Our 2019 Gift Guide shares the products our team loves and the ones that we think will do well this year. From both local and international brands, these gifts are sure to make your loved ones happy this holiday season.
STUFF FOR KIDS
LEGO: We recently covered the Caravans of Gold, Fragments in Time that is on at the Aga Khan museum in Toronto and featured the Ghanaian-Canadian contemporary artist Ekow Nimako who creates work using only LEGO pieces. LEGO is a great toy for kids so we thought we would showcase some of the awesome STAR WARS toys LEGO has out with for the sci-fi LEGO Maniac in your household.
Myla The Magical Unicorn by VTECH: Youngest unicorn lovers will want to add this to their collection. She moves, talks, sings and glitters. Sing a song or even a duet with Myla using the microphone. Touch her wand to her eyes, wings and horn to change a variety of colours. This robotic unicorn is all about positivity and imagination.
LEAPSTART GO! is the new innovative interactive learning system for preschoolers to early grade kids. Activity sets help kids to understand more advanced information like The Human Body (sold separately). Interactive video effects let kids zoom in, explore and interactive by touching the stylist on the charts and pages.
Nintendo Labo: part build your own part video game brings the best of both worlds of creating and play. Themed kits take kids through the steps of making interactive components to enhance their play. Bill Nye The Science Guy endorsed.
Playstation 4 Games: Looking for something for the gamer in your life? If they like racing, Formula 1 (F1) is a great game. Live the excitement of a Formula 1 season online or during solo play. Death Stranding is legendary video game maker Hideo Kojima’s blockbuster game that stars Norman Reedus, Mads Mikkelsen, Léa Seydoux, Margaret Qualley, Tommie Earl Jenkins, Troy Baker, and Lindsay Wagner. Film directors Guillermo del Toro and Nicolas Winding Refn are also featured. Telling Lies is a game from Sam Barlow, creator of Her Story and Silent Hill: Shattered Memories. It is an investigative thriller game with non-linear storytelling. The story revolves around a cache of secretly recorded video conversations. Sky: Children of Light is an indie adventure game developed and published by Thatgamecompany. It was first released on iOS. One of the biggest games of the year is sure to be Modern Warfare. We are currently reviewing this game but it is already incredible. If you are a fan of the series, this is one of the best they have put out.
Huawei Watch GT: Huawei’s smart watch was released earlier this year. Smart watches are great for the winter months allowing your phone to stay tucked away under layers while you check messages on your watch for importance. You can also control your music, check the weather, set reminders and workout goals.
Nintendo Switch Game – Luigi’s Mansion 3: The latest Nintendo Switch release has fans of the series very excited – hey, it’s been six years since the last one! In this game, Luigi’s friends go missing while on vacation. It’s up to him to save them from the ghosts of the Last Resort hotel. The kids had a blast preview this game recently at the Nintendo Switch Playhouse in Toronto.
Apple AirPods Pro: the all-new AirPods feature Active Noise Cancellation – using two microphones combined with advanced software to continuously adapt to each individual ear. They remove background noise allowing the user to focus on what they are listening to whether it’s music or a phone conversation. Also with Adaptive EQ, the AirPods automatically adjusts the low and mid-frequencies of music to the shape of the individual’s ear so you have a richer listening experience.
Amazon Kindle Oasis: Enjoy your latest read on the newest eReader. Ergonomically designed for a comfortable one-hand grip. This new Oasis is also soothing to the eyes with its adjustable warm light. It’s also waterproof (IPX8) so you can take it to the bath, pool or beach. Just download your books and take them to go!
ROKU Streaming Stick+: The newest version is slick, powerful and portable. The beauty is you can take your favourite shows even when you’re on your travels- just plug in the stick into the USB port on the TV in your hotel. It provides economical access to thousands of free and paid streaming services including Netflix, Prime Video, DAZN, hayu and more.
TILE: the finding device company announced a new line up recently that serves many needs. The small gadget that attaches to basically the most common things you go searching for on a daily basis (think keys, wallet, phone) has improved with extended and replaceable batteries. But the uses go far beyond the expected. People are now using it to track their pets, strollers, cameras, skateboards and health care equipment.
Testaments by Margaret Atwood – We reviewed Margaret Atwood’s sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale as it takes us back to Gilead to see what has happened since we last visited.
