Shop local: The best holiday gifts under $250

Here are 10 splurge-worthy gifts available from Toronto artists, designers and businesses


Puzzle Lab x Benny Bing jigsaw puzzle

Toronto artist Bing has created a series of three wood jigsaw puzzles with proceeds benefiting local arts org Artscape. The first, Nkatha, is based on a painting from his BLOOM series exploring beauty and Blackness. Each puzzle piece is made from birch, and created in Vancouver using a custom computer algorithm, which Puzzle Lab says makes for a trickier puzzling experience.

$200, puzzle-lab.com

Foxy Brown floor mat

Toronto designer Sean Brown made waves last year with his line of handmade CD-shaped rugs resembling classic albums by Sade, Lil’ Kim and OutKast. Now there’s a half-sized, entrance mat-conducive version based on Foxy Brown’s 1996 debut album Ill Na Na – the first words you want to read when you arrive home. 

$175, curvesbyseanbrown.com

Enarmoured Light Dancer earrings

Made You Look might be best known locally for their DIY wedding band workshops (which would also make a great gift, if you’re in the market) – but they also stock ready-to-go pieces from indie jewellers, like these (appropriately) armour-like brass earrings from Black-owned local business Enarmoured.

$180, madeyoulook.ca.

Tamales subscription box

Who doesn’t love a food subscription box? Or three months’ worth of locally made tamales? These corn cakes wrapped in banana husks are staples in Mesoamerican culture. Choose four frozen options, ranging from pollo in salsa verde (chicken in green salsa), picadillo (beef) a vegan mushroom flavour and more. Gluten-free options are also available. You can also choose from Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday to deliver your monthly gift.

$183 for three months, almaygil.com

Toronto Graffiti: The Human Behind The Wall

Public art is growing in popularity thanks to the pandemic, but graffiti has a long history in the city. This coffee table book documenting Toronto’s pivotal graffiti artists and murals has been reprinted for its 10th anniversary with new photos and a new section on Scarborough’s Graffiti Knights crew.

$120, shop.ago.ca

Sonos Roam Smart Speaker

Nothing makes music seem like a strange 21st utility like being able to ask Siri or Alexa to play whatever song crosses your mind. That power used to be reserved for your living space, but smart speakers are portable now. Take it with you to the rink or park and play whatever music or podcasts you have on your phone or at your wifi-enabled fingertips.

$229 at Bay Bloor Radio. baybloorradio.com

MSR Evo Ascent Unisex Snowshoes

If you aren’t yet ready to return to the gym, strap on these easy-to-use snowshoes and hit the park or trail on a snowy day for some amazing winter cardio. The crampons provide lots of traction for hard snow and the adjustable Ergo Televator heel is perfect for encountering steep slopes. The shoes are super easy to use and fit a wide variety of boots.

$229.95 at Mountain Equipment Company. mec.ca 

Pax 2 vaporizer 

For those looking for the hit that comes with smoking herb, but without the harmful ingredients, this device is one of the easiest to use on the market with single-button control for your bud at your fingertips. 

$199.95, friendlystranger.com

Santoku buka home chef knife 

A chef’s knife is one of the most important kitchen tools, and Hitohira’s 165 mm Santoku buka handmade knife is perfect for either advanced or beginner users. The light stainless steel is finely grained, which allows for a more precise and effortless cut. The wooden handle is made from Ho wood and buffalo horn ferrule. Its compact size and light weight make it suitable in tight spaces.

$225, toshoknifearts.com

Blundstone 2170 Women’s boots

Wintertime in Toronto means the city instantly turns into a sea of black-and-brown Chelsea boots. These olive-hued, low-heeled Blundstones offer a welcome dose of colour without skimping on the all-important weatherproof factor. Available at Australian Boot Company.

$249.50, australianboot.com

– Enzo DiMatteo, Ramona Leitao, Natalia Manzocco, Kevin Ritchie, Glenn Sumi and Richard Trapunski

@nowtoronto

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