- Don’t buy anything on your first go around. See what sparks your fancy, which booths are unaccessible because crowds of tourists are taste testing vegan macaroons, how much the handcrafted puppets cost and whether the knitted mittens are truly made in Antarctica by igloo dwellers who import alpaca wool from South America in exchange for refined petroleum.
- Save cosmetic venders for last. They’ll draw you in with the lure of their ambiguously sexy accents then want to rub your hands with salt scrub, and mud from the Dead Sea. Then they’ll slather on a layer of perfumed lotion made from a secret recipe passed down by generations of Israelis which you’ll still smell even after you squirt on an entire bottle of Purell. Once your sneak attack spa treatment is complete, your hands will be so slimy you won’t be able to touch any of the Manhattan themed tree ornaments without leaving BP level oil smears. Don’t do that. Really. Especially if you’re a wanted criminal. Your fingerprints will be all over that tiny Statue of Liberty and who knows if a cop is in the market for stocking stuffers.
- If any food stand is selling gingerbread, ask if the ginger been exposed to pesticides. If they say no, demand the truth and nothing but the truth so help you god, because you know there are germs all over that little cookie. Only if they swear on their dead mother’s Tiffany urn, ask if it’s fair trade and whether it were picked by Chinese children who are saving up to attend college in America. We need to support those kids.
- If the chocolate isn’t from a mom and pop shop, then it’s not real chocolate.
- Buy stuff from local artisans! Jewelry! Postcards with cats reading books! Or sketches of Christopher Walken with “Take a Walken on the Wild Side” scribbled above it in chalk! A Lou Reed pun represents just the right amount of Brooklyn superiority you feel from being able to invite your friends to a backyard BBQ that isn’t on a fire escape.
- Drape a Nepalese silk over your shoulders and admire yourself in the mirror at the adjoining booth until the woman who’s selling them tells you it’s a table cloth. Then say you know, and fold it up and stick in back in the pile while she’s distracted. Buy a little elephant figurine to make up for your gaff and hope she’ll forget that this ever happened.
- Your excursion wouldn’t be complete without buying a gratitude garden in a mason jar for your parents. The mini one is the perfect way to say happy holidays and express just how much you want them to reconsider their decision to cut you off financially without having to make the awkward phone call. Verify that the company can ship it. Trains are expensive and you really have to start saving money now.