Tis the season to be jolly. To fill the roof with lights, the staircase with garland, and the doorways with mistletoe. It is the time of year where red and green is everywhere and a lavishly decorated evergreen is a must. Of course, with all of the family time, parties, and events, one is always on a hunt for the perfect gift. And as we end out this tricentennial year, nothing says perfect like a gift that is naturally New Orleans.
Here is a list of some of Where Y’at’s favorite finds with Big Easy written all over them.
The Edible Gifts
If you’re looking to start a diet this month, think again. The holiday season is a time to fill our tummies with sweet treats, gumbo, and fried turkey. When it comes to NOLA holiday gifts, edible options are a great choice. One of New Orleans’s many staples is a sweet, French-influenced treat: the praline. The Praline Connection offers pralines in cute box sets. Just add a bow, and it's ready to go. With all the sweet delights that are native to the city, none is more traditional than the beignet. Pairing beignet mix from Café Beignet and a bag of their chicory coffee is always a hit gift, especially for those who love baking. If they are true coffee-lovers, PJ’s Coffee offers many flavors and logo paraphernalia.
We can’t talk about getting down in the kitchen without mentioning how delicious Cajun and Creole cuisines are, and that can be credited to our local hot sauces and spices. World Famous N’awlins Café and Spice Emporium has a multitude of spice options and sets that would make a perfect gift for that friend away who’s homesick and missing those delicious NOLA spices and sauces. While you’re at it, ride on over to a local book store and grab Pascal’s Manale Cookbook: A Family Tradition or John Folse’s The Encyclopedia of Cajun & Creole Cuisine. Just grab them all. You can’t go wrong with these delicious holiday gifts.
The Spirited Gifts
From Sazerac to French 75, the average New Orleanian would be oh-so-grateful to receive a spirited holiday gift. Fortunately, there are many alcoholic sets and gifts on display during the holiday season, but here are a few favorites:
Daisy Dukes has Bloody Mary Mix Set options that make excellent gifts for that friend who’s a sucker for a good brunch cocktail. From their Jazz Fest Set to the Black and Gold Set, there’s a little something for every Bloody Mary enthusiast.
Of course, your Bloody Mary wouldn’t be complete without the right vodka. Thanks to Cajun Spirits Distillery, everyone on your gift list should have no issue making the best cocktails in town. Cajun Spirits offers more than just vodka; the New Orleans-based distillery also makes rum and gin.
Speaking of rum, we can’t mention it without recommending a gift of Old New Orleans Rum. From the distillery founded by artist James Michalopoulos, there are several rum flavors and options, along with a shop that includes souvenir glasses, t-shirts, magnets, and much more.
While the locals love their spirits, New Orleans beer culture is one with much history and is currently growing. One local favorite is NOLA Brewing Company. Though they also offer shirts, hats, and other lagniappe, simply getting a case of the popular Hopitoulas IPA would be a perfect Christmas surprise.
Last, but not least, it wouldn’t be right to forget the world-famous Pat O’Brien’s Hurricane Mix Set. Nothing says New Orleans like a traditional Hurricane.
Blinging in the New Year
When it comes to holiday gifts, you can never go wrong with accessories, and at the top of that list is jewelry. One of the city’s most famous jewelers is Mignon Faget. With locations from Magazine Street to Metairie, Mignon Faget offers such a variety of signature pieces that it would be silly to only highlight one. The jeweler’s animalistic pieces and NOLA-themed designs are more on the pricier side, but would make a very special gift for a special person.
One jewelry piece that will never get old is the NOLA skyline necklace from Sarah Ott New Orleans. Also known for the NOLA coordinates pendant, Sarah Ott’s jewelry is reasonably priced, unique, and represents all things NOLA.
While repping the Big Easy, Home Malone New Orleans is a store known for its local lagnaippe, including all sorts of holiday gifts, from accessories to home décor. There you can find their original NOLA Tile Cuff bracelet and necklace. Buy it as a set, and it will guarantee a magical holiday.
Right in the realm of accessories are sunglasses, and Art & Eyes has a plethora of sunglasses and frames that are unique and custom-made.
If all else fails, jewelry from an art market is always a winner. With all of the local markets and seasonal pop-ups, finding local jewelry and accessories should be pretty easy. And it’s certain to make a perfect NOLA Christmas gift.
For the Kiddos
From t-shirts from Fleurty Girl to books and toys from Magic Box Toys, we can’t discuss NOLA Christmas gifts without mentioning the cool kids of New Orleans. When it comes to books, Goodnight NOLA just may be the most famous local book of them all. But there are several other children’s books worth purchasing. Books like There’s a Creature in My Belly; Hello, New Orleans!; and Nola Louise Believes are all great and educational gifts.
For kids who love watching those delicious crawfish boil up in a pot, Dirty Coast has the perfect toy for them. “The First Batch” Kid’s Crawfish Boil Set is not only adorable, but absolutely entertaining—preparing youngins for future boils to come.
When you can’t think of anything else, membership cards and gift certificates make perfect gifts for the kids. The Audubon Nature Institute offers gift membership options, which can be individual memberships or membership packages to all of the attractions, including the zoo, aquarium, insectarium, and more.
Every child dreams of waking up on Christmas morning to find a brand new bicycle. GNO Cyclery in Uptown has been making that dream come true for over 25 years.
The Odds, Ends, and In-Betweens
For sure, New Orleans is an eccentric city filled with many holiday gift options. You really can’t go wrong with a gift that is truly, uniquely New Orleans. If nothing’s tickled your fancy so far, here are a few odds and ends that will scream NOLA as soon as they are unwrapped.
In the city of voodoo and hoodoo, a voodoo doll from Marie Laveau’s House of Voodoo would make an excellent gift for that friend seeking revenge. For the person who has an open mind and sense of humor, a signature t-shirt from any of the many shops along Bourbon Street would be a great gift that is sure to stir up some laughter.
How about some water meter décor? Let’s admit it, the city is obsessed with its water meters, and Dirty Coast has the perfect water meter doormat for that friend who loves all thing NOLA. That same person might be into some local antiques or some original art from Royal Street. You could also take a stroll along Jackson Square, where the artwork couldn’t be more authentic. Gift cards are also great options. Many of the museums in the city offer gift cards, and for your sporty, thrill-seeking friends, NOLA Motorsports offers gift cards as well, so you can gift go-kart rides and more.
Ending out the tricentennial year with a naturally New Orleans gift is the best way to celebrate the city’s 300th birthday. With that said, the tricentennial flag or souvenir is the final pick on this list, and probably one that the gift-receiver will never forget.