Fall is a special time of year, with temperatures cooling and vibrant fall colours bringing our surroundings to life. It’s an incredibly beautiful and rejuvenating time. With the kids going back to school and summer holidays winding down, autumn can also feel a bit nostalgic – it’s a time of new beginnings and also of endings. To make the most of this season, there’s nothing like a quick trip out of the city to get refreshed and re-energized. Here are our top 5 favourite fabulous getaways within a 2-hour drive from Toronto to bask in all this wonderful season has to offer:
1. Elora Mill & Spa
Set in a stone 19th-century mill with annexes, this elegant hotel straddles the Tooth of Time waterfall on the Grand River. It’s located 2 kilometres from hiking trails in the Elora Quarry Conservation Area, where you can hike the Elora Gorge, one of the most spectacular natural areas in the Grand River valley, and visit the Elora Quarry.
Extravagant rooms at the Elora Mill & Spa have marble bathrooms and feature fireplaces and soaking tubs, while some have river views and terraces. Suites feature stunning floor-to-ceiling windows, and there’s also a 2-storey private villa. Enjoy dining at the upscale restaurant and spending time at the elegant bar, with its weekly live music. The spa contains a gym, yoga room and an outdoor pool, plus saunas, steam rooms and a hot tub. This is an amazingly relaxing and beautiful place to spend the weekend! Hike the beautiful natural areas, visit the charming town of Elora, and unwind at the spa for a truly luxurious getaway.
2. Blue Mountain
Autumn is a magnificent time to visit the Westin Trillium House Blue Mountain. A fall getaway at this hotel includes a tour of the Georgian Hills Vineyards, Thornbury Cidery, and Northwinds Brewery for a delightful lunch. Looking for something more family-friendly? The Westin also offers an exclusive package to experience the largest apple growing region of Ontario, known as the Apple Pie Trail. Free family activities and live music are provided during the Apple Harvest Festival and an annual Halloween festival transforms Blue Mountain into a Haunted Hill.
Also located nearby is the Cranberry Golf Course and the world-renowned Scandinave Spa. This resort maintains a quiet atmosphere that allows guests to fully disconnect from the noise and stress of daily life. The Scandinave Spa features Scandinavian baths and hydrotherapy, which are known for their relaxing yet invigorating, effects – combine this with the changing colours of leaves and you’re bound to be in bliss.
3. Ste. Anne’s Spa
Fall weather doesn’t only need to be enjoyed by hiking outdoors – simply changing your scenery can do you a world of good. Escape to Ste. Anne’s Spa, where the Fall Cottage Escape package will leave you feeling refreshed. This getaway includes a cottage-style accommodation, a seaweed body wrap, a 4-course dinner, and a selection of sweet and savoury treats. During your stay, be sure to explore the beautiful countryside and visit the property’s farm and horses, which will have the most vibrant fall colours on display in October!
4. Whispering Springs Wilderness Retreat
Prepare for a new way of experiencing the great outdoors: king-sized beds instead of sleeping bags, mood lighting instead of flashlights, and a wine glass instead of a canteen – this is camping like you’ve never experienced before. Whispering Springs Wilderness Retreat, located an hour and a half east of Toronto, is a luxurious and low-impact establishment. Experience elegant hotel-style amenities nestled within the Canadian wilderness. Choose from lavish safari tent accommodations, comfortable amenities, and participate in low-impact wilderness activities. Health and body wellness retreat and rejuvenations packages include three days of engaging yoga classes with a qualified instructor, evening wellness classes, live music by the campfire, and fresh farm-to-table meals provided by a top chef.
Cottage country isn’t the only place to experience the wonders of the fall season in Ontario. The GTA is a fantastic place to enjoy all that autumn has to offer.
Begin your weekend staycation with a visit to a local GTA café, where autumnal flavours come in the form of decadent coffees (hot chocolate for the kids!) and pumpkin-flavoured pastries. Afterwards, take the kids on a classic autumn adventure to one of the GTA’s many farms. From apples to pumpkins, squash and other seasonal produce, get your fill of fall fruits and vegetables.
End your weekend in the city with a day full of traditional fall fun at one of the GTA’s yearly fall fairs. Enjoy family activities, tasty treats, live music, arts and crafts, petting zoos and more!
We wish you all a wonderful fall season!
