Table of Contents
For friends who’d like to revert to a simpler, more hopeful time
‘The Badass Feminist Coloring Book,’ by Ijeoma Oluo
It’s easy to understand why adult coloring books have been having a moment. After all, there’s undeniable satisfaction in applying just the right crayon to the words “Fuck Everything” in such offerings as The Sweary Coloring Book for Adults. For our regressive political moment, The Badass Feminist Coloring Book: A Colorful Celebration of Modern-Day, Intersectional Feminism ($25) by author/artist Ijeoma Oluo is a great way to de-stress from President Handsy McGrabsalot. With every new page your friends color, they’ll learn about one of forty intellectually and ethnically diverse feminist activists, writers, artists, or thinkers they may have never heard of. Suitable for folks of all ages because, as Oluo notes, “You’re never too old for coloring books and you’re never too young for feminism.” (A teen-friendly edition is also available.) Throw in the biggest Crayola box you can find and let the therapeutic benefits begin! — Jennifer L. Pozner
For your twelve-year-old aspiring riot grrrl niece
‘Wonder Women: 25 Innovators, Inventors, and Trailblazers Who Changed History,’ by Sam Maggs
If you know a feminist, punk-rocking preteen who’s as concerned with body piercings as she is with book reports, pick up a copy of Maggs’s Wonder Women: 25 Innovators, Inventors, and Trailblazers Who Changed History ($26.99), a compelling collection of profiles highlighting history’s forgotten women of science, adventure, and espionage. Chances are your niece didn’t know about Ada Lovelace, the first programmer, or mountaineer and suffragist Annie Smith Peck. Alongside the historical stuff there are Q&As with modern women in STEM careers, providing plenty of inspiration for class projects or career day, while Sophia Foster-Dimino’s illustrations keep things fun and colorful. If you’re angling for favorite-aunt status, wrap it up with a pot of Tish & Snooky’s Manic Panic hair color in a rebellious hue ($13.99). A couple of local inventors in their own right, the Bellomo sisters make a great vegan, kid-friendly hair dye. (Tish & Snooky’s Manic Panic Inc. 21-07 Borden Avenue, Long Island City 718-937-6055 manicpanic.com) — Heather Baysa
For the person who thinks the Voice hasn’t had a good film critic in forty years
’Scrapbook of the Sixties: Writings 1954–2010,’ by Jonas Mekas
The legendary underground filmmaker and exhibitor Jonas Mekas — who was also the Voice’s first film critic, starting in 1958 and writing the “Movie Journal” column until 1977 — is one of the most incisive, provocative, and just plain entertaining film writers of all time. This selection of pieces gathered across six decades ($35) — interviews, unpublished letters, stray observations — finds him at his conversational (and, occasionally, conspiratorial) best. Sometimes he’s just commenting, as in his discussion of the films of Joseph Cornell, which he calls “the invisible cathedrals of our age.” Other times, he is part of the story, as in his recollection of how he and Harold Pinter smuggled a print of Jean Genet’s scandalous Un Chant d’Amour from Paris to New York in 1964. (Mekas would later land in jail on an obscenity charge for screening the film alongside Jack Smith’s Flaming Creatures.) Mekas knew pretty much everybody in the underground and beyond, so when he talks to or about a filmmaker or artist or playwright, these conversations have all the forthrightness of old friends shooting the shit about the things that matter most to them. — Bilge Ebiri
For lefty warriors who also like coffee table books
‘The Oliver Stone Experience,’ by Matt Zoller Seitz
Through the darkest days of the Reagan era, when Rambo and Rocky flicks were tearing up the box office, Oliver Stone somehow managed to make some of the most vibrant, politically engaged popular movies of all time, including Salvador, Platoon, and Born on the Fourth of July. This gorgeous, dense tome ($50) examines the writer-director’s eventful life and career through essays, interviews, excerpts, and a wealth of archival material. Stone recalls his conservative upbringing, his time in Vietnam, and his growing political engagement in the 1970s and ‘80s, as well as the perils of success and the insanity of the film industry. All throughout, Seitz and his collaborators’ essays contextualize and make the case for the director’s work. In its collage-like approach — its mixture of the conversational, the intellectual, and the surreal — the book at times feels like one of Stone’s movies. The highlights are the interviews with the director himself, who is extremely candid about his work, and whose contentious relationship with Seitz at times recalls a buddy movie. This was already one of the most essential film books of the year, but in a Trump-infused world, it may become more vital than ever. — Bilge Ebiri
For the noncommittal L.A. transplant
‘The Truth About New York: The Long-Term Visitor’s Guide to the City That Never Sleeps,’ by Amir Said
In this cultural study and ultimate New York City guide ($24.99), Brooklyn writer/publisher/musician Said aims to uncover the many layers of New York and its residents, warts and all, through a detailed examination of city life: from dining to race, education to sex, gentrification to multiculturalism. It’s a great gift for the new New Yorker, the jaded veteran, or the many who fall somewhere along that spectrum; Said’s book is a reference tome of sorts that covers a vast scope of the NYC experience yet remains accessible. — Julianne Pepitone
For the rabid fan of Ric Burns’s New York documentary
‘You Are Here: NYC: Mapping the Soul of the City,’ by Katharine Harmon
Harmon’s third book on maps, You Are Here: NYC: Mapping the Soul of the City ($24.95) compiles more than two hundred beautifully rendered illustrations depicting every inch of the five boroughs through their history and mythology. By turns whimsical, historical, and clever, the maps explores such subjects as the birth of hip-hop, a nerd’s guide to the city, the apartments owned by Friends characters, subway bacteria, a rejected idea for Central Park, an imagined future nuclear shelter, and a mapping project that created gel wax buildings as a lighted sculpture. The collection redefines the word “map” — and offers new insights into the New York that is, was, and may someday be. — Julianne Pepitone
For the s/m comics lover
‘The Complete Crepax’
The Milanese graphics maestro Guido Crepax (1933–2003) brought a sinuous, sensuous line to his horror comics, now reproduced in a beautiful new collection from Fantagraphics ($75). His 1987 adaptation of Dracula makes the implicit sexuality of Bram Stoker’s novel explicit, as when the count’s three female slaves take their oral pleasures with a trussed Jonathan Harker — “No! Horrid harpies!” “Spoiled brat! We just want to drink your young blood!” Decades earlier, Crepax created Valentina, a character whose adventures border on the lysergic, whether plunging into a subterranean civilization populated by blind armies and gargantuan scorpions or flying naked on a broomstick over Russian onion domes, like the gorgeous witch from the Soviet-era literary classic The Master and Margarita. More surrealist than gory, the Valentina tales collected here — deftly mixing Aztecs and Nazis in one spread, turning erotic haute couture into op art on another — capture the contradictions of the Cold War Sixties with a swinging verve summed up in the helter-skelter typography of one panel: “FREE SEX! ATOMIC BOMB! POP!” — R.C. Baker
Toys & Crafts
For your socially conscious Park Slope child
Superhero gear from the Brooklyn Superhero Supply Co.
