As a native New Yorker, I roll my eyes at the superficial gifts geared toward us. The ‘I Love New York’ T-shirts and yellow cab decor doesn't exactly ring in holiday cheer. See, we are notoriously hard to shop for because A) we have unreasonably high standards and B) we have zero space for superfluous stuff. And while cash sounds like the perfect gift for New Yorkers (seriously, have you seen the price for a monthly metro card??!), it's always the presents that were given a little bit more thought that we cherish the most. So whether you're shopping for your sister who has lived in one of the five boroughs her whole life or a coworker who has just moved to the city, we found 30 gifts for New Yorkers that won't garner an unimpressed look by the recipient.
The 30 Best Gifts for New Yorkers, According to Someone Who Was Born & Raised There
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Best Housewarming Gift
Whether they're making the big move to NYC or haven't lived there in years, one whiff of this scented candle will be the perfect housewarming gift to keep the bustling city alive in any setting. This chic, hand-poured number boasts 60 to 80 hours of burn time and contains notes of “spring days in Central Park, fine department stores and concrete.” (And this is one time we’re thankful they didn’t go too realistic with the scent.)
Best for Sports Fanatics
Win or lose, no one is as passionate about sports teams as New Yorkers. The NY Yankees (or Mets) hat is a staple in the city, but let's face it, your sports fanatic friend probably already has a whole collection. So, surprise them with their very own bomber jacket for those chilly days in the city. They'll definitely be rocking it with pride at the next home game.
Best for *the* Takeout Friend
You know what? Forget everything else on the list. This is the perfect gift.
Best for Trendsetters
You can't walk the streets, attend brunches or scroll through IG, without seeing a statement bag in tow. Small handbags are in, and any that show off a colorful statement like this Brandon Blackwood item, is a must-have for the trendsetter in your life. Its all-mesh construction will have people doing a double look. Bonus: You’ll be supporting a New York-based fashion brand.
Best for the Home Chef
Forget takeout or heading out for dinner (especially when the weather is not in your favor). Instead, gift mom with a cookbook inspired by one of New York's iconic food halls. If you've ever walked through Chelsea Market, you know there are a bunch of eateries to try out—from seafood to dessert. This cookbook has 100 (yes, 100) recipes for her to whip up, so she doesn't have to make the trip. From Sarabeth's famous tomato soup to Buddakan's glazed pork belly, family dinners just got a whole lot better.
Best for the Whole Family
Surprise the whole family with tickets to a musical, play or off-Broadway performance. You might find luck snagging good seats to Hamilton, Moulin Rouge! The Musical or Wicked that will make the theater fan super impressed.
Best for Heavy Texters
Saks Fifth Avenue
NY winters can be brutal. Big sis will thank you later when you buy these touch-tech cashmere gloves for her. This pair (from the Saks Fifth Avenue Collection) are both warm and functional: Pure cashmere and the ability to text without freezing your fingertips off? Sounds like a win-win to us.
Best for Decor Aficionados
We always have to display at least one art piece inspired by our city. Now, the regular old scenic pic of the Empire State Building or the Brooklyn Bridge is fine, but for a poster that is guaranteed to become a conversation starter in your bestie's apartment, opt for something a little more original. This Etsy find is an ode to the five boroughs with notable symbols like the Met, the Staten Island Ferry and yes, the caution sign to warn you about rats. All their guests will spend hours trying to point out the popular ones and spark a night filled with reminiscing the craziest NYC stories.
Best for Plant Parents
You know at least one person who’s turned their apartment into a makeshift greenhouse, so why not give them what they want? Support their green thumb with a set entirely dedicated to plant parents. You can choose between three to seven houseplants (depending how many green friends they really need). Regardless, they can expect a variety of sizes and types of low-maintenance plants in their box. Plus, they all include their own nursery pot to get your gifter started.
Best for Book Lovers
If your partner is always nose deep into a great read on the subway, they'll love immersing themselves in this collection of poems written by local writers. The 334-page book features various NYC poets detailing their experiences of living in New York City, especially the Bronx. As the anthology author states, "We write from the fire, flames, and fumes we inherited from the Bronx, that instead of destroying us, built and raised us."
Best for Lunch Break Nappers
We all know “the city that never sleeps” is a myth. Give your favorite in-need-of-a-nap Gothamite some new bedding from the cult-fave local brand. The Luxe Hardcore Sheet Bundle includes one fitted sheet, one flat sheet, one duvet cover and four pillowcases. The 480 thread count will have her snuggling into her sheets and forgetting about all the noise outside of her window.
Best for Late Travelers
12. Uber Gift Card
Look, a subway ride is way cheaper than a cab ride. But if the trains are delayed (again) and baby bro is running late, give him a back up option he'll definitely appreciate. An Uber gift card can assure that he'll get to his destination quicker. (Now, when it comes to New York traffic, we can't help you on that front.)
Best for Word Gamers
New York Times
You always catch dad completing the crossword in The Times, so it only makes sense to occupy his morning activity with two New York Times mini crossword books (that each holds 150 puzzles to last him until the next holiday). The set also comes with a crossword-inspired canvas bag and seven pencils (marked with each day of the week) so he'll always be prepared to tackle the clues of the day.
Best for the Sweet Tooth
New York has the best pizza, bagels and you guessed it, dessert. Milk Bar is one of many sweet spots we enjoy grabbing a cookie (or two) in the city. Satisfy their sweet tooth with a sampler featuring the dessert company's top sellers. The pack includes 3-pack birthday truffles, 3-pack chocolate truffles, a milk bar pie slice and six assorted cookies. We can't promise they'll share with you, but it'll definitely put a smile on their face.
