There’s never been a better time to get an early start on holiday gift shopping. With restrictions on the number of people who can visit a store or shop at the same time and potential shipping delays due to the ongoing influx of items ordered online, 2020 is a smart year to plan ahead when it comes to finding thoughtful gifts for friends and family this holiday season.
Stumped for ideas? We’ve rounded up a selection of places to shop (both virtually and in-person) for unique, creative, stylish and elegant gift options for everyone on your list. Best of all, all of these choices are locally-owned, so you can support small, independent Toronto businesses while you do your holiday shopping.
One of a Kind Holiday Show
Toronto’s One of a Kind Holiday Show has gone digital, and you can shop its selection of unique gifts from exhibitors’ virtual booths. The show features over 700 makers selling Canadian-made products, from accessories and apparel to art, ceramics, home goods, personal care products and more. As its name suggests, this is a great place to find truly one-of-a-kind gifts that are sure to delight!
Trinity Bellwoods Flea Market
The Trinity Bellwoods Flea Market is an exciting monthly market hosted at The Great Hall on Queen Street West. Its Christmas Is Coming market takes place this coming Sunday (November 22nd) and features shopping, drinks, local food and music. With 100+ curated vendors (including artisans, makers, vendors and small businesses of Toronto) selling local, handmade gifts, it’s the perfect place to find something for everyone on your list – from home décor, artwork, pottery, Christmas tree ornaments and candles to jewellery, skincare products, gourmet hot sauces, pastries, coffee and more. COVID-19 safety precautions are in effect.
Bloor West Flea Market
The Bloor West Flea Market is another opportunity to shop in person for unique gifts from Toronto-based vendors. This intimate market is taking place on Sunday, November 29th at Clinton’s Tavern, in the heart of Bloor West between the iconic Annex and Christie Pitts neighbourhoods, in Toronto’s beloved Korea Town. Check out the market to find beautiful handmade gifts from fashion, art, food and vintage craft sellers.
The Handmade Market
The online Handmade Market features over 220 Canadian makers, artisans and fine artists, so you can find beautiful and distinctive gifts from the comfort of your own home while supporting local small businesses. From baby and kids products to special treats for pets to food, green living, collectibles and more, this market has an incredible selection of products that will put you in the holiday mood in no time.
The Drake General Store
This iconic Toronto staple, once the gift shop for the Drake Hotel, now has several locations that are part flea market stand, part museum shop, part classic general store and part traditional hotel gift shop all rolled up into one. The Drake General Store has a great selection of fun gifts and Canadiana, and there’s something for everyone – even for those difficult-to-shop-for people. Shop online or visit one of their locations in person.
Holiday Fair in the Square
Nathan Phillips Square in downtown Toronto is a favourite place to gather during the holiday season, as the rink sparkles with lights and a large holiday tree is on display. This year will be a little different, and the Holiday Fair in the Square has gone virtual. Shop online for all kinds of Canadian-made goods, from artwork and winter wear to gourmet foods, unique cocktail ingredients, fancy teas, home goods and more.
The Eco Lifestyle Market
This holiday market takes place on Sunday, December 13th at Toronto’s Great Hall and makes giving greener gifts this holiday season fun and easy. With a curated selection of Toronto’s finest local, handcrafted, sustainable, eco-friendly and wellness goods vendors, the Eco Lifestyle Market offers a day of delicious local eats, local vendors and holiday cheer.
Skip the mall this holiday season and get that one-of-a-kind gift right here in your own backyard.
Spooky, scary Halloween. We love Halloween – with the costumes, the décor, the jack-o-lanterns, and the sweet treats – but it’s going to feel a little different this year. We’re still in the midst of a pandemic, so trick-or-treating and Halloween parties will be off the table for many this year. That doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate, though!
Here are our top COVID-friendly ways to celebrate the spooky season this year:
1) Deck Out Your Home in Spooktacular Style
Nothing says October like Halloween decorations! Decorating your home – both inside and out – is a great way to embrace this fun holiday, pandemic or not. String up some lights and cobwebs, stuff some old clothes to make a headless scarecrow, or put up some creepy tombstones if you live in a residential neighborhood in Toronto with a front yard. If you live in a condo, you can decorate your windows with bats cut out of black construction paper or put a Halloween-themed wreath on your front door. Not into goblins and ghouls but still want to pay homage to the season? Try decorating with different colored pumpkins, gourds, and candles.
2) Carve a Creepy (or Cute) Jack-o-Lantern
No Halloween decorations would be complete without a jack-o-lantern – or three! Visit your local pumpkin patch to select the perfect pumpkin and then get creative with your carvings. Want to make it even more fun? Have a family contest – everyone gets to decorate or carve their own pumpkin – and then have friends or neighbors vote on their favorites. You can even carve a whole family of jack-o-lanterns. Don’t forget to save and roast the pumpkin seeds with a bit of oil and salt – yum!
