I Love Getting Mail

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.

Gift Idea: Theatre Tickets

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

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

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

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.

Gift Idea: AGO Membership

I have a membership to the Art Gallery of Ontario, and it’s pretty fantastic.  I love art museums, but I find them a bit overwhelming.  I often feel pressured to get “good bang for my buck” and will spend too much time at the museum, overdose on art, and feel dazed afterwards.  That’s why a membership is so great – with my membership, I can visit as often as I want.  I go to the AGO every couple months (usually to see the latest exhibit, but sometimes just to peruse the permanent collection), and I usually leave after about an hour.  Then I feel excited and inspired after visiting – not exhausted!  I think an AGO membership is an awesome gift idea.

Bonus #1 – AGO members get access to the Members’ Lounge in the Grange building.  You can have a bite to eat, and feel like a VIP.

Bonus #2 – if you get (or give) an AGO membership this holiday season, you’ll get VIP access to the Chagall exhibit, which looks fantastic. You can see his Blue Circus, above.


Gift Idea: Plasma Car

Have a kid on your Christmas gift list?  Consider giving them a Plasma Car.  These things are so cool.  You sit on it, put your feet up, and twist the handlebar back and forth.  That’s all you need to get going. No batteries, no motor… it runs on inertia and centrifugal force.

Watch this video to see the Plasma Car in action.  Looks super fun, no?

Tip: The Plasma Car retails for $65 at most shops.  But if you’re a Costco member, you can order it online for $58, and get free shipping.  Deal!