These Toronto Christmas Shopping Destinations Will Make Your Season Jolly and Bright



It begins with the festive holiday drinks. Then, the first snowfall of the year. Soon you are humming Christmas carols and eating cookies for breakfast. It's that time of year again!

Unfortunately, Christmas is not all fun and games. It also requires that you find both the finances and the time to prove your love for your family and friends. Love doesn't cost a thing, we hear, but Christmas sure as heck does.

Before you start swearing like Will Farrell in the movie Elf ("son of a nutcracker!") we have some ideas to soothe your harried soul. We can't help you with the finances (although we do hear that Santa is looking for helpers), but we can help you to narrow down the selection of where you should go to get those stocking stuffers.

Some are pretty easy to figure out, as they have the word "Christmas" in their titles. The Toronto Christmas Market and The One-Of-A-Kind Christmas Show could be your one-stop shops. From cashmere scarves to painted IPhone cases, you will have enough time left to chug some mulled wine and get on Santa's lap (at least, you thought it was Santa).

We have ideas for the men in your life, the wee ones and the person who has everything (but for some reason, not an ounce of gratitude). Shop merry and keep the smile on your face all the way until the 26th.



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We had to include a toy store on this list as kids are usually the only demographic that consistently does well during the holiday season. In addition, all of us know an adult or two who never got over their fascination with Lego, nor particularly wanted to. With the rise of adult colouring books, a trip to Treasure Island Toys could truly be one-stop Christmas shopping. There are multiple play stations around the store, so you can always bring the little ones with you if you trust that they will get wrapped up in what they are doing and not what you are doing. Open since 1988, shop owners Katie and Lori are well versed in the different developmental stages of play and more than happy to help you with creative gifting.


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The Danforth
MenEssentials
Photo courtesy of MenEssentials Flickr page


 

Dude, where's my soap? Soap for men (made out of beer, natch) is sold at MenEssentials, as are all the other beauty products that keep men looking their best. From straight edged razors to musky fragrances, MenEssentials fills a gap in a predominately female market. Hey, men may want to be clean without smelling like lilacs. This store is a great place to buy a gift for Father's Day or to take a guy who insists that he doesn't like shopping. Try to drag him out of there. A little vanity and a lot of masculinity go a long way.


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Tuck Shop Trading Company
Photo courtesy of Christine Flynn


 

Initially an online store, The Tuck Shop Trading Company was inspired by a combined life between the country and the city. Designed in Canada by Lyndsay Borschke, all of the products are manufactured in North America. The collection ranges from cashmere garments to warm woollen caps and cottage coats. All are fashionable alternatives to staying in bed for the entire winter season. The caps (or in Canada-ese, "toques") started out with 14 etched neighbourhoods from Toronto on the front. They quickly became so popular that Toronto's flagship design moved to Montreal, LA and New York. Cozy and ready-to-wear, buying from Tuck Shop is a way to simultaneously stay local and warm.


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If you are scouring the shelves for the perfect gift, it likely isn't in an expected place. Gifts from the heart are always good, but if you choose to buy heart, you can do so at the One of A Kind Christmas Show. Brimming with artists and holiday spirit, you need only go to a few booths to knock your list down. For the person that has everything, they sure don't have one of these hand-knitted or crafted or welded items. Try your own hand at one of their DIY workshops to quickly realize that yes, it is an art form. Better leave it to the professionals (or lie about the fact that yes, you did it yourself).


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Shopping at Holt Renfrew in the Bloor-Yorkville area of Toronto harks back to the time when customer service was all about the customer rather than the commission. There are concierges that roam the store ready to attend to your every need. There are complimentary alterations on all full priced items. There is an in-house spa and barber. There is a cafe with Pinterest-worthy pastries and the frothiest of cappuccinos. High end designers present fashion shows in the store (catwalked by famous models). The experience is top notch, even if your price bracket will only allow you to look longingly at items. Drown your sorrows in one of those cappuccinos before you exit.


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You either are or are not someone who puts the fuzzy members of their family directly on your Christmas list. If your cat receives a bespoke stocking each year, or your fridge has pictures of your dog in a Santa hat, this is the expo for you. Running just two days (November 18 and 19 in 2017), Santa stops by for photos with your furry companions. There is also a celebrity meet-and-greet if your Instagram feed is mostly canines, and of course, gifts for the only being in your life that doesn't annoy you during the holidays.


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Drake General Store
Photo courtesy of The Drake Hotel


 

In the market for some ghee and some ironic children's clothing? Surprisingly, you can get both at Drake General Store as well as other quirky items like adult onesies and solid Gold Slinkys. You can also buy those onesies for the kids for one heck of a family photo. Originally the hotel gift shop for the Drake, there are now four locations that are part flea market, part museum shop. "We love things that are sensible and things that are not so sensible," they claim. Look for the neon purple cross which may confuse you to thinking you have landed in a pharmacy when you are just in gifting heaven. (And before you ask, no, the store does not belong to the recording artist.)


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The founder of Patagonia, Yvon Chouinard, is quoted as saying "He who dies with the least toys wins. Because the more you know, the less you need." If you view yourself through a minimalist lens, or you prefer to shop local, the Eco Lifestyle Holiday Market will be the thing to put the Christmas spring in your step. 55 vendors offer handcrafted, sustainable, eco-friendly and local goods as well as vegan, vegetarian and fair trade treats. If living green is a way of life for you, extend that to your gift-giving, one day only (in 2017, November 12).


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Torontonians like to believe that they are living in Canada's New York, and when Saks Fifth Avenue landed in Toronto it just added more fuel to their fire. This flagship New York Store opened in the old location of Hudson's Bay, a beloved Canadian landmark. The large space proved that retail therapy is apparently not dead, even in the age of online shopping. There are over 1,000 shoes on display at any given time, allowing every person who idolized Carrie Bradshaw of Sex and the City to swoon. Men's clothing and shoes are also enormous areas, as Saks has been declaring that "Men are the new women." In any case, this luxury market will have someone for everyone on your Christmas list and killer holiday windows to boot.


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Toronto Christmas Market
Photo courtesy of Toronto Christmas Market

 

If you can't remember the last time you felt the Christmas spirit, then put on your bells and get thee to the Toronto Christmas Market. From life sized gingerbread houses for children to a variety of beer and mulled wine gardens, you will feel warm and cozy in your heart even if the rest of your extremities are a tad chilly. Stand by roaring fire pits, marvel at the sparkling lights and tap your toes to nostalgic music sung by the Candy Cane Carollers. Santa Claus is there too, because he doesn't want to be left out of the festivities.


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Meet Courtney Sunday

Courtney Sunday has lived in England, Switzerland, Canada and the US, finding her way into the professions of freelance writing and yoga teaching in between travel opportunities. She learned...  More About Courtney

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