Show love to local and homegrown businesses this holiday with ideas from Torontonians in the know.
It’s no secret we think Toronto is one of the greatest cities in the world — and so do these folks. Our local ambassadors are some of the most passionate Torontonians. They love exploring and experiencing the city and inspiring others to do the same.
We asked them to share their top picks this holiday from their favourite small businesses to made-in-Canada gift ideas. Here are their Toronto holiday essentials.
Lifestyle content creator and blogger for La Petite Noob | Instagram: @lapetitenoob
For the coffee-lover who also likes quirky paper goods: "I have a lot of hard-to-buy-for people on my gift list, so shopping locally for unique products has always been my go-to! I love Snapture This for beautiful and cheeky paper prints (perfect for holiday cards), as well as Toronto-centric tote bags that highlight local coffee shops and flower shops. A Toronto woman-owned shop, her selections can be shipped or are available for local pickup."
For the friend who insists you can picnic any time of year: "Rendez-Vous curates beautiful picnic totes with both local and French products that are designed to be simple and eaten by hand — perfect for an indoor or winter picnic! The curated picnic totes are available for local Toronto pickup and delivery."
Food personality behind ToFoodies | Instagram: @tofoodies
For the cocktail aficionado: "For celebrations and holidays of all kinds, I love sending friends Reid's Distillery's French 75 kit! With a bottle of bubbly and gin from this family-owned distillery in the heart of Toronto's East End, it's a gift that keeps on giving with an incredible cocktail recipe and the gin bottle looks amazing on the bar cart afterwards."
For the Hygge-loving hibernator: "What is more festive and appropriate for winter and the holidays season than a cup of hot cocoa? Not much! The Soma Drinking Chocolate Hot Box includes high-quality drinking chocolate in different flavours and comes from an award-winning local chocolatemaker, and will please and comfort all sweet tooth."
Content creator and curator behind @EatFamous | Instagram: @ryhanks
For the stylish aunt who's always in the know: “There's a strategy to my gift-giving list. I'm listing things that I want someone to get for me. A doormat from Stoop Dreams. This isn't your ordinary Welcome Mat. These are the coolest custom mats ever. Drawing inspiration from fashion, hip hop and pop culture, these can put a smile on any face that walks through your door.”
For the rugged, bearded uncle who (secretly) enjoys some pampering: “Beard oils and other grooming products from Beardhood. Winter is coming (as always) so I'm growing a beard for extra warmth. Now if I want a full healthy beard then I have to show it some love first.”
For the friend hitting all of the fancy holiday parties: “How about a custom suit (if you’re looking to splurge) or the most stylish mask you've ever laid your eyes on? Check out Soren Custom."
Content creator behind The Curious Creature | Instagram: @thecuriouscreature
For the tea lover who can't steep enough: "I recommend the luxury loose leaf teas carefully sourced by Toronto-based tea sommelier, Hoda Paripoush. Sloane Fine Tea Merchants teas are meticulously hand-blended in small batches, beautifully packaged and make a memorable gift. My personal favourite is the Heavenly Cream Signature Caddy."
For the friend who has a wine for every occasion: "To help that special someone celebrate wine o’clock this holiday season, I recommend gifting the Pelee Island Winery Holiday Advent Calendar. The LOLA Holiday 3 Bottle Gift Pack is also a great option — beautiful both on the inside and out."
For the chocolate-obsessed on your list: "Look no further than Soma Chocolatemaker. The Toronto-based company makes all of their chocolates in-house and has a devout following for a reason. You’ll find sweet treats at all price points from their Gingerbread Ninja cats ($5) to the Box of Plenty ($100) which is on my list. Wink wink."
Content creator behind Parenting To Go, Instagram: @yashyanthi
For foodies who like spicy snacks and sweets: "Food is my love language so gifting GTA friends delivery from Little Sister Baking is an easy decision. Friends with a sweet tooth will receive a few of their famous cakes like the ever-so-popular Ras Mali cake and those who prefer savoury will be gifted a platter of their Mumbai street food style buns."
For those who like to sparkle and shine: "Family with a penchant for some sparkle will certainly appreciate some jewelry from The Happiness Store. I am a huge fan of their rings, anklets and earrings. You can find owner Niki at Holiday pop-up markets or you can order online via their Etsy store."
For those who like experiences vs. things: "A session with The Playful Warrior is sure to bring out the inner child. These virtual or in-person sessions offer unique ways to reconnect with friends or loved ones. Owner Kara incorporates fun art, movement and creative play during these guided sessions and will have everyone smiling and tapping into their curious selves."
Travel videographer, photographer & blogger at SeeYouSoon Travel | Instagram: @seeusoontravel
For the family member whose house looks straight out of a magazine: “Lunaria Flowers, a local flower shop where owner Jieun Seong creates beautiful fresh and dried arrangements and is also creating beautiful holiday wreaths and planters, perfect for decorating your home or as a gift to a loved one.”
For the crafty cousin who loves hand-written thank you notes: “Offering unique and beautiful stationery, giftware, crafts supplies and more, Hanji Gifts is owned and operated by a husband and wife duo who met in South Korea. The majority of products are imported from South Korea and additional products are made by local Toronto artists.”
Food media producer & on-air cooking expert | Instagram: @vijayaselvaraju
For the friend who gracefully rocks a saree: “Tia Bhuva has an amazing product called the Saree Silhouette that serves as the undergarment for saree draping. They come in a plethora of colours to match any saree and also double up as amazing loungewear.”
For the friend who has sweets stashed everywhere: “I am a huge fan of Onyx Chocolates on Gerrard Street East. Their flavours are unparalleled, drawing a lot of influence from South East Asian ingredients. From Yuzu Pine to Ovaltine, to Tom Yum Caramel there is something for everyone.”
For the littlest reader in your life: “Nom Nom ABC is a beautiful children’s book that also makes for a great coffee table read. Written by Vipoositha Gnanenthra, this simple picture book explores the letters of the alphabet with exotic fruits and vegetables. The illustrations are beautiful, and great for kids who are beginning to learn their ABCs.”
Creator of Going Awesome Places, Instagram: @goingawesomeplaces
For the die-hard Toronto fan with a big heart: "The local Toronto clothing brand, Peace Collective, is back with another new line. This collaboration with the TTC features classic and new designs that feature the TTC logo and play on the new coloured subway lines. When you buy any one of their hoodies or their tote, you'll also be donating 3 meals to a Canadian in need through their food bank partners."
For the experimental foodie who's on top of all the trends: "What happens when you mash up mochi (Japanese rice cakes) with donuts? You get chewy, moist and delicious mochi donuts. Isabella's Mochi Donut Boutique has both seasonal and a rotating selection of flavours including Genmaicha, Black Sesame Cheesecake and Taiyaki. Grab a box of half-dozen mochi donuts for your holiday get-together or a gift card as a present."
For the discerning chocolate lover with sophisticated taste: "When it comes to bean-to-bar chocolate, SOMA Chocolatemaker is the best in the city. This holiday season they have both a Classic Box of Plenty and Ultimate Box of Plenty with a set of their most popular and limited edition chocolates. It is packed in a Canadian pine box with a wood burning of the cacao forest."