The 46th edition of the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) will be taking place September 9-18 this year. With both virtual and in-person screenings, this year’s festival features over 100 astonishing films in its Official Selection, in addition to outstanding events featuring celebrated guests and TIFF’s industry conference. This is an exciting event that Toronto residents often look forward to all year long.
TIFF is one of the largest publicly attended film festivals in the world. In 1998, Variety magazine recognized that TIFF “is second only to Cannes in terms of high-profile pics, stars, and market activity.” Founded in 1976, TIFF has become a permanent destination for film culture. TIFF’s mission is to “transform the way people see the world through film.”
Since its launch, one of TIFF’s leading principles has been to celebrate and amplify the voices of exceptional filmmakers working in Canada. TIFF is also committed to greater representation of voices by challenging the status quo, celebrating diverse storytellers and audiences, and making space for Black, Indigenous, people-of-colour, women, and LGBTQ+ creators and other under-represented talent. TIFF’s programming team works to ensure that the films they curate are reflective of the audiences they serve.
Several ticket options are available to audiences this year, from individual film tickets for in-person screenings (on sale to the public September 6th) to packages for digital film screenings that allow access to up to 20 digital films (on sale now). All ticket details are available here.
In-person screenings will take place at the TIFF Bell Lightbox, Roy Thomson Hall, the Visa Screening Room at the Princess of Wales Theatre, and Festival Village at Ontario Place. Festival Village comprises the Cinesphere IMAX Theatre, Visa Skyline Drive-In, RBC Lakeside Drive-In and the West Island Open Air Cinema. If you haven’t been to any of these incredible Toronto venues, now is a great opportunity to check them out!
The Festival’s virtual experience is presented by Bell, with screenings on digital TIFF Bell Lightbox available across Canada. In Conversation With…talks and interactive Q&A sessions with actors and filmmakers will be hosted on TIFF Bell Digital Talks, available worldwide. To increase the accessibility of the film festival, all films screened digitally will be closed-captioned.
New this year, audiences across Canada can enjoy the excitement of TIFF in their own communities with TIFF’s Coast-to-Coast Screenings. Film Circuit, TIFF’s film-outreach program since 1995, will host in-cinema screenings in select locations across the country for one evening in each location, to help ignite and celebrate audiences’ return to movie theatres.
TIFF has announced twelve films coming to the Festival’s Official Selection for 2021:
- Le Bal des Folles directed by Mélanie Laurent (France) from Amazon Studios
- Benediction,directed by Terence Davies (United Kingdom) from Bankside Films
- Belfast, from director Kenneth Branagh (United Kingdom) from Focus Features
- Charlotte, directed by Eric Warin and Tahir Rana (Canada/Belgium/France) from Elevation Pictures and MK2 Mile End
- Dionne Warwick: Don’t Make Me Over, directed by Dave Wooley, David Heilbroner (USA)
- The Guilty by director Antoine Fuqua (USA) from Netflix
- Jagged, HBO documentary on iconic Canadian singer-songwriter Alanis Morissette, directed by Alison Klayman (USA)
- Lakewood, directed by Philip Noyce (Canada)
- Last Night in Soho, directed by Edgar Wright (United Kingdom) from Focus Features
- Night Raiders, directed by Danis Goulet (Canada/New Zealand) from Elevation Pictures and Samuel Goldwyn Films
- Petite Maman, directed by Céline Sciamma (France) from Elevation Pictures and NEON
- The Starling by director Theodore Melfi (USA) from Netflix
Award-winning Canadian filmmaker Denis Villeneuve’s Dune will also have a World Exclusive IMAX premiere at the Cinesphere Theatre at Ontario Place.
TIFF has also announced 11 galas and 21 special presentations (high-profile movie premieres with the world’s leading filmmakers) chosen for the festival’s programming, including the highly-anticipated festival opener Dear Evan Hansen.
The remaining 30 films set to screen at TIFF feature a number of notable celebrities, many of whom will travel to Toronto for the festival. Stars to look out for include Olivia Munn, Octavia Spencer, Judi Dench, Danny DeVito, Dionne Warwick, Jake Gyllenhaal, Naomi Watts, Riz Ahmed and more.
TIFF’s notable film programs will also return this year including Contemporary World Cinema, Discovery, TIFF Docs, Indie Films, Midnight Madness, Primetime, Wavelengths and TIFF Short Cuts. All films can be found here, while digital screenings can be found here.
