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Fun gift ideas for your kids this Christmas

I’m sure your holiday shopping list is already long enough, but have you started actually buying your holiday gifts yet? When it comes to the children in our lives, whether it’s your own kids, nephews, nieces or little cousins, the best gifts you can give them during the holidays is a sense of family and fun. But, they will still be looking out for gifts from Santa under that tree, so here are some toy ideas for the little ones in your life, or maybe for yourself because we are all kids at heart.

Colouring Books

So, colouring books have changed a lot since the 90s. Somehow, within the last year or so, colouring books became fun again, with many targeting adults as a stress reliever. With that being said, there are many options available for kids with beautiful illustrations. If your kids are into Harry Potter, consider getting them a Harry Potter Colouring book by Scholastic. This book also comes with many different options under the HP theme, including magical creatures and magical places. This book is recommended for ages 8-99 on the Scholastic website.

Personalized Bedtime Book

This one is definitely geared towards the younger kids. Give them the opportunity to get excited while seeing a character of themselves come to life in a version of their favourite bedtime story. Places like Me Bookz lets you choose your storyline, upload a picture of your child, add in details, and place your order for a hard copy version of your child’s story. You can also add an additional character to the story, just in case you want to add in your child’s favourite/ or annoying sibling. This gift is definitely something your child can hold onto and cherish even as they get older.

Chocolate Pen

If you have a little one that’s chocolate obsessed, why not give them the unique and yummy option of writing with a chocolate pen. This isn’t an actual pen made of chocolate, but a pen that dispenses liquid chocolate which hardens at room temperature. This opportunity allows your child to draw little 3-D versions of their treats before they eat them. This makes decorating cookies even easier and promotes creativity for your child. The Chocolate Pen also comes with different colours of chocolate, including white chocolate, pink and blue. The kit also comes with different candy moulds so your child can feel like a true master chocolatier.

PlayStation 4 Slim/ Nintendo Switch

If you have a child, or even a teenager that’s been after you to get the Playstation 4 , but you’re not willing to commit to the price, try going slimmer. The Playstation 4 Slim was released late last year and costs a fraction of the original Playstation 4. if you’re looking for the hottest option this year, price aside, the Nintendo Switch is generating a lot of positive buzz in the gaming world.

Hatchimals

This is an interesting one. I’ve seen it quite a lot of them while shopping around. The Hatchimals seems to be the latest craze for young kids, where children can watch and wait in anticipation as their new toy pet hatches out of an egg. This magical egg offers a thrilling surprise as your children learn about nurturing and love. Hatchimals even comes with a surprise twin option or various different critters that your child can watch grow.

Popin Cookin Kits

Unusual, cute and unique, these Popin Cookin kits by Kracie are popular in placed like Japan, where users of all ages are invited to craft miniature versions of food. I will admit, I have watched many You Tube videos on this trend and it’s quite fascinating. Your kids can craft miniature donuts, hamburgers, complete with fries and a soda or even sushi, pizza and ramen. These kits can be ordered on Amazon or maybe you can find one in a random grocery store in Little Italy like I did.

An Experience Coupon

This may be the most creative gift you give your child or children in your life. Think about their interests and take them on a fun outing for the holidays. Maybe it’s a trip to the spa to pamper your princess with her first manicure or a trip to the aquarium to delight them with creatures of the sea. Any memories made are worth more than a dozen presents.

Merry Christmas Shopping and let us know in the comments below what you plan to buy for your kids.

Top 5 festive events to check out this month

As one holiday disappears, another one approaches. It’s almost time for those festive peppermint drinks and fancy light displays.  The weather will get colder and soon all you’ll want to do is cuddle up in a warm blanket and stay inside. Instead, try to get outdoors and take advantage of some spectacular winter markets and activities that will put you in the festive mood.