Awesome Music Project by Robert Carli & Terry Stuart – The Awesome Music Project Canada: Songs of Hope and Happiness is a beautifully illustrated tribute to the music that comforts us, moves us, and lifts our spirits. Rounding out the book are descriptions of the neurological research confirming that music is good for us. It improves our mental, emotional, and physical health, wards off depression, and even delays dementia. Proceeds from The Awesome Music Project Canada will go to music and mental health research, starting with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), Canada’s largest mental health and addiction teaching hospital and one of the world’s leading research centres.
Agent Running in the Fields by John Le Carré – Set in London in 2018, Agent Running in the Field follows a twenty-six year old solitary figure who, in a desperate attempt to resist the political turbulence swirling around him, makes connections that will take him down a dangerous path. In his plot and characterization le Carré is as thrilling as ever and in the way he writes about our times he proves himself, once again, to be the greatest chronicler of our age.
Quichotte by Salman Rushdie – In a tour-de-force that is both an homage to an immortal work of literature and a modern masterpiece about the quest for love and family, Booker Prize-winning, internationally bestselling author Salman Rushdie has created a dazzling Don Quixote for the modern age.
HEALTH & WELLNESS
Wonderkind gift boxex are curated based on a profile questionnaire. Items in the box are carefully sourced from Canadian women artisans and handpicked to suit your profile. Each box also includes a note about each artisan presented in the beautifully packaged gift box. Some one-of-a-kind items may also be enclosed.
Fitbit Versa 2: We know what follows the indulgence after the holidays? Get ready to meet your health and fitness goals with the latest Fitbit Versa 2 that not only helps with getting those running times in but it’s a smartwatch for every day. With built-in Alexa abilities it’s the most convenient Fitbit while on the go. The voice activation can even help with your smart home devices. Fitbit Pay means you can grab your protein shake after your run without having your wallet. Keep score of your sleep, monitor your heart rate, track your calorie burn and so much more. Connect blue to headphones and control your playlist. Wear it like a watch and you won’t have to have your phone in your pocket all the time. It will give you notifications on texts, calls, emails within range of your phone.
Lost & Found is a gift shop that opened this fall. Founded by four Toronto-based women who are all widowed. The gift ideas here are thoughtfully vetted with healing in mind. The shop includes books and wellness products for the entire family.
Cocoon Apothecary is one of Canada’s longest-standing green beauty brands. For the holidays look for their beauty ritual sets complete with top-selling products and customer favourites. Look for kits like “Rosehip Ritual” and “Dead Sea Detox”.
TheraGun is an at-home percussive therapy device that has been touted to relieve pain, deep muscle tension and tightness, and is an overall energy booster for the body using frequency to target sore areas. Developed by a Chiropractor who created the hand-held device to help manage his own pain, is now used by athletes as well as everyday people who need accessible relief.
Noize Outerwear is a dream collection of style-forward vegan wear that not only stands up to the cold winters but looks stylish doing so. The Canadian company (based in Montreal)’s latest “New kids on the block” collection includes the trending of puffy jackets in metallics, neons and camo print alongside the modern classics. We tested out this KATY long puffer coat recently on a early cold November day north of the city. Our staff said it was like wearing a duvet – cozy and warm. Love the detailing on the collection (20% off discount code: CulturePearl20)
TMPL Sportswear for the fitness buffs. This progressive new “clean” Canadian sportswear line is made with your health and the planet in mind. Fabrics are free of toxins, even the dyes, making the collection safer for our bodies and the environment. Performance of the pieces holds up with wear. Great for travel as the pieces have been tested to keep odours at bay. Products are also made locally with fair wages and in a safe work environment. The company also donates to One Tree non-profit from every product sold.
The Bay x Colour Me Courtney collaboration: Brighten up the winter with a modern take on the iconic Canadian stripes. This new line will be scooped up quickly particularly the younger set who follow quirky style blogger Color Me Courtney who is known for her “out of the box” and cheery sense of style. There are 28 pieces in the collection including women’s wear, outerwear, accessories and the cutest doggie wear.
