The holidays are a delicate balance of memory-making experiences for the family (ice skating and hot chocolate, The NYBG Train Show, checking out massive holiday lights displays, and hitting up Santaland), but also playing Santa himself and hunting/gathering gifts and spreading holiday cheer without going nuts. I might have found the nexus of these two things when I visited the new FAO Schwatz pop-up shop within Midtown Manhattan's Bergdorf Goodman.
Read on to get all the details and to decide whether to add a trip with (or without!) the kids to your to-do list over the next two months.
FAO Schwarz's iconic, magical stores shuttered in 2015, rolling up its playable piano and more fun for good...we thought. But this season it joins Toys "R" Us in returning with an albeit smaller holiday toy headquarters in Midtown. And it may have found the perfect partner in luxe retailer Bergdorf. As we rode the escalator up to the seventh floor of the department store, making our way past gorgeous fashion displays (I had to hold my 10-year-old daughter back from a touch-me moment with an exquisite and, I'm guessing, very expensive Marchesa gown), it set the scene for the little nook of FAO Schwarz magic.
RELATED: Novemeber GoList: Best Things to Do All Month in NYC
The pop-up is small, but packs in some playtime for kids with hands-on displays.
The space is small. The escalator drops you directly into the pop-up shop space; to the left is Bergdorf's children's clothing section and to the right is Bergdorf's holiday shop, filled with decorations and home accents. Situated between the two is a little wonderland of classic toys and games: gigantic stuffed teddy bears and puppies, retro ride-on roadster racers, as well as smaller (more affordable) gifts like coloring books, weaving looms, and marble runs.
Everything is boxed in signature FAO Schwarz packaging and looks as though it was created in Santa's workshop. And there are a decent number of items assembled for proper demoing. While I had an extremely difficult time getting my 4-year-old to step away from the $400 Mercedes replica, the piano mat (a smaller version of the Big moment) was popular with both kids. A select number of items are available for pre-order on Bergdorf's site.
Creative play is at the heart of many of the gifts up for sale.
While it may be a long trip for some to come from the far reaches of Brooklyn or Queens (or even for me way up in Washington Heights), it was a fun visit to get kids in a holiday mindset and parents in the holiday spirit—and help both come up with a Christmas list that doesn't include very many apps or electronics.
The FAO Schwarz holiday pop-up is located on the seventh floor of Bergdorf Goodman at 754 5th Avenue until December 31.
Photos by the author.