‘Tis the season. Fall is turning to winter, and the holiday music and decorations have started to pop up. Which means one thing… it’s time to start Christmas shopping!
I already started my holiday shopping back in mid-October. I’m a pretty organized person, but this year I thought I’d really get ahead of the shipping delays and long lineups for stores I knew were to come. With the pandemic still hanging over us, the holiday season is very unknown still. However, no matter how we will be allowed to spend it this year, there’s one thing we know for sure, that small businesses need us, and it’s more important than ever before to shop local.
2020 has been a rough year for everyone, but especially businesses. With a forced lockdown that lasted months at the beginning of the year, to the restrictions they still need to abide by, this year has been tough. Now I know it’s impossible to get everything you need from local stores, but to make a little more of a conscious effort this year to shop local versus immediately heading to the chain stores, will make a huge difference in our economy and for business owners.
I decided that I wanted to put together a holiday gift guide to help get your wheels turning for the people on your Christmas list this year. Some of these businesses are ones that I’ve supported in my shopping (I won’t say which because I don’t want to spoil the surprises for my family), and some are ones that were recommended to me or that I found myself. With everything compiled into one place, you have no excuse to not shop local this year.
For the foodie
For the person that loves to check out the latest local restaurants, and takes photos of every meal they make. This category is full of ideas that’ll make any foodie happy. I also like to buy these sorts of gifts for people that have everything, because they’re always gifts that will get used/consumed!
Terroni (Italian Products)
You’re probably wondering why I have a famous Toronto restaurant on this list, BUT they have some great retail products you can buy online for local pick-up, delivery, or even order on DoorDash. Try their Peperoncini Piccanti, it’s known as one of Meghan Markle’s favs.
Mutte Coffee (Coffee)
Quality Mexican coffee delivered from Toronto.
Drizzle Honey (Local Honey)
Raw, Canadian-made, bee-friendly honey. Available in a ton of flavours and variations.
ChocoSol (Artisanal Chocolate)
Artisanal chocolate made in Toronto. Their chili and vanilla flavours sound amazing!
Local beer or wine
Here’s an idea for the beer or wine lovers in your family. Instead of buying them a gift card for the liquor or beer store, opt for going to a local brewery/winery instead. Several breweries and wineries across Ontario (and I’m sure in other provinces too) also are offering free delivery.
Cocktail Emporium (Cocktail Supplies)
This is a great shop for all things related to cocktails. Bitters, syrups, cool drink accessories, and mixes. Perfect for stocking stuffers or unique gifts for the cocktail-obsessed.
Rhea (Artisan Chocolate)
Seriously gorgeous chocolate. If chocolate was art, this would be it.
Gift cards for local restaurants
Don’t forget that our restaurants need our support too. Most local restaurants will sell gift cards for purchase and even if they aren’t open for dine-in you can use them for take-out. This guarantees profits go right to the restaurant versus to a food delivery service like UberEats.
Healthy Genie (Date Spreads)
Yummy spreads made with dates. Perfect as a hostess gift or a stocking stuffer. Great with cheese or to add to your charcuterie boards.
Blume (Latte Blends)
Delicious coffee alternatives made in Vancouver, BC. Blume’s blends help you get those perfect lattes from your local coffee shop, but at-home. Made with organic, plant-based ingredients and superfoods.
For the fashionista
This category is for the people that can’t get enough of the latest fashion and you always wonder how they have any room left in their closet. Shop local with these great fashion-forward brands.
Barbell Behaviour (Activewear)
Super cute body positive activewear founded in Toronto.
Ragmaw Design House (Handbags)
Colourful, high-quality bags made in Canada. Available in a variety of patterns.
Apricotton (Tween Bras)
Toronto-based business that creates quality bras for tweens and an online community to help make going through puberty less awkward for girls.
Take a Load Off, Fannies (Fanny Packs)
The name of this shop kills me! They make the cutest, fun, fanny packs, and belt bags for both kids and adults.
Queen of Suburbia (Ethically Made Lingerie)
Gorgeous ethically made lingerie made in Canada, and available in a wide range of sizes. Perfect for that special someone 😉
Ali + Liv (Swimwear)
Comfortable and versatile swimwear. Perfect to lounge in your apartment with this winter because lets face it, we’re not going on any vacations anytime soon.
Pippa & Peach (Luxe Loungewear)
A Niagara-based business that creates comfortable and versatile clothes to help you feel like your best self.
Made For The Lake Co. (Apparel)
The cutest cottage-themed apparel. Perfect for the cottage-goers in your life.
See You Soon Toronto (Apparel)
Cute branded apparel that gives back. 100% of the proceeds made from this line goes to a COVID relief fund to help small businesses in Toronto.
Red Sky (Loungewear)
Fun and cozy loungewear. The jumpsuits look like a dream for hibernating all winter!
Kootz Collective (Laidback Clothing)
Unisex clothing that is ethically sourced and made, then screen printed in BC.
For the jewellery lover
Gift someone jewellery and they’ll get so much use out of it. Here are some great brands I love, or that have been recommended to me to shop.
