NYC’s 6 Best Holiday Markets


An aerial view of the Union Square Holiday Market

There are obviously hundreds of great places in this amazing city where you can find exactly the right gift(s) for your friends and loved ones this holiday season, from boutiques to big boxes, chain stores to pop-ups. Another increasingly ubiquitous option, and one especially well-suited for the procrastinators among us: the so-called Holiday Markets, which ten years ago numbered one or two in all of NYC, but can now be found, in various guises, suddenly appearing in neighborhoods all over town. And although all have different vendors (for the most part), the mix of hand-crafted items, vintage finds, and themed gift "shops"–also: plenty of food–remain pretty consistent no matter where you wind up. Most important, all really come in handy when you need some inspiration. Here's a look at six that stand out.

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The Upper West Side gets a healthy new eating option, Communal Oven and Earth

An interior of the homey, cozy feel at Communal Oven & Earth in the Upper West Side.

Just in time for over-indulgence season, Communal, the "healthy-conscious community eatery" that opened last spring on West 72nd Street, is really hitting its stride. Featuring a full juice bar, an all-day menu of appealing breakfast and lunch dishes, and a low-light dinner vibe (with organic wines and beers) that runs deep into the night, this warm and convivial spot makes for a solid antidote to all of the cocktails, cookie platters, and groaning tables of holiday feasts that we'll be "forced" to devour in the coming weeks; Communal Oven and Earth right now appears to be paying attention its motto, "Made With Love In NYC". 

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Two terrific new bakeries, Arcade Bakery and Baked arrive in Tribeca

A mother and child look at the pastries displayed at Baked Tribeca

Fact: a neighborhood can never have too many really, really good bakeries. Especially if said bakeries also serve a first-rate cup of coffee (or pot of tea), as these places all seem to do these days. And how about a comfortable space to sit and chill or work or chat with friends? Yes, please. So it is that when Tribeca, already one of the prettiest, most loaded-with-goodies neighborhoods in all of Manhattan, added two such spots within a few blocks of each other this year, there was no outcry about the community being overrun by brownies and baguettes, croissants and cookies and cakes. The opposite, really, with both new bakeries enjoying healthy-sized hordes of happy customers. So for all of who live around here, work around here, or are just willing (eager?) to travel a bit for an excellent pastry and fun place to eat it, I say welcome Arcade Bakery, welcome Baked Tribeca.        

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Six Thanksgiving Activities That Don’t Involve Eating or Shopping


As previously determined (by me), Thanksgiving is the best holiday of the year: the food, the family, the food, the gratitude and giving back, the food, the friends, the food… you get the idea. But even if you and yours partake in the longest, most relaxing Thanksgiving meal in history, that still leaves plenty of time that day–and even more plenty of time all of the glorious four-day weekend–to get out and about and enjoy the start of the city's most festive season. Plus: kids and grownups alike might need to blow off some steam after (or before) a day indoors eating stuffing and pie. Here, then, are a few of the many holiday-kick-off activities going on around town. 

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Three Big-Name Gallery Exhibitions Highlight Chelsea’s Fall Art Shows


We're hitting peak Chelsea gallery-going season right about now, with just about everyone putting up blockbuster-ish exhibitions in the hopes of luring in the wealthy out-of-towners here for the holidays, as well as anyone else in a buying mood after all the big fall auctions at the big houses (Sotheby's Christie's, Phillips). Earlier, we recapped the kick-off of Chelsea's Fall art season and as always, in addition to all the smaller treasures you might find behind any number of these frosted glass doors, there are a number of truly museum-quality shows going on right now, thanks to the neighborhood's heaviest hitters. Here's a quick look at three worth seeking out.  

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Chelsea’s Boutique Story Teams with Target for “Home For the Holidays”

The holiday theme for Chelsea's boutique, Story

Located in Chelsea on a stretch of Tenth Avenue that's better known for its glittering gallery scene and proximity to the High Line, Story takes the concept of the pop-up store to wonderful extremes. Every six to eight weeks, the doors close and the interior is completely redesign and filled with all new inventory; everything based on whatever new "narrative"–aka theme, trend, or concept–feels most relevant.  Each new story at Story is sponsored by some sort of heavy hitter (American Express, Home Depot, General Electric), which chips in to get co-branding, and also uses the space as a kind of laboratory for products and/or marketing strategies. Story will be a great holiday hit – all the goods  are tasteful, fun, thoughtfully curated, and priced to move. 

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Donate, Serve, Volunteer: Six Ways to Make a Difference This Thanksgiving Season

Volunteers celebrating at a Thanksgiving food drive on Thanksgiving

It's almost Thanksgiving! Yesssssssssssss. This is my personal favorite holiday of the year, by the way, because its entirely about food, friends and family, with almost zero shopping. Except to buy the food. And I love food shopping. And food eating. Anyway… because the Thanksgiving holiday is really only a single (albeit usually long) meal, the day, and the long weekend that follows, also offers you and your family ample opportunity to show your gratitude for your plenitude by giving back to the community. Here, then, are just a few local ideas for volunteering on the actual day, as well other opportunities to do the right thing throughout the holiday season. 

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Blockbuster Shows at MoMA: Matisse’s The Cut Outs and Robert Gober’s The Heart Is Not a Metaphor

Famous work of art 'Blue Nude' by Henri Matisse

It's blockbuster art show season again at the city's great museums, and so far MoMA seems to be the hands-down winner with not one but TWO big crowd-pleasers that are attracting both mobs of tourists (which are only going to get more mobby between Thanksgiving and New Year's) as well as locals, who would do well to go sooner rather than later. Actually, that's not true. The heavily-hyped Henri Matisse Cut-Outs exhibition filling MoMA's big sixth floor space is already jam-packed; the second show, Robert Gober's powerful The Heart Is Not a Metaphor which all but takes over the contemporary galleries on the second floor as well as the museum's main rotunda, is virtually empty of art fans. And, in my opinion, it's the more interesting of the two. Either way, though, you should make some time now and get to MoMA before the holiday insanity really kicks in. Here's what you can expect… 

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A Collection of Famous Eateries Arrive In Bryant Park



Midtown East does some things very well, the indispensable Grand Central and Bryant Park among them, but the neighborhood around these two landmarks definitely isn't known as a great place to grab a bite to eat. Lots of unappealing sandwich-and-salad chains, mediocre burger bars, the odd fro-yo joint. If you work in the immediate vicinity, you know how uninspiring lunchtime can be, which is why last month's UrbanSpace Garment District food market was such a hit. Suddenly, though, all of that blahness seems to have changed, with a pair of crucial new additions: Alidoro, one of the city's best sandwich shops, and Blue Bottle, ditto, but for coffee, both joining another vital baked-goods newcomer, the incomparable Maison Kayser And all just in time for ice skating season!

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Best NYC Restaurants for Thanksgiving Dinner

A view of cranberries to be prepared into cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving

It's that time of year again when the Thanksgiving dinner plans are slowly coming into focus. Do you have a certain family member or friend who every year makes a fantastic meal and invites you to come? Congratulations! You are totally set. But for those of us whose annual feast varies from year to year, and you're thinking of maybe going the restaurant route–which, by the way, can be a welcome reprieve from the usual home gathering, not to mention a delicious one–now is definitely the time to grab a reservation. Just like we did for Thanksgiving 2013, here are just a few of the many, many restaurants in town who are serving special Thanksgiving menus.

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