Browsing archives for 'Gift Ideas'

The Best Christmas Gift I Gave Clara This Year

27 December 2015 | 0 Comments


Clara, age 4.5, received a few great Christmas presents this year. But the one I was most excited about is Buck, her Toymail toy. Buck looks like a cartoon deer crossed with a mailbox, and she connects to WiFi and “delivers mail” (aka voice messages) to Clara from family members who have the Toymail app installed on their phones (and are approved by me, of course… no strangers can send Clara messages).

Buck only has two buttons – one to receive messages, and one to reply to messages, so she’s really easy to use. I installed the free Toymail app on my phone, Ian’s phone, my Dad’s phone, and my sister’s phone. Everyone loves sending Clara messages. Buck checks for messages throughout the day, and makes a sound when she has a message. Clara can respond by pressing a button to record a reply message, and it’s sent out for her. She loves sending messages to her family.

Toymail was made by two female entrepreneurs who wanted to create cool technology for kids that doesn’t put them in front of another screen. This family totally approves!

(I got Buck at the AGO store where I get a discount by being a gallery member, but you can get one on the Toymail website or Amazon if you want). 

Last Minute Mother’s Day Gift Idea

10 May 2013 | 2 Comments


I can’t think of a better last-minute Mother’s Day present than these gift sets available at Kid Icarus in Kensington Market.  You know I love Rifle Paper Co and Soak Wash.  I don’t know what the “Foodie Garden” is, but I bet it’s great.

(full details here)

A Great Gift for Toddlers

7 December 2012 | 2 Comments

About a month ago, I had a gift certificate to use for Pinhole Press, the awesome photo gifts website.  I used it to make a ‘mini book of names and faces’ for Clara, since she LOVES looking at pictures of herself and her family (I think most toddlers do).  The book is so great – the pages are really thick (we’re talking cardboard thick) and the wire spiral binding is really durable.  Perfect for a kid.

Here’s a video of her looking through her book, trying to say everyone’s name.  She can’t say “Clara” (the hard k sound is difficult) so she says “ya ya”.  So adorable.

Bonus – Pinhole Press has free shipping for any order over $50, on holiday promo until December 15.

I Love Getting Mail

21 November 2012 | 0 Comments

What could be better than returning home from a great mini holiday?  Returning home from a great mini holiday to find some prezzies in the mail!  My designer pal Luke sent me some of his “Don’t Stop Believing” Christmas cards (remember when I mentioned them a couple weeks ago?), and also included a very special “Last Christmas” record EP card.  Luke, how did you know that’s one of my favourite Christmas tunes?  The video is epic. (And ridiculous.  Look at George Michael’s hair.)

Remember that time a few years ago when I took a one-day letterpress workshop, and totally sucked at it?  Since then, I’ve had HUGE respect for those that do their own printing well.  Add Luke Despatie to that group.  And, he was recently featured on the cover of Design Edge Canada as one of “Ten Young Designers To Watch”.  Buy Luke’s letterpress prints online on his Etsy shop.

The 5 Best Toys of All Time

9 December 2011 | 0 Comments

And to wrap up my series of gift ideas, a very appropriate post from Wired‘s Geek Dad: The 5 Best Toys of All Time.

Happy searching, shopping and happy gifting to everyone!

[“Treasure Box” photo by Flickr user Evelyn Giggles]

Gift Idea: Handmade Gifts

8 December 2011 | 0 Comments

There’s a pretty awesome roundup of handmade gift ideas on Design*Sponge.  My favourites are the doodled mugs and vintage book/electronic cord organizer.  I think I could actually make both of those, and that’s saying something!

Gift Idea: Theatre Tickets

7 December 2011 | 0 Comments

I’m all about giving experiences as gifts this year… museum memberships, lessons, etc. Seems like that stands out a bit more for me than more things.

Anyway, here’s another experience idea for a gift – tickets to the performing arts.  Toronto has one of the best theatre scenes in the world, and there’s so much good stuff to choose from. Drama, dance, opera, comedy, musicals… and all at different price points.  There are holiday ticket deals on sale now for the Tarragon Theatre, Factory Theatre, and Soulpepper.  Or splurge and get a pair of tickets (for a special someone and yourself, of course!) to one of the most anticipated theatre shows of next year – War Horse. There’s a film version coming out on Christmas Day, but I’d rather see the live production that inspired the film.

[War Horse image care of Mirvish Productions]

Gift Idea: Sewing or Knitting Lessons

6 December 2011 | 0 Comments

Do you know someone who’s crafty?  Or wants to be?  Encourage the urge (hey, they might make you something as a thank you!) and give them the gift of lessons. For sewing, I recommend The Sewing Studio.  I met the owner at a party once, and she’s lovely.  I haven’t taken lessons there myself, but my sister did the Introductory Sewing class last year and loved it.

For knitting classes, I recommend Leslieville’s own Purple Purl. This is my favourite knitting shop in the city, and not just because it’s around the corner. The owners, Jen and Miko, are so lovely. They are kind and patient with advice and tips, and have created a wonderful sense of community in their shop.  They run classes in knitting, crochet, and spinning, for a variety of different skill sets, so even the most experienced stitcher can learn something new.

[image of the Purple Purl care of A Quarter To. Doesn’t that look like a nice place to spend some time learning?]

Gift Idea: Custom Photo Book

5 December 2011 | 0 Comments

A custom photo book makes a great Christmas present, personalized for the recipient.  Did you take a vacation together?  Make a book from the pictures, so you can relive the memories.  Or maybe a year’s worth of photos of your family (or of the kids – great idea for grandparents).

I’ve made a lot of photo books with many different online printing companies (My Publisher, Picaboo, Apple) but without a doubt, my favourite is Blurb.  The printing quality is great, and so is their pricing.  I suggest spending a few extra bucks and get the premium paper – it’s a lot thicker than the basic paper and makes a difference.

You don’t have to be a designer to do this – just download the free software from Blurb’s website, and drag and drop your photos into place.  You can even import your pics from Facebook or Instagram.  It’s super easy.

Order by December 14 for guaranteed Christmas delivery.

[image of sample photo books from Blurb’s website]

Gift Idea: Great Reads

2 December 2011 | 0 Comments

A good book always makes a great gift.  Three titles I’m coveting this holiday season are:

1. Design Sponge At Home by Grace Bonney
One of my all-time favourite blogs is now a book.  Say no more.

2. Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual by Michael Pollan, illustrated by Maira Kalman
Eating well is simple.  And beautifully illustrated!

3. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling
Even if you don’t know who Mindy Kaling is (and you really should, her Twitter feed is hilarious), you’ll probably enjoy this book.