It begins with the festive holiday drinks. Then, the first snowfall of the year. Soon you are humming Christmas carols and eating cookies for breakfast. It’s that time of year again!
Unfortunately, Christmas is not all fun and games. It also requires that you find both the finances and the time to prove your love for your family and friends. Love doesn’t cost a thing, we hear, but Christmas sure as heck does.
Before you start swearing like Will Farrell in the movie Elf (“son of a nutcracker!”) we have some ideas to soothe your harried soul. We can’t help you with the finances (although we do hear that Santa is looking for helpers), but we can help you to narrow down the selection of where you should go to get those stocking stuffers.
Some are pretty easy to figure out, as they have the word “Christmas” in their titles. The Toronto Christmas Market and The One-Of-A-Kind Christmas Show could be your one-stop shops. From cashmere scarves to painted IPhone cases, you will have enough time left to chug some mulled wine and get on Santa’s lap (at least, you thought it was Santa).
We have ideas for the men in your life, the wee ones and the person who has everything (but for some reason, not an ounce of gratitude). Shop merry and keep the smile on your face all the way until the 26th.
You either are or are not someone who puts the fuzzy members of their family directly on your Christmas list. If your cat receives a bespoke stocking each year, or your fridge has pictures of your dog in a Santa hat, this is the expo for you. Running just two days (November 23 and 24 in 2019), Santa stops by for photos with your furry (and non furry) companions. 250 vendors mean that you can get the perfect gift for all of your favourite non-humans. There is also a celebrity meet-and-greet if your Instagram feed is mostly canines, and of course, gifts for the only being in your life that doesn’t annoy you during the holidays.
Recommended for Christmas Shopping because: Treats for your pet ,and an adorable array of animals for those who wish that Christmas had more pet cuddles than family arguments.
Courtney’s expert tip: Pets are welcome, but only if they are well behaved and not easily spooked. Check out their webpage for full details.
If being outside in the middle of winter isn’t exactly your idea of a good time, consider going to an indoor Christmas market. All of the merriment and none of the frostbite? Consider us in. The One of A Kind Christmas Show is always brimming with artists and holiday spirit. You need only go to a few booths to knock your list down. For the person that has everything, they sure don’t have one of these hand-knitted or crafted or welded items. Try your own hand at one of their DIY workshops to quickly realize that yes, it is an art form. Better leave it to the professionals (or lie about the fact that yes, you did it yourself).
Recommended for Christmas Shopping because: Artisans, crafts and spiced gingerbread make the One of a Kind Show the merriest shopping experience out there.
Courtney’s expert tip: If you can’t fit it into your schedule, check out the Late Night Out shopping package, which will allow you to shop until 11pm on November 28.
Two years ago, Toronto came in third in the world’s most LGBTQIA friendly cities. The Pink Market has welcomed over 10,000 visitors since 2015 as Toronto’s oldest and largest craft queer market. And of course, there had to be a Christmas market (because, in case you haven’t noticed, Toronto is all about its Christmas markets). Some of the stuff you can expect to find this year include raunchy cross stitches, pronoun pins, gay-themed greeting cards and modern indigenous jewelry. There will be so many vendors, from things you could happily wrap up and gift to your grandmother to things you most certainly could not… although, to be fair, we don’t know your grandmother. Expect to be inspired and festive all at the same time.
Recommended for Christmas Shopping because: Craft, fashion, art, literature and inclusivity makes for one heck of a Christmas market.
Courtney’s expert tip: Admission is pay what you can (but the suggested is $5).
The Eaton Centre is eastern Canada’s largest shopping mall, and Toronto’s top tourist attraction. Each week, the mall plays host to more than 1 million visitors, who come to shop to their hearts’ content at more than 230 stores spread across 1.7 million square feet of enclosed space. On November 14th there is a tree lighting event featuring Canada’s tallest 108 foot Christmas tree. While the tree is lit up, expect live music from both a DJ and an electric violinist. Santa comes to his classic log cabin from November 16 onwards. To take the stress out of a long wait, you can even book times with him online. (Hello, 2019!) The gift wrap valet will attend to all of your purchases and you can wile away the time gazing at the captivating floor-to-ceiling holiday displays.
Recommended for Christmas Shopping because: From decor to a giant tree to Santa, The Eaton Centre has all of your holiday needs – even outside of the gifts.
Courtney’s expert tip: There are extended hours throughout the holiday season to make your festive shopping as easy as possible.
