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How to Do Christmas in New York and Not Look Like a Tourist

By Savannah Cox | November 12, 2015 7:20pm | Updated on November 23, 2015 9:16am
 Here's how to enjoy the holiday season without losing your New Yorkerness.
Here's how to enjoy the holiday season without losing your New Yorkerness.
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Holiday season in the city can bring out the ogling tourist in all of us, but that doesn't mean we need to experience it like one.

With that in mind, DNAinfo New York has conjured up a list of ways you can take part in holiday time New York like a tourist — except smarter, because you actually live here:

1. Skip ice skating in Rockefeller Plaza — go to Wollman Rink instead

While the city's "Christmas Capital" is worth visiting for the tree and light fixtures, the tiny rink's long waits and steep prices make for an ice skating experience that is more draining than it is enjoyable.

Try Central Park's Wollman RInk instead: it's outdoors, housed in an iconic city destination and much larger and more affordable than skating at the Rock.

2. Head to Macy's "Santaland" at the beginning or end of a weekday

This holiday spot practically bleeds tinsel and snowglobes, which means that Santaland is packed when kids can visit — like after school or on the weekends.

To avoid the crowds, try visiting the home of the Miracle on 34th Street before it opens (at 9 a.m.) or an hour before it closes (at 9 p.m).

3. Check out Christmas shows in Queens

Places like Radio City Music Hall and acts like the Rockettes draw in large crowds, but you can get just as much holiday spectacle outside Manhattan.

If you're in Queens, head to the Queensborough College Performing Arts Center for the Oratorio Society of Queens' performance of Handel's "Messiah," along with renditions of Christmas and Hanukkah classics.

4. Don't buy your Nutcracker tickets online

The New York City Ballet will perform the quintessential Christmas production starting Nov. 27 at Lincoln Center. If you buy tickets online, you're looking at paying at least $35, likely more.

If that's too much for two hours of tutus and Tchaikovsky, it's worth heading to the box offices of the David Rubenstein Atrium Tuesday through Saturday during the day. If extra performance tickets are available, you can receive a discount of up to 50 percent.

5. Oogle the windows at Bergdorf's, not Saks

Luxury retailer Saks Fifth Avenue will unveil its wintry 'do on Nov. 23, and it will as usual be a case study in opulence.

While Saks' winter palace will doubtless draw lots of crowds, truly special artistry that doesn't rely on seasonal tropes to be effective can be found in the windows of Bergdorf Goodman.

Last year, for example, as everyone coated their displays with holiday hues Bergdorf presented passersby with an immaculate devotional to the arts. This year's display should be no less grand.

6. Go caroling and help save a dog's life

Not everyone is endowed with Mariah Carey's pipes, but that doesn't necessarily mean that your singing voice is useless. 

Partnering with Mighty Mutts, group "Holiday Hymns for Hounds" invites singers of all levels to sing with them in Union Square this holiday season, with all donations going to support no-kill animal shelters in the city.

7. Get your holiday booze on at these local haunts

Food and culture sites like the Braiser and Village Voice have rounded up lists of where to go for eggnog and mulled wine.

8. Head to holiday markets on weekday mornings

As with any public space, the holiday markets tend to get more cramped when fewer people have to work, like the evenings and weekends.

Head out early during the week (most markets are open by 11 a.m.), and you'll skip most of the madness and get first dibs of the day's for-sale goods.

9. Visit Staten Island for some truly legendary Christmas displays

Manhattan is flush with over-the-top Christmas light displays, but for true yule time extravagance, head to Staten Island.

Residents are known to regularly cake their homes in tens of thousands of lights, which are of course synced to music from bands like Led Zeppelin.

The folks at Staten Island Live have crafted an interactive map of the borough's best light displays, which you can check out here: