'Tis the season to get your holiday gifting sorted out, fa la la la la, la la la la!
Odds are, this year, you won't be scouring the mall for days on end, hunting for the perfect presents for the nearest and dearest in your life.
Instead, it's likely you'll do most of your shopping online, allowing your purchases to land at your doorstep or -- at the very most -- be retrieved from the shop, curb-side.
As one of the most tumultuous years in recent history comes to a close, it's understandable that you want your holiday gifts to embody comfort, caring, closeness, and -- if you're buying for someone who lives in a rental apartment -- consideration for the space the receiver has to work with.
To make your search easier, we've gathered up 12 of the top gifts you could give a city-dwelling renter as 2020 comes to a close. From cozy to functional, to just plain fun, these are our suggestions for your shopping endeavours:
Where better to begin than with a locally-made, beautifully-scented, ultra-hygge candle? Founded and created in Toronto, LOHN's candles are made with clean scents, coconut and soy wax, and recyclable packaging.
The recently-released Holiday candle is scented with notes of clementine, clove, and rose, and was designed in collaboration with local illustrator Julia Mercanti, meanwhile, the brand's new Forage line burns steady for 50 hours, so you can count on your gift recipient enjoying their cozy candle time for many evenings to come.
Where to buy: LOHN online shop
Price: $39 and up
A Wine Subscription
When you live in a rental -- which, in a lot of cases, translates to "fairly small space" -- there's a lot to be said for consumables. Things that you can use up, eat up, drink up, so that whatever space you do have in your abode can remain abundant and uncluttered. For someone who's long enjoyed Friday nights at the wine bar before heading back to their lil home, consider this quarantine-appropriate option: a wine subscription.
The Grape Witches offer monthly subscriptions of Fresh and Fancy varieties -- read: differing selections of thoughtfully chosen, low intervention wines that are either meant to be enjoyed now (Fresh), or can be enjoyed now but can also be saved for later (Fancy). Deliveries contain six bottles -- two of each of the three different varieties, and go for $243 or $363 per month, respectively.
If those prices are a wee bit high for your gift-giving endeavours, no fear. The witches also offer one-off mixed packs with prices starting in the $100s.
Where to buy: Grape Witches, 1247 Dundas Street West and online
Another option for the gift-receiver who particularly enjoys a drink, nothing levels up an evening of cocktails and movies like sipping from a proper goblet. Lovely chalices are a fun way to upgrade the at-home dining experience, without needing to actually make any physical changes to the space.
Cocktail Emporium, with several locations across the city and an online store as well, is home to some of the most lovely, special, and endearing glassware in Toronto. Diamonds are forever, and fancy drinking glasses are, too -- so long as you don't get too boisterous while enjoying. (That's what red solo cups are for... in fact, it might not be a bad idea to throw in a pack of those too, for good measure.)
Where to buy: Cocktail Emporium, 972 Queen Street West; 20 Kensington Avenue; Union Station; and online
Cozy Bath Mat
Another way to up the chicness of a rental, without making any structural changes to the space, is to pay attention to the fine details throughout the home's design and styling. To add some oomph to your gift-recipient's bathroom, the simple touch of a cozy, funky bath mat -- from a local business, no less -- will help upgrade the area to spa-like status. LoversLand stocks fun floor mats including ones from Cold Picnic, which are made from 100% certified cotton, and are sure to make stepping out of the tub an otherworldly experience.
Where to buy: LoversLand; 215 Ossington Avenue and online
Price: $89 and up
It's been eight months since the pandemic started making major waves in Toronto and -- save for a brief summertime respite -- the great majority of the city has made every effort to stay holed up at home ever since. As this is likely to continue to be the case for the foreseeable future, why not ensure the indoor experience is as comfy and cozy as possible?
Kotn is a Canadian Certified B Corporations brand that makes ultra-snug lounge wear. These fits are perfect for Christmas morning and, these days, beyond. A set from this spot means supporting Canadian makers and ensuring the lucky recipient of your gift is as snug as possible trough the coming winter.
Where to buy: KOTN; 754 Queen Street West, and online
Price: $80 and up per sweat-style piece
Yes, you read that right. Pizza subscriptions are officially available from beloved Toronto 'za purveyor General Assembly. Premium ingredients and 100% naturally leavened dough combine to create the perfect at-home pizza experience. As you might expect from this sub's title, this service means a monthly delivery of pizzas -- a mix and match of flavours, or all the same -- which are tightly sealed and ready for your freezer. Whenever you get the hankering for a savoury slice, these pizzas are ready after just five minutes in the oven.
The service offers stacks of four, six, eight, or ten pizzas to your door, with topping combos ranging from Mila Margherita to Sweet Heat to Truffle Queen. Per our earlier suggestion about consumables, this one might just take the cake. Er... pie?
