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Nov 29, 2013

The Epic We Heart Astoria Gift Guide 2013

The 2013 Epic We Heart Astoria Gift Guide is here! Look for local ideas for everyone on your list.

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We-Heart-Astoria-GIFT-GUIDEWelcome to the Epic We Heart Astoria gift guide!  It’s our pleasure to present you with this curated list of the best local gift items for even the most discerning recipient.  From offbeat, whimsy fashion items to yummy gourmet foods, ideas to get in shape for the new year and more, you won’t be at a loss for ideas during this holiday season.

The following guide has been a labor of love for you – written by our local community experts, including our talented contributors, local business owners and yours truly – Meg, Mackenzi and Judith.  Happy Holidays, Astoria!

For Your Friend Who Loves Ugly Christmas Sweaters (And Their Related Parties):


We all have that friend who just loves to rock a vintage ugly Christmas sweater. Run over to Loveday 31 where they’ve hand curated a selection they’re sure to love. Or better yet, show up to their next ugly Christmas sweater party with the ugliest sweater there.  (Loveday 31, 33-06 31st Avenue Astoria) -Mackenzi

For Your Vegan Friend Who Loves Nut Butters Maybe Too Much:


We all have (maybe are) those people in our lives. The vegans. This gift screams holiday perfection for the non-meat eating set. Hell, it’s probably great for everyone.  This dark chocolate peanut butter is infused with the just right of rosemary, and makes a perfect housewarming, teacher, or yes, vegan gift this holiday season. (Better Off Spread, available at Lockwood, 32-15 33rd Street Astoria)

(Sponsored) Far-Away Family & Close-by “Crafty” Friends:

The minute I walked into luludi living frames I was hooked on their selection of great gifts and natural art.  They deliver all over the U.S. (and the world), so I can send something special to family that I won’t see this holiday season. Don’t forget WHA readers can use the code “weheart” for 10% off an online or in store purchase. (Code valid until December 31, 2013.) -Emily (luludi living frames 2307 24th Ave, Astoria)

luludi living frames_Holiday Gift Guide_Teddy Bear

I love the whimsy of the teddy bears it’s also totally within my price range. (teddy terrarium $35)

luludi living frames_Holiday Gift Guide_Reindeer

These reindeer are also super-cute for the Christmas obsessed i.e. my mom. (reindeer planter $35)

luludi living frames_Holiday Gift Guide_peppermint polka

Put some realness on that artificial tree, this peppermint polka ornament has such vibrant color.  View the entire ornament collection online and find the perfect fit for your tree. (peppermint polka $35)

luludi_terrarium workshops

Finally if you have a crafty, artsy, creative type then I highly suggest enrolling them in a terrarium workshop.  luludi provides everything you need…even a glass of wine!  Check out upcoming workshops here.

For Your Friend Who Loves to be Caffeinated:


NYC is really forging ahead when it comes to coffee, and I’m glad to see so much interest brewing in it (ha ha, yes, pun totally intended). One of the pioneers in the world of coffee in Queens is Rich Nieto, owner of LIC’s Sweetleaf. They were the first to bring Stumptown coffee to Queens, and now you see it everywhere. He’s also brought the beans from some other great roasters, including Ritual and Heart. So pop on over to Sweetleaf and pick up a bag of beans for the coffee lover in your life! Prices vary, but are on the average about $18/bag. They also sell all sorts of coffee making equipment, too, including one of my favorite brew methods, Chemex. (Sweetleaf, 10-93 Jackson Avenue, Long Island City) -Meg

A Tote Bag Every Astorian Is Sure To Love:


Do you know someone who hearts Astoria as much as we do? This is the tote for them– or maybe you!  With three awesome sizes to choose from, this is a bag for every local on your list. Maybe fill it with wine, cheese, books, or other locally sourced goodies for a QNS themed gift they’re sure to love. (Lockwood, 32-15 33rd Street, Astoria) -Mackenzi

(Sponsored) For Foodies that Love to Dine Out:

bistro 33 fall 2011

With a menu that reflects the flavors of the season, Bistro 33 is the perfect place to take your foodie friends for brunch, cocktails, or dinner.

Bistro 33_Holiday Gift Guide_ Gift Card

Gift cards can be purchased online even if you can’t gather for a meal over the holidays.  Speaking of gatherings, Bistro 33 offers a warm and intimate setting for get-togethers with friends, family or office colleagues. Plus, they cater! -Emily  (Bistro 33, 19-33 Ditmars Blvd, Astoria)

For Your Creative, Fun-Loving Nephew:

jabber_grandeI picked up this sweatshirt a few weeks back for my nephew, who’s going to look fly is this adorable Jabber Monster Crewneck from LIC: Living.  I’m going to pair it with some chunky crayons and paper so he can design a whole monster tee collection. (LIC: Living, 535 51st Avenue, Long Island City)

For Your Friend Who Wants to Go on Food Adventures:


Food Lovers’ Guide to Queens is a terrific book for both the other-boroughed friend who wants to get to know food in Queens and the friend who lives here and wants to explore their own neighborhood and beyond. This book is chock-full of restaurants, shops, and markets throughout the borough, and includes a huge section on Astoria, LIC, and Sunnyside. Of course, I’m biased, since I wrote the book, but I really think it’s really fabulous and super useful; even City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer loves it. A great gift for both hungry men and women. $14.95. (Available at Lockwood, 32-15 33rd Street Astoria) -Meg

[Sponsored] For the Stressed & Beauty Obsessed:

 natura spa

Natura Spa offers exclusive treatments (massage, facials, full salon services, waxing and laser treatments) with professionals who will pay individual attention to those that need a moment to indulge and get pampered!  Gift certificates are the perfect way to give the gift of choice.

