A Very Upper East Side Holiday Season

UES Small Business and Individual Maker Gifts for 2020

After nearly a year of online shopping for everything from comfort clothes to more (and more) bourbon, shopping in a real live store and/or buying from real live humans might be the best way to end 2020. I enjoy seeing actual objects in 3D versus through my computer screen, so over the past 3 weekends I hit up as many NYC holiday gift shops and seasonal bazaars as possible. Gifting is also one of my favorite things to do, but I like to get it unique and right, versus the easier…and sometimes slightly cheaper offerings from the Jeff Bezos Marketplace.

However, like all things COVID tainted the live holiday shopping options in NYC are reduced this year. The Grand Central Holiday Fair is all virtual (something I realized after hyping it up and dragging my daughter to), the Union Square Holiday Market is skipping a season, the Bryant Park Winter Village has about a third of the offerings of other years, and the House Of Yes Holiday Market — though awesome — is only open on weekends. There are of course the nice unique individual stores of Soho, and spreads at Artists and Fleas, to check out downtown.

This year I’ve been trying to be more intentional about loving where I live especially, but as a simple resident I’ve got very few love levers to pull. What I have here is my best finds for a very upper east side holiday shopping season as my tribute to the NYC I cherish. For a fuller look at the businesses on the UES check out the SHOPUES list put together by a set of committed neighbors.

For Those on the Go

Bikes for kids, bikes for adults, bikes you have to pedal, e-bikes that do lots of the work for you, scooters, and more. This selection at Bicycle NYC and their knowledgeable team helped me select a perfect birthday gift in the height of COVID, and they remain committed to getting more NYCers into the bike lanes.

For the Art Lover

Jaunt is out trying to help NYC businesses by donating all of the profits received from sales of their photographs to the small businesses within their photos. Here is one of the ubiquitous UES grocer Eli Zabar’s Bread outpost. Throw in some babka and make a memory for a friend.

Don’t forget Roosevelt Island- that island extension of the UES — this Grid piece is inspired by the community of The 100 Day Project and artist Lauren Harms decided to divide up the grid of New York City and tackle it one square at a time. You can find more on instgram @gridthegrid

For Sober Warriors

Choices Gifts is one of the most delightful stores of the UES. This spot celebrates sobriety and spirituality at 220 East 78th Street with an array of inspiring gifts.

For the Kids

This coloring book has some of the most iconic buildings and places from the UES. Made by Color Our Town Press, based in NYC.

The Craft Studio at 1657 3rd Avenue is offering art kits to go, full of all the things your children will need to have a creative afternoon.

For the Cat Lovers

This Christmas card and more cat delights are designed and produced by Megan Nicole John of the Upper East Side

For the Vintage Lover

What says UES more that a piece of its history? This die-cut piece from Schaller & Weber is a trifle from one of the oldest businesses in Yorkville. Sold by Willie based in NYC. Picking up some meats or treats from their grocery or the modern Stube next door completes a gift like this.

For Coffee Lovers

The mug for those who want to celebrate the of the best burgers on the Upper East Side from JG Melon while enjoying a coffee. Made by Kelli Ercolano @Downtown.Collective based in Brooklyn

For the Comic Collector

Head to Alex’s MVP Cards & Comics at 1577 York Ave, New York, NY 10028 for new and vintage comic books and collectable cards.

Happy Gifting!

I am an assistant professor of political science and run www.dcinbox.com. I teach at Stevens Institute of Technology and reside on the Upper East Side