Last year I began the tradition of publishing a holiday gift guide for independent artists, designers, publishers and craftspeople from within my network. I got a lot of pleasure knowing those folks got some business through it and that shoppers were putting their money where it could help people pursue what they love. The collection this year is … perhaps a little more motley than last year. But the intention is no different. Every one of these artists or businesses have made something they believe others will love, and I’m sure there is someone out there who is the perfect recipient.
As our holidays become ever more commercialized, I do think this is one of the very little things we can do as individuals that makes a big difference. In that spirit, shop local, shop independent, shop on.
To eat and drink
Sugar & Spice Bakery — from $2.50
Shelby operates Sugar & Spice bakery out of her home just down the road from our new house. She made our daughter’s first birthday cake, and wow-oh-wow what a request that was. She deserves mad props.
S’more to Love: A S’moregasbord of Mouthwatering ‘Mallow Innovations — $5
Made by my colleague Hannah and some friends. I love finding out people you work with have secret talents, but I also love S’mores — I almost wrote my own S’more book of concoctions last summer!
Bitter or Bust cocktail bitters — $10 or $18
Honestly didn’t know what bitters were, but now that I know, they sound super fun. Good gift for someone who likes to throw parties. I’d like to try the cardamom, black peppercorns and lemon flavours.
Chili Okazu — $6 – $9
Can we ever have enough chili? For me that answer is yes, but for people who love spicy things, they can never have enough. An excellent gift for people of that ilk.
Sriracha Key Chain — $7 (on backorder ’til Dec 26)
Maybe not Indy but I thought it was clever. Another good gift for spice-heads, for the new year.
ARCA handmade ties and bowties — $79
One of my oldest friend’s sister-in-law makes these with love. I like the retro underlying fabrics.
Hattitude everyday collection of jewellery — $20-$60
One of the craziest things about people in your network making things is that they often have amazing stories of courage and fortitude. This jewelry is made by Hattie Dunstan, a Torontonian who underwent a double lung transplant just a few years ago. She now spends her life making things. Amazing Hattie.
Kovert Cleopatra Ring — £290
This ring eliminates that desire to keep your phone on the table. “Subtle vibrations alert you for predefined text, email, call or whatsapp notifications from certain people or with specific keywords” It’s pricy, but anything to make technology less disruptive to dinner table conversation is a win by me.
Fitzy Braided Cuff — $45
Endorsed by my friend Karen King and getting all kinds of press, these simple products are obvious winners. There are several items in the shop at various price points, check it out.
To read and look at
Lesley Barnes cards & prints — $4-$40
Came across Lesley’s work by searching Etsy for ‘Toronto’. I relate to her sense of color. Many of the illustrations would make especially lovely prints for children’s rooms.
Two Journeys — $18.00
This book was recommended by Alison Livey, who I know through the writing circuit in Toronto. A romantic page-turner written by her mama.
Matt Stevens MAKE print — $15 (on sale)
I saw Matt Stevens speak at Weapons of Mass Creation in Cleveland a couple years ago. Super down-to-earth guy, and I like his sense of meticulous, mechanical illustration.
CommuterLit: Arrivals & Departures — $14.45
One of my oldest Toronto friends I met at the High Park Library writer’s group publishes this collection. I have a poem in it called “Since” that I wrote when Amelia was born.
Beto’s Burrito picture book — $10 ($4.99 iBook)
A book project with my dad, who wrote the story. I recently relaunched the website and have a very good idea of the effort it takes for all these makers to sell their stuff online. Happy to inscribe to any special someones! I have a few prints left too, if you are interested in a whole gift package, email me.
Financial Planning Session — $50 – $250
Oh how I wish someone would have bought me this when I was younger. Seriously.
Nine Lives Card Game — $12.99
I’ve recently come around to games. Maybe it was playing game-after-game-after-game with my four-year-old nephew in Cambridge. This one looks fun, especially for those kidlets like my own who love all the kitties.
The Calm Birth School home study program — £150
Saw a friend share this on Facebook and thought it would make a nice gift for someone expecting. I practiced a bit of hypnobirthing myself (my mom helped teach me), and I believe it made a world of a difference during the birth.
Viddy Build-it-Yourself Pinhole Camera — $64
At university I took a photography class using a pinhole camera. So much fun to distill what appears to be complex technology into something rather simple. Really fun to experiment with, and building your own would be a huge part of that. This store has tons of fun stuff other than this (thanks for the link Maureen!).
Christmas Reindeer Ornaments — $15
So cute, but also, ornaments make great gifts for people in your life who you may not know all that well but want to know better.
Veekee Designer Tea Towels — $18-$40
These are lovely and colorful and bright and yes, I’ll have a couple of these please to brighten up my kitchen, thank you.
Province Apothecary natural beauty products — $25-$70-ish
Recommended by my buddy Cassie Kaiser. I received this set as a gift last year and am still using it! It’s a great set to travel with, or even to use while pregnant, since it’s all natural ingredients.
East & West Toronto Pillows — $69
Found these via another Etsy search for ‘Toronto’ and what won me over was the description. Toronto is a city of two sides (truth), and you choose which side of the couch to sit on.
Holiday Gift Packs for skincare — $50.00
As soon as my Apothecary set runs out, I’ll be getting this. Love the photography!
Silver birch Tealight Holders — $24.50
Small little gift idea made from reclaimed wood by the son of a woodworker who left banking to follow his maker heart. Lots of larger coffee-table pieces too that look cool.
‘The End’ endtable from Said the King — $375
Holds a bottle of your best & one glass, which you should always have on hand, ready for the end of the world. Made by the lovely Karen King, one of the most conscientious and hard-working makers I know.
That’s it for this year! Big thanks to everyone who submitted an item.
Remember these are just a few selections from my own personal network. There are likely so many other independent makers in your own. Regardless, as you’re doing your shopping this holiday season, remember to look for unique things that are useful, eco-friendly, local and produced with love by hard-working designers, artists and craftspeople. Happy holidays!
It takes time to put this guide together, and time is such a precious commodity. But I love doing this. Please consider making a small donation so I can do it again next year. A couple of bucks would make me so happy. Many thanks!