The I Love NY gift guide


This year’s Black Friday, traditionally the day when retailers went from being in the red to becoming profitable, was bleaker than ever. More people shopped online than in stores, which is understandable in the midst of a pandemic. But the shift doesn’t bode well for mom and pop shops that have fewer resources for online sales and shipping, much less rent—something only 50% of Brooklyn businesses can afford right now. 

Think of each gift you buy locally as an expression of your love for New York. Yes, you’ll need to wait longer for a local gift to be delivered if you don’t shop in person, so build in an extra week to be safe. What’s a little inconvenience when the future of NYC businesses and employers is at stake? Following are great presents and funds that will give back to the Brooklyn and NYC community at large, including BIPOC-, women-, and LGBTQIA+-led businesses and efforts you can feel doubly good about supporting. 

Give this Tuesday and all season long

Donations to the Food Bank for New York City on Giving Tuesday will be matched four times. Photo: @foodbank4nyc

There’s no need to limit your donations to Giving Tuesday, the charitable counterpart to Cyber Monday. But if you donate today, Dec. 1, to a non-profit, it will often be matched, and many retailers have pledged to donate their proceeds to a charity. Here are a few funds to consider:

Food Bank for New York City

Over a million New Yorkers were food insecure before the pandemic and this number is expected to increase by nearly 40% by the year’s end. Donating to the Food Bank for New York City will help keep their network of 800+ food pantries and soup kitchens stocked for those in need, and when you give on Giving Tuesday that figure is matched 4x.

Brooklyn Community Foundation

This is the most direct way to fund Brooklynites in need. The fund divvies out money to 160 local charities, but you can also choose to fund the specific nonprofits whose work speaks to you. 

NYC Nightlife Fund 

While Save Our Stages is a national movement to get Congress to deliver relief to independent venues, NYC Nightlife United is a local effort, and prioritizes grants to LGBTQIA+ and BIPOC members of New York’s nightlife community. Read our story about NNU here and donate to their next round of funding.


A tea set from Brooklyn Tea comes with an optional bamboo infuser to steep their loose teas. Photo: Brooklyn Tea

The pandemic has caused 41% of black-owned businesses to close compared to just 17% of white-owned businesses, and the 2021 forecast looks equally grim. Change the trajectory by shopping from Black-owned businesses year-round. Here are a few we recommend for holiday presents, culled from gift guides by Black-Owned Brooklyn, the 15% Pledge, and feeds like @blackownedeverything

Brooklyn Tea

I read in Bon Appetit that mugs are “so hot” this year. That’s because we’re drinking so much tea to calm our nerves. This boxed set ($25-30) will replenish your friend’s stash with immunity-boosting (and anxiety-relieving) teas.

Brooklyn Sorrel

For everyone on your list who is about to embark on a sober January or who likes their cocktails non-alcoholic, this herbaceous beverage feels as special as a spirit. A 25 oz. bottle runs $25. 

Papa Rozier Farms

I’ve become a convert to face oils over moisturizers, and Papa Rozier’s Haitian-grown moringa oil ($25) is coveted for its naturally purifying, anti-aging properties. Plus, proceeds of each sale go to the Bati School near their farm in Haiti, which schools over 100 kids, provides them with two meals a day, and employs two dozen locals. 

Feed your people and New York’s food industry, too

Coquito Shop founder and Brooklyn native Tony Del Pino used to sell this traditional, spiced coconut rum drink by word of mouth around the holidays. Then Covid hit, and he began his coquito sales early to lift everyone’s spirits. Photo: @thecoquitoshop

The outlook for independent restaurants is bleak: 85% could close by the end of the year without government relief. So patronize your local restaurants and bars as much as you can this season. Have one cater your mini Christmas dinner or New Year’s Eve, or see if they sell any merch or condiments. And if you’d like to mail your favorite chef a gift, try one of these from food entrepreneurs we profiled this year:

The Coquito Shop

Tony Del Pino has been selling his Puerto-Rican eggnog all pandemic long. But it’s really designed to be a holiday drink, one you’ll feel good about gifting since proceeds from each order go to the Bed-Stuy organization The Campaign Against Hunger. A 750 ml. bottle of the original, chocolate or Bustelo is $30, and you can DM your order over Instagram (so 2020).

Pastiche, Omsom and Brooklyn Delhi

We profiled these 3 women-owned, Brooklyn-based food businesses that will make weeknight cooking—the bane of our existence—easy and delicious. Buy a sampler, spices or pickles from any one of these companies and make someone’s dinner more exciting.


Introduce a friend to the magical world of growing your own mushrooms with a Smallhold Grow Kit ($34) —they take about 2 weeks to ship and a week to harvest. It may not be the prettiest gift, but it will be a fun project for your favorite foodie. 

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