Summer wouldn’t be summer without huge scoops of delicious ice cream and sweet treats to keep you cool and smiling on a sunny day. Whether you’re a donut fiend or a fruit monster, we’ve got you covered. Here’s our list of the best sweet treats to try in Toronto this summer:
Machino Donuts –
823 Bloor Street West
Machino Donuts offers fresh daily 100% vegan donuts. Made from scratch, they have a variety of flavours to choose from including their Caramel Passion Fruit Glaze with passion-fruit cream filling, Sourcream Orange, and decadent Ferrero Rocher. They also have fritters, coffee, and donut ice-cream sandwiches. Yum!
Mango-Like Desserts –
280 Augusta Avenue
Nestled in the super cool neighbourhood of Kensington Market, Mango-Like Desserts offers a variety of elegant desserts with mango at the forefront. Try their signature dish – a delicate crepe pocket filled with sweet cream and golden-ripe mangoes – or their chilled Asian-inspired dessert with sago pearls, mango purée, warm mango mochi, and fresh mangoes. Light and delicious!
Grandmama’s Waffles –
363 Clinton Street
Grandmama’s Waffles serves a range of colourful, delicious waffles, both savoury and sweet. Their savoury waffles made of non-alcoholic beer batter and their sweet waffles made of coconut milk and rice flour make for a scrumptious and buttery treat. Flavours include Sweet Chili Chicken, PB & Bacon, Black Sesame, and Hot Chocolate.
Bakerbots Baking –
205 Delaware Avenue
Bakerbots is a hip bakery located in the heart of Bloorcourt Village. With a wide variety of cookies and sweets, Bakerbots is serving up some of the coolest treats in Toronto. Inventive flavours are the focal point of this minimalist bakery with some of the best ice cream sandwiches you could find. Try their Beer n’ Brown Bread or Banana Pudding ice cream on a soft, delicious puff pastry.
Summer’s Ice Cream –
101 Yorkville Avenue
Since 1984, Summer’s Ice Cream has been proudly serving the best-tasting, highest-quality homemade ice cream, without compromise. A family-business that spans three generations, and local landmark in Toronto’s fashionable Yorkville near our 1 Yorkville condominium, this ice cream joint is sure to impress. Whether you like watermelon sorbet, cherry frozen yogurt, or mouth-watering chocolate ice cream, Summer’s Ice Cream has it all. They even have a Toronto specialty flavour called Toronto Pothole made of almonds, marshmallows, peanuts, chocolate chunks, road tar and gravel! Try it today in a sugar cone!
Craque de Crème –
1360 Bathurst Street
Craque de Crème is a snug dessert shop located near Casa Loma in Wychwood Park, whipping up iconic French crème brulée in gourmet flavours like tiramisu, pandan coconut, and lychee vodka. Pots of crème are hand-bruléed in front of your eyes for a perfectly-caramelized crunchy and smoky top. They also offer sweet macarons and other homemade pastries.
2651 Yonge Street
Milkcow is a Korean dessert chain close to our E Condos residence at Yonge and Eglinton, specializing in organic soft serve ice cream with a playful twist. Not only is their soft-serve creamy and delicious and free of artificial ingredients, it comes in a sundae form with playful Instagrammable toppings, like cotton candy clouds and golden gooey honeycomb. They also serve pancakes, milkshakes, and coffee. Yum!
On Third Thought –
6 Markham Street
On Third Thought is a wine bar and gelato shop that serves pints and scoops, and more interestingly, alcohol-infused gelato! That’s right, you read that correctly – boozy gelato has made its way to Toronto’s trendy Queen West neighbourhood. Try Strawberry Mojito or Piña Colada with real rum for a cool, refreshing and memorable treat. Their gelatos are made with fresh fruit, and are vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free, and without nuts or soy. They also make a delectable affogato, the perfect blend of gelato and strong, mouth-watering espresso.
300 Eglinton Avenue West
Goûter is an authentic French family-run patisserie, boulangerie, and chocolaterie. In store you will find gorgeous hand-decorated chocolates, flaky viennoiseries, and decadent éclairs, to name a few. Founded by Rodney Alléguède, a chef who has worked in Michelin-star restaurants Fouquet’s and La Maison Lenôtre, the flavours of Goûter will transport you to a Parisian café overlooking the Eiffel Tower. Magnifique!