Tilley: brings us warmth and comfort during these blistery months and for the person that keeps losing their toque(s) year after year a gift of a 100% Merino Wool beanie will sure be coveted. We favour this one for its extra fine wool that’s natural and breathable. The fibres it the fabric respond to the temperatures keeping you warm when you need it most. Made with ethically sourced and cruelty free wool.
Bonlook: Montréal eye wear brand recently partnered with NHL player Taylor Hall to design a series of glasses. The company makes some sweet looking shades that are customizable with many variations available.
Hockey Night in the Wild Family Jammies by Hatley Canada: RetroFestive.ca. Can you get anymore cuter OR Canadian? These comfy cozy jammies are perfect for lounging around on those cold winter days and nights. Print features adorable Canadian critters playing our most favourite pastimes.
HOUSE & HOME
KANDL Artistique: Fill your home with the scents of the season available with the limited edition holiday candles created by this Canadian company (pssst, they’ve been creating candles globally for Tom Ford, Jonathan Adler and others) or create your own custom blend candle at one of their Lab experiences in Toronto – also a fun gift experience to do with friends.
Retro Toronto Collins Glasses at Cocktail Emporium: These Toronto-themed glasses were designed by Cocktail Emporium’s founder Kristen Voisey and are made in the city!
ENDY Mattress: Sleep better this year with the mattress that comes via bicycle in a box. We recently reviewed this mattress to find our more about he local Toronto brand that is killing it in online sales. We recently reviewed this product.
MONOS Luggage: We were able to find a sweet Canadian luggage company that we liked called MONOS. The company is based out of Vancouver and has some great colours. They have 4 sizes of cases to choose from. Carry-On, Carry-On Plus, Check-In Medium and Check-In Large. Although they are made in China, we were still happy with its design, weight, and style.
Gift of membership to the AGO ($35 annual individual) is ideal for art lovers for all year access to the permanent galleries as well as many of the new exhibitions including the most recent by contemporary artist Hito Steyerl. The AGO also houses a permanent Yayoi Kusama work not to be missed.
ROM – THe Royal Ontario Museum has some great gifts. There is a neat Chihuly Pergola Umbrella, Dino Apparel for the kids (or adults who love dinosaurs), as well as the ability to gift a membership online.
The Gardiner Museum has more than just ceramics. Find some great books, jewellery, glassworks as well as other items for the home.
tiff Shop – There are some great t-shirt prints from their festival collections as well as their everyday collection. I also love the creative film posters from In Bruges and The Virgin Suicides (Filmed in Toronto). You can also find some great books, toys for kids and pillows.
Aga Khan Museum – The shop here is one of my favourites. They have such cool stuff in Jewellery, books, fashion, stuff for kids and housewares. Check out their website for some of the unique gifts they have to offer.
Canada Pooch x Peace Collective: The newest collaboration for pets will keep them warm, and matching their humans with the new “Home is Toronto” line of bomber jackets, hoodies, and bandanas.
Walkease Winter Gloves by Best Friend Apparel: We will never forget how our trainer reminded us that dogs need to be walked regardless of weather. You bundle up and go! These gloves are designed for winter dog walking in mind. Made with durable fabrics, poop bag pockets, grippable finger tips (so it’s easier to open the bags), smartphone touchscreen capabilities, waterproof, palm grips for maximum hold on leashes, waterproof are just a few features. Created by Toronto based designer.
Smart Feeder by Petsafe: The holiday season brings on parties, brunches and other fun festive gatherings. No need to worry about rushing home to feed Rufus or Gigi. This new programmable (connected to WiFi) Smart Feeder from Petsafe offers you more flexibility with your time and ensure your little buddy will not go hungry as well as monitor eating directly from your smartphone remotely even while you’re out. You can schedule up to 12-portioned controlled meals a day so you can customize your schedule to keep up with your pet’s routine. No need to worry if food has been offered to the furbaby anymore. Update: will be available in stores and online early 2020.
Beaver Canoe: Iconic Canadian label continues strong in petwear with the season’s most comfortable onesies, bedding, accessories and we can’t forget about the cozy flannel plaid. The line has great detailing like easy access for a variety of leash latching options. Available exclusively at Petsmart Canada.
CU Bakery: The holiday season is all about the baked goods and we know how much we love to treat our “fur”iends. CU Bakery is a local small business here in Toronto that takes pride in using high quality ingredients in their baking kits. Treats and pre-made stocking stuffers are perfectly packaged for gifting.