Maple Lane Jewelry
Super cute jewelry made in Toronto. Customize it with your (or your friends) initials.
Providing timeless fine jewellery for the contemporary individual. Jewellery for both men and women.
One of my favs for awhile now in Toronto. Anice is also available for custom creations.
A past colleague of mine makes these fun and funky clay earrings here in Toronto.
House of Ell
Upcycled vintage jewellery that is perfect for that person in your life that likes to make a statement (and shop sustainably).
For the perfect holiday cards
Opt out of holiday cards that mean nothing, and instead shop for ones that look like art and can be personalized. Snail mail is not dead! Who doesn’t love to get something in the mail still?
Hand painted holiday cards + more.
Words & Wonders
Afrocentric stationary with cute and colourful holiday cards.
Cute hand-lettered cards, PLUS other adorable lettered items like notebooks.
Tip: I love to buy my cards for any occasion on Etsy. What I’ll do is use the filtering feature to filter by businesses “In Canada” to ensure I’m shopping close to home.
For the home
An assortment of businesses selling great gifts for the home. Whether home decor, plants, or cheeky holiday decor.
Al Moultaka (Middle-Eastern Home Decor)
Anyone else as depressed as me that they can’t travel anywhere right now? Al Moultaka has the perfect gifts for the globetrotter in your life that will inspire serious wanderlust, and make your house look super cute and colourful.
Backyard Co. (Handcrafted Wood Products)
Backyard Co. sells beautifully handcrafted wood products like cutting boards. That’s not it though, they also sell bath and body products, and candles.
I discovered this company in isolation and love it. They deliver house plants right to your door, and are now offering shipping across Canada. The perfect alternative to flowers because, with the right care, they won’t die as quick!
Gnomes By Mari (Holiday Decor)
Everyone has that person in their lives that is just obsessed with holiday decor and these gnomes are one-of-a-kind and adorable.
Love Your Mother Boutique (Pottery + Eco-Friendly Goods)
Eco-friendly products and handmade pottery. So many great gift ideas and stocking stuffers in this little online shop.
Steaped Slow Ceramics (Ceramics)
Handmade ceramic goods. Their mugs and tumblers make the perfect gift for the coffee or tea junkie in your life.
For the art enthusiast
Art that won’t cost you thousands of dollars, but has a super cute, thoughtful touch to it that will impress even the hardest people to buy for.
M is for Maggie (Embroidered Art)
Creative hand embroidered art on paper. Great for kids rooms!
Thread & Bark (Art Made with Nature)
Art made from the wild using reclaimed wood. Currently they are taking orders via their Instagram page.
Worker Bee Supply (Inspirational Prints)
If there’s one thing we need in 2020 it’s inspiration. These inspirational prints are far from cheesy and make beautiful art.
Natalie Czerwinski Illustration (Illustrations)
Cute neighbourhood inspired illustrations. I love Natalie’s Toronto-themed work, but you can also commission her to illustrate something that is meaningful to you!
For the kids
In full transparency, I don’t have kids and I have no idea what they want for Christmas this year. I’m going to assume iPads and high ticket toys. However, if you’re looking to support local, and buy something different. Here are some ideas.
The Star (Book)
A children’s book perfect for this time of year and written by a young Toronto author.
Tawny Dog: The Bravest (Book)
A children’s book on facing your fears through bravery and understanding by a local Toronto author.
ByUs Box (Anti-Racism Toolkits)
This start-up has created teaching your kids to be inclusive, and anti-racist, easier. A curated educational toolkit of activities, books, toys, and more.
Impressions (Growth Charts)
Track your child’s growth with these beautiful custom made growth charts.
Princess Parties Toronto (Virtual Santa Visits)
I thought that this was a super creative idea. You can get Santa to call your kid via Zoom this year since Santa visits may be canceled.
Pencil Pix Kids (Learn To Draw Tutorials)
A subscription program for kids to help them learn how to draw and utilize their imaginations through art.
Resin Sets (Alphabet Sets)
Personalized alphabet resin sets for kids. Order via Instagram.
Check out a previous post I wrote on Toronto-based small businesses to support here for more ideas.
For the self-care advocate
We could all use more self-care in 2020. It’s been a rough year. These are some great items I’ve curated for you to shop for everyone on your list this year.
Sugar Plum Scrubs (Sugar Scrubs)
A natural sugar scrub boutique with all sorts of beautiful scents that make it easy to shop local.
The Empathy Crate (Bath & Body)
Soy candles, salt soaks, aroma sprays + bundles. Made completely vegan and cruelty-free.
Please Notes (Affirmation Goods)
Selling affirmation cards and journals that are perfect to head into 2021 and channel positivity.
Rhymes with Pizza (Press-On Nails)
This is a super creative business concept. Reusable, and easy-to-use press-on nails. Choose from one of their cool designs, or create something custom.
100 Years of Love (Candles)
Founded in Toronto, these adorable candles have so many yummy and unique scents with cute sayings and names on the side of them. The perfect gift!
The Scented Market (Eco-Friendly Products)
Based out of Guelph, ON this small business creates eco-friendly soaps, cleaning supplies, and more. You can definitely feel good about what you’re purchasing here!
