Tag Archives: Christmas shopping

Tis the season, Toronto shoppers

With Halloween behind us, the Christmas spirit has officially arrived on the Toronto retail scene. Window displays are festive, twinkly lights have emerged, and in some stores, the sounds of top 40 hits have already been replaced with Christmas carols.

Are you ready for it?

The window display at Holt Renfrew’s Bloor Street store.

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Yankee carts its candles to Canada

I enjoy candles as much as the next person, and yet I find it a bit hard to imagine a store selling candles – and only candles.

Nonetheless, this is the premise behind The Yankee Candle Company, Inc. – a huge U.S.-based chain that’s enjoyed much success. It operates more than 500 stores throughout the U.S., which sell scented candles and candle accessories, along with a few other home fragrance products.

The retailer recently made its debut into the Canadian market, with five brand new Ontario locations. These include a couple on the outskirts of the GTA – one in Pickering Town Centre and one in Lime Ridge Mall. The others are located in Kitchener, Barrie and St. Catherines.

Yankee specializes in scented candles, and as you can imagine, it carries plenty of variety in this department. They come in a range of shapes and sizes, from tea lights to large jars that burn for up to 150 hours.

The candles are available in more than 150 fragrances, among them: Fresh Cut Roses, Hazelnut Coffee, Kiwi Berries, Lavender Vanilla, Maple Pancakes, Ocean Water, Orange Dreamsicle, and many more.

The retailer also has a wide variety of seasonal scents, like Peppermint Cocoa, Hot Buttered Rum, Sparkling Cinnamon and Holiday Sage.

My mouth is watering just writing about these scents; I can only imagine how nice they’d smell burning in my living room. They’d make lovely Christmas gifts, and luckily, the new stores have arrived with plenty of time to spare before the busy holiday shopping season gets underway.

So if there’s a candle-lover on your list, there’s no doubt this niche chain is the place to go.

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Christmas shopping, European style

I always thought the Toronto Eaton Centre, with its sparkling Swarovski Crystal Christmas Tree, was the most festive part of the city at this time of year. But this year, the Distillery District takes the cake with a Christmas market that seems to encompass every element of the holiday season.

The charming market is modeled after similar ones that take place in Europe each year. And while Toronto’s version may not be quite as impressive as its European counterparts, it does a pretty great job of recreating the concept.

Vendors set up in wooden huts at the market sell things like Christmas ornaments, toys, hand-woven toques and scarves, candles, soaps, and plenty of sweets. Food vendors sell a range of European delicacies, like Slovenian sausages, apple strudel and German cakes, as well as such holiday treats as roasted chestnuts and gingerbread cookies.

There are plenty of drinks to go around, too. Bars and beer gardens set up in the market offer hot apple cider, spiked eggnog, specialty coffees and a variety of beer and mulled wine, and campfires to huddle around while you enjoy your drink.

For anyone with a soft spot for Christmas festivities, I definitely recommend checking out the Christmas Market. It runs until Sunday.

Tips for market-goers:

Take transit. There’s limited parking around the Distillery District, with many lots in the area recently having turned into new condominium construction sites. If possible, take the bus the streetcar, or the market shuttle bus that departs from Union Station every half hour, to avoid having to cruise around full lots waiting for others to leave. (Plus, this way, you can have all the spiked eggnog you want without having to worry about driving!)

Bundle up. On a cold day, the surrounding historic buildings do little to shield the district’s cobblestone walkways from the harsh winds. I recommend bringing a touque, a scarf, and warm mittens.

Bring a non-perishable food item for the Daily Bread Food Bank. Ideally, make it something nutritious. The most needed items include baby formula, beans and lentils, canned fruits and vegetables, canned fish and meat, cans of soup or hearty stew, dried pasta and tomato sauce, macaroni and cheese, peanut butter, rice and canned or powdered milk.

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Make this year’s gift one-of-a-kind

The One of a Kind Show returns to Toronto this week, and it’s a perfect place to start your Christmas shopping. With more than 800 artisans showcasing their unique items, ranging from artwork and housewares to fashion and accessories, you’re sure to find gifts for at least a few lucky people on your list.

The show runs from November 25th to December 5th at the Direct Energy Centre at Exhibition Place.

Adult tickets are $10 in advance or $12 at the door, and include access to the whole showroom, plus fashion shows, daily artisan demos and seminars by such DIY experts as Michael Penney, style editor at Style at Home, and Virginie Martocq, home editor at Chatelaine.

Here are a few first-time artisans definitely worth checking out at the show:

Maude Blais

This Montreal-based artist has a distinctive collection of decorative ceramic pieces, including bowls, vases, tea cups, soap dishes, and more.

Triangle bowls, $18 each.

Jane Heller
This Montreal-based photographer will be showcasing her wide-ranging collection of artistic photographs, which include everything from Montreal landmarks and flowers to farm animals and vintage pics.

A photograph of Montreal's Jacques-Cartier Bridge, US$60.00.

Nikki Bordignon
I can’t help but love this collection of greeting cards, which Nikki describes as “sassy, sarcastic and slightly rude”.

Inside reads: Slut.

Asuman and Atanur Dogan
These Turkish-Canadian artists will be showing off their collection of sculptures and gorgeous, scenic watercolour paintings.

Watercolour painting of Venice.

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