Holiday Gift Guide: For the Sports Fanatic

What do you buy for a die-hard sports nut? Good question. Since Kelly and I are pretty clueless when it comes to sports, I asked a Toronto-based sports lover to chime in on what he, and any other sports aficionado would love to be gifted this year. His love (obsession?) for all sports from baseball, hockey and squash to tennis, football and golf truly makes him the perfect authority on this topic. Who is this sports lover? My brother, Eric! 

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After months and months of sitting on the sidelines, the day has finally come:  I’ve been asked to write a blog post.  My sister has always ridiculed both the content and grammar in my writing so I was not sure I would ever pass the literacy test required to write a guest post. Fortunately for my dream, her lack of expertise in the sports arena has surpassed her fear of my incomprehensible ramblings…here we go.

Under $25

sports cheap

1) This is the year! The Toronto Blue Jays have made some big off-season player acquisitions and are sure to be the talk of the town come April.  For under $15 you can get your very own seat to watch the action live.  Nothing says I care more than a day at the ol’ ball park.

2) Every die hard sports could ramble off a list of their top 5 sports movies of all time in about three seconds.  I have been personally touched by the likes of Happy Gilmour, Slapshot, Rocky, Major League 1 and the greatest sports movie of all time: Rudy.  Having Rudy in personal collection allows me to hide away in my cave and bust out a good tear session when I’m home alone, and nobody will ever know.

Under $100

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Holiday Gift Guide: The Foodie / Home Chef

As Toronto quickly becomes cemented as a Foodie town, we’ve got no doubts that you’ve got a budding chef or food connoisseur on your list of people to buy for this year.  We’re big fans of food ourselves and have put together this guide with our own loves in mind!

under $25

1) Perfect for stocking stuffers, small gifts, or thank-yous to holiday hosts, fancy salts, vinegars and oils are a gift that will always be appreciated and never be wasted.  There are gourmet shops around the city selling these items, some at a premium, some at a discount. For salts and great spice blends in pretty packaging, check out The Spice Trader on Queen St. W. or order online. Crescendo just opened in the Distillery Market and is known for its incredibly flavored oils and vinegars.  For bargain prices, check out HomeSense!

2) We’ve both been to the wine and cheese classes offered by the Leslieville Cheese Market, and they are fun, informative and delicious.  Even better, they’re $20! For your beer-loving foodie, beer and cheese classes are also offered. ($20)

3) A wine saver pump is a great gift for your favorite wine-o’s. The wine vacuum takes out the extra air from an open bottle of wine, helping slow down the oxidation process so the wine keeps longer. I know we all love to polish off bottles, but sometimes a nice wine is great to savour! (from $10)

4) There are cookbooks for every taste, whether your foodie is focused on being healthy, trying to master the perfect chilli in the slow cooker or hell bent on learning to make macarons. Chapters is a one stop shop, but there are some great smaller stores staffed with people who can really speak to the books to help you pick out the perfect one. Try The Good Egg in Kensington Market, you’ll want to browse for hours!

5) Seemingly every time we head up to a cottage with a food loving gang in tow we manage to fill the trunk with excessive food and supplies.  Heaven forbid we go two days without our precious sea salts!  Pick up this Mobile Food Survival Kit and help simplify the travels of your foodie friends. ($25)

under $100

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Holiday Gift Guide: The Music & Film Lover

For our second instalment of holiday gift guides, may we present you ideas for the music & film lover!

Under $25

1) Yes – tickets to concerts can cost you less than $25. This is especially true when you get your tickets from our favorite record shops, Rotate This and Soundscapes, who cap those nasty surcharges at no more than $3 per ticket. Every music lover loves being exposed to new and exciting music, so why not give the gift of a live show, and maybe even your own fabulous company!

2) (New) vintage band tees are back and hotter than ever. This Jimi Hendrix one is from, believe it or not, H&M. We’ve all got our favorites and I doubt picking out one for your music lover would be too hard. Right now, I’m seriously coveting this one. ($17.95)

3) Many die-hard music fans keep their ticket stubs. Often times, that means they are buried away in different boxes in different homes. Help bring some order to your music lover’s life by gifting a ticket stub journal.  I’ve got all of my concert ticket stubs, in fact, I still have my ticket to my first concert ever: Aerosmith’s Big Ones tour in 1993 :) ($14.95)

4) Record albums are often beautiful and under appreciated work of art. Help showcase a music lover’s favorite album by gifting these record album frames . ($15 or 2 for $20)

5) For those music fans (like Kelly and I) who wish they had the skills to join in on impromptu jam sessions, a harmonica is the perfect gift. No talent necessary to be your own rock star.  (from $20)

Under $50

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Dream Up Your Next Vacation

By now you’ve seen that Kelly and I have a serious case of the travel bug. I always have a vacation of sorts to look forward to, whether it be a short weekend getaway, a trip across the country to visit friends or a bigger adventure to another continent. Well, apparently not always. Although I’m not far off the tails from a jaunt to the west coast, I am ready to plan my next trip. Something has to get me through the dreary winter we’re about to face!

Last year I was gifted the most awesome travel book ever: “Make the Most of your Time on Earth: 1000 Ultimate Travel Experiences” by Rough Guides. My friend Julia wrote a perfect message in the front cover: I hope this book helps to inspire you and create memories. It is doing just that!

 

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Never Too Early: Holiday Cosmetic Sets

As a beauty product junkie, we have entered into one of my favorite times of the year. Cosmetic companies everywhere package their best-selling products and special made-for-the-holidays lines together and price them way below full dollar value. You may wonder why I’m telling you about these holiday specials now. You see, people wait all year for these gift sets to come out, and some notoriously sell out within days. If you wait until you start your holiday shopping, you may be out of luck!  In fact, Sephora just stocked their sets last week and the Eaton Centre location is already sold out of a couple of them.

My biggest piece of advice for those looking to invest in great cosmetics is to start with good brushes. They last forever, use less product and can really help with application. The caveat is that buying a brush set is an expensive investment. Every year MAC comes out with a brush set during the holidays and they are priced well below the value of buying the brushes individually. This year there are 3 different sets, but to start your collection, this “Essentials” kit ($59.50) is perfect, since it includes a powder brush (for bronzer/blush), and the most important eye shadow brushes (for liner, blending and angled for the smoky look). Plus they come in a cute case and in mint green!

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