by Nick D'Arienzo
Dec 04, 2008 | 39286 views | 0 0 comments | 2959 2959 recommendations | email to a friend | print
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Make sure you head to Williamsburg, Brooklyn this season and check out the Charlie Brown Christmas Tree!
Times are tough for all of us, that’s definitely a given this year. But, despite that, don’t we always somehow figure out a way to shower some affection upon the ones we love most – especially the littlest of them? Having said that, we figured we’d help the cause by showcasing for you a number of favorite places of ours here, where you can rest assured that you’re going to get value for your hard-earned American dollars. So make sure you check in with us over the next couple of weeks. And from all of us here, to you and yours, peace and good will this holiday season.




8000 Cooper Avenue, Suite 115

(718) 326-2023

If you’ve never been to FRANKIE’S PLAYCE, you’re in for quite a treat. It’s an eye-popping array of colors and textures that definitely subscribes to the notion that product and design are sometimes one and the same. If you’re looking for something wholesome and appropriate for your little ones, you’ve found the right place – this certainly ain’t no WALMART. Here’s where you’re going to find some of the top-name toy brands in the marketplace, but especially the creative ones and the inventive ones like Melissa & Doug (one of our personal favorites here!), whose simplicity and ingenuity make their products stand apart from so many others. You’ll also find some of the standards you probably grew up with, as well – wooden trains and train tracks, Curious George, Barbie, Tonka, and more. Look, FAO SCHWARZ is a great toy store, but it’s in Manhattan, and it’s rather expensive at that. Besides, you definitely don’t need it anymore – not when FRANKIE’S PLAYCE is so close at hand. (Just a couple of by-the-way’s here: FRANKIE’S PLAYCE also has a hair salon to get your youngsters looking prim and proper for holiday photos and the like. And what’s more, there’s a movie theater right next door, and across the way, one of the best JOHNNY ROCKETS around!)



69-00 Grand Avenue

(718) 639-3623

If you feel like you might need a little, you know, “kitchen help” this holiday season (hey, who doesn’t, right?) – why not take advantage of a fantastic place like IAVARONE BROS. and have them cater everything? They’ve got a terrific Christmas Dinner Package that works out to under $30/person and features a wide variety of options like Baked Lasagna or Stuffed Shells, Gorgonzola and Walnut Salad (with dried cranberries) or Arugula & Radiccho Salad (with goat cheese and toasted almonds) and entrée choices like Pork Loin, Honey-Glazed Ham, Chicken Iavarone. Throw in Eggplant Parmigiano, Silver Dollar Mushrooms, Potato Croquettes, Cheesecake, Panettone, etc. and you’re talking an absolute feast here. But then again, isn’t that what a family gathering ought to be? Anyway, for $299, the Christmas Dinner Package serves 10-14 people. Operators are standing by!

Rego Park


62-77 Woodhaven Boulevard

(718) 424-2110

If you’re thinking about something rather timeless and enduring for your young ones, SIR LANCE’S LOT in Rego Park makes some of the finest custom-made clothing for children you may ever see. Halloween especially is one of their busiest times of the year, but the Christmas holiday is a close second. Designer Lupe Jusino and her husband Bill have for years now managed to bring the caprices and whims of our neighborhood’s children to life in vivid color when it comes to dressing up – as a pirate, a frog, a witch, a fairy princess. But these one of a kind works of art require impeccable attention to detail, so if you’re thinking along these lines for the holidays, you’d better hurry on in as soon as you can, or at least get a head-start by visiting their website at




North 7th Street (between

Driggs and Bedford)

(917) 747-4450

Residents of this neighborhood have long ago come to appreciate the staying power and tremendous quality offered by Brooklyn born-and-raised Paul Pennolino and Philip Caponegro (and Paul, Jr!) at this convenient tree lot on North 7th Street. They’ve got hundreds of trees to choose from, haven’t raised their prices in five years now, and offer free delivery locally. But newcomers to the nabe have also fallen in love with one of their more creative offerings, The Charlie Brown Christmas Tree, an ode to that time-honored classic, whereupon Charlie Brown chooses the humblest, meekest – yet most poignant – tree of all, in keeping with the Christmas spirit. Now you’ll have to see this to fully appreciate it, of course, so make sure you head on over to North 7th between Driggs and Bedford (right next to the ST. VINCENT’S SCHOOL), and take a look yourself. It’s going to be hard to resist! (FYI, Pennolino has another lot as well, located on Union Avenue, between Meeker and Metropolitan – that’s where you’ll find his sons James and David, alongside Dominic Consolazio and some really great music!)



736 Manhattan Avenue

(718) 383-3437

We love this little toy store in Greenpoint, except one thing you oughtta know – it’s not really as little as you think! Despite the fact that it occupies just one storefront on Manhattan Avenue, the GREENPOINT TOY CENTER is filled with all kinds of goodies to thrill and delight your kids, but especially come holiday time. It’s also one of the most fun toy stores to browse through, given what a tremendous variety is on hand, thanks to the excellent stewardship of husband and wife Herman and Nancy Hernandez. This is LEGO central, HASBRO central, LEAP FROG central, you name it. And probably one of the best things about the place, they offer a no-fuss 60-day layaway option, something that just might come in a little handier this year while we all sort out this chaotic financial situation we’re going through.



70-15 Grand Avenue

(718) 233-4405

Okay, so maybe this isn’t the year you’re going to be able to go out and splurge on that Nintendo Wii like you once thought. But what about the next best thing? What about a membership for your kids at the popular PRESS START CAFÉ on Grand Avenue? At PRESS START, kids are able to try their hand at the latest crop of video games (and classics, too!) in the comfort of some rather posh lounge-chairs, hi-def flat screens, and, most importantly, with both snacks and adult supervision very close by. So why not call PRESS START to inquire about a membership there? Packages begin for as little as $30 for a six-month membership, which gets your hourly rate reduced to $8 (from $10), and then after twenty hours of playing time, you get an extra free hour thrown in – plus the opportunity to enter tournaments and big discounts on game purchases. Yes, membership has its privileges, you might say.

Forest Hills


73-01 Austin Street

(718) 544-1246

Holiday time’s the time you really want to look your best, no? And we can’t think of a better place to help make that happen than the oh-so-glam MICCICHE SALON in Forest Hills. Men and women who avail themselves of the tremendous talent here certainly never regret it, and are always back again and again. And if you’re feeling maybe in a downright selfless mood – it is the holiday season, after all – then why not head in and purchase a gift certificate for someone you care about? You’ll sure be glad you did – and so will they!

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