Getting Ready for Christmas: The NYC Holiday Hosting Guide

 In Events

Getting Ready for Christmas: The NYC Holiday Hosting Guide

There’s nothing quite like winter in the city. If you’re a new resident or transplant like so many New Yorkers, ‘tis the season for out-of-town guests. With a little extra time off work and tons of events in NYC, family members and friends often choose the holiday season for a visit. As you’re shopping for presents, choosing activities, and getting your home ready for couch surfing guests, keep this guide handy for getting ready for the Christmas season and the holidays:

Winter Attractions

Give your guests a real winter experience, especially if your visitors are from a warmer climate. New Yorkers might get annoyed of the snow and cold, but for a guest, the weather is a novelty and might be their only winter experience this year.

Ice Skating Venues

Grab your winter gear and a cup of hot chocolate. If ice skating is on your agenda, the top stops include Central Park, Bryant Park, and of course, Rockefeller Center. Here’s what you need to know about each venue:

Rockefeller Center: The iconic ice rink at Rockefeller Center has been featured on several tv shows and movies, making it recognizable to even the most distant visitors. The rink is open from morning to midnight most days. With the Christmas tree and lights in the plaza, it’s a picturesque holiday activity the family will love. While no online reservations are accepted, all the information you’ll need is located here.

Central Park: With two rinks from which to choose, Central Park is a great option for ice skating. The Wollman Rink in Central Park provides a great Instagrammable location, with the NYC skyline in the background. The second (and more cost-effective) option is the Lasker Rink. Learn more about the skating options here.

Bryant Park: Bryant Park gives you the best value. It’s open from morning to around 9 pm during peak season. Admission to the rink is free, and the park also features a holiday market, dining options, and a great city background. Get all the details here.

Holiday Shows

If you’re planning to take in some entertainment, there are several holiday-themed shows available in NYC this year. Disney’s Frozen is currently on Broadway, a perfect show for young visitors (or the young at heart)!

And, of course, there’s always Radio City Music Hall’s high kicking holiday entertainment, the Rockettes. Ticket price information and bookings for both events can be done online. Always book ahead of time if possible, to ensure ticket availability and to remove the stress of planning.

Photo Opportunities

World Trade Center Station: aka, The Oculus – Designed by the world-famous Santiago Calatrava, you feel the incredible attention to detail when you step foot in the station. Everywhere you look, there’s a unique, visually interesting feature to see. When you’re in lower Manhattan, this is a must-see for guests and a great place to check off an item on a tourist bucket list.

Washington and Water: Your visitors will feel like a real New Yorker in Dumbo when they look up at the Manhattan Bridge. Take a quick walk down to Main Street Park for another great view of both the Manhattan and Brooklyn bridges and the NYC skyline.

The Flatiron: Located on 5th Avenue across from Madison Square Park, the Flatiron is an NYC architecture tour staple. This triangular building was completed in 1902 and is one of the world’s most recognizable skyscrapers. You could do an entire week-long tour of architecture alone in the city.

Online Planning


If you haven’t been on TripAdvisor lately, the website and app were recently redesigned. The site now feels more like a social feed, where you can follow friends and family for ideas on places to go. You can even get alerted when you’re near a location someone you know has recommended. Bookmark your favorite restaurants, activities, and sights in one place, and take along your list via the app on your phone.


You’ve probably heard of OpenTable, but now, Facebook and other social media services let you book a reservation directly on the platform. OpenTable is integrated right into Facebook Messenger app, allowing you to collaborate on dining reservations with your guests directly through messages. Many restaurants fill up quickly around the holidays, so book early!

Prep Your Place

There’s a good chance that you live in a small apartment, not suited for more than a couple of guests. Make room in your place by taking advantage of easy, low commitment storage options. Especially if you’re decorating with a tree or other holiday-themed items, space in an apartment fills up quickly.

Simply Valet Storage is a new service for NYC residents. We drop off bins, you fill them with items for storage on your schedule, and we pick up your bins at a time convenient to you. There’s no annual contract, so take advantage of the service for a few months while you need the space! Learn more here. Request a free quote now.

Online Shopping and Pre-Ordering

Online Shopping

Once you’ve cleaned out space at your apartment, order presents online before guests arrive. If you’re an Amazon fan, save items to a shopping list, allowing you to watch prices to get the best deal. Most online retailers will give information on the “last day to shop” for your presents to arrive on time so you can focus on getting ready for Christmas.  

For out of town guests, be sure to think compact, small, and durable for presents so the gift will be able to survive the journey in their luggage. If they’re flying home, consider shipping gifts directly to their house if your desired present won’t fit in a carry on bag.

Pre-Order Holiday Meals

Take the guesswork out of Christmas dinner or another holiday gathering. Pre-order some or all of the meal ahead of time for delivery, eliminating the pressure to cook while entertaining guests. Pre-cooking or preparing ingredients is also helpful, especially for desserts which often have a longer shelf life than an entree.

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