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Best Places for NYC Holiday Gift Buying

Distinctive holiday gifts are always available in New York City. You can find small, independent shops with various specializations in all five boroughs, offering a personal touch and attractive places that revive the art of shopping. Everyone benefits when you buy local for the holidays: your present recipients receive something personal and unique, local businesses benefit, and you enjoy a memorable New York experience.

While skipping about in the streets and slipping in and out of stores at your leisure may sound appealing, the truth is that when you’re ready to shop, you’ll need to know what place to go, the path there, and what they typically stock their shelves with. To help you skip the complications of finding the best holiday shopping experience, we compiled a list of gift havens in NYC.

Exit9 Gift Emporium

You’d be hard-pressed to walk out of this bright store without finding an item that catches your eye. Exit9 Gift Emporium has two locations in NYC, and the respective stores offer a range of options to choose from. The East Village outlet and its Brooklyn sister store sell items including homeware products, electronics, and clothing, and both share a similar cheery vibe. There will be a lot of bright colors, “wow” moments, and amusing toys, with a whole area dedicated to New York City-made goods. Oh, and you’ll need a card; the shop offers a great assortment.

Columbus Circle Holiday Market

This year’s Columbus Circle Holiday Market will be greater than ever! It is well-known across the world as one of the most opulent and attractive locations for Christmas shopping. It has a distinctly European feel to it, with gleaming lanes lined with over 100 vendors. Meet the craftsmen and designers who are selling their items and telling their tales face to face.

Visitors may immerse themselves in shimmering aisles of art, jewelry, homeware, and tasty meals from local artisans and designers near the entrance to Central Park, at 59th street and Central Park West. The Columbus Circle Holiday Market is the ideal location for your holiday shopping as you take in the NYC end-of-year vibe.

Friends NYC

Friends NYC grew out of a friendship between Mary Meyer and Emma Kadar-Penner, best friends and wannabe sisters. Mary provides her expertise as a fashion designer, while Emma contributes her background in fashion/textile history and a fascination with thrifting. The store emanated from a genuine relationship, and it is still built on the principles of love, respect, and having fun.

Friends is a 2200 square foot independent retail store with a lot of character. They sell modern and antique apparel, a wide range of unusual accessories and jewelry, and collectibles, and home decor. You will even find something for your Cannabis-inclined loved ones at their stellar smoke shop.


This gourmet emporium must be experienced in person to be fully appreciated. You must see the people, hear the chatter, smell the baking, savor the deep brown colors of coffee, try cheese from all over the globe, and appreciate the beauty of hand-sliced nova. When you are done checking these out, head upstairs to see the broadest range of foreign copper cookware you can find in any store. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime trip.

For almost 85 years, Zabar’s has been servicing the Upper West Side. Gift baskets heaped high with rugelach, coffee, and caviar are among the products they carry and send countrywide.

Grand Central Holiday Fair

If you want to go to a Christmas market but don’t want to brave the winter weather, Grand Central Terminal offers the best of all worlds. In the warmth of Vanderbilt Hall, the Grand Central Holiday Fair provides a wide variety of items in an artistically furnished atmosphere. 

The Grand Central Holiday Fair in Midtown East is the City’s only indoor seasonal market, taking place in the famous Grand Central station. Because the artists are frequently more established here than at other fairs, you can anticipate high-quality buys. Along the path, you’ll also discover New York institutions selling their wares, such as the Transit Museum. There’s a wide range of things here, from apparel to gourmet foods and jewelry. The market is closed on Thanksgiving and open till 6 pm on Christmas eve.


We could have easily included any of New York’s high-end retailers on this list, but we went for Bloomingdale’s for several reasons. First, their brown shopping bags are iconic in and of themselves, and no one given a gift in one of those will be disappointed. Another reason is that the store is located on 59th and Lexington. This convenient location means you won’t even have to step outdoors if you take the appropriate metro exit. A shopping spree without having to brave the cold of New York? Always welcome!

Finally, the items’ quality and accompanying pricing add up to a decent deal. To put it another way, if you shop smartly, you won’t break the bank and will leave with high-end threads that will please everyone.

Urbanspace Union Square Holiday Market

The outdoor, European-style winter market with over 150 local and national sellers returns to NYC on November 18. During the holidays, you can buy a variety of fresh foodstuff and gifts made by local farmers and artisans at the City’s most prominent green market. Union Square Holiday Market is organized by Urbanspace, who also organize the famed summer pop-up Madison Square Eats. Union square market offers everything from artisan jewelry to brew-your-own beer supplies.

Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park

This holiday season, the Winter Village at Bryant Park presents over 100 retailers. The stores that surround the central ice skating rink are evocative of a European open-air market. This market offers sturdier buildings that look like jewel boxes and perform a far better job of deflecting the wind. 

The market is returning this year with its Small Business Spotlight program. This program highlights four minority-owned small businesses in the City yearly with a free booth at the Winter Village.