This year get your kid a present that teaches her about helping others, in more ways than one. The Brooklyn Superhero Supply Co. is part of 826NYC, the East Coast offshoot of Dave Eggers’s San Francisco nonprofit. Each year the organization provides tutors and workshops to help 2,300 New York students develop their writing skills. In the storefront you can get your little vigilante a one-of-a-kind handmade cape, a matching mask, gloves, and tights in a variety of colors, or even high-tech gear like a pair of invisibility detection goggles ($15). Better yet, make a day of it and take your superhero-in-training along with you to try out the “Capery,” complete with simulated winds to test how they’ll billow, or rid themselves of evil in the “Devillainizer.” If you can find it, take a peek behind the secret door behind which classes take place. — Heather Baysa
For the kid with too many Legos
Made up of color-coded components that connect to form cool electronics like flying saucers and doorbells, Snap Circuits will keep children eight or older engaged for hours as they learn about electricity hands on. There’s a Snap Circuit set for everyone: Snap Circuits Sounds, for instance, includes units that connect to a smartphone and work with downloadable apps to analyze sound. Components can snap together to make a sound recorder that can play back at different speeds, as well as a voice changer. Snap Circuits 3-D Illumination projects include a multicolor light tunnel and a projector. Smaller “mini kits” go for $16.50–$26.95; larger ones will run you $60 or more. — Kate Pastor
For your peace-loving lover
Liberty United jewelry
If you detest jewelry ads that promise men, in effect, “give diamonds, get pussy,” yet still want to wow the object of your affection with a shiny object, forget about blood diamonds from mall marketers. Look instead to Liberty United, which makes gorgeous women’s, men’s, and unisex jewelry out of illegal guns and ammo they’ve taken off the streets, and remakes them into “powerful symbols of action that you wear every day and that fund programs to save a child’s life,” with 20 to 25 percent of profits going to fund programs for kids who are at high risk of becoming crime victims involving firearms. A double-strand white sapphire, mother-of-pearl, and recycled gunmetal necklace will run you $3,895; more affordable options include a $195 silver and recycled gunmetal pendant in the shape of a sword and ploughshare, complete with the serial number of the gun used to make it, or a set of Winchester 1873 rifle barrel cufflinks in gunmetal, rose gold, 14-karat gold, or rhodium for $125. — Jennifer L. Pozner
For the tiny person who is so over Oscar the Grouch
Flying Squirrel stuffed animals
Your youthful giftee has it all — repurposed wooden blocks, a ukulele starter pack, and whatever the heck Hatchimals are — so what’s a shopper to do? Head over to Greenpoint’s cutest kids’ store, Flying Squirrel, and immerse yourself in their seemingly infinite stock of cerebral, vibrant, and just plain weird playthings. Among these is a unique toy that you’ll find yourself both drawn to and maybe a little freaked out by: the Folkmanis Pack Rat Puppet ($30). From his bulging eyes — crazed over a slice of pizza, perhaps? — to his enthusiastic smile with bright white chompers, the Pack Rat has a certain je ne sais quoi. Outstretched and ready to seize the day (or the next piece of trash), his soft and fuzzy hands are easily moveable thanks to Pack Rat’s near-ginormous size. Let’s not forget his removable backpack — it actually says “Pack Rat” — which you can stuff with goodies for him (or his trusty companion) to nibble on during a playdate. And if your child friend wants another pest-like playmate, there’s the Pack Rat’s suburban friend, Raccoon in a Garbage Can Puppet. — Tatiana Craine
For your cool new roommate who’s also a little creepy
The Morbid Anatomy Taxidermy Kit
So Craigslist came through once again, and all things considered, your new roomie is pretty awesome, even if her witch house music and anatomical models kind of freak you out. Help your goth get settled with a housewarming gift to match her macabre sensibilities: the Morbid Anatomy Taxidermy Kit with Hand-Printed Canvas Roll ($50). The seven-piece set, which includes professional-grade scissors, pliers, tweezers, blades, and more, is the perfect tool kit to go along with one of Divya Anantharaman’s popular classes at the Morbid Anatomy Museum in Gowanus, where students are encouraged to post their mice, squirrels, rabbits, and sparrows — all ethically sourced — in assorted poses (tiny top hats and monocles, two-headed hybrid creatures, etc.). — Heather Baysa
For the geekiest sci-fi geek who ever geeked
‘Sci-Fi Block’ subscription
What’s better than one geeky surprise? A box bursting with at least half a dozen, of course. Subscriptions to the Sci-Fi Block ($19.99 a month, discounts for three months or more) provide a monthly delivery of T-shirts, bobbleheads, prop replicas, toys, and all manner of collectible memorabilia from your friend’s favorite science fiction TV shows, films, books, and comics sure to make them vibrate with glee...even if some of it makes you ask, “Uh, what was that from, again?” One month might offer a David Tennant Doctor Who figurine, an Iron Giant/The Sentinel mashup T-shirt, and a box set of MST3K DVDs; the next, a Chewbacca beer can cozy, an apron version of Venkman’s Ghostbusters uniform, a plush Gizmo doll, and a Star Trek lunch box. They’ll be as excited as those Stranger Things kids were about fighting the Demogorgon. — Jennifer L. Pozner
Food & Drink
For Jews with a sweet tooth
Chelsea Market Basket or Economy Candy treats
Hanukkah and Christmas coincide this year, with the first round of latkes and chocolate gelt arriving the same night as Santa. For anyone lighting menorahs instead of trees this December, food is always an appropriate gift, so long as it will fit into eight little packages. If money is no object, head to Chelsea Market Basket and scoop up boxes and bags of expensive delicacies like the Leonidas patés de fruits or the Bequet caramels ($19 for a 30-count box). If you’re a little short this month, your preferred destination will be Economy Candy on the Lower East Side, where nostalgia combines with thrift to everyone’s delight. (The crowded shop even has a great selection of dried fruit, nuts, and bulk halvah, starting at $5.49 per pound, for the traditionalists on your list.) If you make your decision too late to have your items shipped, gather your recipients and take them with you; that way you fill a day of vacation and they get to choose exactly what they want. — Elizabeth Zimmer
For the Bowery barfly
Kings County Distillery whiskeys
Kings County Distillery keeps its whiskey offerings as simple as its stark labels: Moonshine, bourbon, and other whiskeys are handmade from New York State grain and traditional distilling equipment. It’s the city’s oldest operating whiskey distillery, housed in the 117-year-old Paymaster Building in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Giftees who know their spirits will be impressed with Kings County’s bona fides: The distillery’s whiskeys have won a dizzying number of awards, including the American Distilling Institute’s 2016 Distillery of the Year. The classic bourbon is strong and robust considering it’s aged for only two summers, boasting a strong caramel-and-vanilla base that gives way to flavors of molasses and a smooth finish with hints of spice. Check out three- and five-bottle gift sets ($70–235), or get fancy with the chocolate or winter spice whiskey. If your giftee has a DIY streak, add The Kings County Distillery Guide to Urban Moonshining to the package. — Julianne Pepitone
For your bubbe
Kossar’s cinnamon babka
If there’s ever been a time to visit your grandmother, it’s now. Yes, in part it’s that she’ll give you some comfort in a topsy-turvy world, but maybe she needs comfort, too. Imagine for a minute all the incredible social changes she’s lived through — the Voting Rights Act, the Civil Rights Act, Roe v. Wade, my god, possibly even women’s suffrage — and now she’s facing a future where many of the rights, and much of the simple compassion, she’s seen gained may be threatened. So if you haven’t been doing it all along, go see your bubbe, and bring a babka! This classic from Kossar’s is tender, not overly sweet, and has what seems like a million flaky layers of cinnamon filling. If she’s not in the city, rest assured, as Kossar’s does mail-order — ship her a sweet taste of New York, and then give her a call already. — Mary Bakija
For a high-end chocoholic
Raaka First Nibs monthly chocolate subscription
At this point, we’re not going to judge anyone who needs the daily comfort of chocolate. (Honestly, we never would have in the first place.) If your special someone has a taste for something more than Hershey’s, Brooklyn’s Raaka is a local cocoa mecca, dreaming up creative flavors like ghost pepper, smoked chai, and bananas foster. And yet, thanks to a delicate touch, the flavors never overpower the chocolate itself, but complement and elevate it. While the deliciousness is enough, it’s also nice to know that Raaka strives to be environmentally and socially conscious, dealing with sustainable cooperatives and farms. An individual bar makes an excellent stocking stuffer, but a subscription (price range $75–$280) is the gift that keeps on giving, shipping three different bars on the fifteenth of each month for three, six, or twelve months. But if you really love your gift recipient, you’ll ensure the subscription is renewed until at least November 2020. — Mary Bakija
