These gifts prove that good things come in small packages
The stocking often ends up becoming a receptacle for novelty gifts of dubious utility – but this quirky little barrel (okay, technically a box) of monkeys could be a real lifesaver. Clip the arms of one of these little guys onto a pair of socks, and your giftee will never have to spend time digging through the pile to match them – or, worse, lose half of a favourite pair to the Bermuda Triangle of a communal laundry machine – ever again.
$7.95, MEC (300 Queen West), mec.ca.
For the friend who keeps talking about getting inked but can’t commit – or who wants to test-drive a look before taking the plunge – there’s this edgy take on temporary tats, which lasts two weeks. Recently, the brand’s been working with local tattoo artists to come up with cutting-edge designs. We’re partial to this elegant floral, designed by Kat Gomboc in collaboration with YouTuber Stef Sanjati.
$24, Inkbox (379 Queen West), inkbox.com.
Put this in the “genius products you never knew existed” file: Miniature screw-back closures for your favourite enamel pins. The set of 12 comes with a tiny Allen key-style tool that locks the barrel onto the back of your pin, so it won’t come off – no matter how many times you snag it on something or throw your whole jean jacket into the wash. Perfect for that accident-prone friend who’s always bemoaning their lost pieces of flair.
$8.95, Outer Layer (577 Queen West), outerlayer.com.
Fashionable dudes on a dime have long relied on Tom’s Place in Kensington for bargain-friendly menswear from a few luxury brands. These Falke socks, made of ultra-smooth cotton, are ribbed to reveal subtle lime-green stripes. As veteran Tom’s shoppers know, they’re more than happy to wiggle on price, so don’t be afraid to grab a few other pairs (and maybe a pocket square or a tie) while you’re there.
$35, Tom’s Place (190 Baldwin), toms-place.com.
You could put a box of Baldassarre’s fresh pasta (beloved by high-end Toronto restaurants, as well as the people who queue up outside the Geary factory for weekly lunches) into a stocking, but unless you can fit a mini-fridge in there, too, I wouldn’t advise it. What will hold up between Santa’s visit and Christmas morning, however, is this adorable leather tortellino, handmade by craftspeople in Bologna.
$29.95, Famiglia Baldassarre (122 Geary), famigliabaldassarre.com
Sure, most of us just stick grocery lists in the notes app on our phones – but where’s the romance in that? Local illustrator Gotamago enshrines one of Toronto’s finest sweet treats, the Portuguese egg tart, on this printed-in-Toronto checklist-style notepad – perfect for reminding yourself to buy custard tarts, or maybe just to finish your to-do list (and then celebrate afterward with custard tarts).
$11, Arts Market (790 Queen East), artsmarket.ca.
Is someone in your life looking to cut down on their plastic use? Give them the gift of fresh, eco-friendly leftovers with a set of these beeswax-lined food wraps. Earthology’s wrappers come in a variety pack of variable sizes to fit everything from fruit and snack packs to dinner plates and casseroles. (There’s even a vegan version available, for those who’d rather mind their own beeswax.)
$30, Likely General (389 Roncesvalles), likelygeneral.ca.
Moleskine has long been the first name on any stationery aficionado’s list. To complement the brand’s line of handsome, compact notebooks, they’ve rolled out slim, rectangular pens that clip seamlessly onto their notebooks. They come in a few fun patterns – this one’s got a cute “in case of loss…” motif. Feel free to grab a permanent marker and inscribe with the recipient’s name for extra personalization points. (Bonus: They’re refillable!)
$5.10, Above Ground Art Supplies (74 McCaul, and others), abovegroundartsupplies.com
I’m Italian, so I don’t say this lightly: Canadian celeb chef Chuck Hughes makes a pretty killer jar of hot pepper spread. This smoky, slightly sweet substance – somewhere between southern Italian bomba and Balkan ajvar – is awesome on a cheese plate, in a sandwich or spooned into a pot of spaghetti.
$5.99, Fiesta Farms (200 Christie), fiestafarms.ca.