Holiday gifts for $30 or less found at neighborhood stores

Boyar Gifts owner Tali Alexander demonstrates how what appears to be a bottle of wine opens to become a wine-opening kit. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

With Hanukkah here and Christmas around the corner, time is running out to get holiday gifts, but fortunately there are plenty of options available at neighborhood stores. In fact, this year more than ever, we can’t recommend shopping locally enough. Read on for Town & Village’s ideas for gifts $30 or under, all found at local, brick-and-mortar stores.

  1. Forget candles and picture frames and find a quirky home gift at new boutique Boyar Gifts, 383B Second Avenue between East 22nd and 23rd Streets.

One recommendation from shop owner Tali Alexander is the store’s five-piece wine kit, $25, which at first glance appears to be a bottle of red wine, but is actually a set that includes a stopper, opener and other bar accessories. Alexander noted this has been especially popular as a housewarming gift. “Most of the time you buy a bottle of wine and then it’s like, ‘How do you open it?’” she said.

Other popular gift items are trinket trays for displaying jewelry or other small items, that read things like, “You the Mensch” and “Matzah matzah man,” $15, and one set of three trinket trays shaped like Russian nesting dolls, $25. A set of five decorative tins of Kusmi Parisian tea is $15 while mugs with various sayings, including, “Who are these kids and why do they keep calling me Grandma?” are $15.

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Great gifts at the Holiday Market

Stuyvesant Town resident and vendor Mick Joseph notes one of the recent changes to the yearly market at Union Square, which is the addition of sections like “Lil Brooklyn.” Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Stuyvesant Town resident and vendor Mick Joseph notes one of the recent changes to the yearly market at Union Square, which is the addition of sections like “Lil Brooklyn.” (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

The Union Square Holiday Market, which, every year, takes over the south end of Union Square Park for the five weeks leading up to Christmas, has now been around for over two decades.

But UrbanSpace, the company behind the long-running event, has made some changes this year, including putting in two stages for performances, an area for children’s activities, and a new section called Urban Provisions for packaged food items. There’s also been an expansion to a recently introduced section called Little Brooklyn, with many additional booths run by craftspeople and merchants from that borough. Aesthetic changes include more lighting and tree branches fashioned into archways and logs placed here and there to give the market a more woodsy feel.

Taking a T&V reporter on a stroll through the market earlier this week to explore some of the new additions was Mick Joseph. Joseph, a resident of Stuyvesant Town, is a market veteran, having operated a booth for DezignMind, the company she runs with husband Claus Ronnex-Printz for the past 14 years.

For that company, the couple works with families in different countries, in particular Bali and Thailand, to produce items Joseph designs, from wooden percussion animals that make surprisingly accurate noises when brushed with a baton or used as a whistle to fragrant clove boxes and ornaments to decorative masks.

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