For someone homesick for NYC
Katz’s Delicatessen pastrami
If you’re not in New York City, good luck finding a good nosh at 2 a.m. on a Saturday night. Or so you thought. Turns out Katz’s Delicatessen is here to serve those NYC expats who are suffering away in pastrami wastelands. One of the last remaining old-school powerhouse Jewish delis in the city, Katz’s will send its pastrami (whole, $80, or sliced, $32 per pound) — or corned beef, latkes, matzoh ball soup, and several other tasty items — via two-day shipping anywhere in the U.S. With their first bite, your long-distance friend will be transported back to a cafeteria table after just having been hurried away from the counter by the notoriously cranky staff, as if they’d never made the mistake of leaving. — Mary Bakija
For the adventurous cook who likes a side of sarcasm with their meals
‘Appetites: A Cookbook,’ by Anthony Bourdain
Bourdain fills his first cookbook in over a decade ($37.50) with his signature no-nonsense humor and (sometimes) profanity. This isn’t Kitchen Confidential or Medium Raw — he even says the recipes here aren’t his most “innovative” — but it is the chef at his most comfortable, sharing family recipes and what he calls “direct lifts from imperfect memories of childhood favorites.” Along with recipes for deviled eggs (he’s an “egg slut”) and meat loaf (which evokes his many meat loaf memories), you’ll find recipes for Vietnamese do chua salad and calf’s liver with flaming calvados. Recipes span no more than a page or two, so you won’t be flipping back and forth as you try your hand at Bourdain’s bastardization of poulet en vessie — a dish about which Bourdain comments: “If you don’t fuck this up, it will impress the shit out of your guests.” Plus, this book is made to be looked at, from Ralph Steadman’s inimitable cover art to the bright, in-your-face photography that makes you feel like you can almost smell what’s cookin’. — Tatiana Craine
For time-crunched cooks
Hamilton Beach Programmable Slow Cooker
Do any New Yorkers have too much time on their hands, or not love great food? A well-made crockpot is the perfect gift for anyone who wants to eat well and healthfully without spending hours in the kitchen or hundreds in restaurants. Though slow cookers can run you anywhere from $20 to $400, their performance varies so little that Consumer Reports no longer bothers to provide ratings. For just $50 (possibly less if you take advantage of holiday sales), this ultra-convenient six-quart programmable slow cooker will not only give a stressed-out pal the gift of time over the holidays, it’ll also help them fulfill their New Year’s resolution to stop wasting money on takeout. Toss in raw ingredients in the morning, and come home from work to a hot dinner and a week’s worth of stew, soup, or pot roast ready to be frozen in meal-size portions. To remove all guesswork, add a copy of slow-cooking guru Stephanie O’Dea’s 365 Slow Cooker Suppers. Bon appétit! — Jennifer L. Pozner
For the chef with a taste for garlic
Joseph Joseph Rocker
This garlic rocker ($10) is a great little gadget to add to the toolkit of either a rock star chef or a novice cook. Put a little pressure on the rocker’s unique curved design, and perfectly formed garlic pearls emerge, without leaving behind the unsightly mush (or smelly fingers) that you get with garlic presses. Its one-piece construction is durable, and it’s a cinch to store and dishwasher safe. And if you give it as a gift, there’s a good chance you’ll be invited over for dinner. Just saying. — Kate Pastor
For the person who’d like to chow down on the same ribs as Obama
‘The Red Rooster Cookbook: The Story of Food and Hustle in Harlem,’ by Marcus Samuelsson
Named for the Ethiopean-born, Swedish-raised chef Marcus Samuelsson’s eatery on Lenox Avenue, The Red Rooster Cookbook ($37.50) is a love letter to Harlem’s culinary and cultural past and present. Samuelsson waxes poetic about growing up in a household filled with the smell of roasted chicken and how he obsessed about the finding the perfect fried chicken recipe for Red Rooster. For two years. This book covers a lot of ground — from cocktail recipes and music playlists for every occasion to tapping into Samuelsson’s influences from Harlem, the American South, Sweden, Ethiopia, and more, so that a recipe for beef kitfo with awase appears alongside another for cornbread. Yes, you’ll find collards here, and not of the $66 Neiman Marcus persuasion — these are simple and flavored with Samuelsson’s special spiced butter instead of ham hock. Rich, sometimes candid snapshots of food and life in Harlem accompany the essays and interviews. And if you’ve ever wanted to eat like a president, Samuelsson details the recipes he made for a fundraising visit from President Obama, from short ribs to green beans and spicy sweets. — Tatiana Craine
For coffee snobs with time to spare
Six Cup Classic Chemex pour-over glass coffee carafe
You know how some products make you hear Jon Hamm’s voice narrating their benefits in a moving pitch at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce? With its polished wood handle and leather tie, this elegant Chemex pour-over glass coffee carafe will conjure Don Draper measuring and steeping the beans himself in his 1966 bachelor pad, taking a satisfying sip, and confidently reiterating the company’s claim that it delivers “the best cup you’ve ever had, every time you have it.” This classic coffeemaker’s non-porous glass is a healthier option than plastic alternatives, and décor aficionados will love knowing their carafe is on permanent display at the MoMA and was named one of the 100 best designed products of modern times by the Illinois Institute of Technology. — Jennifer L. Pozner
Gifts for the Next-Wave It Girl
She’s the precocious little sister/niece/cousin/babysitter with an intersectional feminist reading list for your toddler and style tips for you. When it comes to her gift, make sure you come correct — here’s how.
1. Bella Dahl two-pocket plaid button-down shirt
She keeps swiping her dad’s favorite button-downs from his closet. Cloudy blue shapes make for a fresh approach to the classic pattern, and she just may be inspired to DIY a shirt or two of her own ($152).
2. Kurt Cobain long-sleeve T-shirt
Because the adolescent appeal of Nirvana springs eternal. A slouchy fit lends an appropriately rumpled look, while distressed details give off vintage vibes ($58).
3. Dr. Martens Jadon platform booties
She’s got a knack for putting her own twist on the whole Nineties redux thing. They’re rugged and rebellious like Docs of yesteryear, with that telltale contrast thread wrapped around a thoroughly modern, elevated lug sole — perfect for a girl who’s going places, both literally and figuratively ($170).
4. Vans Sophia II tote bag
Her backpack is bursting at the seams. Two front pockets make it easy to stash hair ties and MetroCards, plus there’s enough interior space for her to haul those massive AP textbooks between classes ($45).
5. Milk Makeup It’s All a Blur kit
Because you’ll never catch her trying to achieve a Kardashian-style contour. It’s got a dry shampoo and face mist to keep her looking and feeling fresh on long days when she’s got a string of extracurriculars, plus four more essentials in an iridescent pouch that can double as a clutch ($48).
6. Back issues of Sassy
It was your teenage bible, and she reminds you of yourself at that age. She’s probably seen page scans all over Tumblr, but it doesn’t really compare to the analog version. Start her collection off by picking up a few of your personal faves off eBay (starting at around $7).
Gifts for the Urban Survivalist
The guy you’d want by your side should you ever find yourself on a deserted island. He’s been talking up the possibility of hiking the entire Appalachian trail next year — help him make it possible with a well-chosen gift or two.
1. Nikon 7549 Monarch 7 10x42 binocular
His dad’s old pair is quickly approaching antique status. Small enough to stash away in a day pack, they’re fog-proof and can deliver a 351-foot field of view at 1,000 yards ($424).
2. Nixon Descender watch
Unlike his iPhone, it can survive surfing, snorkeling, and spear-fishing. Billed as a watch for “the modern waterman,” it’s built for deep-sea durability but wouldn’t look out of place in a boardroom (from $400).
3. Cabela’s Realtree Camo shirt and Men’s Redwater Bonded Buffalo Vest
He’s hardly a clotheshorse, but he does need threads that meet his specific needs. Warmth, utility, ruggedness: His weekend wear of choice has to check off these three qualities first and foremost (shirt $34.99, vest $79.99).
4. Benchmade Mini-Barrage 585S pocketknife
His last knife fell into a ravine somewhere upstate. Good for everything from gutting a fish to whittling a stick, this knife can be shipped back at any time for re-sharpening ($119).
5. Coach pebble leather card wallet
Because he hasn’t gone fully off the grid yet. It’s sturdy and no-frills, just like him, but it won’t give off the wrong impression at, say, a networking event ($125).
