We've rounded up the best gifts of 2021 for everyone from your parents and siblings to your most nomadic friends, and even the impossible-to-buy-for. (As for the people on your naughty list, well that's a different kind of gift guide altogether.) To top it off, every item on this page comes from a Canadian company or designer (for the ultimate indie, made-in-Canada gift guide click here). Global supply chain what? There will be no duties or delays if you buy from any of the brands or below.
Keep scrolling for a roundup of our favourite goodies to gift this year.
For Your Parents
Parents can be hard to buy for, but we've come up with a few ideas for gifts that won't just be tucked away into a drawer and forgotten. Assuming your parents have access to outdoor space, the solo stove's series of self-contained — and portable — stainless steel fire pits are a gift that the whole family can enjoy. And if they're still COVID-cautious (as they should be!), this is a great way to make gathering outside more enjoyable as temperatures drop. Solo's airflow design creates virtually smokeless fires, so you won't have to worry about washing your clothes after each visit. While the steel body does get hot to touch while in use (be sure to watch kids the same as you would around any open flame) it doesn't throw a lot of heat off the sides. But due to the unique design, you can quickly build higher and hotter fires than in a typical pit. The solo stove has been widely reviewed, and the Ranger has earned the 4.9-star rating it boasts on the brand's website.
Now if your parents are into the outdoors, but prefer more adventure than their backyard has to offer, consider buying them a year-long Discovery Pass to all of Canada's National Parks, Historic Sites, and Marine Conservation Areas. Purchase a pass for single adults (those under 18 are free) or splurge on the family pass which allows up to seven people in a single vehicle entry. Kind of the ideal gift for parents as it benefits you too. (There's also a discounted pass for seniors.)
Hear me out: Parents love tech. Particularly when it makes their lives easier without requiring them to do anything. And especially when it saves them money on their heating bills. The ecobee 3 lite is a smart thermostat for the home. Once installed, your parents will be able to control the temperature of their home from an app. Once it's synced to their phone, they can set up voice commands (more expensive models come with a choice of Alexa or Siri built into the unit). The thermostat will learn their routines and start automatically adjusting the heat to match those preferences, saving users 23% on annual energy costs (compared to a hold of 22 degrees).
For Your Gen Z Siblings
Hand-decorated by fashion designer Hayley Elsaesser, this 12-by-12 mirror is an IRL Instagram filter for your selfies. There's a smaller (cheaper) option in pink, or you can order a custom version. If the perfect selfie mirror doesn't have you excited, check out the rest of Elsaesser's home collection of throw pillows and blankets (the blue yin yang blanket for $108 is a fave), affordable rugs, and more. Her bold graphic designs are undeniably youthful. Bursting with colour, the prints have a '60s psychedelic via kitschy 2000s feel. They're both retro and extremely right now. Perfect for the younger sibling on your list.
Speaking of 2000s trends, and my apologies to anyone who lived through this the first time and has regrets... trucker hats are back! So you're not struck too hard by déjà vu, steer clear of Von Dutch and towards niche labels. Snap up this snapback by Toronto-based media company 4YE. The accessories and apparel line is a great introduction to the community that inspires the comedy of brothers Jermaine and Trevaunn Richards, whose half-hour scripted comedy show Du Me A Favor is coming soon to Crave.
According to teens, light strips are still their favourite way to catch a vibe. Nanoleaf is a Canadian smart lighting company that's created brilliant LED bulbs and light strips that rival much more expensive options by competitor Philips Hue. The Thread tech powering these lights is the future of smart home devices. You can program customized schedules, circadian lighting and use voice commands. Compatible with Apple HomeKit, Google Assistant, and Razer Chroma.
For The Homebody
You can enjoy spending all your time at home and still never want to get anything done around the house. That's a feeling your friends who prefer to not drift too far from their front door might identify with. If that's the case, of course, you could get them a robot vacuum to eliminate regular sweeping from their routine. Or you could much more easily — and affordably — buy them this tongue-in-cheek small batch beeswax candle by Toronto-based couple Claire Cowan and Jordan Mill (who took their pandemic hobby and built a business) and send the same message loud and clear: To Hell With Housework!