Natura Spa_Holiday Gift Guide_Aveda Mint Gift SetNatura is your one stop shop for both Aveda and Moroccanoil® Oil products.  I’m obsessed with Aveda’s Rosemary Mint Shampoo and Conditioner.

Natura Spa_Holiday Gift Guide_Moroccanoil TreatmentI also love the simple indulgence of  MOROCCANOIL® Treatment. It really helps my hair when the weather gets cold.  Let Natura help you create the perfect gift set for that special someone.  WHA readers will receive 10% off any salon treatment booked between December 1st-31st. Make sure you mention We Heart Astoria! During this holiday season don’t forget to treat yourself!   (Natura Spa 31-78 Steinway St., Astoria) -Emily

For Your Friend Who Loves Things That Smell Good and are Locally Made:


Photo credit: Little Soap Shop

I am a big fan of these handmade soy candles at The Little Soap Shop, and have been buying them for years. They smell amazing—everything from seasonal scents containing vanilla or spice, to everyday scents like Fresh Laundry and the cheekily named Monkey Farts. They do change the scent selection over the course of the year, but no doubt you’ll find something that smells great there. The soy wax is non-polluting, so that’s a total bonus. $10 for 8 oz. (The Little Soap Shop, 22-07 36th St, Astoria) -Meg

For Your Friend Who Wants to Treat Their Hands Right:


Another item that smells and feels amazing is the wonderful TOCCA Crema de Mano Luxe. This luxurious hand creme is quick absorbing (that’s important to me—greasy hands are totally unappealing), as it is made with natural extracts from shea butter, avocado oil, and aloe; this makes it feel amazing on my skin, while nourishing it at the same time. I’m particularly fond of the Bianca, scented with green tea and lemon, but the Stella is also fabulous, scented with blood orange. It feels so good, can’t stop using this hand creme! $20 for 4 fl oz. (Lockwood, 32-15 33rd Street Astoria) -Meg

For Holiday Hosts with the Most:


Astoria Park Wine & Spirits_Holiday Gift Guide_Whisky Basket

When in doubt give the gift of wine or spirits.  Astoria Park Wine & Spirits serve Astorians who like good wine at good prices.  They also have fantastic gift baskets that are ready to go to anyone that likes a stiff drink during this crazy season. Take for example this Whiskey Lover’s basket. Check out their other holiday baskets here. They can create a customized basket of wine or spirits in groups of 2, 4, and 6. -Emily (Astoria Park Wine & Spirits, 28-07 24th Ave, Astoria)

One for you, One for Me:

Lockwood is my go-to place for almost all my holiday shopping.  I finally have the courage to admit that while I am out shopping for others, I can’t help but get a little something for me.  Check out a gift I’m sure to get for others…and what I’ll grab for me. (Lockwood, 32-15 33rd Street, Astoria) -Emily


Anytime a new baby arrives I make sure they represent with this I Heart Astoria Onesie. (24.95)


A couple of weeks ago I took a cocktail class and want to show off my new skills to friends and family.  I think this Mason Shaker will help me do just that. ($35)

For Your Friend Who Likes to Wear Fancy Shirts:

Inside Astoria Gift Shop

Inside Astoria has a lot of neat things, including items from local artists, but I love their unique cufflinks. There is one design that is the shift pattern from a manual shift knob that is perfect for that car person in your life. They also have other styles, like mini old-fashioned “hot” and “cold” faucet knobs. (Inside Astoria, 28-07 Ditmars Blvd, Astoria) -Megan

For Your Beauty Savvy Bestie With High Standards



Have one of those totally pick girlfriends who loves a good spa product? This Trilogy Rosehip Oil is better than any balm, lotion, or potion out there. I even hear it works magic on scars and stretch marks- perhaps a decadent gift for new mamas on your list? Stock up at Rejuvenate Face & Body. I might be getting extras for myself this year. (Rejuvenate Face & Body, 26-17 23rd Ave, Astoria)

For Your Friend Who Loves the Feel of Handmade Pottery:


Photo credit: Brickhouse Ceramic Arts Center

Did you know there is a ceramic art studio that teaches pottery, right here in Long Island City? That would be Brickhouse Ceramic Arts Center, and they teach classes year-round. But at the holidays each year they hold a holiday sale, which lasts from December 2-21 this year, with the big sale days on December 14-15. You’ll find all sorts of ceramic vases and mugs, as well as beaded jewelry and more. Pricing is various. (Brickhouse Ceramic Arts Center, 10-34 44th Drive, Long Island City) -Meg

