The struggle is real when searching for perfect New York themed gifts. Whether you’re shopping for your favorite local or just someone missing the city from afar, both bring challenges of their own. This is where we come in!
We’ve asked our team of locals to compile a list of the best gifts from New York (both to give and receive) in order to try to make your holiday shopping a little easier.
Whether you plan a spreadsheet months in advance or are a last minute shopper rummaging through scraps (I’ve been both) we’ve got you covered. Below we’ll talk about art, clothing and even edible gifts your loved one is sure to enjoy.
So without further ado let’s dive into the best New York themed gifts for this upcoming holiday season.
Visiting New York City? If you haven’t decided where to stay (yet) check out our helpful guide on Where to Stay in New York City (The best neighborhoods for first timers +2 to avoid). Don’t have time? Here’s our favorite hotel in NYC, hands down.
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The Best Gifts for New Yorkers
#10. The classic Yankees baseball cap
When you visit NYC it’s inevitable that you will see thousands of NY Yankees baseball caps bopping along the sidewalk.
The reason? You can find them for sale on almost every tourist hub in NYC — Times Square, Brooklyn Bridge, etc. and they’re usually very affordable.
Even if you’re not into sports, the Yankees ball cap is one of those New York themed gifts everyone will love (except maybe Red Sox fans).
#9. An iconic coffee cup
Do you know anyone that doesn’t start their morning with a cup of coffee or tea? Me neither. Why not surprise them with gifts from New York City that they’ll see on a daily basis, like a mug?
But not all mugs are created equal, far from it! I recommend getting the iconic “we are happy to serve you” mug, which you’ve probably seen in movies and shows based in the Big Apple.
A mug like this is one of the best gifts from New York for that caffeine-crazed friend we all seem to have, or even yourself. I’m embarrassed to say I own three, using two for drinks and one to hold my pens.
#8. Gift cards (Uber/Lyft)
I used to think gift-cards were a poor excuse of a gift, they seemed lazy and generic, but after moving to New York my mindset changed. This is because real estate is a scarce commodity in NYC, we have tiny apartments!
I have nowhere to put multiple throw blankets and candles I seem to get every year, and lord knows I don’t need anymore socks (thanks anyways, mom). This is why I’ve come around to the idea of gift-cards.
More specifically, I recommend ride share gift-cards, I was once gifted an Uber gift card and loved it. It’s hard for me to justify spending money on a car ride when the subway is less expensive, but getting a gift card allowed me to splurge without feeling guilty.
#7. Inflatable Sofa/Hammock
As soon as I saw an inflatable sofa I knew they’d be a great gifts for New Yorkers. I mean, just stroll through Central Park when the weather gets nice out and you’ll see plenty of locals splayed out like sunbathing reptiles.
Basically, an inflatable sofa is a big plastic bag that you fill with air to be used as seating anywhere you want. I wouldn’t be shocked if in a bachelor’s apartment somewhere one’s being used as a permanent couch.
Maybe they’re so popular because they take up very little room to store and blow up without the use of a pump. All I know is that an inflatable couch is one of the most exciting gifts for someone living in New York.
#6. The Classic New York City Tote
Confession time folks, I currently own 15 totes and I’m not convinced I have enough. I love a good tote bag and make it a point to use them when grocery shopping or running errands (we only have one planet, right?).
This is why I consider them among the best gifts for New Yorkers. Plus, out of town visitors would often remark at how cute some of my NYC totes were so I started giving them out as gifts from New York.
Turns out they’re a big hit! Based on the reception received, I’m pinching myself for not thinking of these earlier as my go-to gifts from New York!
If helpful, this exact tote is, by far, the most complimented tote I own (and the one folks love to receive most).
#5. Nice pair of winter boots
Winter boots are not the most common gift but they’re arguably the most practical. If you have a loved one who lives in New York City and doesn’t have decent winter footwear, believe me when I tell you their toes are freezing.
After my mother in law got me a pair of winter boots in 2020 I tried rigging secret Santa to get her every year! They’re one of the best gifts I’ve gotten since moving to New York and are worth their weight in gold.
The trick is to get boots that aren’t big, clunky or ugly but instead something you can style and is still practical. I got these and after two seasons they still have plenty of life in them.
