t get it from my momma).
So for all of you out there who are still looking for that perfect gift, I’ve put together a list of my secret (well not-so-secret now) places to shop in New York City to find unique gifts for every type.
1. Carré d’artistes
For the Art Lover…
As an Art History major, I was euphoric when I discovered this little gem while strolling through the West Village about a year ago. As a relatively poor 20-something year old in Manhattan, Carré d’artistes’ mission of making contemporary art affordable and accessible truly resonated with me. The various artworks are all one-of-a-kind and come in 4 different sizes with prices ranging from $115 to $575. I’ve become a frequent visitor as they rotate out their artists regularly and their staff are incredibly helpful when informing you about each particular artist and their creations. Sign up for their newsletter to find out about upcoming events and opportunities to meet the artists. My personal favorites in the store right now are Isabel Kehr and Vincent Gachaga whose works are shown below.
Location: 241 Bleecker St and open everyday from 11am to 8pm
2. Article 22 :: Peacebomb
For the Peaceful Hippie…
Or the Southeast Asia traveller. The country of Laos was one of the most heavily bombed places during the Vietnam War and Article 22’s Peacebomb collection supports 12 local artisan communities by helping them to convert these horrific weapons into beautiful jewelry. Each sale directly benefits those Laotian families and also helps to clear fields of unexploded bombs throughout the country.
3. Wrecords by Monkey
For the Musician…
Wrecords by Monkey hails from Brooklyn and specializes in recycling old vinyl records to create various types of art, jewelry, and other accessories. Speaking from personal experience, I can tell you they go over very well when you don’t know what to get your super-hip-musician-artist little sister who is 1000 times cooler than you.
Location: 304 Boerum St, Brooklyn and open 12pm to 8pm
4. David’s Tea
For the Tea Lover and Collector of Mugs…
I’m a massive tea connoisseur and have managed to slowly convert any and everyone who comes to visit. Just ask my mom who was here a couple of weeks ago and spent $200 at David’s Tea (I would have gasped in shock but I spend about $80 a month on loose leaf goodness). The atmosphere is infectious and I’m convinced they put some sort of happy-inducing pill into the tea because the staff is ALWAYS in an impossibly good mood as they give you recommendations and pull down large canisters allowing you to inhale the various aromas that seduce you into purchasing all of it. Plus they have great stocking stuffers and super adorable mugs (which I have been told by
the grinch my roommate that I am no longer allowed to buy due to overflowing kitchen cabinets). Some mugs even change colors while the tea steeps in the hot water. Try some of my favorite teas: Lime Gelato, Cream of Earl Grey, Cocomint Cream, and Dragon Pearls.
Location: 275 Bleecker St, 688 6th Ave, 1124 3rd Ave, and 234 7th Ave in Brooklyn
5. Lee Lee’s Forest
For the Girly Girl…
Lee Lee’s Forest is a super cute and extremely reasonably priced women’s boutique selling trendy dresses, tees, scarves, jewelry, and much more. If you don’t trust my opinion, just ask my friend Derby who drags me (albeit willingly) here everytime she comes into town. I’m pretty sure she now owns everything in the store. The friendly staff makes shopping here feel less like you’re in New York and more like you’re in a quaint downtown area of Charleston or Savannah.
Location: 14 Fulton St at the South Street Seaport
6. Angelic Glass Shop
For the College Student…
And maybe the wino aunt or the young bachelor. This Massachusetts based company creates home decor items through the use of traditional hand blown glass techniques. Angelic Glass offers great gifts made out of recycled beer, wine, and liquor bottles such as drinking glasses, candles, and cheese boards.
Location: Union Square Holiday Market at 14th Street
7. South Street Local Artists
For the Creative…
This store is the result of a collaboration between four local artists and designers who wished to sell their unique wares to residents and tourists alike. Each artist has a particular milieu allowing for a hodgepodge of distinctive paraphernalia to choose from including handmade jewelry, graphic prints and illustrations, and one-of-a-kind painted clothing. I even caved while Christmas shopping and bought myself some funky new frames for my lenses that were fashioned by resident design students.
Location: 93 South St at the South Street Seaport
8. Dr. Sofskin’s Body Emporium
For the Man Who Secretly Loves Being Pampered…
Does your man love manicures and pedicures? Or have a beard? If so, Dr. Sofskin’s Emporium has the gift for him. This company helps support the local economy by having all products made in the United States. They also use all natural ingredients and specialize in candles (available in various manly jars and scents) whose melted wax creates an incredibly soft body lotion that feels like the caress of an angel. Don’t forget about their divine shave soap, shaving cream, and beard conditioner.
Location: Union Square, Columbus Circle, and One Penn Plaza Holiday Markets.
Have you finished all of your holiday shopping yet? Have any other suggestions? Let me know below!
Why Suffer From FOMO When You Don’t Have To?
Taking on the classic “round-the-world” route, the next Travel Dispatch journey kicks off Nov 15 as I travel east to west, looping the globe over a period of 12 months with $25,000. Now’s your chance to get in on it from the very beginning!