NYC: Unique Last Minute Holiday Shopping
NYC & Company, New York City’s official destination marketing organization, invites us to the City during the festive holiday season to embark on an urban shopping excursion through Manhattan and the boroughs beyond. On the heels of the launch of NYC & Company’s new global tourism campaign, “True York City,” options for gift seekers looking to discover holiday treasures are plentiful and diverse.
This is what they say:
“‘True York City’ is all about highlighting the authentic New York City, from the well-known to the lesser-known, all “Famous Originals.” New York City’s shopping scene offers visitors and locals incredible variety—from our iconic department stores to unique museums gift shops to artisanal holiday markets and beyond. NYC & Company invites visitors and locals to discover the five boroughs’ unparalleled retail opportunities this holiday season,” said NYC & Company President and CEO Fred Dixon.
After the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, the season of gifting and giving and the flurry of visitors seeking the world’s greatest shopping arrive in NYC. These travelers will find keepsakes in countless locales beyond the expected, including museum gift shops, “craftaculars”, open-air markets and more. Many of the City’s hotels are also offering experiences for guests to shop local.
DEPARTMENT STORE HOLIDAY WINDOWS
Each year, the City’s famed department stores showcase inspired window designs, beckoning passersby to enter through the doors and shop the renowned brands and products sought after worldwide, dressed in festive seasonal ribbons and bows.
The original department store to feature Christmas window displays in the early 1870s was Macy’s. For the 2017–2018 season, Macy’s Herald Square’s window concept is “The Perfect Gift Brings People Together.” The store’s six themed windows celebrate family and tradition, incorporating movement, interactive technology and falling snow to create a dreamlike quality to the display, as Santa and animal families are depicted enjoying the season.
At Tiffany & Co., the brand’s history is celebrated with reinterpreted designs of Gene Moore, who pioneered Tiffany’s holiday windows and continued creating them for over 50 years. Tiffany & Co. is simultaneously experiencing a season of renaissance with the launch of The Blue Box Cafe at the flagship Fifth Avenue location and two new concept stores at Rockefeller Center and Grand Central Terminal timed for the holiday season.
For the first time in its storied history, Saks Fifth Avenue transforms its 10-story-tall theatrical light show and all 14 windows into scenes from Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in honor of the film’s 80th anniversary with the Once Upon a Holiday window celebration. Additionally, Alberta Ferretti, Naeem Khan, Monique Lhuillier and Marchesa have created one-of-a-kind fairytale gowns for a 21st-century Snow White. The luxury dresses are set against a fantasy forest backdrop, on view through January 2, 2018.
Lord & Taylor’s 80th annual holiday window display is entitled The Best and The Brightest with animated windows showcasing five scenes through the lens of a whimsical snow globe, including Arctic Adventures,
Christmas in the City, Holiday Circus and Santa’s Magic and Winter Woodlands. The store also partnered with Hallmark Channel to create a series of windows along 38th Street with special animations that celebrate the channel’s holiday Countdown to Christmas programming.
Barneys’ Haas for the Holidays windows are socially inspired and call for diversity; a rainbow zebra is one of the story’s heroes and represents universal inclusivity. Windows like Cactus What You Preach and Bee Yourself bring a surrealist, colorful, childlike aesthetic with a deeper message to the forefront. The windows depict four eras, Primordial, Utopia, Millennium and a vision of the future that’s been titled Mushroom Singularity.
Bloomingdale’s has partnered with Twentieth Century Fox’s holiday film The Greatest Showman (in theaters December 20, 2017), based on the life of P.T. Barnum. The windows bring the music of the film to life and evoke the wonder of the circus in a design with glitz added by Swarovski crystals. The store also curated “The Amazing Gift Guide” with over 500 selections and suggestions and exclusive merchandise inspired by the musical.
Accessory specialist Henri Bendel showcases intricate 3D paper sculptures by Lovepop—created through SlicegamiTM paper-cutting art—in their windows. Thirty thousand hand-assembled butterfly cutouts, plus flora-and-fauna-themed designs, emerge from Henri Bendel signature hatboxes in the display. A 3D backdrop for Instagram photos is new, along with a Lovepop pop-up that features an exclusive co-branded Henri Bendel card and more.
Purveyor of high-end designer fashion, Bergdorf Goodman features a holiday window display entitled To New York With Love, a celebration of New York City’s cultural institutions. Highlighted institutions are the American Museum of Natural History, the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), Museum of the Moving Image, the New York Botanical Garden, the New York Philharmonic, the New-York Historical Society and UrbanGlass.
MUSEUM GIFT SHOPS AND ONLINE RETAIL
Treasure hunting need not stop at or beyond the windows of NYC’s famed department stores. Museum gift shops are a wonderful opportunity to shop local for visitors to the City. or those who cannot physically visit, many of the cultural organizations are also offering online gift guides for the season, with items both tied to their exhibitions and uniquely New York City inspired.
For something sweet to start the season’s search, the Chocolate Museum and Experience with Jacques Torres offers holiday special-edition 12- and 25-piece chocolate boxes, in addition to champagne truffles and macarons for purchase.
Inspired by exhibits, the MoMA Design Store suggests best-seller Kusama Pumpkins and Louise Bourgeois Eye Masks to chic visitors. Artist-inspired gifts at the Whitney Museum of American Art include postcards by Jeff Koons, Frank Stella and other notables—offering the perfect “wish you were here.” The American Museum of Natural History Store stocks a variety of dinosaur ornaments, mirroring the widely visited specimen of T. rex the museum has on public display.
The world-famous Metropolitan Museum of Art has also curated a gift guide, with memorable gifts from under $25USD ideal for the budget traveler to luxury items for the visitor to whom money is no object. From coasters depicting spring in Central Park, to an early renaissance ring, the perfect representation of a holiday cultural outing in the City awaits discovery.