3) Serve Up Candy to Trick-or-Treaters Safely
For those who are still trick-or-treating this year, safety is key. Kids crowding around doors can result in germs spreading, so explore new ways to hand out candy safely. You can create individual candy bags that you leave out on a table on your driveway for kids to pick up as they walk by, or dangle the bags of candy from a fence or tree. Another idea is to set up a candy graveyard in your front yard – leave candy in your front yard, amidst your Halloween decorations. Kids will love the excitement of venturing into your decked-out yard and will be able to stay physically distanced while picking up their loot.
Not trick-or-treating this year? Do a Halloween door drop instead. Create goody baskets for your closest friends or family members and drop them off at their doors with a little note or card. Full of items like candies and chocolate, glow sticks, silly glasses, and Halloween crafts or fun stickers, the goody baskets are a sure way to delight your loved ones and to spread some spooky cheer.
4) Have a Costume Party via Video Conference
If you’ve spent a lot of time and effort perfecting your Halloween costume, you’ll want to show it off – and kids especially love dressing up! Host a Halloween-themed costume or dance party on Zoom with your friends and family. Everyone can show off their costume on camera while enjoying a spooktacular playlist and some Halloween treats. Baking up some special Halloween treats for your virtual party is part of the party-planning fun. From Halloween-decorated pumpkin brownies to marshmallow ghost cupcakes and chocolate-covered strawberry ghosts, get creative and have fun!
Here are five fun Halloween Zoom backgrounds that you can download to make your virtual costume party more festive.
5) Enjoy a Spooky Halloween Movie Marathon
Halloween flicks are a great way to get in the Halloween spirit and to enjoy the spooky season safely from the comfort of your own home. From family-friendly classics to truly terrifying films, you can customize your selections based on your audience. Whether you choose The Addams Family or Psycho, The Nightmare Before Christmas or The Shining, there’s a scary movie to suit all tastes. Pop some popcorn and enjoy!
With the sun shining and the official beginning of summer just days away, Torontonians are looking forward to this magical time in Toronto.
Summer in Toronto means hot days spent on the beach or in parks, fun adventures with the whole family, and relaxing evenings spent sipping a cold beer or homemade craft cocktail on the porch or balcony. It’s the time when Torontonians come out of hibernation and enjoy the feeling of the hot sun on their skin and the beautiful blooms and lush landscapes that are so prevalent in this beautiful city. Summertime just makes everything better.
This summer will be different compared to the past summers, with many attractions and events closed or cancelled due to COVID-19. Regardless, there’s plenty to see, do, and enjoy in Toronto this summer.
Here’s a round-up of our five favourite things to do this summer in Toronto:
Explore a park or conservation area
Ontario Provincial Parks and Conservation Areas are open during the day, although beaches within them aren’t open. All parks located within the City of Toronto are also open. A visit to the park is a great opportunity to get some fresh air, relax in nature, explore a new ravine or forested area, and take pleasure in the sunshine. Enjoy a walk, hike, bike ride, or afternoon spent bird-watching.
Head to the beach (safely!)
From Sunnyside Beach to Cherry Beach, Toronto has several beautiful stretches of sand on Lake Ontario. Although they’re all closed until at least the end of June to limit the spread of COVID-19, Toronto residents are still able to stroll along boardwalks and waterfront trails, provided that physical distancing can be maintained. So lace up your shoes or put on your sandals and head to Lake Ontario to enjoy the crisp waterfront air. Visit The Swim Guide for the latest updates on beach closures.
Go on an epic bike ride
Toronto’s Waterfront Trail allows Torontonians to cruise across the city, from Etobicoke in the west, right through downtown Toronto and to Scarborough in the east. Between Woodbine Beach and Balmy Beach, there’s a beautiful asphalt pathway for cyclists and in-line skaters. The downtown section of the Waterfront Trail along Queen’s Quay is newly-constructed and user-friendly, with wide dedicated bike lanes. This scenic route is safe and offers gorgeous views of Lake Ontario. Other places for an epic bike ride include parks, conservation areas, or even your local neighbourhood.
Enjoy a frozen treat
Ice cream, popsicles, paletas, Thai ice cream rolls and churro ice cream cones – the variety of delicious, sugary frozen treats in Toronto is truly impressive. And what’s a hot summer day without a tasty frozen treat? Check out Summer’s Ice Cream in Yorkville, Punto Gelato in the Yonge and Eglinton neighbourhood, Sweet Jesus near Yonge and Sheppard, or D Spot Dessert Café near Victoria Park and Eglinton.
