$25 & Under: The Best Gifts to Bring Back from NYC, London, and Paris

Posted by Rachel Klein on October 07, 2008 at 11:56:57 AM EDT | Post a Comment

Between penny-pinching in a tight economy and airlines' new luggage restrictions, only so many treats for those at home are likely to make it back in your suitcase. But no need to nix the knickknacks—buying easy-to-pack gifts on the cheap in these top destination cities is surprisingly doable.

100708--PearlRiver--MT.jpgNew York

Best for Kids

Need to bring back a baby gift? A tiny, "I Love NY" onesie (about $10), available in white, pink, or blue at street corner souvenir shops all over the city, will stand out among the tot's collection. You can also find matchbox-style New York City cabs and police cars at these shops for anywhere from $5–$10. These cars are perfect for scooting around the wood-block New York City skyscraper toys in the MoMa Design Store's "New York in a Bag," ($15).

Best for a Sibling or In-law

For gals, your best bet is to head to Pearl River Mart (pictured, right), where you can pick up adorable satin slippers available in a rainbow of colors (about $16) or a silk brocade jewelry roll (about $14). For guys, check out Manhattan Portage, which has been making sleek yet rugged bags since the 80s. Snag one of their laptop cases ($25) in very-New York-black at Token Store in Nolita (258 Elizabeth St., between Prince & Houston), which carries their complete collection.

Best for a Co-Worker

Everyone appreciates a little something to jazz up the workspace. Kate's Paperie, a New York staple for writing paper, journals, and other small token gifts, has four locations scattered around the city. They stock plenty of high-quality, New York-themed items, such as pocket notebooks with 1920s-style covers ($12), a box of note cards with famous paintings of New York scenes ($22), and mini wall calendars with iconic, New York black and white photographs ($7).

Best for Anyone

Coffee from a New York institution such as Zabar's is always a welcome, practical gift (about $9). For those with a sweet tooth, a bag of their fresh-baked chocolate or cinnamon raisin rugelach ($14) will be hard to resist breaking into while waiting for your flight to take off.

What would you add to this list? See what other gifts travelers to NYC recommend---and add your own picks.

100808--Laduree--MT.jpgParis

Best for Kids

When it comes to dressing bébé, Parisian parents rely heavily on the too-cute, sturdy cotton duds at Petite Bateau. With 18 locations in the city—practically one in every arrondissement—you can find everything from a bunny bib (about $12) to striped booties (about $8) to a soft velour bonnet (about $10). They also sell a few stuffed toys, so take home a plump little penguin or an astronaut bear (about $22 each).

Best for a Sibling or In-law

French gals love Antoine & Lili, a colorful, quirky boutique, for their strands of colorful, interesting beaded necklaces (about $15). Another popular stop is Monoprix, the mega supermarket chain that sells everything under the sun in addition to food—from clothing to make-up to school supplies. Beauty lines that haven't yet made it to the U.S. are your best bet, such as Petit Marseillais, with its oh-so-French yellow and blue packaging (about $5 to $8). For women and men, Frangonard is another one-stop option. Get a bag of pastel soaps for about $15, five miniature bottles of perfume for about $18, or men's aftershave for about $22. There's also Bensimon, where you can choose one or two fabulous, small nylon drawstring travel bags which hold everything from bathing suits to first-aid kits (about $12).

Best for a Co-worker

No one can say no to chocolate, and what better thing to keep the crew humming with efficiency than super doses of caffeine! Traditionalists should visit Jean-Paul Hévin, where a 12-piece box of plain chocolate squares costs about $20. For those who want a bit of the unexpected, Sadaharu Aoki churns out interesting combinations such as chocolate with green tea. A small box with six pieces will run about $18.

Best for Anyone

You can buy macaroons in the U.S., but they won't compare to what you'll find in Paris. The most famous maker of these delectable little cakey cookie creations is Ladurée. Take some home in one of their sturdy cardboard boxes for about $2 each (pictured, above right).

What would you add to this list? See what other gifts travelers to Paris recommend---and add your own picks.

100708--Harrods--MT.jpgLondon

Best for Kids

The gift shop at the Tower of London offers a trove of toys and games for kids that are educational yet entertaining. Paper models of popular must-sees at the Tower run anywhere from about $5 to $23, jigsaw puzzles are about $14, and card games are about $7.

Best for a Sibling or In-law

You'll find everything under one roof at Harrods (pictured, right). The posh and popular Harrod's vinyl shopping tote for women comes in the traditional logo as well as newer, playful designs (about $22–$25). Men will love a smart Harrod's folding umbrella (about $25), or zipper pouch pen set (about $25).

Best for a Co-worker

"Keep Calm and Carry On" was the expression the government introduced during World War II as a way to encourage British citizens to muster good spirits. In modern times, it's a great reminder for stressed out, weary co-workers. A poster with the traditional red and white design is available at the Victoria & Albert Museum shop for about $17.

Best for Anyone

Don't leaving London without a can of your favorite tea—as well as one for someone at home who appreciates a fine 'cuppa. Snag one of Fortnum & Mason's steely gray tins for as little as $4.

What would you add to this list? See what other gifts travelers to London recommend---and add your own picks.

–Rachel Klein

Photo Credits: Pearl River Mart, New York City, courtesy of modomatic on Flickr; Laduree macaroons, courtesy of acme on Flickr; Harrod's, Lond, courtesy of dierk schaefer on Flickr

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Posted in Deals Tagged: New York City

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