Winter Festival of Lights—Niagara Falls

Presented by the Ontario Power Company, the winter festival of lights transforms the Niagara Falls region into a mesmerizing winter wonderland. Founded 35 years ago, this is the largest illuminating festival in Canada. Enjoy a showcase of winter lights, animations and lots of activities in the Clifton Hill district, including a free nightly laser light show. The Festival of Lights runs from Nov 18-Jan 31.

Niagara Falls at night

Cavalcade of Lights—Nathan Phillips Square—downtown Toronto

The Cavalcade of Lights is the official kickoff to the winter season in the busy Toronto core. Lights, live music, ice skating, and fireworks will take over the square all in anticipation of the main event, which includes the lighting of Toronto’s official Christmas tree. Usually the tree is 15 to 18 metres high and takes almost two weeks to decorate and string with lights. This year’s tree lighting takes place on Nov 25. The lights and tree will remain through the early start of the new year.

Cavalcade of Lights

Swedish Christmas Fair—Toronto Harbourfront

Harbourfront Centre in Toronto is home to many activities in the summer and the winter. In addition to winter skating at the Natrel Rink and Dj Skate night on the weekends, there will be a two-day Taste of Sweden Christmas Fair. The festival will include Swedish folk dance, arts and craft for children, handmade crafts, and speciality-imported Swedish treats. The fair will take place Nov 25-26 and admission is free.

Swedish Christmas Buns

Illuminite—Yonge-Dundas Square

For the 10th year, Yonge-Dundas square will transform into a space of christmas lights,  music, and dance. The night features live music from pop-rock quartet Jane’s Party, and the night will continue with an on-site DJ playing christmas classics to put you in the Christmas mood. There will also be a tree lighting show and dazzling dancers in the square. Illuminite is on Nov 18, 5:30 PM- 7:30 PM.

 Toronto Christmas Market—The Distillery District

A winter classic in the City of Toronto, the distillery district is known for transforming into a cozy Christmas market and is ranked one of the best holiday markets in the world. Complete with shopping, entertainment, food, and Santa, the christmas market will make you fall in love with the holiday season. The market runs from Nov. 16-Dec. 24. On the opening night there will be a special tree lighting ceremony at 6pm.

Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments below!

5 ways to enjoy your staycation in Toronto

Do you have some vacation time coming up this summer — but don’t feel like (or can afford to) going on an international trip? Whatever the reason may be, it might be worthwhile to think about a staycation.

A staycation, in case you are not familiar with the term, is essentially a vacation where you are at this moment. You can make it a nationwide staycation or maybe narrow it down to the beautiful and diverse streets of Toronto. The city life isn’t for everyone, but there are enough places in Toronto that will make you fall in love with it for all the right reasons. So grab a few friends, your family, a loved one, or venture out on your own and enjoy these spots. Women’s post has compiled five Toronto hotspots you may enjoy this summer.

St Lawrence Market

Toronto natives may be familiar with the sprawling and rustic look of St Lawrence Market located along Front Street or in the Esplanade. This classic farmer’s market is an indoor structure with over 100 various vendors, offering prime cuts of meat, creamy cheeses, artisan bakers, fresh fruits, aromatic spices, antiques and hopefully almost anything you will find around the world. Touring St Lawrence market is like taking a trip around the world in the span of a few hours. Allow yourself time to soak up the mix of culture and eclectic vibe from many of the vendors. Some places to check include Carousel Bakery, offering the classic peameal bacon sandwich, Churrasco’s,with Portuguese style chicken and Raani Foods, offering a variety of Indian curries and chutneys.

Interested in learning more? The St. Lawrence Market also hosts a number of events and private dinners.

Kensington Market
Kensington Market

Kensington Market

Kensington Market has long been known for its unique vibe in the city and many tourists come to the area thinking that it will be a similar situation to St Lawrence Market. Kensington market is an outdoor collection of diverse shops, with something for everyone on each corner. In 2006, the market became a national historic site. Nestled between Little Italy and Chinatown, expect a wide selection of street foods, vintage clothing and one of the most amazing and one of a kind gift shops in the city, Blue Banana Market. And be sure to take pictures of the artistic graffiti walls.