6. Nike SFB Jungle boot
His weekends are (literally) wild. Made with an inner layer of Kevlar and an “aggressive traction pattern,” they’re definitely the kind of shoes that can take on his rugged lifestyle ($180).
7. Black Diamond ReVolt Headlamp
If it’s dark enough out to see the stars, you probably can’t see much else. It charges via USB or AAA batteries, and with red night-vision mode, he can read his Thoreau after sunset and still make his way through the woods ($59.95).
Gifts for the Conscientious Connoisseur
Always chic, never crunchy. She’s been vegan for as long as you can remember, and she doesn’t buy anything without knowing exactly how it was made and what it’s made of. Her signature phrase: “Is this free trade?” Here, a few gifts that are just as thoughtful as she is.
1. Olsenhaus pumps
The only thing she loves more than a classic style staple is an eco-conscious style staple. Manufactured ethically in Mexico — that is, fair-trade and sweatshop-free with vegan materials and a low-carbon footprint — these are shoes she can love without thinking twice ($165).
2. Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics nail lacquer
She deserves a guilt-free manicure. It’s everything you want from any nail color: quick drying, long-lasting, and priced so that you can give her a varied palette of hues ($10).
3. Astier de Villatte Namche Bazaar Incense BoX
It’s like a global jaunt for her senses — without leaving her living room. It’s made of all-natural ingredients, so she can breathe deep without worry. Plus, with 120 sticks per box, it can easily be a daily indulgence ($50).
4. Matta Dupatta Shawl
She’s not the type to just grab a scarf from the mall when temperatures drop. Made and finished by hand with more than three hundred tassels, it’s more than a winter weather layer — it’s a keepsake ($193).
5. Scosha Caravan hoops
Because she’s already got an antique ring on every finger. The hammered brass makes this pair feel like something found in a faraway souk ($230).
6. Eileen Fisher round neck oversized top
It’s a trusty holiday gift standby with an upcycled twist. Made from leftover Italian cashmere scraps, these luxe sweaters are a way of minimizing factory waste ($398).
7. Crossroads: Extraordinary Recipes From the Restaurant That Is Reinventing Vegan Cuisine
She dabbled in cooking classes last month, but her oven’s currently being used as storage space. From soups and salads to desserts and cocktails, it’s bound to become the cornerstone of her cookbook collection ($35).
8. Matt & Nat Ville bag
She never compromises style for sustainability. It’s big enough for a 13-inch laptop and comes with a crossbody strap for crowded commutes, along with a recycled nylon lining that makes this satchel virtually spill-proof ($160).
Gifts for the Modernist
She just got back from a trip to the Côte d’Azur to see a Matisse-designed chapel up close. Sparsely arranged just so, her home could double as a gallery, and everything you know about art appreciation you learned from her. Show her that you’ve been paying attention with a present that’s as great as her taste.
1. Georg Jensen Vivianna watch
It’s just the kind of everyday-object-turned-piece-of-art that she’s so good at hunting down. The wristwatch “liberates the wearer from the convention of time,” and has a numberless face and minimalist feel that reads more like jewelry than a timepiece (from $2,420).
2. Jill Platner necklaces
Her wardrobe is all effortless simplicity, but she loves jewelry that stands out. Each pendant hangs on a crocheted cord made from a durable polymer that stands up to the elements, so she can wear it day in and day out (from $145).
3. Mike Perry art print
She’s elegant as hell, but always down for a ‘Broad City’ marathon. A touch of youthful, highlighter-bright artwork will look great on her gallery wall ($150).
4. Comme des Garçons Super Fluo Pouch
She can’t quite fit all of her museum membership cards in a standard wallet. A cheery goatskin leather alternative to a standard black pouch, it’s got both form and function in spades ($144).
5. Heller rainbow mugs
She can never resist a good pop of color, especially when it’s from the great Massimo Vignelli. They’re like a ray of sunshine first thing in the morning, and they’ll fit right in with her Marimekko kitchenware (set of six, $60).
6. Leather ankle boots with metal heel
She’s been doing a cool neutral color palette this year instead of her signature black. Those heels will fit right in with her always-killer sterling silver jewelry finds ($119).
Gifts for the Grown Man on a Skateboard
Kicks on fire. Beard game strong. All artisanal everything. He may be your significant other or your best pall from college — either way, you’re well attuned to his particular taste, so gift accordingly.
1. Prospector Co. mini sample gift package
He enjoyed Movember so much he’s thinking of keeping the facial hair for good. Samples of Wormwood Absinthium Cream conjure up images of yesteryear — fittingly, a vintage photograph comes enclosed in each kit ($60).
2. Herschel Supply Co. Retreat Classic backpack
When you’re getting around town on wheels, hands-free is the way to go. It’s simple enough to work with everything in his closet, yet distinct enough to mesh with his aesthetic ($80).
3. Uniqlo U Ultra Light Down Compact Jacket
His Thrasher hoodie is on its last leg. It’s lightweight yet effective, so he can stay warm this winter without looking like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man ($89.90).
4. UnEarthly IPA
The thirst is real. All those pub brews add up over time — it’s nice to come home to a few hoppy pale ales waiting in the fridge (500 ml bottle, $10.99).
5. Carhartt short watch hat
It’s cold. Plus, he has a thing for workwear. Useful and inexpensive ($28) — buy more than one color so he can rock one with every outfit. Or grab one for him, and one for yourself.
6. Common Projects Achilles low Special Edition sneakers
He tried to get away with Sk8-His at a wedding last month. He loves a limited edition, and these are #veryrare, with reptile-effect leather and a matte finish ($459).
Wellness & Exercise
For your adventurous girlfriend who’s done it all twice
Trapeze School New York gift certificates
She’s kayaked the East River. She’s climbed the boulders in Central Park. She’s parkour-ed every hydrant, handrail, and bike rack this city has to offer. For the lady in your life who has a deep aversion to sitting still, try one of the Trapeze School’s exhilarating, challenging, and insanely fun flying trapeze classes ($50–$70). A beginner-level class teaches the basics — how to achieve a good takeoff, knee-hang, backflip dismount, and the catch, plus the right way to fall — and forms the foundation for more complicated tricks. The school also offers classes in trampoline, silks, and acrobatics for those looking to expand their performance resume. And with a scenic outdoor location on the banks of the Hudson, a tryout of this breezy sport is worth it for the vista alone. — Heather Baysa
For feminist beauty and spa enthusiasts
Ms. Andry’s Bath House products
If you have a friend whose taste in toiletries is more Morticia Addams than Laura Ashley, brighten her day — and her locks — with a bottle of Vagenda of Manocide blood orange shampoo from Ms. Andry’s Bath House ($10). This independent seller’s goods are formulated with fair trade ingredients that are friendly to people with sensory sensitivities, and are not tested on animals. And their cheeky pop-culture-inspired names add a bit of bite to any bathing routine: There’s a Bubbell Hooks bubble bath ($8) and a Don’t Want No Scrubs bath scrub ($8), a Michelle Obalma body cream ($7) and an Ella Spritzgerald body spray ($7), a Bonerkiller nail polish ($5) and four tinted lip balms named for each Golden Girls character ($6). The company’s mission is even more appealing than its puntastic product names: “The beauty industry thrives on fixing imperfections that largely do not need [to be] fixed,” the pseudonymous founder writes. “I don’t believe that things like aging and wrinkles need to be fixed or prevented or hidden. I don’t want my products to be in your home because you are paying a penance for your existence as a human.” — Jennifer L. Pozner
For the friend who deserves a treat
Aire Ancient Baths gift box
Give your hardworking pal the gift of complete relaxation in a decidedly un–New York environment: Aire Ancient Baths, a subterranean grotto filled with a half-dozen sexy, softly lit pools to explore. They can sink into the hot whirlpool, plunge into the fifty-degree “frigidarium” ice bath, drift in the saltwater sensory-deprivation tank — and repeat to their heart’s content. Aire says this mix of temps can help ease bodily tension, increase mental relaxation, and facilitate joint movement. Whether or not your buddy believes that, they’re bound to be awed by the gorgeous space with its lantern-studded stone walls that feel more ancient-castle than downtown-Manhattan. Pick up a certificate for a Gift Box package either online or onsite, and take comfort in knowing that even the entry-level options will impress. Gifts range from about $90 for the basic baths-plus-aromatherapy-steam-room experience to packages with super-luxe add-ons like the $575 private red-wine soak and hour-long massage. — Julianne Pepitone