Create a new summer tradition
Your favourite summer activity may be cancelled this summer (such as a visit to the CNE or a music festival), so why not create a new tradition? Get creative and brainstorm with your partner or family members to create a new activity that you can enjoy for years to come. Backyard BBQs, picnics, scavenger hunts, arts and crafts projects, your own family Olympics, movie nights, book clubs, kitchen dance parties… the options are endless.
We wish you all a fun and sunny summer full of adventure!
Whether you’re working from home, staying at home with your kids as they’re off school, or self-quarantining, many of us are spending a lot more time at home lately. As the COVID-19 pandemic spreads and the government recommends that we stay at home to help slow the speed of transmission, everything from school to after-school activities, sports, and music lessons, and playdates have been canceled. You may find yourself looking for ideas to keep your family occupied without leaving the house, apartment or condo.
Here are 20 fun family-friendly activities to explore:
Family members of all ages will love bringing out their inner Picasso or Frida Kahlo by doing arts and crafts, painting, drawing, making sculptures with Play-Doh, taking photos or making videos. Have fun with it!
Have a pajama party
As there’s nothing more fun than wearing your pajamas during the daytime, and it’s an activity best enjoyed at home! Make some yummy snacks, have a pillow fight, and tell each other some spooky ghost stories.
Make a fort
Whether with sheets, pillows, or cardboard boxes, making a fort is a fun activity that shows kids’ imaginations and keeps them engaged.
Play board games or cards
What better time for a game of Monopoly, Clue or Uno? Checkers and jigsaw puzzles are also great options to keep everyone happily occupied for a couple of hours.
Have a family game of charades
It’s impossible to stay bored when you’re playing charades! Categories can include movies, TV shows, activities, musical artists, books, or whatever else you can think of.
Start a family band
You don’t need real instruments, either (although if you have them, all the better)! Create makeshift instruments using drums made out of cans and buckets, paper plate tambourines, glasses of water filled at varying heights and a spoon for a homemade xylophone, and Tupperware filled with different materials for shakers.
Dance, dance, dance
While you’re having fun making music, get your groove on and have a family dance party.
Create an at-home scavenger hunt
There are all kinds of knick-knacks in your home or condo that can be used as bounty in a fun treasure hunt.
Have some fun in the kitchen and enjoy the fruits (or donuts) of your labor! Baking cookies, cakes, brownies or other treats is a fun activity that the whole family can enjoy. Better yet, did you know that baking has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety?
Have an indoor picnic
prepare some picnic-style munchies (think salads, sandwiches, veggies and dip, olives, or cheese and crackers), lay out a blanket, get cozy and enjoy.
Learn something new
Have fun doing it! The extra time spent at home is a great opportunity to teach your kids something new. Show them how to play chess, teach them a few chords on the guitar, or show them your favorite recipe that has been passed down through the generations. You can also embrace online education and help your kids stay on top of their learning with tools like Osmo, BrainPOP, Scholastic or Mystery Science.
Call or FaceTime family members
This is a great time to catch up with people in your family and also to check in on them and see if they need any support during this challenging time.
Appreciate art and museums
Many art galleries and museums have opened up free online e-visits, including the Louvre, the Boston Children’s Museum, the British Museum, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Seoul, the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History and more. Explore art and natural wonders all from the comfort of your couch.
Go on a digital field trip
Just as museums and art galleries have opened up e-visits, you can also take a virtual visit to places as exciting and varied as Yellowstone National Park, the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa, the Canadian Arctic, or a variety of farms across Canada. With Google Earth, you can explore almost anywhere in the whole wide world with just the click of a button.
- Bust out the dress-up box
Let your imagination run wild! Kids of all ages love dressing up and pretending to be various characters and creatures.
Start a book club
Take turns picking favorite books and then read them together. It’ll be fun to get different family members’ take turns and reactions to the same story.
Kids will love to create their own jewelry because it’s a fun, creative process and they’ll be left with something they can wear and cherish. For easy DIYs that you can make use of supplies you may already have at home, try making classic beaded necklaces, embroidered bracelets, sculptural folded paper bracelets, or washer necklaces.
Practice learning a new language
Whether by speaking together or by using an app like Duolingo, learning a new language is a great way to keep kids learning with a useful skill that will benefit them in life.
Write a story together
collaborate on creating a unique mystery story, sci-fi adventure or hilarious comedy.
It’s easy with the free virtual tours of the Langley Research Center offered by NASA. You can also check out Space Center Houston’s app, which provides virtual tours, augmented reality experiences, videos and audio stories about space exploration.
We hope you enjoy family time at home during this challenging situation making use of the fun-activities listed so far, and we wish you good health!
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