Christmas is around the corner and we can't wait! Spending some quality time with our beloved friends and family is far more important than gifts, but let's be honest, who doesn't like surprises? And rather than receiving a gift, nothing compares to seeing the joy in the eyes of the giftee.
So get inspired by our Toronto's favourites & find gifts for your mom, dad, best friend, brother, sister, or what the heck, even you! Happy Holidays!
1) Julie loved taking her wife Mary out for her birthday lunch to Holt Renfrew Cafe - airy modern decor, professional friendly service, and delicious, very reasonably priced gourmet lunch.
2) The Barrel House is owned by Amsterdam Brewery, so you know they have good beer!
3) Claire had her son's graduation dinner at Terroni and the food was delicious, the service was amazing, and the atmosphere was great! Also, the 3rd floor rooftop is a really nice spot if you are looking for a summer patio to have drinks with friends and family.
4) Tyler and his wife Ashley went to Taste of Toronto - they tried all sorts of awesome food and drinks from the most popular restaurants and micro-breweries in Toronto, while enjoying live music and food demonstrations by famous chefs like Alvin Leung and Master Chef Canada winner Eric Chong.
5) Julie attended an awesome Pinot Noir wine tasting with chef's menu at Mr Flamingo - yum!
6) Tao is a new restaurant in Leaside with great northern Chinese food!
1) By following some of the Brendan Brazier's The Thrive Diet principles, Holly was recovering better from her Ironman training and the hectic life of a Toronto Realtor. It has great explanations of how certain foods can minimize stress, and vegan recipes for salads, smoothies, sports gels, energy bars etc.
2) If you're preparing your house for sale or disheartened by homes with minimal storage space or you’re downsizing or just overwhelmed by all your "stuff" read the The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. It will free your space, your mind and spirit. Thank you to our clients Claudio and Marcela for introducing us to this book!
3) The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood - mainly filmed in Toronto, this show is one of the best we have ever seen! If you are the two people in the world that have not seen it, we highly recommend you do - but read the book first!
4) Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss is a massive tomb of a book that our team highly recommend! Learn as much as you can from all sorts of experts in their respective fields - it is truly fascinating to hear about their daily routines, most gifted books, favourite exercises/habits ranging from health, wealth and wisdom. A team favourite!
5) Julie fell in love with Style at Home Magazine. You can get great ideas for planning your home renovation, and find inspiration in the practical articles.
6) Jen loves The Wealthy Barber by David Chilton. She's sure most people have read it since it is Canada's best seller of all time, but if you haven't, give it a try! Very entertaining as a "common sense guide to successful financial planning."
To Play With
1) The Nintendo Switch is what all the kids want this Christmas, with the must-have game this season, Super Mario Odyssey! But there is also the Super Nintendo Classic out for those of us old enough to remember it.
2 Exploding Kittens is a really fun card game with clever graphics. It's quick to learn and crazy fun!
3) LOL Big Surprise, providing the ultimate "unboxing experience" with 50 surprise dolls and accessories, might be the top gift for kids this year.
4) If you've been sitting on the fence because of the price of Oculus Rift, now might be a good time to consider this VR experience, since they recently had a price cut!
5) Fingerlings Interactive Toy Monkeys are interactive pets responding to sound, motion and touch, who love to monkey around!
Beauty & Wellness
1) Lalicious Sugar Kiss Scrub is hands down best face scrub ever! Made with pure sugar cane crystals, cold-pressed coconut and sweet almond oil, it has an incredible smell of sweet soufflé of citrus, rose and vanilla.
2) Artistic Hair Lounge is run by a family of 4 sisters, and they did an amazing job with Claire's hairdo for a wedding party!
3) Sweetgrass Spa is a women's only day spa, with beautiful facilities and wonderful service.
4) Now that it's the season of chapped hands, Holly keeps a tube of Aveda Hand Relief at her desk and in her car. It's non-greasy, you just need a little bit and it lasts a long time. Holly also loves that it doesn't have a strong scent.
1) ChocoSol Chocolate is the best we've ever had! We also love their vision to "create an ecologically and socially just food system through chocolate."
2) Through the years we received a lot of drink recommendations and here are our favourites - Woodford Reserve Kentucky Bourbon, Kir-Yianni Estate Akakies Sparkling Rose from Greece, Carpinus Dry Furmint 2013 from Hungary & Pérez Cruz Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile.
3) There are several places in Toronto that offer the finest selection of the best exotic tea for every tea-loving Torontonian - we can't even choose!
4) The Mercantile is an amazing local shop with unique gourmet treats - Holly especially likes their infused sea salts. The best option for Christmas - already curated gift baskets.
5) Holly is also getting delivery from Mama Earth Organics service and she loves it. It saves time and you can get a good variety of different organic fruits and vegetables every week!
6) Every foodie knows that local and seasonal is always the best option, so try to visit your community farmers' market to find many delicacies - yes, they are open in winter!
Art & Theatre
1) We fell in love with Lucille Weber's colourful paintings "that have a life of their own."
2) Every year Jen and her mom Sondy subscribe to the Mirvish Theatre season. It is usually 6 or 7 productions, with a good variety of dance and drama, and usually lots of musicals which Jen absolutely loves! It is a fantastic entertainment and a wonderful night out with her mom.
3) Every holiday season Claire generously takes the whole Team to see the Second City Comedy Show. It never fails to make us laugh - talented comedians performing outrageous skits, what's not to love! A fantastic afternoon of laughs with great friends.
4) If you are looking for a unique piece of artwork, visit your local vintage and second-hand furniture store! We guarantee that you'll find one of a kind pieces with amazing history!