For the would-be Californian who somehow ended up in the Village
SURFSET NYC gift card
In New York City there’s water, water everywhere, but not a drop to surf. SURFSET NYC brings the waves to your giftee in the form of unique cardio workouts: Class attendees hop atop surf-trainer boards that simulate the motion of waves. They’ll engage core and stabilizer muscles by paddling, duck-diving, and executing pop-up maneuvers. Classes at SURFSET’s East Village location are $32 per session, with multipack options of 5 classes for $150 and 10 for $300. SURFSET offers four types of classes — Newbie, Yoga, Burn, and Blend — depending on whether your surfer chick/dude wants to burn fat, gain flexibility, or “get shredded” (a phrase true New Yorkers really can’t pull off). — Julianne Pepitone
For anyone massively triggered by the phrase ‘President Trump’
Third Root Community Health Center self-care gift certificates
There’s no better present for any worn-down progressive than self-care gift certificates for massage, yoga, acupuncture, or herbal medicine from worker-owned Third Root Community Health Center, where “social justice is at the core of healing.” This multilingual center run by a multiracial, multi-generational, straight and queer, cis and trans staff is antithetical to everything Donald Trump represents, with a mission “to challenge systematic health disparities [and] hierarchies within different modalities of healthcare, and to provide a different model of care that grows out of love.” While gift certificates are sold at a fixed price, services are sliding-scale based on household income, to remain accessible. And if your friend needs a safe space, they can use their gift certificate for Third Root’s specialized affinity group programming, such as Brown Sugar yoga for people of color, Queer & Trans Yoga, Yoga for Abundant Bodies, which focuses on pleasurable movement rather than weight loss, or Yoga with Wee Ones (for kids six weeks through age 6). — Jennifer L. Pozner
For the Dirt Candy devotee
S.W. Basics of Brooklyn skincare products
It’s no easy feat to buy a present for an eco-minded giftee who scrutinizes product labels, but S.W. Basics of Brooklyn offers truly all-natural, sustainable skincare that actually works. The nine-person S.W. Basics crew formulates all products using only organic, fair trade, or family farm ingredients. The company is certified cruelty-free by PETA (no animal testing!), and all products except the beeswax lip balms are vegan. Options include face cream made with shea butter from Ghana ($32), a hibiscus mask ($22; 5 percent of sales go to breast cancer education group Keep a Breast), and an exfoliant full of “kitchen-cabinet awesomeness” like oat flour and sea salt ($24). Not sure what your environmentally-friendly friend might like? S.W. Basics also offers a number of nicely packaged gift bundles as options. — Julianne Pepitone
For those whose craving for power has no outlet
ChargeTech Portable Power Outlet
There’s an endless variety of battery packs to give phones a little pick-me-up whenever they’re feeling low, but what about when a laptop needs a lift? The ChargeTech Portable Power Outlet ($249) features an AC outlet that will work with virtually any portable digital device, whether it’s bringing a phone back to life or keeping a laptop surfing at Starbucks. Budget Pick: Nekteck Portable Jump Starter ($69.99). Not only will this portable battery pack charge a phone, it also comes with alligator clips that can be attached to a car battery, allowing stranded drivers to jump start a vehicle without depending on the kindness of strangers. Just stash it in the trunk and remember to keep it charged — once every three months ought to do it. — Ross Rubin
For the host who wants house-party sound but has apartment space
UE Boom 2
For years Sonos has ruled the market for multiroom audio, especially for those who want a retail store–like soundtrack playing in the background throughout the day. But for those who just want to break out the big beats on special occasions, the waterproof UE Boom 2 ($199.99) stands out amid a sea of other Bluetooth speakers. It radiates sound equally in all directions and allows you to stream the same tunes on up to eight speakers for hours without the need for power cords. For those who need even more volume than the Boom 2 can muster, its larger, louder, more expensive cousin, the UE Megaboom, can also be mixed into the party fun. Budget Pick: If your gift recipient just needs enough volume to drown out the voices in their head, consider Polk Audio’s diminutive Bit ($29.99), a small, water-resistant Bluetooth speaker and microphone intended to be clipped on clothing or a bag strap close to the ears. The audio won’t compare to higher-end headphones, but it’s a worthwhile alternative for those who want to stay more alert to their surroundings while still enjoying their tunes. — Ross Rubin
For the traveler who gets too much Netflix and not enough chill
Vuzix iWear Video Headphones
Know any frequent fliers who love a big-screen experience but can’t fit a flat-screen TV on their airline trays? Vuzix iWear Video Headphones ($499.99) will let them enjoy — privately — any video that can find its way out of a laptop or phone via an HDMI cable. With the headset on your face, the effect is like watching a 125” screen, and any curiosity it draws is a small price to pay for not worrying about the kid in seat 29C when the naughty bits of Game of Thrones pop up. Budget Pick: The Roku Express ($29.99) — so tiny that it’s dwarfed by its own remote — provides HD video from multiple streaming services and should easily hook up to most TVs in hotels, where internet access speeds have been gradually improving. — Ross Rubin
For the budding guitarist who doesn’t give a pluck
It’s tough to compete with the guitar’s versatility for a solo musician, but it’s only so portable, particularly when you’re traveling. Zivix’s Jamstik+ ($349.99) is a minimalist, digital stringed instrument that will play over an iPhone, iPad, and some Android devices, allowing you to perform or practice guitar techniques without lugging an actual guitar. Don’t know how to play? The company has developed a whole library of lessons across two apps, and the device also works with Apple’s GarageBand. Budget Pick: For those not willing to put in the time to actually learn to play guitar, Zivix’s AirJamz ($49.99) are fun little Bluetooth plectrums that work with an iPhone or iPad app to play a wide range of pre-programmed riffs when the tiny device is “strummed.” It even includes a little button for mixing up the guitar solos, making it the perfect gift for kids mastering air guitar. — Ross Rubin
(Illustration by Katie Carey)
If you’re looking to spread some holiday joy — or at least basic human rights — more broadly than your immediate relatives, here are some worthy causes for your dollars.
For reasons we’re sure we could never figure out, many of our families and friends have expressed an interest this holiday season in forgoing material gifts and instead making donations to charities helping to build a better nation and world. If you have an itching to give — whether in the name of a loved one, a family member who you’re not speaking to right now, or Mike Pence — the below are some causes that can be expected to be especially needed, and needy, during the coming times. — Village Voice staff
This international organization mentors young people in other countries and trains them to help hold governments and NGOs politi- cally accountable and build more transparent societies. Even if the U.S. is going to ruin, maybe the rest of the world doesn’t have to.
Arab American Association of New York
Anti-Muslim hate crimes across the United States rose 67 percent between 2014 and 2015. Your donation will help AAANY continue to support Arabs, who are increasingly under attack — literally and figuratively — and to pressure city lawmakers to meet the needs of a vital, vulnerable American community.
Brooklyn Community Bail Fund and the Bronx Freedom Fund
These organizations post bail for New Yorkers who are too poor to do so themselves, and who otherwise would spend months or even years in jail awaiting trial. Best of all, when clients show up for their court dates, the bail is returned, so your contribution can set another innocent New Yorker free.
Callen-Lorde Community Health Center
With both the Affordable Care Act and the rights of queer and trans individuals seriously imperiled, there’s even more need for the Callen-Lorde Community Health Center, which has served the city’s LGBTQ communities, regardless of ability to pay, since 1983. The Chelsea-based organization just opened a branch in the Bronx as well.
Founded in the early 1960s, the Citizens Exchange Corps sought common ground between the common folk of the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. Renamed CEC ArtsLink, the organization now facilitates residencies and travel between the U.S., Russia, and numerous countries in Central Asia and the Middle East for curators, artists, and other culture workers.