Fuwa Fuwa –
2471 Yonge Street
Traditionally served at Japanese weddings for good fortune, Fuwa Fuwa’s light and airy pancakes are sure to bring a smile to your face. Fuwa means “fluffy,” and these pancakes are just that – a perfect blend of soufflé and pancakes topped with mouth-watering toppings. These Midtown pancakes are not too sweet but they come in a variety of flavour combinations including tiramisu, bittersweet matcha ice cream, and red bean.
We wish you all a wonderful summer and hope you enjoy these delicious treats!
Father’s Day is coming up in just a week and a half, but because the pandemic isn’t over, chances are we’re in for another socially-distant holiday. While restrictions are easing up, a small outdoor gathering may be possible if you’re vaccinated, but if you’re separated by distance, a virtual celebration may be the way to go.
Here are our top COVID-friendly ways to celebrate and honour all the dads and dad-like figures in our lives:
Take a Virtual Tour Together
While we might occasionally be able to have a socially-distanced outing every now and then, we’re mostly house-bound, relying on Netflix and food delivery for entertainment. Thanks to virtual tours, you don’t have to leave the comfort of your home to visit some of the world’s most historical landmarks, famous museums and popular attractions with your dad this Father’s Day. Explore ancient artifacts at the British Museum in London, visit with your dad’s favourite animal at the Toronto Zoo, or board the NASA tram at the Houston Space Center for an out-of-world experience.
Have a Zoom Party
Nothing beats giving dad a big hug on Father’s Day, but having a Zoom party is a great alternative. There are many creative ways to spend quality time together. You could surprise him with sweet messages where each member of the family explains what they love about him most; send him a gift ahead of time and have him open it on video; or make a slideshow of your most-cherished times together. Want to take it to the next level? Order your dad his favourite bottle of wine and get one for yourself. Together over video conference, you can host your very own wine tasting, while cooking your favourite meal together. Alternatively, you can order your dad a gourmet meal from one of these fantastic local Toronto restaurants.
Host a Fun Games Night
Game night doesn’t need to end just because we’re apart. Some of the best games to play over video conferencing are Charades, Trivial Pursuit or Most-Likely To. For the latter, you can print photos of each family member and glue them to a stick, and hold up the relevant face to answer questions like: “Who’s most likely to eat a bug?” Smithsonian Magazine has also curated a list of some of the most popular games, which you can now play online with your dad – titles include Monopoly, Clue and Life.
Watch a Movie Together
For those who want a more relaxed evening, watching a movie with dad is a great option. Schedule a time on Zoom, Skype or whatever app you prefer, pick a movie and you can all press play at the same time, or share your screen with your dad. Alternatively, Teleparty is a new free way to stream movies together. Teleparty synchronizes video playback and adds group chat to Netflix, Disney, Hulu and HBO. Some favourite Father’s Day titles include Interstellar, Mrs. Doubtfire, The Pursuit of Happyness and Lion King. Make some snacks, sit back and get ready to laugh, cry and feel truly thankful for your dad.
With summer just around the corner and the pandemic still in full swing, now’s a great time to spruce up your yard and build your very own oasis.
Here are 5 ways to improve your backyard and make staying at home more enjoyable than ever:
Design a Space to Hang Out with Friends and Family
Designing an outdoor space can be daunting, but the best backyards have designated areas that are created with specific experiences and ambiances in mind. Start your design by creating a nice and relaxing seating area. A deck or patio is a wonderful way to unwind and relax while enjoying all that summer has to offer.
Create an Outdoor Living Space
Whether you enjoy BBQs or gardening, sunbathing or playing with the kids, there’s no shortage of ways to design your outdoor space. Once you’ve laid the groundwork for your patio, it’s time to furnish it. Consider a nice dining table to host dinners under the stars, a sofa or chairs where you and your family can hang out and relax, or a gazebo or umbrella to protect you from the sun.
Get Creative with Delightful Decorating
Now that your space is coming together, thoughtful touches can really elevate your yard. You might want to include some mood lighting, whether it be a romantic string of lights over your seating area, glowing tiki torches to keep the bugs away, or modern pot lights in the grass. Plant beautiful and fragrant flowers, lay down a stone path, or design a beautiful entranceway. Backyard water features such as a little fountain can make your oasis enchanting and peaceful.