5) We just can't get enough of Mary McLorn Valle's vibrant oil paintings. Her art embracing the bold and brilliant colours of nature is the perfect thing for cold winter days.
1) Julie is loving her new Bose QuietComfort Noise Cancelling Headphones that she bought as an early Xmas gift. They have a mic so you can speak to them too!
2) Google Home Mini is not mentioned here by mistake - it really is a popular gift idea this year!
3) Claire doesn't follow all the phone trends and is a BlackBerry fan through and through - she loves her new BlackBerry KEYone with amazing security.
4) Speaking of trends, the JKT just love the Apple tech toys! Anything from MacBook Air to Apple TV - all super compact and convenient for everything we need.
5) But because it really isn't just about the brand, Jen also really likes her Surface Pro - it's a laptop, it's a tablet, the possibilities are endless!
6) Having HERO4 GoPro video/still action camera, Julie recommends a new HERO6 for every adrenaline junkie!
1) Julie met Ryan Shanahan of KettleWorX when she was showing his house - and his home gym! She ended up selling the house, and he gave her a kettlebell and 2 videos as a gift. Check them out next time you're at the gym and bring KettleWorX to your house on a video!
2) Jen has always played with Head racquets, so she was a bit hesitant to try a Wilson. But as soon as she started hitting with the Wilson Five BLX tennis racquet, it was amazing! The transition was seamless - she had power and control, and it is also easier on the elbow. You can find it at amazing Canadian store Merchant of Tennis.
3) If you're looking for some fantastic fun and active ways for your children to get the most out of their recreational time, Toronto has the best kid's sporting programs! Although there are some outdoor summer activities, you can also find indoor winter courses.
4) Holly loves Sunday yoga classes at Breathe Yoga. It's just challenging enough, full of humour and positive energy - a great way to recharge and refocus for the week ahead. The best option for Christmas - Breathe Gift Card.
5) Julie gave FitBit to her wife Mary for Valentine's day and walking, stairs and sleeping habits keep getting better! Claire also enjoys tracking her hours of sleep and calories burned. Best health assistant out there!
6) Julie is a biking aficionado so there's no wonder she just loves her new Kona Bike from Toronto bike shop Sweet Pete's.
Fashion & Accessories
1) Every time we see someone wearing a pair of Red Canadian Olympic mittens we get a welling sense of Canadian pride!
2) With the winter closing in, Holly went to Snug As A Bug store in the Junction and discovered the fleece onesies - they are cozy, comfortable and Made in Canada!
3) Karyn Gingras is the owner and designer of Lilliput Hats. She has the best collection of high-quality hats - they are crafted on site using old world millinery techniques!
4) 99.9% of the clothing from Gerhard Supply is made in Toronto, in great quality and so stylish! The store was also voted "Best Men's Clothing Store" by Now magazine, but ladies can also find very wearable and unique items.
5) Danielle from Danielle Sweeney Design has made custom jewellery for years for Jen and Julie, including Julie & Mary's spectacular wedding rings - now that's a referral!
6) Holly read about this bit of luxury, a cashmere eye mask, in Toronto Life magazine and thought she'd check it out for herself. The super comfortable mask is available in a variety of colours from Kumari's and comes with its own little storage case; perfect for travelling! Just throw in a pair of earplugs and you're set. Holly loved this eye mask so much she got one for all of us!
Seeing a need, discovering who can meet that need and then getting it done - that is even more true during the holiday season. So if you feel like giving back, see our charities page for many options!
1) The Good Shepherd is a charity in downtown Toronto. It is a shelter for the homeless, providing a hot meal, clean clothes, a safe bed for the night to anyone who might need it. Today it also helps people overcome addictions, access healthcare and find housing.
2) Jen volunteers every year with The Northern Dog Project who are working to help with the over-population of dogs in the Northern communities. The Project also goes into the schools to educate the children on proper health care for their pets, and proper treatment.
3) E2 Equality Effect uses human rights law to make the rights of girls & women real, so that they can be safe from sexual violence, get an education, and fulfil their economic potential.
4) Toronto Humane Society provides high quality care to the animals who are surrendered to the shelter and finds them forever homes as quickly as possible. The best option for Christmas - donating resources and adopting a pet!
5) Pathways to Education Program is helping youth in low-income Canadian communities to graduate from high school and successfully transition onto post-secondary education, training, or employment.
6) The Ride To Conquer Cancer provides vital funds in support of the doctors, researchers and caregivers on the front lines of the battle against cancer. The JKT supports the Princess Margaret Hospital, where Julie was treated and is now a proud survivor!
1) Julie loves journalling - taking a few minutes every morning to count her blessings and sort through all her thoughts and get clarity and balance on priorities. You can find many beautiful journals and notebooks at Indigo.
2) The Millennial Money Meetup was founded by millennial personal finance expert Jessica Moorhouse as a way to teach others how they can take control of their lives by taking control of their money too. If you know someone who would like to manage their money better, tickets to the Meetup are the perfect gift.
3) Holly received a Gastrolux non-stick frying pan and has been raving about it ever since. She loves to cook and this is the best pan she has ever used!
4) If you know someone who’s dog is dealing with health or mobility problems, Heather Johnston can help. She is a Certified Small Animal Massage Practitioner who fully understands the benefits of canine rehabilitation and massage. We want to make sure that our faithful companions live long and healthy lives, so a gift certificate to Flow Canine Wellness is an awesome option for every dog-lover.
5) Headspace App is "a personal meditation guide, right in your pocket." It helps you with your stress and focus, and enhance compassionate behaviour toward others. We are all using it and recommend a lot!
6) Every music collection must haves - David Bowie's farewell album Blackstar and Claire's favourite, Adele's unique album 25.