Can’t find the perfect gift at any of the city’s holiday markets? It’s time to follow the wise words of the transformed Grinch: “Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas means a little bit more.” The best presents, in the end, are times with our family and friends. So skip the smartwatch and wireless headphones this year and share one of these incredible New York City experiences together instead.
Take a Ghost Tour
A gift fit for those who wish Halloween were year-round, the Boroughs of the Dead walking tour is a frightful experience that may just scare the Christmas spirit out of you. Named the world’s best ghost tour by the Today show, this boutique-size business is dedicated to uncovering and sharing the supernatural history of Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens.
Heat things up at Brooklyn Glass with a lesson on how to work with molten glass and transform it into something dazzling. The studio offers eight-week neon-bending courses, as well as one-day specialty classes, including introductions to flame working, glassblowing, and shot-glass making (talk about a perfect gift!).
Fly High on the Trapeze
You don’t need to join the circus to fly through the air with the greatest of ease. At South Williamsburg’s Trapeze School New York, you can navigate the flying or static trapeze, climb aerial silks, spin on a lyra, or reach new heights on a trampoline.
Bid on One-of-a-Kind Events (and Support a Good Cause at the Same Time!)
We are loving the online auctions that happen every day at Charitybuzz, where you can bid on unique experiences across every genre. For your fashionista friend, bid to tour the Zac Posen studio and meet the designer himself. For theater buffs, bid on two house seats at Dear Evan Hansen plus a cast signed by the cast (how meta!). Or try for lunch with the young power couple of the NYC theater scene, Wesley Taylor and Isaac Powell. There are sports packages, backstage tours, exclusive interview opportunities, and tons more. Best part: All the money goes to charity!
Make It a Spa Day
Nothing says Merry Christmas like a caviar mask, champagne-and-pearl sugar glow body treatment, or couple’s massage with a private soak and steam. You can treat yourself or a loved one to it all at the luxurious and tranquil pied-à-terre-style Cornelia Spa at the Surrey. There’s no better gift to alleviate the stress of the holidays than an hour (or full afternoon) of unabashed pampering!
Reenact the Pottery Scene From Ghost
Get your hands dirty with a private wheel lesson at your local pottery spot (we’re partial to La Mano Pottery in Chelsea and BKLYN Clay in South Slope, Brooklyn). Not just for the Demi-and-Patrick types, a wheel-building class is a great gift for artsy kids (and, hey, maybe your kiddo will spin you a flower vase!).
Release Some Tension
Learn to throw axes at Kick Axe or shoot a bow and arrow at Gotham Archery. If you know someone who really needs to let off steam, get him a gift certificate to the Wrecking Club, where he can safely demolish old appliances with a bat. It’s cheaper than therapy.
Get Cheesy at Murray’s
If you have an obsession for all things whey, this iconic shop in Greenwich Village is known for the most delicious curds from around the world. Murray’s educational events are designed to help customers learn the various cheese styles and pairings—and, of course, to taste them all! Try Murray’s Boot Camp for a more intense course, which includes guidance from in-house experts and even a final exam, or sign up for mozzarella making and drink unlimited glasses of wine.
Heat Things Up in the Kitchen
Someone else’s kitchen, that is. Sign up to bake professional-tasting cupcakes together at a Butter Lane class or a three-layer birthday cake at Milk Bar. If you prefer savory over sweet, book a group or public lesson at Osakana in Williamsburg, where you’ll learn to prepare and cut fish for sashimi and sushi using its no-waste philosophy.
Shuck and Slurp
Know some people who love oysters? Give them a spot at this hands-on oyster primer and tasting class at Astor Center. They’ll learn to identify, shuck, and debeard their favorite mollusks, all while sipping wine.
Let our experience-advising elves fill everyone’s stockings with these one-of-a-kind gifts.