#4. New York City luggage tag
New York is home to a lot of transplants, maybe more so than any other city in the United States. Since the city is the adoptive home to thousands, many of them frequently fly home to visit family. This is why a luggage tag is one of the most practical gifts for New Yorkers!
There are so many different styles to choose from, and depending on the recepeint you can go as classy or as cute as you’d like. I think the New York themed gifts illicit a sense of nostalgia for the city, so I always go for a landmark.
NYC’s yellow taxis and MetroCard are some of most recognizable items from the Big Apple and every time I catch a glimpse of this sturdy luggage tag I pick one up to be gifted later.
“But there is one thing about it—once you have lived in New York and it has become your home, no place else is good enough.”―John Steinbeck
#3. Membership to the MET
With the amount of world-class museum is should come as no surprise one of the best gifts for New Yorkers is an annual membership to one. My suggestion? Get one to the Metropolitan Museum of Art (the Met).
With more than 2 million pieces of art spanning 5,000+ years, the Met is the largest museum in the country and the fifth largest museum in the world. Your loved one will be well entertained here for a while.
With the basic Met membership you get to bring a friend too, meaning this is one of those New York gifts that just keeps giving. To apply, visit their website.
#2. Intant film camera
Anybody who lives in New York City will tell you, friends want to visit. What I started doing is taking a photo of everyone who visits me and creating a collage of all my loved ones and the memories we’ve had in NYC.
Instant film cameras are great gifts for New Yorkers and aren’t all that expensive either. Polaroid and Fujifilm are two brands putting out great quality and economic models for as low as $50.
#1. Custom New York Times Anniversary Book
There aren’t many brands quite as widely recognized as the New York Times and now you can have a piece of their history.
The Times is offering an anniversary book in which you get to pick a date, and they’ll create a book containing all the news paper’s front pages from that anniversary every year until the present.
For example, if my birthday is December 2nd, 1962 I’ll get every December 2nd front page from 1962 until the current year. It’s one of the best gifts from New York for anybody who keeps up with the news and likes world events.
Best Gifts for Those Who Love New York
#15. Whiskey Glasses with Skyline
If your loved one enjoys adults beverages and the Big Apple then this next items is going to be one of the New York themed gifts you can get them.
Whiskey glasses are an underrated gift because most of the ones sold in store are generic and boring. If you take the time to do a little digging you can find unique glasses that are sure to put a smile on your face.
I picked up my favorite whiskey glasses at a holiday market years ago. These ones from Amazon are similar in that they have the skyline etched onto the side and are amazing New York themed gifts.
#14. Souvenir jewelry
Before you run off scared of the price tag I just want to say there’s plenty of places to get affordable and cute jewelry in New York City. You can back-up the Brinks truck if you’d like, but it isn’t a necessity.
My go-to jewelry store is Catbird in SoHo. Their jewelry is made in a studio in Brooklyn, and there are even pieces for under $100. Depending on the person its for you can get them one of the most intimate gifts from New York they’ll ever receive.
I got my sister a locket & chain here for $150 that she wears daily and still looks as beautiful as when I bought it a year ago.
And if you’re looking for one of the more permanent gifts for New Yorkers consider a “zapped” on bracelet. Essentially it’s bracelet that’s soldered permanently shut meaning it won’t get lost or forgotten.
#13. Edible gifts
Personally speaking, there’s nothing I love more than the edible gifts from New York City (one of the best food cities in the world!).
My go to edible gifts from New York are either cookies from Levain Bakery (considered the best cookies in the world) or the unbelievable chocolate babka from Breads Bakery.
These gifts are also well received by my family and friends and they often request them on subsequent visits — which tells you everything you need to know.
And if you’re looking for the best edible gifts to ship to a New Yorker away from home, we’re in luck because Kat’z Deli offers care packages. You can order a birthday, Katz’s Superbox or a “Taste of New York” package and get free shipping nationwide for orders over $100
#12. Cronut Box
The cronut is a mix between a croissant and donut invented by world-renowned chef Dominique Ansel. Luckily for you the cronut box is one of the best gifts from New York and it ships nation wide.
The popularity of the cronut is so extreme the bakery runs out within hours, but you won’t have to deal with that since it’s coming in the mail.