Best for Couples
The Adventure Challenge
Date nights just got an upgrade, so no more wasting time on what to do. This adventure book is giving you 50 ways to make even more memories with your significant other. How? Scratch off a challenge and reveal fun activities like recreating your grandparents' first date, bake an apple pie blindfolded or make a memory box together. The book also encourages you to take a picture and write down a few sentences to mark the memory, so that you can look back on it for years to come.
Best for Coffee Drinkers
16. Coffee Gift Card
While we'll roll our eyes when out-of-towners ask us to pronounce "coffee," we can't deny how much we love the stuff. A nice gift card to their favorite coffee shop (that's right around the corner of their apartment) will make commuting anywhere easier to manage. A few of our favorites include Culture Espresso, Kinship Coffee and Sweetleaf.
Best for Roommates
Because it turns out that WFH with a roommate/partner/cat is damn near impossible. A wireless Bluetooth-enabled pair should do the trick. These noise-canceling headphones have a dual-microphone system so that you have clear sound coming in and minimal interference from the outside world. Plus, it has Alexa built-in, so you can ask for access to your music and/or info with a touch of a button.
Best for Runners
Remind the friend that loves to run by the Hudson and prepare for their local 5K to stay hydrated with this chic Nalgene bottle. It has a leak-proof screw-on cap, plus a striking design with landmarks like the Brooklyn Bridge in the background. While they're keeping track of their PB, this bottle can keep 32 ounces of some good 'ol H20.
Best for Pet Owners
We love our city but she’s not exactly squeaky-clean. Enter this high-tech air purifier. You can take our word for it, or you can read through the more than 34,000 five-star reviews. Either way, this clever device is highly praised for its quiet air technology, which means it can run all night without interrupting anyone’s sleep. It’s also super effective at filtering out pet dander for those with allergies.
Best for Art Buffs
20. Museum Membership
Your friends have spent the last 18 months watching way too much Netflix and these important institutions need our help now more than ever. Help your friends reacquaint themselves with the cultural world with a membership to the Whitney, the New Museum, MoMA, the Brooklyn Museum, the Met, the Museum of the Moving Image…you get the idea.
Best for Risk Takers
21. Local Hot Sauce
718 Heat Factory
Got a friend who puts hot sauce on everything and doesn't fear anything that's spicy? Well, keep their pantry (or bag) stocked with a bottle from this homegrown brand, available in two varieties: the green Herbal Alchemy (punched up with cilantro, parsley and turmeric) or the red Sweet Heat (subtly tropical with mango and pineapple).
Best for Foodies
Russ & Daughters
Ship a quintessential NYC treat to loved ones to show them that you’re thinking of them. Whether it’s cookies from Levain Bakery, pastrami from Katz Deli, or even a whole brunch box set from Russ & Daughters, they'll definitely have their bellies full of great goodies.
Best for Commuters
23. Late Night Tote
FYI, tote bags are essential for a New Yorker. You never know when you’ll pop into the supermarket after work, bump into a farmer's market or need somewhere to store your extra pair of shoes in case it rains. And the words written on the bag (aka "Late Nights & Bodegas & Drunk Texts) screams the city life.
Best Coworker Gift
As New Yorkers, we’re allowed to poke fun at our unpredictable public transport system (so non-city folks don’t even try it). Exhibit A: This T-shirt about the MTA that reads “MTA: Might Take Awhile.” Any commuter will laugh because this hits too close to home.
Best for the Astrology Fan
Baked By Melissa
Your bestie spews out your daily horoscope before you’ve even said good morning, so you know she’ll appreciate this sweet gesture…literally. Baked By Melissa, the NYC-based cupcake company, has launched a 25-pack dedicated to each zodiac sign. The flavors are hand-selected by astrologer Aliza Kelly, so you can celebrate your BFFs sun, moon or rising sign with these adorable—and delicious—bites.
Best for the NYFW Stan
New York or Nowhere
Look, we’ll be the first to scoff at wearing anything that’s flashy and says New York all over. However, this dad hat just might change your fashion forward friend’s mind. The iconic lifestyle brand is all about offering stylish picks and taking pride in living in one of the most fashionable cities in the world (sorry, we don’t make the rules). Regardless of which color you choose, the cursive “New York or Nowhere” is a nice touch for any New Yorker in your life.
Best for Kids
There are so many fun and interactive activities to try out with tiny humans in every borough., but you’ll definitely win brownie points for taking them to The Color Factory, Museum of Ice Cream or the popular Sloomoo Institute. The latter offers the chance for kids to get slimed all over—so yeah, you should snag a ticket or gift card ASAP.
Best for the Chess Pro
If you always catch your uncle starting a friendly game down in Union Square, he’ll be excited to have a new set to practice with at home. The chess pieces mimic iconic buildings around the Big Apple like the Freedom Tower, Empire State Building and the Guggenheim. The next time there’s a family gathering, whip out this luxury set to play or have on display for everyone to admire.
Best for the Jewelry Collector
Your sis has an impressive jewelry collection (and she never leaves the house without a pair of hoops), so add to her favorites with a New York-inspired set of earrings by Kate Spade. The trio features a heart, pretzel and taxi studs that she can wear alone or all together during a night out with her friends.