In the market for some ghee and some ironic children’s clothing? Surprisingly, you can get both at Drake General Store as well as other quirky items like adult onesies and solid Gold Slinkys. You can also buy those onesies for the kids for one heck of a family photo. Originally the hotel gift shop for the Drake, there are now four locations that are part flea market, part museum shop. “We love things that are sensible and things that are not so sensible,” they claim. Look for the neon purple cross which may confuse you to thinking you have landed in a pharmacy when you are just in gifting heaven. (And before you ask, no, the store does not belong to the recording artist.)
Recommended for Christmas Shopping because: Stores with Canadian pride and global outreach. And the best onesies in Toronto.
Courtney’s expert tip: Stumped for gift ideas? Check out their website: gifts for her and gifts for him are outlined, as well as hostess gifts to get you invited back. There is even a onesie shop.
The Trinity Bellwoods Flea Markets are exciting monthly markets that step up their game even more during the holiday season. On November 17 2019, The Christmas Is Coming Market arrives as their largest market yet. Over 100 vendors are spread out in the Main Hall of the historical Great Hall Toronto. Local, handmade one-of-a-kind gifts along with holiday music and food and drinks will make the 10am-5pm time frame fly by. If you still have some shopping to do by December 15, the festivities continue with The Happy Holidays Market. Admission is free to get a taste of artisans, makers, vendors and small businesses of Toronto.
Recommended for Christmas Shopping because: Local is the way to go, especially in a diverse and sprawling city like Toronto.
Courtney’s expert tip: Try the Coftea blends of coffee and tea – a great gift for the caffeine lover in your life.
When it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, and you are Canadian, you strap on a pair of ice skates and hope for the best. The top place to do this during the holiday season is undeniably Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto. Bring your own skates for free exercise or rent skates for $10 or less. During the holidays, the rink sparkles with lights and displays a large holiday tree for Toronto’s version of New York’s Rockefeller Centre. The Holiday Fair’s dates for 2019 are December 7-23. Expect an elegant Christmas market, a Holly Jolly Midway and Polar Point Bar to shiver away in with your nearest and dearest. Warm up by the fire on some cozy Muskoka chairs (also known as the Adirondack chair or Westport chair to non-Canadians).
Recommended for Christmas Shopping because: Unique gift ideas that you can grab in between ice skating and gobbling up festive treats.
Courtney’s expert tip: The fireside lounge serves mulled wine, which always makes a shopping experience go down nicely.
The very first Toronto vegan Christmas market is happening December 14, 2019. Vegan wines, dairy free cheeses, baked goods and holiday flavoured gelato are just some of the edible offerings. Some of the shopping possibilities include vegan leather goods, winter coats and cosmetics – all with the promise of cruelty free. “We want to invite the public to do their shopping in a manner that underlines the true essence of the Holidays, which is a celebration of peace, love and compassion for all beings, both humans and animals,” said event creator and organizer An Pham. Expect more than two dozen vendors…and expect this event to become a mainstay in the Toronto holiday circuit.
Recommended for Christmas Shopping because: Festivity doesn’t mean that there has to be animal exploitation. This market marries compassion with merriment.
Courtney’s expert tip: VIP tickets are $9 plus taxes but give you an extra hour to shop – before the event opens to everyone else.
The founder of Patagonia, Yvon Chouinard, is quoted as saying “He who dies with the least toys wins. Because the more you know, the less you need.” If you view yourself through a minimalist lens, or you prefer to shop local, the Eco Lifestyle Holiday Market will be the thing to put the Christmas spring in your step. 60 vendors offer handcrafted, sustainable, eco-friendly, zero waste and local goods as well as vegan, vegetarian and fair trade treats. If living green is a way of life for you, extend that to your gift-giving, one day only in Sunday November 10. It feels good to be conscious, ethical and local.
Recommended for Christmas Shopping because: Drop the consumerism guilt. Shop local and ethical and the holidays can be fun again.
Courtney’s expert tip: Admission is free.
If you can’t remember the last time you felt the Christmas spirit, then put on your bells and get thee to the Toronto Christmas Market. From life sized gingerbread houses for children to a variety of beer and mulled wine gardens, you will feel warm and cozy in your heart even if the rest of your extremities are a tad chilly. Stand by roaring fire pits and marvel at the sparkling lights on the tree that stands more than 50-feet above the market. Santa Claus is there too, because he doesn’t want to be left out of the festivities. This year marks the tenth anniversary and has the entertainment to match, with over 500 carollers, choir performers, dancers, musicians and holiday elves.
Recommended for Christmas Shopping because: Nothing says the holidays like shopping for your loved ones at a Christmas market. Especially when said market has a beer garden.
Courtney’s expert tip: The first two weekends that they are open, you can get in for free if you bring 8 cans of food to donate to The Daily Bread Food Bank.
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