Nonetheless at Residence for the Holidays

Still at Home for the Holidays

Like many Americans, Jacob Underwood, a 39-year-old who works in finance, will be on vacation because of the pandemic. "I usually travel to an exotic location," he said. "It's very sad."

But his apartment building, One Manhattan Square, an 80-story glass tower on the Lower Manhattan waterfront, comes to the rescue with a little vacation glee.

"This holiday season, we felt it was important to keep programming as much and as securely as possible," said Rebeca Park, lifestyle director for Extell Development Company, which owns the building. "One Manhattan Square may have more residents staying at home than traveling."

On December 17th, the lobby will be reinterpreted as a party room. The Gallants, a jazz band whose musicians toured Europe and Asia, will serenade guests with live music. For the adults there is a hot chocolate bar overflowing with mini marshmallows, crushed oreo, whipped cream, and Irish whiskey cream. A real Santa Claus distributes gift bags with a decoration set for Christmas cookies and sweets.

The staff will be there to make sure everyone is having fun while masked and staying three feet apart.

“I'm very excited about the upcoming performance. I mean, who is watching a live jazz band during the pandemic? “Mr. Underwood said. "These events really cheered me up and kept me positive."

With the C.D.C. If Americans are told not to travel over the holidays, more New Yorkers are likely to spend more money the season in their apartments. Their buildings, especially the luxury ones, try to get the most out of the situation and offer fun experiences and gifts to tenants stuck at home.

Like One Manhattan Square, Gotham, a company that owns housing developments primarily in Midtown West, hosts exclusive, one-time festive events.

There will be an après-ski night on the rooftop where residents, both families and singles, can book an hour-long time frame to go outside, make Christmas decorations, and indulge in made-to-order tartines and crepes. There will be heaters to keep everyone warm while they enjoy the Manhattan skyline.

Last week residents signed up for a free, virtual class Alyssa Epstein, a former Radio City rockette. They learned a simple rockette-inspired dance combination and then heard her tell stories about their performances and backstage secrets.

Similarly, 21 West End, a building on the Upper West Side on the Hudson, has partnered with Resident, a company creating upscale dining experiences in residential buildings, to teach its tenants how to bake the perfect cake (pre-filled batter it be) delivered before class.) They also make winter season snack bags filled with cider donuts and double chocolate fondant brownies that residents can pick up in the lobby.

Other buildings have decided that the best way to keep everyone in a good mood is to do anything with the decorations.

The Grand Madison at 225 Fifth Avenue, a 1906 historic site that served as a hotel, warehouse, and showroom before becoming a residential building, is always decorated in the lobby. Nutcrackers were scattered for a year. The next one, penguins. But this year, black and white laser-printed images of snow-capped evergreen trees turn the lobby into a peaceful forest. Red cardinals and a birch menorah complete this quiet atmosphere.

URBN Playground, a company that manages the amenities for over 15 New York properties, wanted to make sure residents didn't miss out on their favorite vacation traditions. "This year we want to create so much normalcy for families," said Jeremy Brutus, the co-founder.

All tenants are given the opportunity to light Hanukkah candles together using a special Instagram live service. The company also organizes private, Covid-friendly visits from Santa for families who are reluctant to visit crowded malls.

Then there are the buildings that focus on bringing residents together. The idea is if New Yorkers can't be with their families, at least they can bond together safely.

HERO, a modern tower in Long Island City, launched a neighbors meeting program in December. Residents who wish to participate fill out a profile in which they introduce themselves. Then the building brings people together to exchange gifts that they leave on each other's doors.

Minela Subasic, 33, an emergency room nurse, bought an apartment in HERO that she shares with her fiancé Morgan Chen and their two cats. It's their first vacation in town since they're usually visiting a family in North Carolina or California.

The gift exchange gave them the opportunity to befriend their neighbors, which they wanted to do since the pandemic began. “I was born in Bosnia and my grandma always told me that neighbors are everything,” said Ms. Subasic. "When there is an emergency, you usually contact those closest to you."

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