Splurge on Fun Outdoor Appliances
With temperatures rising, thoughts automatically turn to BBQs and entertaining on the patio. When purchasing appliances, you want to make sure that you buy things that are weatherproof so that you can stay out and enjoy the party. Consider a BBQ, grill, or pizza oven to cook fabulous meals, and a cooler to keep your drinks cold. Install some Bluetooth speakers to listen to music while you spend time in your beautiful backyard. If you enjoy roasting marshmallows with the family, install a fire pit or an outdoor fireplace and bring the magic of camping to your very own backyard.
Enjoy the Summer and Have Fun!
Now that you’ve set up your beautiful oasis, it’s time to have fun! Fun comes in many shapes and forms. If you have kids, you could build forts or tree houses, or invest in a tent and camp under the stars. Build a swimming pool and splash around in the sun, or set up a badminton net and get your game on! Grow a fruit and vegetable garden. The options are endless.
Torontonians, it’s time to get creative! With many of our regular spring activities shuttered due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic – from backyard BBQs with neighbours and friends to patio cocktails, concerts, art shows and Blue Jays games – this is the season to think outside the box. Toronto has so much to do and discover, even amidst our current circumstances. And the weather is beautiful – so get outside and enjoy!
Here are 7 fun activities to do in Toronto this season that you probably didn’t know about:
#1: Take a Self-Guided Historical Building Walking Tour
Toronto is full of history, and that includes plenty of beautiful historical buildings. A walking tour of Toronto’s historical buildings is a great way to spend an afternoon, getting to know the City of Toronto on a deeper level while enjoying the incredible architecture and fresh air.
Check out this self-guided walking tour. Just download the app and you’ll be guided through Toronto’s architectural and historical hot spots, including Gooderham, Daniel Brook Building, Massey Hall, and more.
#2: Discover the Toronto Waterfront Like Never Before
We all know and love the Toronto waterfront, but have you explored all of the different Lake Ontario views that the lakefront has to offer? Take a tour of the waterfront with this self-guided waterfront walking tour. As with the self-guided historical building walking tour, just download the app and you’ll be guided along your route, from the Harbourfront Centre all the way to Billy Bishop, exploring all the lakeshore sights along the way.
#3: Get to Know Toronto’s Street Art
Have you ever really paused to stop and admire all the street art that Toronto has to offer? Catching a glimpse of a colourful mural can brighten one’s day, and in Toronto, art is all around us. Check out this guide to Toronto’s coolest murals and street art.
#4: Be Enchanted by the Guild Park and Gardens
A visit to the Guild Park and Gardens is like a visit back in time. This hidden gem is located in Scarborough, and it’s a historic sculptural sanctuary that’s sure to amaze and delight. With an incredible collection of rustic stone pieces of art and architecture from Toronto’s past, a greenhouse and beautiful gardens full of colourful flowers, Guild Park is an absolutely magical place to escape for an afternoon.
#5: Take a Visit to Evergreen Brickworks’ Iconic Farmers’ Market
Spring time means fresh strawberries, cherries, rhubarb, beets, carrots, and much more from Ontario’s farmers. This is a great time of year to visit your local farmers’ market, and the Evergreen Brickworks’ farmers’ market is a particularly great choice. With a bountiful selection of artisan goods and in-season delicacies set amidst a natural oasis, this is a fresh way to start any spring weekend.
#6: Check Out the Spring Countdown at the Bentway
How cool is this? To symbolize the changing of the seasons, a 7,000 pound block of ice has been set up at The Bentway, encasing a Muskoka chair. As the weather warms up, the ice will melt, gradually revealing one of the classic symbols of Canadian summers. This is a fun and natural spring countdown, and it’s worth a visit for its sheer uniqueness.
#7: Go for a Paddle on the Humber River
Did you know you can rent a canoe or kayak, and take a paddle along the Humber River? Head to Etienne Brule Park, as it’s a great point to start your paddle. You’ll forget you’re even in the city as you make your way down the river, connecting with nature and enjoying the breeze and the gorgeous views.
Make sure to follow all city regulations in accordance with the latest lockdown, including sticking to exploring areas in your neighbourhood until the stay-at-home order has passed.