(Sponsored) For Those that Need Therapy…of the Massage Variety:


Family and friends will love a personalized massage from Sonia Maksimovich, LMT. Sonia brings nearly a decade of experience to her practice, providing licensed therapeutic massage in Astoria since 2011. Whether you’re a veteran spa-goer, a first-timer searching for a low-key environment or a weekend warrior in need of a little TLC, Sonia combines different techniques to provide a session specific to your needs. Gift certificates and packages are available for the ultimate giver.  Contact Sonia today to put together the perfect therapeutic escape. -Emily  (Sonia Maksimovich 38-04 31st Ave, Astoria)

For Your Friend Who Loves Unique Clothes and Accessories:

buffalo-exchange-shirtWe all have a friend who has that unique style they pull off so gracefully, and you often wonder, “where did she get that?!”  Shopping for these discerning fashionistas is no easy feat, but the Buffalo Exchange in Astoria has you covered.  From festive shirts, shoes, pants and tons of accessories, everything is either gently worn or new and is in stellar shape.  It’s rare that I walk out of here empty handed, and while I can’t recommend any one particular item, as the merchandise varies each week, I think you’ll be in good hands.  I’ve recently scored the above pictured Rachel Roy shirt for a mere $17.  Steal! (Buffalo Exchange – 29-16 Ditmars Blvd, Astoria)   – Judith

For the Serious Cheese Head:


If you’re shopping for a die hard cheese enthusiast, Astoria Bier & Cheese has got your hook up.  From a variety of domestic and international cheeses (and beers!), it’s the perfect place satisfy a gourmand. Consider buying a variety of cheeses, cured meats and pickled accouterments they have on-hand to construct your own gift basket. (Astoria Bier & Cheese – 34-14 Broadway, Astoria). – Judith

[And in the category of Great Minds Think Alike, our contributors Anne and Erica also give their stamp of approval to Astoria Bier & Cheese! Read on… -Ed]

A great gift idea would be a gift card to Astoria Bier & Cheese! They are always super awesome in there, letting you try different cheese and meats. It could be a gift card for a dinner/date night or just a gift card to get some of their awesome comestibles such as their truffle salt and McClure’s pickles! And don’t forget their fantastic beer growlers!  -Erica and Anne

For the Wanna-be Surfer:


Who are we kidding…as the holidays approach, we’ll be eating decadently in no time, and will shortly after be looking to shed the pounds.  I often turn to Tone Pilates to do just that, but in addition to working out and sweating, I also have a lot of fun.  If you’re looking for a great gift for someone active, I highly recommend their Surfset classes, which include a workout on an actual surfboard.  Not only will you learn some fun surf technique, you’ll also get buff arms to show for it!  This is not only a fun activity to do on your own, but it can be something nice to do together.  (Tone Pilates – 36-19 Broadway, Astoria) – Judith

For the Jeans and T-Shirt Kind of Guy or Gal:

God_Save_Queens_CompositeDo you have that friend or relative who loves a good t-shirt? Who doesn’t frankly?  We totally heart the fun, whimsy selections available at local online retailer BQT.  It’s always fun to peruse their new, locally relevant designs such as the ever so popular County of Queens t-shirt, Long Island City on the famous Pepsi sign, and my personal fave, God Save Queens t-shirt.  Shop BQT or check out their stuff at Lockwood.  – Judith

For Your Friend Who Loves Italian Food, They Almost Can’t Stand It:


The housemade sopressata at Sorisso’s.

I like to stop by Sorriso Italian Salumeria to get a basket of their great homemade Italian provisions and packaged specialty items to bring home for the holidays or to share with friends.  The house made sopressata, sweet and spicy peppers, imported sundried tomatoes, asiago cheese with balsamic or espresso grinds, and fresh smoked mozzarella are some of my favorite pickups. Add on a jar of imported Italian Nutella and a bag of Elisabella’s Ciambellini Dolci Taralli, a Queens-made Italian snack food flavored with red wine, anise, extra virgin olive oil and sugar! (Sorriso Italian Salumeria, 44-16 30th Avenue, Astoria) – Sue

For the Crazy Cat Lady:

cat-bed-jumping-bulldogWe all know someone who’s a crazy cat lover (and I gotta admit that I love a good fuzz therapy session).  This adorably regal cat (or small doggie) bed is fit for a feline queen, and we just love the vintage chandelier design it adorns in these sophisticated colors. Not only is it fun and stylish, it’s also made of 100% post consumer recycled products, so it’s eco friendly as well.  (shop online or visit them in-store Jumping Bulldog – 28-10 23rd Avenue, Astoria) – Judith

About Emily Rios

Emily Rios manages special events, sponsored content and advertising clients as WHA's Business Development Director. She is a passionate and dedicated youth developer with a strong background in non-profit management, and works as Senior Manager of Youth Leadership at generationOn.

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