By Sabina Mollot
With Christmas coming and Hanukkah too — this weekend in fact for the latter — local stores are now in full holiday mode, with shelves stocked with a surprising amount of bargains, not to mention hard to find items. For those unsure of where to start looking, Town & Village has compiled a list of interesting gifts found at neighborhood stores, all costing $30 or less.
Sweets and treats
Cheese and beer shop Malt & Mold, 362 Second Avenue between East 21st and 22nd Streets, has plenty of gifts for cheese lovers. The owner also often makes recommendations of foods to pair with cheese, with popular options including Sauce and Destroy vegan marinara, made in Long Island City ($9.50 for a 16 oz. jar), Sfoglini pasta (also locally made), $8 for a 16 oz. box with a chunk of parmigiana ($11.25 for half a pound). Another option is a softer cheese like Perail sheep’s milk brie ($9.50 for a wheel) with a tin of “tipsy peach” flavored Eat This jam ($6) and a box of crackers like Rustic Bakery Flatbread ($7.50). Metal gift buckets that come with stuffing, a bag and ribbon, are an extra $10. maltandmold.com
At Veniero’s Pasticceria & Caffé, 324 East 11th Street west of First Avenue, a popular gift choice is a box of the landmark bakery’s assorted cookies. Top sellers are biscotti ($9.50 per lb.), pignoli ($18.50 per lb.) and rugelach ($21 per lb.) Venierospastry.com
At Milk Bar, 251 East 13th Street west of Second Avenue, a tin of six oversized cookies ($16) is a top-selling gift item, with the sweet and salty “compost” being the most popular variety. This kind of cookie is made with chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, potato chips, pretzels and graham crackers. There is no extra charge for getting a variety of cookies in the box, though. Milkbarstore.com
Jewelry and jewelry repair
HE Boutique, 338 East 11th Street, between First and Second Avenues, has a surprising amount of jewelry available for $20, including multi-strap leather bracelets that are unisex in style and size (thanks to the adjustable straps). The boutique also has many one-of-a-kind necklaces with pendants made from real flowers inside glass. Hefashionboutique.com
Kathe’s Jewelry, 226 First Avenue between 13th and 14th Streets, not only has a case full of new as well as vintage costume jewelry priced from $5-$20, but customers can also expect inexpensive jewelry repair. A nice surprise for a giftee could be to have a special necklace or other piece that’s been damaged repaired. The owner says simpler jobs like fixing a clasp on a necklace are typically around $10. Kathesjewelry.com
At Ibiza Kidz, 340 First Avenue at East 20th Street, the most popular toys tend to be kits aimed at making something, whether that something is embroidery ($30), eco-crafts with all-natural materials ($26) headbands to design ($28), a water globe ($26), slime ($26) or a solar robot ($26). Additionally, the shop offers free gift wrapping and will also hold items at the store after purchase until they’re ready to be brought home. Ibizakidz.com
Little Folks, 123 East 23rd Street between Park Avenue South and Lexington Avenues, has been having a hard time keeping New York City-themed items for kids in stock, especially its toy MTA buses ($25), sanitation trucks ($20) and traincars ($14) as well as smaller traincars that light up ($10), manufactured by Daron and authorized by the city.
Another city-themed gift is the book Good Night, New York City ($10) by Adam Gamble and Joe Veno, which introduces children to famous landmarks. Littlefolksnyc.com
If gifting alcohol, new shop Liquor Up & Wine Down, 383 First Avenue south of East 23rd Street (in the space formerly occupied by Cork), employees recommended any of the following harder to find elixirs:
For vodka drinkers, there’s Reyka Iceland Small Batch Vodka ($26), which is made from rice, and for rum lovers, Pyrat Rum XO Reserve ($29). For wine drinkers, popular choices are Cooper & Thief Sauvignon Blanc (aged in tequila barrels), $25, and Cooper & Thief Red Wine Blend (aged in bourbon barrels), $25.
Malt & Mold has a frequently rotating selection of beers, sold by the can as well as refills for a $5 glass growler, with many priced under $15.
Funny Gifts, Hanukkah Gifts
Boyar Gifts, 32B Second Avenue between East 22nd and 23rd Streets, has no shortage of joke gifts as well as Hanukkah-themed items.
A few holiday-friendly options include star of David patterned socks ($10), large mugs that read “I can’t keep calm, I’m Jewish” ($20) and latke flippers ($10).
Christmas specific items include unusual and intricate ornaments ranging from the likeness of Ruth Bader Ginsburg to a halved avocado, mainly in the $15 price range.
Humorous gift choices include a Donald Trump pen that talks ($12, with quotes that include “Never forget 7-11” and “I’m the smartest guy I know”), trinket trays with pithy quotes ($20) and cuff links in the shapes of beer bottle caps ($30).
The shop also has a varied holiday card collection with painted celebrity portraits ($9) including Winona Ryder, “Game of Thrones’” Kit Harrington and Betty White.
Gift wrapping is free. Boyargifts.com