Chinese New Year starts this Friday, February 12 – the first day of the Chinese Lunar Calendar. This holiday is all about luck, health, and reuniting with family. It’s a major celebration in several Asian countries and also here in Canada and the Greater Toronto Area.
Chinese New Year usually brings together family and friends to partake in festivities and traditions that occur over a 15-day period. The celebrations begin with a family feast called a reunion dinner full of traditional Lunar New Year foods, and typically end with the Lantern Festival.
This year, the festivities will be a little different – and the celebrations a bit quieter – as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to alter our lives and gatherings. However, the same traditions, customs, and delicious food will prevail in 2021. Here are some fun ways to celebrate Chinese New Year this year in Toronto.
Celebrate the Spirit of Family Gatherings
Lunar New Year is all about reuniting with family and catching up with your loved ones, be they relatives or friends. This can be a challenge if you don’t live with your family or have to travel to see them, but you can celebrate the spirit of gathering with your family no matter how far away you are.
If you live on your own or away from your family, make sure to stay connected. Sending cards or letters can be a fun way to send your love from afar, and will delight the recipient. Make a date to connect virtually by setting up a video conference call, or surprise a loved one with a phone call.
Embrace Lunar New Year Traditions
While there won’t be any parades happening this year, many other traditions can carry on.
But first, gather your broom and cleaning supplies! Before the arrival of the new year, make sure to clean your home thoroughly to sweep away ill fortune and welcome good luck. Clear out last year’s clutter and splurge on some new clothes – beautiful red clothes, of course. Brighten up with some colour! The Lunar New Year is all about celebrating fortune, health, and happiness.
Enjoy the tradition of exchanging gifts with your loved ones, and giving children money in red envelopes. If you live with your family, you’ll be able to enjoy the New Year’s Eve tradition of gathering with your family to celebrate and enjoy sumptuous traditional feasts.
There are also several superstitions related to Lunar New Year which are said to bring good fortune into the next year and to protect against bad fortune. Whether it’s not arguing, paying back your debts, not cutting your hair on New Year, or wearing red, embrace all of your favourite rituals, traditions, and superstitions this year.
Enjoy Delicious Feasts
It wouldn’t be Chinese New Year without the amazing food. Even if you’re unable to gather with your family or to visit your favourite restaurants this year, you can still cook your own feast or enjoy some of the many amazing take-out options in Toronto.
From fish, chicken and dumplings to sweet rice balls, braised shiitake mushrooms, tangerines and oranges, spring rolls and more, you’ll want to enjoy the many delicious options associated with Chinese New Year.
Some great options for Toronto restaurants offering Lunar New Year menus include George Restaurant, Momofuku, Lai Wah Heen, DaiLo, Hong Shing Chinese Restaurant, R&D, Lee Restaurant, Eatertainment, Sunny’s Chinese, and Perfect Chinese Restaurant.
We wish all of our Chinese friends, clients and partners a happy Chinese New Year! How are you celebrating this year? Join us on our social media pages (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) and let us know!
The holiday season is looking a little different for many this year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. With physical distancing still required to slow the spread of the virus, many gatherings with friends, family members, and coworkers are going from in-person functions to online affairs.
Your virtual video calls can still be fun and festive, though! Here are some tips on how to create a cozy, joyful, and merry ambiance from your home that’s perfectly suited to all of your holiday Zoom calls, video conferencing dates, and virtual rendez-vous.
Set the Mood by Unplugging All Other Devices
You want to be present and able to fully connect with others during your holiday Zoom call, so take the time to create a peaceful environment by putting your phone on silent, turning off the TV, pausing email notifications, and doing any other things you need to do to create quiet surroundings. You may also want to attend to the needs of your pets, children, or any other dependents before your call to ensure that everyone is taken care of and calm. This will allow you to relax and enjoy the call without interruptions. Forget about your to-do list and enjoy!
Get in the Holiday Spirit with Celebratory Garb
You’re not meeting in person, but that doesn’t mean you can’t dress up! Putting on your best holiday outfit (or ugly Christmas sweater), festive jewellery, and makeup that makes you feel amazing will help get you in a party mood – even if the party is happening from your own living room. Silly Santa hat, anyone?
If you’re looking at ways to make your home more hygge, check out our recommendations here.