This New York–based community center is dedicated to providing comprehensive care for young people. Services they provide include reproductive-health care, legal services, and job placement, with specialized attention devoted to LGBTQ and homeless teens.
Electronic Frontier Foundation
Americans have become increasingly aware of the liberties that intelligence groups and corporations take with our digital information, but often don’t know how to resist. The Electronic Frontier Foundation develops tools for privacy-concerned users, organizing grassroots actions and taking on state agencies in court.
Electronic Privacy Information Center
If Trump makes good on plans to move against demonstrators and the press — and succeeds in installing surveillance state extremist Mike Pompeo at the CIA — we’ll need strong privacy advocates with lots of legal firepower. EPIC has been advocating for and, more importantly, suing over privacy rights for more than two decades.
Congressional Republicans have been salivating for years at the chance to do to food aid what welfare reform did to cash assistance. If that comes to pass, a whole lot of Americans are going to need to eat, and Feeding America, which directly funds community food banks and food pantries across the country, is an efficient way to put food on your neighbors’ tables.
Filmmakers Without Borders
This nonprofit connects filmmakers and arts educators with schoolchildren around the world in communities less exposed to independent filmmaking, providing students with digital equipment (laptops, Canon DSLRs, and the like), plus classes in film form and technique.
Flint Water Fund
Residents of Flint, Michigan — many black and low-income — have not had clean drinking and bathing water since 2014, thanks to a negligent state administration. The Flint Water Fund uses 100 percent of your donations to provide purified or bottled water and other emergency services.
Immigrant Defense Project
If Donald Trump follows through on his threat to further accelerate deportations, undocumented New Yorkers are going to need a lot of help when Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers come for them. The Immigrant Defense Project offers legal support to immigrants and fights the unjust laws used to persecute them.
Joyful Heart’s End the Backlog
Police departments across the country are estimated to have hundreds of thousands of untested rape kits in storage. Joyful Heart works to locate all those untested kits, then hold law enforcement agencies accountable for testing them, an act of solidarity that says we respect rape victims enough to try to prosecute the crimes perpetrated against them.
Literacy for Incarcerated Teens
Every year, New York City takes into custody several thousand young people between seven and sixteen years old, a large percentage of whom read below grade level. LIT provides books and other media for school libraries serving incarcerated youth, arranges discussions with authors and artists, and coordinates enrichment programs and activities.
Make the Road New York
This nonprofit that works with low-income and immigrant populations brought national attention to stop-and-frisk tactics and trained thousands of young New Yorkers and LGBTQ city residents about their rights when stopped by police. Their employment, housing, civil rights, and immigration law practice will only get more important now that we’re in Trump times.
NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund
The strongest bulwark against discrimination in America has always been the courts, and NAACP-LDF — founded in 1940 by Thurgood Marshall and distinct from the NAACP as a whole — is responsible for some of the most important legal victories since the civil rights era, including Brown v. Board of Education.
Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals
Since 2003, this entirely donor-funded nonprofit that aids over 150 local animal rescue and shelter organizations has helped tens of thousands of homeless animals find homes instead of being put down. And doesn’t everyone need an emotional support animal right now?
National Coalition Against Censorship
For more than forty years, NCAC has championed free expression, from protecting school libraries from the thought police to helping museums fight art censorship. Plus, Judy Blume’s on the NCAC board, so what’s not to like?
National Popular Vote
The nonprofit organization National Popular Vote works with states to pledge their electors to whichever candidate wins the popular vote. Once enough states sign on — eleven have so far, counting for 165 electoral votes of the 270 needed for a majority — the Electoral College will be moot, and popular-vote losers will no longer get to occupy the White House.
New York Abortion Access Fund
NYAAF pays for abortions for people who can’t afford them, helping clients connect to transportation, childcare, and translation resources. It’s part of the National Network of Abortion Funds, which connects funds across the country to get patients to safe abortion care — even across state lines, which will likely become increasingly necessary in many parts of the nation.
New York Foundation for the Arts
NYFA awards grants to visual artists, writers, choreographers, filmmakers, and other creative folks purely on a merit basis. The competition is open to any nonstudent in New York State and — particularly for artists living in this stupidly expensive city — the $7,000 grant can help shift one a little further from what is too often a marginal existence.
NYC Books Through Bars
This grassroots organization supplies incarcerated people with books, including politically charged literature that questions the legitimacy of the prison-industrial complex. The group uses donated funds for stamps, packaging, and other postal supplies. You can also lend your time, at one of the group’s twice-weekly packing sessions at Freebird Books.
Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network
RAINN, the country’s largest anti–sexual violence organization, operates a national hotline and partners with locally based sexual assault support organizations to provide programs and services for survivors, education, and lobbying efforts to improve sexual assault laws and expand DNA testing to eliminate rape kit backlogs.
Southern Poverty Law Center
The nation’s largest hate-group watchdog association, SPLC tracks 892 groups across all 50 states, works to prevent violence against black people, Jews, queers, immigrants, and Muslims, and advocates for criminal justice reform and the rights of children.
Union of Concerned Scientists and 350.org
According to Trump, climate change is “bullshit,” and his top environmental advisor is a non-scientist who was previously funded by the oil industry to convince the public of the same. Keeping the planet habitable for future generations will take both strong science and strong activism, and the Union of Concerned Scientists and 350.org have both ends covered.
Women’s Islamic Initiative in Spirituality and Equality
WISE is a global social justice organization run by and for Muslim women to reclaim women’s rights throughout the Islamic world. They fund cultural exchanges, create resources for professional development, and lead local workshops on expanding the franchise to all women.
For the music fan who cares about ethical consumption
Bandcamp gift items
Recorded music comes in a variety of shapes and formats these days, but short of buying CDs or LPs at a local store or directly at a gig, not all of them help musicians stuff their own loved ones’ stockings. (Streaming music payments famously come to less than a penny per track play.) But since 2008, the independently owned Bandcamp has been a boon to DIY artists, providing a simple way to stream recordings, sell MP3s, and distribute physical products, all while paying out the highest cut in the industry, reportedly $8.50 per album download (versus iTunes’ $5.99). A seemingly infinite bazaar of choices, Bandcamp has invested in journalism-as-curation, too, offering dives into corners of its catalog dedicated to the New Zealand underground, eclectic archival releases from the Eighties Vermont label New Wilderness Audiographics, and complete weirdness like the concept-art-or-computer-generated-WTF Rockstar Affirmations account. Sending independent music through Bandcamp’s “gift” option provides a feel-good doorway to DIY music. — Jesse Jarnow
For the frieze fan
Art New York and CONTEXT New York tickets
Help artsy Village-dwellers on your list look in-the-know by sending them to a pair of nascent but buzzy shows: Art Miami’s Art New York and CONTEXT New York, sister offerings being held May 3–7 to kick off the annual New York Art Week. Now in its third year, Art New York offers a curated collection of global contemporary works in a manner accessible to both experienced collectors and newbies alike. This will be the second year for CONTEXT, dedicated to the development and reinforcement of emerging and mid-career artists. The combined exhibition space will cover better than 200,000 square feet; last year’s installation showcased artwork from more than 150 galleries representing nearly 1,200 artists from 50 countries. A one-day pass is $40; the multi-day is $75. — Julianne Pepitone
For the arthouse aesthete in your life
Guillermo del Toro’s ‘Trilogía’ and Krzysztof Kieslowski’s ‘Dekalog’