Another reason the cronut box is one of the best gifts from New York City is because the flavors rotate every month and never repeat. Even if you’re away from the city you’ll be gifting a once in a lifetime-experience!
#11. New York sports teams gear
I know the Yankees cap is similar to this category, but whereas the cap is one of the best New York themed gifts that anybody will love, I’m now talking about dedicated sports fans.
The New York area is home to 2 football, 2 baseball, 2 soccer, a hockey and 2 basketball teams. That’s nine professional sport franchises that allow you to rep this city!
Jerseys are always some of the best gifts from New York, but there’s always key chains, bottle openers and beer mugs too. And if all else fails, consider gifting tickets to a game (then they’d really love you).
#10. Pretty City New York
If you have someone that’s hard to shop for but loves New York, I suggest picking up one of the best photo books of New York City.
This book is chock-full of inspirational and charming photos, making it one of the most charming gifts from New York City that is sure to impress.
The reason I consider this one of the most foolproof gifts from New York is because I’ve come across this gift in people’s homes after gifting it to them. My sister keeps it in her office and my friend uses it as a coffee table book.
Grab a copy of this great New York City gift: Pretty City New York
#9. Christmas Ornament
Want gifts that will remind your friends of New York on annual basis? Look no further and pick up a beautiful Christmas ornament.
Remember how I mentioned the holiday markets in NYC earlier? Well, those are typically the best spots to pick up these beloved New York gifts.
But even if you’re not visiting during the holiday you’ll still be able to find Christmas ornaments at museum stores and souvenir shops. If you’re away from the city consider mailing them one (I bought this one for my best friend years ago and she still hangs it on her tree).
#8. NYC Throw Blanket
Some people collect mugs (*raises hand). Some people collect coins (*lowers hand). The sophisticated collect throw blankets (*not sure what to do with hand).
When in a pinch this is one of my fool-proof gifts from New York, especially during the holidays because it’s warm and cozy.
The amount of prints you can find on the internet is insane. From typical prints like maps and taxis, there’s also blankets printed with New York sports teams and local brands for those missing the Big Apple.
#7. NYC Homesick Candle
Not every visitor leaves NYC missing the smells, but those that call the city home find it nostalgic. NYC isn’t a clean city by any means, but that doesn’t stop it from being one of the best places in the world.
And before you send me hate mail, no, the candle doesn’t smell like trash day.
So if you love NYC and the (pleasant) smells that come with it, I highly recommend the NYC homesick candle, it’s one of the best gifts from New York!
Homesick New York City candle scent description: The distinctive scents of spring days in Central Park, fine department stores, and concrete capture the energy of the greatest city on earth
#6. Phone Case
According to Business Insider 91% of iPhone users keep a case on their phones. Hence a New York City themed phone case is one of the best gifts from New York since it’s so practical and widely employed.
I once saw a street vendor with a phone case that had JFK airport boarding pass and I still regret not buying it to this day.
Even if you can’t find a phone case that suits your fancy a lot of shops will print custom ones. Find the favorite picture of your trip and have it made!
#5. NYU Gear
Swag from New York University (NYU) can make for some of the best gifts from New York City. Although I’m not an alum I have a few workout pieces that I love to wear.
Hell, I even gifted my sister an NYU sweater which is funny since she went to a school on the west coast!
My favorite piece is a purple hoodie that I wear absolutely everywhere. New York University has a gift shop right outside of Washington Square Park which makes it easy to swing by when you’re in the area.
#4. New York City in Stride
New York City in Stride is yet another beautiful book about the Big Apple. Full of stunning illustrations and helpful descriptions of notable places in New York, this is one of the best gifts I’ve ever received.
The reason? It goes over most neighborhoods in Manhattan and details spots you don’t want to miss! I enjoy perusing the pages when I have free time and find myself reaching for it before heading somewhere new.
Interested? You can pick up a copy of New York City in Stride here.
#3. New York Snow Globe
Staying in line with the holiday themed gifts from New York City, I also suggest the classic snow globe.
Now before all the millennials come after me saying snow globes are nothing but an icon of 90’s sitcoms and that nobody actually uses them, allow me to introduce you to: my mother.