Keeping your skincare clean with these vegan, cruelty-free, non-toxic, eco-friendly, handmade products (yep, that’s a long list of what makes these great).
The Win Journal (Journals)
A journal designed to help you record, reflect, and celebrate your daily wins (both big & small).
Baarden (Beard Products)
Small batch, handcrafted beard products for the men in your life.
Tip: Have a book lover in your life? Instead of shopping at the big bookstores, opt for a local bookshop instead, or even a used bookstore for those trying to be more eco-friendly.
Cute little gifts that are perfect to stuff into stockings, or use as hostess gifts.
Mode Masks (Masks)
Tired of masks that don’t fit properly? These made-to-measure masks will help you get the perfect fit.
THIC (Repairing Hair Oil)
Vegan, effective, and affordable, this new lightweight repairing hair oil is a must-have for everyone. Great to throw in stockings!
CurlShoppe (Hair Products)
The perfect stocking stuffer for that curly girl/guy in your house, there curly hair products sound delightful, and they look cute too!
Untouch (Anti-Germ Keychain)
This Canadian company has thought of something that is seriously brilliant. These keychains have little tools attached to them made from antimicrobial brass and zinc. What’s the tool for? Say goodbye to touching pin pads on ATM machines, or opening freezer doors in the grocery aisle. Do it all with this tool to avoid the germs!
TILI (Handmade Soaps)
Handmade natural soap that almost looks too pretty to use!
Bien Aller (Masks)
Quebec-based company making great masks. I bought one of these months ago and it’s one of my fav masks because it fits like a charm with adjustable ear pieces and nose piece.
Kokom Scrunchies (Scrunchies)
A business started by a 9-year-old. Yep, you heard that correctly. Mya makes adorable handmade scrunchies.
Bitch Next Door (Stickers, Mugs & Totes)
Stickers, mugs, and totes for the feminist in your life!
Diphy Wellness (Handmade Soaps)
Handmade soaps made with safe ingredients and eco-friendly materials. Holiday packages available.
Curated boxes are so much fun to receive. These are great for people that you may not see this holiday season, but want to send them something right to their house. Loaded with locally sourced products, they make for the perfect gifts!
Posh Home Box (Curated Boxes)
Home decor subscription box.
Grey Willow Gifts (Curated Boxes)
Beautiful curated gift boxes that support small business owners. This box takes the thinking out of shopping local.
Wonderkind Inc. (Curated Boxes)
Designed to make gifting easy, but still thoughtful. Fill out a quiz about your loved one, and your price range, and they’ll thoughtfully curate the perfect gift box for them.
The Happy Box (Curated Boxes)
A box stuffed with local goodies. Available in a variety of different themes or occasions. Making it easy to shop local.
Sam & Lance (Curated Boxes)
Cute themed curated boxes that you can buy for your BFF, or any family member. With each box sold they donate a meal to the Native Women’s Resource Centre of Toronto’s Food Bank.
The Kind Curator Co. (Curated Boxes)
Consciously curated boxes filled with hand-picked, locally sourced, eco-conscious products.
Sock Box (Monthly Sock Club)
A subscription box perfect for the person in your life that loves a good pair of funky socks. They even have a sock lovers advent calendar!
Not everything fits into a category. These are some notable businesses that have fantastic gifts if you haven’t found exactly what you’re looking for.
Good Neighbour (Gift Shop)
A great shop located in Toronto that sells all sorts of goodies, from clothing to local products. A great online (or in-person) boutique to shop when you’re looking for the perfect gift or stocking stuffer.
Common People Shop (Gift Shop)
Another great Toronto shop that is a good one-stop-shop to help you shop local. They also have an online store for you to shop from home!
Rosie & Her Mama (Masks & Dog Accessories)
Who doesn’t want to match with their pup? This small business creates masks and matching dog handkerchiefs. They have some great holiday fabrics too. Perfect for holiday pictures!
Ardent Earth (Eco-Friendly Products)
Low-waste, plant-based, eco-friendly goods for your home, bath, beauty, and beyond.
Black Yoga Society (Yoga Mats)
Bio-degradable plant-based cork and natural yoga mats. Great for the yogi in your family.
HENHEN (Dog Accessories)
Art for your dog. These colourful and artistic dog accessories are beautiful and perfect for your pet, or the dog lover on your list. Made with eco-conscious materials too!
Make The Universe (DIY Kits)
Looking for an isolation activity to gift to your friends or family? Make The Universe makes DIY candle and DIY deodorant kits that make a great gift.
Online fitness memberships
Even for the areas in Canada that you can physically go to the gym or fitness studios, there’s still a lot of people out there sticking to working out at-home right now. Opt to buy your fitness gurus in your life a membership for a studio that is offering online classes. Some of my favs: YogaTree, Elle On Demand, and Sweat & Tonic.
Shout-out to the Women Who Freelance Toronto Facebook group for helping me curate this list of amazing businesses to help you shop local. Of course I couldn’t include every great business out there so please feel free to drop some of your favs in the comments below!