Puppy Prezzies: Local streetwear label for your dog keeps him, or her, on-trend with the latest urban wear. Fun on trend themes like “Real One” (like, accept no fakes and no substitutes), “Been Trill”, and the wildly popular Instagram Scannable Tee for the dogfluencer in your life. Represent the city with Toronto gear as well in the 6ix Dog tee. All made locally.
FOOD & BEVERAGE
CXBO CHOCOLATES by Brandon Olsen: handmade by one of Toronto’s favourite chocolatiers. The holiday season brings limited-edition flavours ideal for dinner party host gifts, Secret Santas, teacher gifts, stocking stuffers, co-workers and special treats just because!
Sash Restaurant – After decades at North 44, Sash Simpson recently opened Sash Restaurant on Yonge just South of Summerhill TTC station. We have visited twice now and have loved the fine dining experience.
Azkadenya – This middle eastern restaurant opened recently on Queen West and has become a favourite of mine to eat at or to UBER Eats to my home. The plates are great as well as the unique drinks that are imported. Try the Jerusalem Plate if you are a meat lover who also wants a taste of other things.
Melrose on Adelaide – Looking to have a nice cocktail this holiday season? One of our go to places for drinks as well as charcuterie boards is Melrose on Adelaide at John and Adelaide. Quiet, intimate place that is perfect for a date night as well.
NOMAD #AllTheFeels Apparel Collection: this charitable collection gives back to the Ben Le Fevre Mental Health Impact Fund. The Toronto-based business has designed this 15-piece clothing and accessories collection for her/him/them to spark conversation and expose the stigma of mental health issues. Ethically made pieces inlcude shirts, fanny packs, hoodies, emblazoned with labels and judgment we often put on ourselves and others struggling with mental health, such as “Drama Queen”, “Emotional Baggage”, “Man Up”, and “Hot Mess”. 50% of all process will go back to the Fund.
Hudson Bay Bear – Sam, the 13th annual limited-edition Heritage Charity Bear, is named after Samuel Hearne. 100% of net proceeds from the sale of each Charity Bear will support HEADFIRST mental health programming. HEADFIRST is dedicated to making mental health a priority in every community.
SickKids Vs. – Donate to SickKids. Become a monthly donor before December 31 and your donations will be matched for an entire year!
Society Socks – Sock Subscriptions with a social cause. With every pair sold, another pair is donated to charity.
More Charities – See some of the charities we have featured HERE.
Lil’ Red Robin Hood: Ross Petty Productions. Winter Garden Theatre. Runs November 29 to January 4. A somewhat classic story with a very modern and hilarious spin. The adventure begins in 2019 Toronto where the hero, Lil’Red is magically transported to the 16th century and lands in Sherway Gardens Forest in this all new original production (obviously). Super fun for families.
The Adventures of Pinocchio: Young People’s Theatre. Runs November 11 to January 5. This fun new musical follows the timeless story of the marionnette who so desperately wanted to be human. Award-winning actor Sheila McCarthy returns to YPT after 35 years to direct this production.
A Christmas Carol: Soul Pepper Theatre. December 6 to 24. The Charles Dicken’s story remains as one of the most popular theatre traditions. Ebeneezer Scrooge is visited by three ghosts: past, present and future who help him undertand the importance of charity during the holiday season. This family favourite is in its 13th year.
Peter Pan: Soul Pepper Theatre. December 6 to 24. Fly back to Neverland in this J.M. Barrie’s classic story about a boy who never wants to grow up. This reimagined musical production returns to the city to delight all ages.
The Nutcracker: National Ballet of Canada. Four Seasons Performing Arts Centre. December 12 to January 4. Bickering sisters Misha and Marie arrive at a Christas party at their country estate. Uncle Nikolai appears bearing gifts including a Nutcracker doll for Marie. That evening at the stroke of midnight magic began.
The Illusionists – Magic of the Holidays: Meridian Hall. January 1 to 5. This mind-blowing showcase is an unforgettable night featuring some of the most talented illusionists today. You won’t want to blink as this non stop show is filled with thrills, magic, illusions and mindreading mentalists.