Mill Street Brewery Tour- Distillery District

Niagara may be great for wine tours, but Toronto is home to a collection of craft beers and brews that you might want to indulge in. Mill Street Brewery was founded in 2002 and is named after Mill Street in the historic Distillery District. The district is home to Victorian industrial buildings, dating back to 1832, when it was a collection of buildings operated by Gooderham and Worts Distillery. Restructured and reopened in 2003, the district offers a selection of dining experiences, shops and cultural events.

Miraj Hammam Spa- Shangri-la Hotel Toronto

One day is all you need, and while there might be be spas on almost every street corner in the city, the experience at Miraj Hamman Spa by beauty brand Claudalie Paris offers a truly relaxing, wholesome, and cultural experience . Without giving away too much details, the spa is described as “ a voyage inspired from the ancient rituals of the Middle East to the Vineyards of Bordeaux.” Choose treatments of your choice but also be advised to check prices beforehand.

Spa
Caudalie Spa Treatment Room

 Drake and Gladstone Boutique Hotels

If you are looking for a different experience and you want to spend a night or two away from home, there are many boutique hotels in the city that you can easily enjoy. The Drake Hotel and The Gladstone Hotel are just two examples along the vibrant street of Queen West that promotes art, culture and entertainment. The Drake hotel is home to delicious foods, 19 guest room, and even and underground bar featuring different DJ’s. The Gladstone hotel, features guest rooms that are tiny but each with a unique theme and designed by different artists. There is a Canadiana room, a Teen Queen room, and a Biker room among other 34 choices. Staying at the Gladstone is like being a part of art.

 

Let us know in the comments below some of your staycation choices.

How to deal with the last-minute holiday shopping dash

If you, like me, left all your Christmas shopping to the last possible minute, never fear! It’s not too late! In fact, you still have a week! That’s plenty of time — but it’s also going to make gift giving a bit more challenging. The stores will be packed, kids are starting to get off school, and most of the sales that existed are now gone. While saying that, it’s not impossible! And, Women’s Post is here to help!

Here are some tips to help you out during your last-minute shopping dash:

Try to avoid malls: I know this one may be hard, but if you can visit a boutique shop or an outlet store, do it! Trust me. The malls will be incredibly busy and crowded. You will have to navigate through a sea of people just to get into the store. And then, it may take you 30 minutes to get to the cash once you finally choose a gift! Maybe try to hit some local fairs that are open and find some great hand-crafted items.

Have a list and check it twice: Don’t just wander. There’s no time for that. You’ll get overwhelmed by the people and the products thrown about. Eventually, you’ll leave empty handed because it’s just all too much. Have a plan and carry it out.

Be prepared to compromise: What you want to get your mother may not be available anymore. It also may be a lot more expensive now that the pre-Christmas sales are done. The list is important, but be ready to pick up something else if you can’t find the item you are looking for. Then take your previous idea and save it for a birthday.

Try online shopping: Amazon Prime appears to have a two-day delivery system if you sign up for their free 30-day trial, which is absolutely amazing! Just make sure to get it in the next few days. If you can’t get that type of quick service —and who knows how late the delivery is offered — don’t worry about it. Just print a picture of what you ordered and place it in a nice envelope or a box with a bow!

Donate to a charity: This can be done without even leaving your computer. Most charities make it really simple to donate, and will even provide you with a lovely email or photo that you can include in a card. Try to choose an organization that resonates with the person you are donating on behalf of. Just make sure you do some research to ensure the charity you choose is ethical and actually uses the donation to make a difference. Why not check out Charity Intelligence to make sure your donation goes far.