For friends that enjoy luxuriating around the home, it's the small things that make the biggest difference. Soft, attractive, absorbent towels, for instance, can make every shower feel like a spa-worthy experience. This colourful peshtemal from Goodee is inspired by the bath towels used in Turkish spas. Hand-woven in Turkey from organic cotton, it's a delightful gift that your friend might not be ready to splurge on themselves. And that's specifically what makes it the perfect gift for someone who deserves pampering.
When the pandemic hit, people found themselves working from home for the first time or simply stuck indoors for extended periods and where we once had commutes to divide up our days, we needed to invent new rituals. For some that was a walk around the block, for me it was lighting a stick of incense or scented candle. Scents are a great way to change the atmosphere of a space, which is what makes this gift box of diffuser blends from Saje such a great gift. If your friend doesn't have a diffuser, Saje is selling a limited edition model this holiday season. The Aroma Nook is a USB-compatible diffuser, buy it in a kit ($78) and get one of Saje's uplifting or relaxing blends. It comes in either vanilla (white) or denim (blue).
For The Traveller
At first blush it might sound silly, but what accessory better epitomizes travel than a hat? For your friend or family member that loves a getaway, consider: Tilley's Nomad Hat. It's even in the name. Hats don't only offer sun protection (this one is UPF rated 50+), they also keep your head warm on cool days and cool when the sun is beating down (it's moisture-wicking to boot). The Nomad will also keep heads dry with its durable water repellant finish; there's a wind-cord to keep it in place. And even if it does blow away this bad boy's buoyant so it'll never get lost at the bottom of a lake — or pool.
This hard shell carry-on luggage by Vancouver-based Herschel Supply Co. is one of the pricer pieces in this gift guide (here's hoping it goes on sale for Black Friday) but worth the investment for a friend on your nice list who is just itching to get back out into the world again. The tortoiseshell is so chic they'll be strutting down the airport autowalk like they're on a runway. (While it's our favourite print in every size of hard shell Herschel sells, it would be uncouth of us to not mention that there are other colourways currently on sale.)
Before your friend is off globetrotting, making up for lost travel time caused by COVID, consider gifting them a passport holder. It's a great way to preserve the cover of an important document they may have to hold on to for the next five to 10 years. Vancouver-based designer Erin Templeton makes soft, supple leather ones in bright colours.
For The Home Cook
Montreal-based kanel. is a company that sells salts and spice blends — and that's it. The clarity of their vision will have any home cook excited to try their winter salt collection that includes their holy grail garlic salt, Summer black truffle salt, Quebec maple smoke salt, and cold smoked sea salt.
If your friend is guilty (like I am) of cooking in the same white tee they spent all day in, consider gifting them an apron. They'll thank you when laundry day rolls around and there's comically less spot-cleaning to do. This apron from DLAwesomeLiving features a gathered skirt and adjustable straps that can be crossed at the back or tied behind the neck. Of course, there are pockets as well. It comes in a generous one-size fit and is available in an array of neutral shades, from a warm red shade of clay to a golden caramel and natural beige. This five-star Etsy seller is based in Vancouver and has a history of speedy deliveries.
I've mentioned the benefits of investing in great knives before. This set by Canadian startup Kilne comes with, like the name says, the essentials: an 8-inch chef's and bread knife as well as a 3.5-inch paring knife. Perfectly balanced and with an ergonomic grip, these award-winning knives display beautifully. With that in mind, this set also comes with an acacia wood wall-mounted magnetic strip.
For The Person Who Has Everything
If you're really stumped on what to get the person who seemingly has it all, practical gifts that get used up are your best bet. We're a fan of Toronto-based Sssoaps. Their small-batch bars are handmade using the cold-process method with all-natural ingredients. Batch 071 features marbled Brazilian red clay and activated charcoal.
Another gift that one can enjoy in the moment — even share — rather than holding onto, is a delightful pairing of infused olive oil and balsamic. This boxed holiday set is from Sunshine Coast Olive Oil Co. in Gibsons, B.C. This combo includes blackberry ginger aged dark balsamic and lemon olive oil.
Finally, this F. MILLER body oil is the perfect gift to give (or receive) as temperatures drop outside and furnaces get turned way up inside. This luxurious skin-fortifying blend instantly hydrates dry and damaged skin.
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