Mexican director del Toro is one of the great dreamers of our time, even if those dreams often take the form of nightmares. Criterion’s beautiful new set of his “Trilogía” ($99.95) — encompassing his thoroughly twisted first feature, Cronos; his coming-of-age ghost story The Devil’s Backbone; and his Oscar-winning Spanish Civil War fantasy Pan’s Labyrinth — offers a chance to dive in to the filmmaker’s transcendent, vividly imagined universe, where unthinkable creatures and phantoms come to life, though the real fiends are often humans. He crossbreeds popular filmmaking with the obsessiveness and rigor of a true artist, which may explain why he’s managed to make both blockbusters and arthouse hits. Another new Criterion release, of Krzysztof Kieslowski’s Dekalog ($99.95), the Polish director’s ten hour-long TV films based loosely around the Ten Commandments, makes for an unexpectedly fortuitous pairing. (This set also includes A Short Film About Killing and A Short Film About Love, the feature-length expansions of two of the best episodes.) Both men take our most elemental beliefs and preoccupations — God’s law in Kieslowski’s case, fear of monsters in del Toro’s — and interrogate them through cinema. By undercutting our most common myths, these filmmakers dare us to imagine better ones. — Bilge Ebiri
For the record collector who likes surprises
Numero Group subscriptions
Since 2003, the archival label Numero Group has been unearthing an eclectic array of music and presenting it with contextual items and liner notes that Spotify could never match — and doing so reliably enough that it now offers subscriptions. For fans with as broad a taste as these Chicago-based obsessives, having first dibs on the label’s array of LPs, CDs, 45s, and other is a gift that keeps on giving until the $150 runs out. Last year’s offerings ranged from the sad-eyed Wayfaring Strangers: Cosmic American Music to the undeniable good times of Afterschool Special: The 123s of Kid Soul; 2017 seems poised to be just as far-out, including Wayfaring Strangers: Acid Nightmares and a typically comprehensive dive into exotica. Numero will also continue its comprehensive sifts through punk, working its way through the demos and live cassettes of the beloved Minneapolis trio Hüsker Dü, the first in a series of releases tentatively set to commence sometime next year. The past is now. — Jesse Jarnow
For the punk who thinks there’s no future but is interested in the past
‘Oh So Pretty: Punk in Print, 1976–80’
For anyone pissed off at the surveillance state and the new orange dawn and perhaps ready to go fully offline with their counter cultural communications, Phaidon’s gorgeous Oh So Pretty: Punk in Print, 1976–80 ($29.95) provides a wealth of visual strategies. The zines, flyers, posters, and other items from fan Toby Mott’s extensive collection provide a gorgeous 512-page survey of the birth of British punk. Small reveals come everywhere, like the adverts for the Sex Pistols’ Anarchy tour in the pages of the programs for local football squads. Reproduced on newsprint that’s just begging to be cut up and repurposed, Oh So Pretty makes a more affordable companion to the new deluxe editions of the God Save Sex Pistols compendium, which — now sold in both a $160 version and a $650 special bondage-themed packaging with new silkscreen prints by Boo-Hooray and a tote bag — might serve as stable currency when the dollar collapses. — Jesse Jarnow
For those looking to discover a great, unheralded filmmaker
Project Shirley: The Films of Shirley Clarke
During her all-too-brief directing career, Shirley Clarke made some of the most daring films in American cinema, combining an immediacy and an experimental spirit that rendered her work riveting and unclassifiable. Censorship and distribution issues kept these from finding an audience for many years — save for the occasional repertory screening and bootleg copies passed around like cinephile samizdat. Milestone Films has taken on the crucial task of putting out restored editions of Clarke’s work, much of it unavailable for decades. The latest three-disc set, “The Magic Box: Project Shirley Vol. 4” ($89.95), includes Clarke’s Oscar-winning 1963 documentary, Robert Frost: A Lover’s Quarrel with the World, plus a bounty of experimental work and the sublime dance projects that began her career. Earlier Project Shirley releases include her seminal underground drama The Connection, as well as the documentaries Ornette: Made in America and Portrait of Jason, a mesmerizing 1967 feature-length interview with a black gay hustler that scandalized and wowed audiences of the time. — Bilge Ebiri
For sci-fi fans dreaming of a better future
‘Star Trek’ 50th Anniversary TV and Movie Collection
If you or your loved ones are dreaming of a future when optimism and hope may reign again, consider going back in time and revisiting Star Trek. Paramount’s beautiful, immense new 30-disc set brings together the three seasons of the original series, along with the 1973 animated series (no, really) and lovely editions of the first six movies, the ones starring the original cast. As much as we may mock it today, the show’s steely-eyed, even corny belief in progress, however sanitized and safe, still strikes a chord. If your gift recipient is looking for something more apropos to a deep societal feeling of absurdist ennui, there’s always the Twilight Zone boxed set, featuring all 156 original episodes of Rod Serling’s classic TV series, stretched across 28 discs. Or, in the spirit of dystopias and conspiracies and unthinkable realities suddenly feeling alarmingly real, consider “The X-Files: The Collector’s Set” ($99.99), which presents the full original nine-season run of Chris Carter’s seminal show and can be purchased in a bundle with “X-Files: The Event Series” ($19.98), its recent return to the airwaves. — Bilge Ebiri
For the sparkling conversationalist in your life
‘A Whit Stillman Trilogy’
With his 1990 debut, Metropolitan, Whit Stillman captured — in witty, caustic, sometimes tender fashion — a privileged Manhattan subculture of chatty, well-educated, highly judgmental college kids. With his follow-ups Barcelona and The Last Days of Disco, the writer-director continued portraying the tribal rituals of America’s youthful elite. There’s a reason Stillman was sometimes compared to Jane Austen long before his recent Austen adaptation, Love & Friendship: He lays bare hypocrisy and absurd behavior without losing sight of the humanity of his characters — or sacrificing his sense of humor. These new Criterion editions of his work are gorgeous and stuffed with extras — and the relentlessly entertaining, often hilarious movies are a perfect antidote to the vulgar bluster of so much of what passes for cinema these days. — Bilge Ebiri
Best New Stores
From sub-$15 housewares to luxe $425 rain capes, gift ideas abound at these brand-new city shops.
For shopping and caffeinating at once
Seated atop the Bergen Street F/G station, Regular Visitors is a haven worthy of its name: a coffee shop, newsstand, and boutique in one. Quickly grab a cold brew for you and a lovely $50 Odeme candle for your Secret Santa recipient before hopping on the train. Or linger over sumptuous lotions, arty magazines, and high-end gifts like $425 PostalCo “rain capes.” (149 Smith Street, Brooklyn; 646-766-0484)
For laid-back fine jewelry buys
Want to browse jewelry cases without the Fifth Avenue attitude? Quiet Storms features fine and fashion jewelry from under-the-radar designers. Baubles range from $70 for an ultra-simple silver Lucia necklace to a $3,780 snake chain with diamond spikes. The boutique is full of cheeky items, too, like $280 “French for Goodnight” earrings that flip the bird via earlobe. (142 Grand Street, Brooklyn; 718-782-1547)
For great museum gifts
Lockwood Queens Museum
Long a Queens favorite, with modern housewares, décor, art, books and other goods from local artisans, Lockwood this year took over the Queens Museum’s gift shop as well. This outpost includes specially curated selections that reflect the museum’s current installations — like a “Women Wimmin Womin Womyn” shirt and “YOU ARE NOTHING WITHOUT FEMINIST ART” tote alongside the retrospective of Mierle Laderman Ukeles, whose art explores the role of women in society and labor. (New York City Building, Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Queens; 718-592-9700)
For vintage goods without the Brooklyn Flea crowds
You & Yours Fine Vintage
Owner Allegra Muzzillo calls herself a “lover of all things with provenance and patina,” and it shows in her beautifully eclectic collection of giftable housewares dating from midcentury through the 1970s. This Greenpoint studio space, which opened in March, showcases tightly edited vintage offerings at extremely reasonable prices. A silver-plated breadbasket is $35, and an intricately hand-carved dressing table goes for just $125 — provenance and patina included. (Franklin Street, Brooklyn; 917-482-4071)
For whimsical home décor with a rock-bottom price
Flying Tiger Copenhagen
If vintage wares aren’t your giftee’s thing, try roaming 5,000 square feet of quirky Danish design at Flying Tiger Copenhagen’s new Upper East Side outpost. Most items are under $15, and range from the practical to the delightful: rainbow sticky notes and paperclip sets, pillows shaped like lips, floral-festooned plateware, and the beautiful “Tea Bird” teapot. These fun, fresh, festive goods inspire smiles once unwrapped. (1282 Third Avenue, Manhattan; 917-388-2812)
At the city's holiday markets, it's all about the experience
“It’s lit, Mom! Lit! Get it? Do you get it?”
