Today marks T-minus 96 hours until Papa Noel slides down that chimney. Are you ready to celebrate with family and friends? Still planning your menu? Still wrapping gifts? Looking for gifts? Elbowing through tourists in midtown—grasping for your sanity? Deep breaths, my friends. AmNewsFOOD is here.

Let’s get the last-minute gifts out of the way. There is a plethora of amazing shops right here in Harlem to solve your woes. One of my favorites is NiLu (191 Lenox Ave.). Owner Katrina Parris’ eye for buying is whimsical yet practical, with items for the two- to four-legged souls in your life, featuring local Harlem artisans. I saw more than one thing in there I want under my tree.

It cannot be a merry Christmas without seeing the gleeful faces of babes, and owner Dawn Harris-Martine (aka Momdukes) of Grandma’s Place (84 W. 120th St.) could not agree more. This Harlem staple has dolls, games, toys and more for every age child in your life. Grandma Dawn is waiting to hug you. Fall into her arms!

Definitely stop by the newly renovated Schomberg Center gift shop. They are evergreen for books, art and culture gifts celebrating the spirit of the African-American experience. Spend some time in the historical Harlem building, and then share it with others.

As for food gifts, head over to Serengeti Teas & Spices (2292 Frederick Douglas Blvd.) for a unique expression of the centuries old beverage. Owner Doughba Caranda-Martin brings disparate ingredients together in a thoughtful way. While you are there, take a moment or two—or 30—to decompress and recharge during the holidays.

For other food gifts, KISS (Keep it simple, silly). Giving gift certificates to a favorite Harlem eatery or restaurant is an easy way to #shoplocal, #eatlocal and show you care after Dec. 25. It is the gift that keeps on giving!

For more awesome Harlem holiday ideas, visit Experience Harlem #ShopHarlem Holiday & Events guide at

And as our Christmas gift to you, this recipe for perfect gooey Christmas cookies: They will truly “slay” Santa!

Merry Christmas to all and to all, thanks for reading!

Kysha Harris is a food writer and editor, culinary producer, consultant and owner of SCHOP!, a personalized food service in NYC for more than 15 years. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram, @SCHOPgirl, on Facebook, /SCHOPnyc, and her blog, Questions? Comments? Requests? Feedback?  Invitations!  Email AmNewsFOOD at Follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook @NYAmNewsFOOD and tag us with #SoAmNewsFOOD with your food finds!