Pizza pie, that is.
Where to buy: General Assembly online
Price: $39 and up
Local Jigsaw Puzzle
This one's something really special. Think: home decor, something fun to do, and the joy of supporting small business or local artists, all rolled into one. These PieceTogether jigsaw puzzles feature the works of local creators, or images of beloved Toronto establishments, in the form of 300-piece sets that measure 13.75" x 19" when assembled.
Through the online shop, you can select which spot or artist you want to support, and choose your price (minimum is $35) with shipping included. During a time when visiting an art gallery, or even just the local bar, feels lightyears away, these puzzles are a beautiful way to bring some of that community engagement home.
Where to buy: PieceTogether online shop
Price: $35 and up, choose your price
Local Holiday Cookie Set
So maybe you aren't a fan of puzzles. That's
not fine. Regardless, you should still get to enjoy the quaint feeling of holding a much-loved Toronto business in the palm of your hand. And this talented baker can make it happen.
Available in four sets, Whisked by Alicia is whipping up neighbourhood-specific cookie sets. The West End set includes Bar Poet, Bar Isabel, Sneaky Dee's, and Terroni; The East End includes Square Boy, Maple Leaf Tavern, The Real Jerk and House on Parliament; Gift Shops features Cocktail Emporium, Scout, The Apartment and Labour of Love; and Insta-Worthy features Piano Piano, Chubby's, Chula and La Palma.
According to the baker-artist-extraordinaire, cookies will be individually packaged and heat sealed, and are available for pre-order now for pickup between December 19 and 22. Reservations can be made through direct messages on Instagram. And, from the creator herself comes this tip: "pair these cookies with a gift card or take out dinner to one of these amazing restaurants and continue to support local."
Where to buy: Whisked by Alicia on Instagram
Office Day Getaway
This isn't the case for everyone, but for many a renter... the home office is simply not. And as such, the transition to work-from-home for many renting city dwellers -- especially those who share space with roommates -- has been a tricky at best, and ergonomically detrimental at worst. (Here's lookin' at you, couch-typers).
If this fits the story of the individual you're gift-hunting for, consider the appeal of a full day in a luxe, private office, where major projects can be focused on, important meetings can be taken, and the subject's lower back won't ache come 5 pm.
The Annex Hotel is offering up its own inspiring spaces -- which are flooded by natural light -- in order to help people stay connected to the outside world. For $99 per day, temporary-private-office inhabitants can enjoy wifi, unlimited coffee, a record player, a bluetooth speaker, a mini fridge, keyless entry, and an Annex personal assistant. Oh, and the private space is pet-friendly, too.
Where to buy: The Annex Hotel online
Price: $99 per day
Virtual Movement Classes
If your renter is also a mover, a virtual class or two would surely bring them joy this holiday season. Whether they're a yoga buff, dance enthusiast, pilates pro or breath-work hero, there are plenty of studios across the city that are offering classes -- one offs or even multi-week workshops -- to ensure folks keep moving while they're at home.
For a friend, a class or two at their favourite yoga studio is a thoughtful, useful gift. For someone even closer to you, a multi-week kundalini workshop might just do the trick. Either way, a virtual class is yet another functional present option that will bring joy to the recipient, without adding extra stuff to their rental space.
Local Maker's Cookbook
It's comfort food season! And there's no better way to indulge during the winter months than with hearty recipes developed by hometown hero, Matty Matheson. Big Dog's newest cookbook, Homestyle Cookery, officially launched in late September, and the pages are chock-full of meals that are determined to help you through the coming cold months.
If kombu-steamed fingerlings, bone marrow tomato tartine, one-hour bolognese, Nashville hot halibut, and molasses cookies stuffed with dulce de leche would make your recipients' heart go thump-thump, you've met your match with this gift option.
Sometimes, something simple is best. But simple needn't be mistaken for boring. The stunning bouquets at Kenilworth Floral are proof. While this Toronto-based florist does weddings and events, there are plenty of incredible bouquets available for pickup from the Dundas West shop for gifting to the botany-lover in your life.
A gorgeous floral arrangement is yet another way to spruce up a space without actually changing anything about its structure; the ideal hack for rental living. One of these masterpieces would serve just as strongly bedside as it would as a centrepiece on the holiday table -- virtual as that may be this year. And another plus about flowers, particularly in the winter, is the joy they bring. A collection of colourful, fragrant, natural treasures translates to beauty, optimism, and the promise of spring's eventual return.
As 2020 comes to a close, what better gift is there, really, than a bouquet of hope?
Where to buy: Kenilworth Floral, 2471 Dundas Street West
Price: $75 and up