Every December, millions of tourists descend on Manhattan to witness the magic of Christmas in New York. With an influx of so many visitors and the excitement of newly minted transplants, it can be hard to find fellow real New Yorkers. Here's how to tell the fakes from the true citizens and how to disguise yourself if you don't want to look like just another tourist.
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1. While fakers attempt to charge through the streets or ride the subway with 10 plastic bags full of clothes, housewares and tchotchkes on each arm, true New Yorkers keep their heavy load of holiday gifts neatly contained in reusable bags. They know to shop with a game plan and they care about the environment.
2. In Times Square, tourists stop and point at all the lights, advertisements and other distractions while slowly moving en masse. Gothamites charge through the crowd, keeping their eyes open for a hole in the blob of pedestrians to shoulder their way through.
3. Visitors wait for hours to get a chance to skate in a tight, crowded circle around the Rink at Rockefeller Center; Residents wait until January to get their romantic ice-time in, or go for the less-crowded Brooklyn rinks.
4. Hand-holding as you and your sweetie go past the magnificent Christmas window displays is for suckers; local couples looking to get a peek at those wonders know it's every man for themselves.
5. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, MoMA, Natural History Museum, the Guggenheim and other big museums belong almost entirely to tourists during the month of December. Locals can wait until after the season to appreciate the awe-inspiring galleries when they can actually stop and look at the art without shoving their way through.
6. The above rule also goes for Broadway shows, which see much higher ticket prices with the influx of visitors. Better prices, and the occasional deal, are for those who wait.
7. New Yorkers plan their annual visit with Santa at Macy's or Bloomingdales on a weeknight—he's just as jolly and you can actually take a minute to share a few items off your list when you're not competing with the Miracle on 34th Street–obsessed tourists on weekends.
8. Tourists stop to take their pictures in front of the gorgeous, massive Christmas trees. Locals look up, smile and then quickly walk away pretending they're too cool to care (they're not).
9. Visitors are the ones arguing loudly about whether its better to take a cab or a subway to their destination. New Yorkers are the ones arguing loudly about which subway line will take them there faster.
10. Only visitors or brand-new transplants are willing to stand outside in the freezing cold wearing adult-diapers to see the ball drop on New Year's Eve. New Yorkers are off clinking champagne glasses at an amazing party.
11. If New Yorkers have to grab something from a big box store—Forever 21, H&M, Uniqlo—they will always avoid the ones on Broadway in Soho or in Herald Square, where they'd have to fight tourists for their desired scarf.
12. Pretenders love when it starts snowing in December; real New Yorkers rage at the thought of going to the office in their duck boots.
13. Tourists wear their festive sweaters and dresses to holiday shows at Carnegie Hall or Radio City Music Hall; locals wear black because this is just another show at their local theater so why wouldn't they wear their regular wardrobe?
14. Only visitors would try to eat lunch out anywhere near midtown during December. Locals who work in the area stick to their building's cafeteria, break room or, if necessary, their desks.
15. Tourists get ready for a night out on the town at their hotel rooms. New Yorkers apply lipstick and change their shoes on the subway.
16. Visitors are the people at Penn Station smiling as they board the train thinking about what a great a vacation they had. Residents are the ones smiling as they board the train thinking about how great it will be to escape the madness of the city.