On a brisk November afternoon, eleven-year-old Ava Cashman was clutching a bag containing a glow-in-the-dark-smiley-face sound-activated T-shirt fit for a rave — or, per Ava, a school dance. “If you went to a mall you’d never find this stuff,” Ava gushed, before rushing away to sample the sweets from Momofuku Milk Bar.
This was the Union Square Holiday Market, one of more than a dozen outdoor and indoor markets that spring up in the city in November and early December of each year. Oases of craftiness in high-traffic destinations, they sell wheels of cheese and recycled film reel candles, finger puppets of dead philosophers and living ornaments made from succulents. They’re frequented by tourists, office workers on break, families, teenagers, and commuters, who (for better or worse) make their treks to the office along sidewalks crowded with booths.
Markets aren’t exactly convenient in the era of one-click checkouts and same-day deliveries: You might have to rummage, haggle over price, stand outside in the cold. Still, they remain popular. At Union Square, more than 600 applicants applied last spring for about 150 booths, according to Julie Feltman, market director for Urbanspace, which currently operates three of the largest markets in Union Square, Columbus Circle, and Bryant Park. (In 2008, Union Square received just 150 applications for 100 spots.) Vendors and shoppers alike say that markets hold a unique appeal. “It’s an experience!” says Dan Treiber, a vendor at Brooklyn Flea’s winter market at Skylight One Hanson, the old Williamsburg Bank building. In his booth, you can dig piles of tiny cars and braid the hair of Eighties-era Troll Dolls while records play in the background. “There’s a visceral feeling to it.”
Urbanspace launches its first New York City holiday market 25 years ago in Grand Central Terminal, as an expansion of the company’s markets in the United Kingdom. Today, there are markets in every flavor: crafty (Etsy Holiday Handmade Cavalcade at Chelsea Market, BUST Holiday Craftacular at Greenpoint’s Brooklyn Expo Center); neighborhood-y (in Ridgewood and Astoria and on the Upper West Side); foodie (Grand Central’s Holiday Fair, adjoined by Claus Meyer’s Great Northern Food Hall; Brooklyn Flea’s winter market, adjoining Smorgasburg).
Each markets is designed for a different clientele, says Feltman. “Union Square has a funkier downtown feel,” she says. “Columbus Circle is a bit more expensive, with highly designed pieces.” Funky, it must be said, is a relative term: Though there are artist-drawn temporary tattoos for sale, the red-and-white-striped booths organized into pockets like “Little Brooklyn” still feel swank enough. (The most outré thing on display on one visit was a guy roaming around with a disfigured Donald Trump piñata, which, though also handmade, was not one of the wares for sale.) Bryant Park, alongside local artisans, also offers shops selling NYPD hoodies and gift-shop-y Christmas decorations. “It’s a huge shopping and tourist destination, so we want to have things that serve New Yorkers as well as shoppers from elsewhere,” says Feltman, noting that vendors of more mass-market products may be local businesses, too.
Urbanspace’s selection process is extensive: Old vendors are notified in March whether they’ll be returning (more than 90 percent do), so they have most of the year to plan. New vendors submit applications by May and decisions are made in July. “We look for people with experience in their business,” including strong online and social-media presences as well as originality, Feltman says. “Markets are in vogue because people are becoming more conscious shoppers. People are willing to spend more money to get a storied product. Do you want to spend $3 on a jar of dill pickles at a grocery store? Or get an artisanal, high-concept, beautiful jar of pickles for $8?”
Jessy Caruana, a jewelry designer from Montreal, was one of the lucky newbies. She got to work in the spring smashing raw gemstones into 5,000 pairs of irregularly shaped earring studs that she stacked up in her apartment in anticipation of the 37-day holiday market season. “It’s a ‘get down on your knees with a hammer’ type of situation,” she says serenely, bathed in the glow of crystal lamps from her booth, Rawspiritnyc. “You have to be in a good mood while you do it, because the crystals will absorb your energy. I play piano music in the background.”
“It’s a marathon,” says Shara Porter, who sells hand-printed leather wallets a few booths away from Caruana. Porter, whose studio is in Massachusetts, earns half her income for the year at the Union Square Market. “I miss Thanksgiving, Christmas, my birthday, my girlfriend’s birthday,” she says with a laugh. “My cat, my dog, my rabbit.” (The latter, Valentine, is here in spirit, stenciled in silver on a black wallet.)
One thing that makes the marathon easier, says Panama Banasiewicz, a vendor at Beauty and the Bees, which sells Tasmanian honey–based beauty products, is “vendors helping vendors.” Around noon, an older Chinese man arrives at Union Square pulling a plaid cart and weaves his way through the booths. “You hungry? Chicken, beef?” he asks Banasiewicz. The man hurries away when asked for an interview. “He probably doesn’t have a license,” says Banasiewicz. “I need that kind of ingenuity in my life!”
A few hours later, the clang of a high-pitched bell — soft enough to ignore, loud enough to notice — signals the arrival of Jumbo Joyce, Union Square Market’s patron saint of plastic bags. “I’m going on a cruise the day after tomorrow — my husband surprised me,” the tiny woman with a pushcart tells Beth Vaccari, who’s running the Unemployed Philosophers Guild booth. Vaccari picks up two boxes of bags, soon to be holding shoppers’ purchases. “Enjoy your vacation!” she shouts after Joyce.
“The market is its own little world,” says Annie Watkins, Vaccari’s colleague at the Guild. The Brooklyn company makes Leo Tolstoy finger puppets, “Freudian Slippers,” Plato’s Republic passports, and “National Embarrass-mints” with Trump’s face on the tin. The Guild is one of the market’s longest-running booths, its operators having sold there since the market opened in 1993. One of the highlights for Vaccari and Watkins is the rotating cast of made-in–New York weirdos who habituate the market. One year, they recall, passersby remarked so frequently on the Freudian Slippers that they began keeping tally of the comments: “That’s too funny” narrowly beat out “That’s a riot.” “People love talking about the stuff here,” says Watkins. “That’s one of the best parts.”
Compared to Union Square, Brooklyn Flea’s winter market feels small, with about half as many vendors and a bigger emphasis on vintage. At Union Square, a 60-square-foot booth rents for $17,000 for the season, according to Porter. Brooklyn Flea, whose winter market is open on weekends between November and March, charges vendors between $150 and $275 per day. When picking vendors, says Eric Demby, co-founder of Brooklyn Flea, “It’s a delicate balance of giving priority to longtime vendors and making sure the experience is exciting” by bringing in new talent. “The Flea is a representation of Brooklyn — what’s best and interesting about it.”
Treiber, who sells at Brooklyn Flea’s outdoor market during the summer months, moved his booth, Dan’s Parents’ House, into a corner of the bank building this November. He describes his inventory as “anything in piles”: broken doll parts, pickle-shaped pins, Eighties-era “Food Fighters” action figures (think donuts with guns). He even offers a post-election special: a Ronald Reagan 1976 campaign pin. “Republicans buy it because they love Reagan. Democrats buy it because he lost that year,” he says.
“The great thing about vintage is that it’s green,” says Jess Ryan, a Brooklyn Flea vendor who sells midcentury-modern kitchenware at her booth, Huntress Home. A longtime collector, Ryan finally turned her knack for rescuing vintage Arabia Finland bowls and Dansk enamel-wear into a business. “I’ve had people start crying because they recognize something their grandmother had,” she says.
The next aisle over from Ryan, Lamine Berete of Berete Tribal Art sells piles of indigo-dyed cloth from West Africa, ranging from cobalt (new) to faded sky-blue (older). “In Africa women wrap themselves in the cloth,” says Berete. “Here the women use it for everything!” He pulls out his phone to reveal a photo of a plush bed covered in indigo pillows.
Berete travels to Africa three times a year to stock his booth, visiting the workshops and homes of craftspeople each time. Shopping at the Flea is not so different, he says. “It’s like the old-fashioned businesses we grew up with. When you can see and feel something, it’s better.”