Set the Scene with Festive Décor, Food and Drink
If you have jolly surroundings in your home, you’re much more likely to be in a joyful, holiday-focused mood during your Zoom or video conferencing call. Set up your computer or phone so that the background behind you shows off your Christmas tree, twinkling lights, holiday wreath or other festive décor. You can also set the mood with holiday food and drinks, like a glass of wine or spiked eggnog and a tasty cheese place or slice of fruit cake.
Opt for a Merry Zoom Background
Festive décor in your home not feeling so festive? Another great option is to select a holiday-themed Zoom background to use on your video conference call. Whether for desktop background or mobile wallpaper, there are countless fun, festive options available for download online – from a reindeer-patterned backdrop to a snowy Christmas tree, festive lights, holiday decorations or even a classic Christmas morning living room setup complete with stockings hanging by the fireplace and gifts under the tree. A quick search on Google will uncover hundreds of appealing options.
Involve Your Entire Family, Including the Kids
Kids sometimes struggle to focus on video calls and to participate in adult conversations, but engaging your entire family – including kids and even pets – is a great way to help them feel involved and included in the family celebrations. Let them show off their favourite holiday gifts or decorations, and encourage them to listen to the stories and pleasantries being shared by their family members and family friends. If there are kids on the other end of the video call, all the better!
We wish everyone a happy holiday season, whether you’re celebrating with your loved ones in person or via video conference. How are you connecting with your friends and family this month? Join us on our social media pages (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) and let us know!
Looking to find the perfect gift ideas and stocking stuffers for everyone on your holiday shopping list this year? We’ve rounded up a selection of unique gifts and luxurious stocking stuffers to delight even the most discerning gift recipients. Read on for a thoughtfully curated list of sophisticated gifts, just in time for the holiday season.
If you’re looking for other unique gift ideas to support a local Toronto business, check out our suggestions here!
Go for Unexpected Luxury
When in doubt, lavish your loved one with a luxurious gift that they wouldn’t be likely to buy for themselves. It’s always exciting to receive something decadent, whether it’s a statement ring, a watch or an exquisite perfume. Another great option is to simply opt for a luxurious version of an everyday essential – like a leather notebook, lush cashmere scarf, elegant bottle opener, special candle, stylish wallet, high-quality headphones or top shelf liquor.
Gift Your Loved One Unexpected Relaxation
Amidst the hectic holiday season, many will be craving some R&R come January. Get a head start with a gift that’s all about kicking back and resting up. A pure silk sleep mask, plush bathrobe, essential oils aromatherapy kit, jade roller or gua sha tool will all set the mood for a home spa-like experience. Other calming, soothing gifts that will be sure to put a smile on your loved one’s face include a beautifully potted house plant or succulent, a subscription to Calm or another meditation app, a body and scalp massager, an adult colouring book (which are beloved for their stress-relieving effects) or a luxurious and cozy wool blanket.
Get Creative with Arts and Crafts
We’re not saying you have to DIY a gift (although if that’s your thing, go for it!), but both artwork and handcrafted items make for unique and special gifts. Paintings, framed photographs, a print from one of their favourite artists, a handmade cutting board, a ceramic mug or a customized, handcrafted tree ornament will all be sure to please. Gourmet treats, sauces, spices and oils are also an excellent option for the epicures in your life.
Go Holistic with a Wellness-Related Gift
Health is on everyone’s mind this year, and we could all use a little help keeping up with our health and wellness goals. Consider gifting your loved one something that will contribute to their well-being, whether physically, mentally, emotionally or spiritually. Health-related gifts could include an online subscription to a fitness or yoga class, a Spotify subscription, books, a puzzle, a luxurious skincare set, an essential oil diffuser, a weighted blanket, a journal, gourmet herbal tea or a high-quality glass water bottle.
Give the Gift of an Incredible Experience
For the person who truly has it all, you can’t go wrong with giving the gift of an amazing, unforgettable experience. While travel, live performances such as plays and concerts, and even visits to museums and art galleries are off the table for many this year due to COVID-19 restrictions, there are still plenty of experiences available for gifting. Consider a meal kit subscription for busy parents and professionals, tickets to a virtual concert or performance for lovers of the arts and culture, a cocktail subscription box for those who love to learn new recipes or an all-access subscription to MasterClass for people who would love to learn from the best of the best – like Gordon Ramsay, Serena Williams, Malcolm Gladwell and more.