The first time I visited the city (before moving here) she asked for a snow globe. I feel confident in saying somebody in your life would enjoy the nostalgia associated with these cheesy but beloved New York City gifts.
Worst case scenario you end up with a paper weight that has the greatest city in the world encapsulated, and that doesn’t sound too bad to me either.
#2. New York City T-Shirt
Aside from the typical I ❤️ NY shirt everyone thinks of, there’s a plethora of clothing that pays homage to NYC.
You can find shirts that have subway prints, photos of the Notorious B.I.G. or the Empire State Building in various shops across New York City. Or if you want to get creative consider picking up New York themed pajamas or socks.
All this to say clothing is one of the safest gifts from New York. No matter who you’re buying presents for they wear clothing (I hope).
#1. New York or Nowhere
Allow me to introduce you to my guilty pleasure, clothing from New York or Nowhere (NYON). The phrase alone elicits a dreaminess you’d only know if you love the city, and the clothing is equally charming.
Now I want to be honest with you and let you know NYON gear will cost you a pretty penny. My last sweatshirt cost me a hefty $100 but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t love it. I wear it almost daily and the quality is heavy-duty.
As a local I constantly see other New Yorkers out, wearing a piece from NYON and feel like I’m part of a small community within the city. The same way Jeep drivers share a nod of acknowledgment when passing, I tip my hat to fellow NYON lovers.
I can only imagine how much someone who dreams of calling New York City home one day would appreciate the gift. I mean think about it, your loved ones handing you a gift of motivation and in a way saying “I believe in your dreams”, it’s one of the best gifts from New York in my opinion.
Gifts for Small New York Apartments
For the practical gift giver or concerned family member here is short list of apartment-friendly gifts for New Yorkers. Moving to New York City can be exciting but also very scary, especially when it comes to finances.
Depending on the space you may have more liberties but these are just ideas.
Best spots to buy New York gifts
Here’s a few of my favorite spots to find Christmas gifts in New York City
The Strand Bookstore
The Strand Bookstore has an entire section devoted to souvenirs like mugs, journals, key chains and photo books. As arguably the most iconic bookstore in NYC, to a devoted bookworm something as little as a bookmark could be meaningful.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art Store (The Met)
Admittedly, the New York City souvenirs sold at the Met store are more expensive than some of the other options listed, but if budget isn’t a concern — this store has you covered. You’ll find some of the most unique NYC souvenirs and gifts that are sure to delight your family and friends.
The MoMA Design Store
The MoMA Design Store is one of my favorite places to pick up NYC souvenirs, I especially love the location in SoHo. Like the souvenirs at the Met store, these won’t come cheap, but goodness, if budget isn’t a concern then you’re guaranteed to find some of the most interesting souvenirs from New York City.
Sometimes the best New York themed gifts are tucked away in a stall at one of the many holiday markets sprinkled around the city. The markets are great places to shop because often times you’re buying directly from an artist meaning you’re both supporting a small business and getting something unique.
When all else fails, Amazon will have you covered. Although it isn’t the same experience as bundling up and heading out for some good ol’ fashioned holiday shopping, it can quite convenient. This is especially true if you’re buying a gift for someone who lives far away as you can simply have it delivered.
Roundup of the best New York City souvenirs
- Yankee’s baseball cap
- Iconic coffee cup
- Gift cards
- Inflatable Hammock
- NYC Tote
- Heavy-duty boots
- NYC luggage tag
- Membership to the Met
- Polaroid Camera
- Custom New York Times Anniversary Book
- Whiskey glasses with NYC skyline
- Souvenir jewelry
- Edible gifts
- Cronut box
- NYC Homesick candle
- New York sports team gear
- Pretty City New York
- Christmas ornament
- NYC Throw blanket
- Phone case
- NYU Hoodie
- New York City in Stride
- New York snow globe
- NYC T-shirt
- NYON Gear
Map of where to get the best souvenirs from NYC
Love New York City?
You may find these posts helpful:
- 10 EPIC New York City Parks Every New Yorker Should Know About
- 100+ Enchanting NYC Quotes
- 18+ Jaw-Dropping Views of New York City
Hope you found our guide on the best gifts from New York useful!
Happy holidays, cheers!
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