For those seeking a less traditional holiday buy, a number of museums offer retro NYC-inspired purchases. Bomber jackets are available at the Intrepid Sea Air & Space Museum Store and the New York Transit Museum’s his and hers jewelry, inspired by the tokens that once offered access to the subway system, are unique and memorable flashbacks to the City of yesteryear.
In keeping with the theme of transportation, a puzzle on the history of trains is included in the holiday gift guide compiled by the New-York Historical Society & Museum, and the New York Transit Museum Store is offering model trains of the City’s key transportation channels. The Grand Central Holiday Fair is held in Vanderbilt Hall, a well-known option inside one of NYC’s main locomotion transit hubs and perfect for buying gifts on the go.
Museum shops that further showcase the authentic origins of New York City are also perfect for holiday shopping. In the historic Seaport District in Lower Manhattan, the South Street Seaport Museum is aligned with Bowne Print Shops & Maritime Craft Center and the atmospheric Bowne & Co. Stationers. Established in 1775, travelers can visit the 19th-century-style print shop to purchase stationery. The American Folk Art Museum, located on the Upper West Side, offers handcrafted products in the folk tradition, including toys, frames, jewelry and more. The Tenement Museum, located in the Lower East Side—with a newly opened, permanent exhibition Under One Roof—celebrates the stories of families who settled in the neighborhood over centuries and generations. A symbolic nod to the concept is a fire escape ornament currently on sale, honoring the history and lifestyle of immigrants.
ARTISAN MARKETS AND “CRAFTACULARS”
Select cultural organizations have also curated artisan markets to be held on their premises this season. The Bronx Museum of the Arts’ Artisan Market on December 9, from 11am to 6pm, encourages shopping local, while the Queens Museum’s Winter Holiday Market takes place the following day, December 10, from 11am to 4:30pm, sourcing its products from local artists.
Beyond museum-curated artisan markets, unique “craftaculars” housed in urban spaces take place throughout the boroughs as the season gets underway. Bustling with the energy of collaboration, Astoria Market in Queens takes place the first three Sundays of December in the Main Hall of the famous Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden. Similarly, the beloved Brooklyn Flea launches a Winter Flea + Holiday Market November 25 and 26 and is then shoppable on weekends throughout the holiday season.
The Holiday Handmade Cavalcade, with 60+ vendors, is a traveling shopping experience—which will visit Chelsea Market, a Manhattan pop-up location, Brooklyn Heights, and Williamsburg—organized by indie vendors of the NY Handmade Collective. Fun perks such as sip and shop events allow travelers to get to know the local artists at select venues.
The Bust Craftacular at the Brooklyn Expo Center December 9 and 10 is free to browse and shop with 150+ local vendors, truly showcasing the City’s “hidden gems.” A $40 day pass provides access to a female-fronted music fest and 50+ hands-on workshops, including incense making with Catland; laughing yoga with Maha Rose; Reiki and meditation with Minka; zine making with Suffragette Cityand hand-lettering with Craftjam, among others.
Along with indoor fleas, numerous holiday markets are now open to wander in the crisp winter air. New to the scene this holiday season are GIFTED: To NY From NY in the heart of Times Square and the Garment District Holiday Market by Urbanspace. These sister markets follow in the footsteps of well-known favorites including Union Square Holiday Market, Columbus Circle Holiday Market,Bryant Park Winter Village Shops and more.
Also new this year, Winter Wonderland Staten Island offers visitors access to vendors and food and beverage purveyors, plus The North Pole Shoppe, a unique offering where children and visitors who are young at heart can build and stuff wintry characters like reindeer, snowmen and penguins.
HOTEL SHOPPING EXPERIENCES
On the accommodations front, select luxury hotels are offering shopping excursions and even one-of-a kind pop-ups, adding to the allure of an overnight urban shopping adventure to NYC this holiday season.
The Peninsula New York is offering the Holly Jolly New York Holiday, which includes a stay in a deluxe room, holiday window walking tour, VIP admission to Top of the Rock and access to Saks Fifth Avenue before store opening, with access to the Fifth Avenue Club.
Conrad New York’s Holiday Shopper Escape epitomizes downtown luxury and includes a $200 Westfield World Trade Center gift card, a gift box turndown amenity in suite valued at $500 with gifts from Westfield retailers, a tour of Santiago Calatrava’s Oculus and five-star accommodations.
Macy’s Herald Square is offering a first-ever pop-up location, in the lobby of the Grand Hyatt New York this holiday season through January 1. The pop-up shop is situated on the east side and conveniently located in the only hotel connected to the majesty and advantages of Grand Central.
The Loews Regency also welcomes shoppers, with their Celebrate in the City offering, where guests who book a three-night stay receive a gift card to Bloomingdale’s and a CityPass to visit NYC’s top attractions.
Hosted by luxury property the Refinery Hotel, the La Femme Young & Able Pop-Up welcomes 20 women-led small businesses to showcase their wares. More than 100 female designers in fashion, jewelry, ceramics, beauty, stationery and more are celebrated through December 31. One intriguing participant, New York Makers, showcases products curated to exemplify New York talent and was co-founded by a former First Lady of New York State.
NEIGHBORHOOD SHOPPING GUIDES
Beyond the walls of the City’s luxury hotels, in neighborhoods where locals congregate on stretches and thoroughfares with the best wares, from Fifth Avenue to Harlem, Noho and beyond, NYC & Company also offers shopping guides highlighting boutiques and much more.
For a full holiday guide to NYC and information about booking a trip to NYC this holiday season, visit nycgo.com/holidays.
This content was originally posted on blog.timesunion.com