Ultimately, make sure to get an extra-large coffee and enjoy the experience. Take a few girlfriends and make a day of it. The physical shopping will be a pain in the ass, but with friends, at least that line won’t seem so excruciating! Good luck!

When it comes to discounts, ask and you shall receive

By Doreen Binder

Most people love to get a deal.

Several weeks ago on a Wednesday morning I was in Banana Republic and I could not believe how busy it was. The fitting rooms were filled with people who were queued up waiting to try things on and the lineup for the cash snaked around through the store. It all made sense when I realized that people who received Banana Republic’s promotional emails had received a 40 per cent off coupon to be used that day.

It is great when we discover the price has been slashed on a much coveted accessory or piece of clothing we have been eyeing for several weeks or when we are privy to one day sales. But what about when we buy something and then discover that if we had only waited a few days, we could have gotten it cheaper.

These days several chain stores offer price adjustments. The rules and regulations vary from retailer to retailer, so it is best to ask. I was recently in The Gap and noticed that a cowl scarf I had purchased the previous week was reduced by thirty per cent. I asked a sales associate the time limit on price adjustments and was told it was seven days. It was the last day that I could get a price adjustment on the scarf. I did not have my receipt with me and I was not sure if I could make it home in time to pick up the scarf and the receipt and return to the store before closing. I was surprised when the sales associate asked the method of payment I had used for my purchase. He was able to track it through my bank card and within minutes I had the discount accredited to my bank account. I love it when everything comes together — store policies, customer service and technology — and it results in a deal.

It pays to ask about price adjustments.

 

 

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Christmas shopping: Can I find the perfect gift for the perfect guy?

Normally I love shopping for Christmas presents. I like finding the perfect gift for each person and I consider it a personal triumph when I make someone cry; tears are a clear sign of victory. But Boyfriend is impossible to buy for and he’s far better than me at getting presents because everything he gets me is something personal and deeply meaningful; at this point I wish he’d show up with an iPod shuffle and an ugly Christmas sweater in a box that says, “To: Janet.” At least then I wouldn’t feel like such a failure.

For our anniversary Boyfriend made me, literally made, a Zombie Boyfriend Munny doll that he had hand drawn and coloured in. For my birthday he had someone make me a one-of-a-kind Sasquatch stuffed creature wearing a red vest because when he sat next to me in the hospital and I was doped up beyond recognition I told him I had a conversation with a Sasquatch wearing a red vest.

See?! There is literally no competing with him at gift giving.

I wanted to get us a trip to somewhere warm and toasty for New Years Eve, even if it was just a couple days, but then I took a new job and a last minute trip seemed like a pretty terrible idea.  Boyfriend has never been on a vacation, ever, so it would have been the perfect gift for him but unless Flight Centre wants to gift us three days in the Bahamas I don’t think that’s happening this year. I’m back to square one.

After the vacation idea I thought I had found a great gift, a comic book artist who would make a print based on our story; beautiful, simple and so very perfect for my comic book loving manfriend. But I didn’t think far enough ahead so it wouldn’t arrive until after Christmas and that’s just not going to work, maybe I’ll do that for his birthday in April.

Right now I’m out of ideas, I’m 100% sure that he’s ordered something or made something that is brilliant, sweet and something I didn’t even realize I needed in my life. At this point I’ll probably end up getting him something he wants but wouldn’t buy for himself, like a new TV he needs a new TV.  The worst part is that he will probably love whatever I get him, he’ll probably think it’s great but so far there’s nothing I can think of that will even compare to the things he’s already given me.

Is dating always this hard? We did the, “I love you thing.” Shouldn’t I be calmer about what gifts I get him? Shouldn’t holidays be easier now? Maybe it never gets easier, maybe when you love someone you spend the rest of your life trying to make theirs better whether that’s a gift, a favour or a phone call to check in after a bad day.

I guess I’ll spend the rest of my days wondering if I’ll ever be able to beat him at gift giving.

Challenge accepted.