Shop local this holiday season: spotlighting Cabbagetown shop Spruce

Plus: a pack of artful present picks for every character on your list


SPRUCE 455 Parliament, 647-748-4060


Owner Kim Alke

The neighbourhood I love the community feel in Cabbagetown and wanted to build something that added to it while providing unique home decor and gift items with a focus on local artists and handmade pieces.

It really is like a small town that supports its neighbours and friends. We learned this in late February when a fire two doors down caused us so much damage that we had to close for four months. We had to gut the building and rebuild everything. I lost my home and my business. The number of people who offered us help, places to stay, meals, hugs, even laundry facilities was overwhelming. Even after we reopened in June, people are still stopping in to offer their support. There’s a reason people fly Cabbagetown flags on their homes!

Holiday traditions My partner and I head to our local, the House on Parliament, for a drink or two after we close on the 24th and follow with dim sum for dinner. On Christmas Day my dad’s always made fresh cinnamon buns, so breakfast was hot cinnamon buns and mimosas. He’s started shipping his frozen buns to me from Vancouver Island so we don’t miss out. We’ll take the dog for a walk, nap off the craziness from the month so far, and I’ll cook a turkey dinner with all the trimmings, even if it’s just the two of us. I also have to watch Bing Crosby’s White Christmas every year, sometimes more than once.

Holiday decor I like to mix vintage pieces into my decor, and that includes my holiday decorating. We’ve collected some neat vintage ornaments, barware and decor pieces that we like to mix in at home. We always get a real tree from the McDermott’s, who’ve had a tree lot on the corner of Spruce and Parliament since 1952, and we’ll grab extra bows for the table or windows. You can’t beat the smell of a real tree. We add new ornaments each year from our collection at the store, which keeps it changing.

Spruce’s must-gift holiday picks

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Toronto Neighbourhood Honey tasting box ($42) Set of 4: Cabbagetown, Rosedale, Leslieville, the Junction

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Candylab Toys vintage-style woodie and camper set ($110)

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Turkish Robe ($80) and Turkish Towel by Pamuk & Co. ($60)

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Bug blocks by Uncle Goose ($60)


More great gift ideas

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This box of tea by Délice Boreal/Natural Delights is made from Inuit botanicals naturally grown in Nunavik, Quebec ($29.99, Karma Co-op, 416-534-1470).

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The Nordic Cookbook by Magnus Nilsson features recipes for old faithfuls (and Ikea favourites) like Swedish meatballs and lesser-known delicacies like rosehip soup ($60, Frank + Oak, 735 Queen West, 647-930-8711, and others).

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A carry-on champagne cocktail kit for the next time they’re stuck in coach ($35, Easy Tiger Goods, 1447 Dundas West, 647-748-6161).

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GoPro’s Hero5 Session shoots 4k-quality video, 10MP photos and features hands-free voice control. All that and its waterproof ($399.99, Henry’s, 119 Church, 416-868-0872).

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These beautiful wool-lined slippers by Montreal-based luxury brand Port Franc are the quintessential Netflix-and-chill accoutrement ($99).

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A spa day in a box! This at-home kit by Present Day Gifts includes Wildwood Rose bath salts, facial spray and a deep-sea natural bath sponge, all from a variety of Canadian apothecaries ($120, oneofakindonlineshop.com).

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This “kiss collar” shirt by Toronto designer Christopher Bates is the ultimate badge of coupled-up honour. That or it’s just a really great prank ($199).

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Say it with this epically funny hand-painted plate by Toronto-based Pansy Ass Ceramics ($120).

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Toronto-based Alanna Cavanagh drew one of her favourite houses in Cabbagetown for this unique series of holiday cards ($24 for six).

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Super-elegant Victoria Gin is made in small batches in – where else? – Victoria, BC ($42.95, LCBO, 1-800-668-5226).

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Off-roaders, rejoice! Norco’s Threshold C 105 is not for the faint of heart ($2,900, Bateman’s Bicycle Company, 913 Bathurst, 416-538-2453).

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Rethink Breast Cancer’s new line of Give-A-Care beauty products is designed for the unique needs of women going through chemo. This ultra-smoothing lipstick is made with peppermint and ginger and is packed with antioxidants ($24).

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French-style Le Bon Garçon caramels by way of L.A. ($8-$14 each, Good Neighbour, 935 Queen East, 647-350-0663).

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In Vivek Shraya’s The Boy And The Bindi, beautifully illustrated by Rajni Perera, a five-year-old discovers the magic of his mother’s bindi ($17.95, Glad Day Bookshop, 499 Church, 416-961-4161).

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Francis Fox stuffed animal is all knit and seriously adorable ($28, Drake General Store, 1151 Queen West, 647-346-0742, and others).

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All proceeds of the sales of Consonant’s Help Some-Body soap are donated to the Canadian Breast Cancer Support Fund. If that isn’t enough, it’s also a delicious blend of mint, grapefruit and sage essential oils ($12, Consonant Skincare, Yorkdale, 3401 Dufferin, 416-783-2855, and others).

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Art piece, cookbook and mix tape all in one, Feast In The East is a compilation of 40 recipes (with matching sketches and tunes) made over five years of the Toronto-based pop-up dinner and art show ($30, Circus Books & Music, 866 Danforth, 416-925-6116).

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This tote by Main and Local transforms the Beaches into a retro paradise ($19.99, Spacing Store, 401 Richmond West, 416-644-1017).

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For the minimalist on the go, Kotn’s Weekend Kit has an Egyptian cotton hoodie, a pair of sweatpants, two Ts and two boxer-briefs, all neatly packed in a canvas backpack ($258).

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This adorable Carter’sOshKosh Maple Leafs bodysuit is free to GTA families when you join Leafs Nation (free, mapleleafs.com/hockeydreams).

Get more holiday and gift ideas here. 

website@nowtoronto.com | @randibergman

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