It’s the most wonderful time of the year! The festive lights are twinkling, Home Alone is on repeat, the streets are bustling and Santa’s are appearing … and you haven’t done any holiday shopping yet? I know, Christmas gift giving can be an absolute nightmare for many, full of stress and the unknowns. What do you get that person who has everything? What can you find for your special someone? Well, don’t get your tinsel in a tangle. I did it for you.
As I consider myself a little bit of an expert in shopping (most will attest to that), I went out to local stores, restaurants and craft shows in Thunder Bay and after a lot of reviewing and testing out my finds, I have put together a list of the Top 20 Awesome Thunder Bay Holiday Gifts. Whether it’s a Secret Santa or a friend you want to wow, instead of making your hunt a hectic one, this will allow gift giving to be a better experience for you while supporting local businesses (and you won’t end up giving someone a sucky membership to the Jelly of the Month Club).
These are a few of my favourite things:
1.Wintering House Designs- T-shirt
The second I saw a t-shirt with a moose and a Hwy 11/17 sign I had to have one, and so did everyone I know (so you all know what you’re getting for Christmas).
These are incredibly comfy shirts , that are locally designed with a northern twist. Wintering House Designs has been creating art you can wear for the last two years, making hand screened clothing, and now even prints and pillows (also featuring a moose).
Inspired by where they live and where they worked (Fort William Historical Park), Dan DePeuter and Jen McFarlane (bestie), create clothing that any Thunder Bay-er would want to wear, with each piece screened right at home.
2. Hail Cosmetics- Lipstick & Polish
When I think Christmas, I immediately think red lipstick! There’s something about wearing a vivacious red lip colour that will make you feel extremely festive. Hail Cosmetics Altared, is one of those shades that will become so iconic you will know it by name. It’s the ultimate stocking stuffer and the real deal! A hand-crafted eternal matte lipstick developed, manufactured and packaged locally, not to mention naturally-based and cruelty-free. And ladies, we all agree that it’s important to know exactly what we are applying to our face, as well as where it comes from and how it’s been tested. With it’s blue undertones it also makes those pearly whites, extra bright! Makeup muse and Hail Cosmetics founder Elsie Tranmer says it’s a gift you can feel good about giving. This holiday red and Hail’s brand new glimmering polish (mars exclusive) are festive products that make a statement this holiday season.
3. Clover Lane Crates
Is there someone on your list that is hard to buy for? Or are you looking for that perfect Secret Santa Gift? Clover Lane Crates has got you covered. As a wife and mother of two young boys, owner Bethanie Kramer ensures that each crate is made with love and of course full of Canadian artisan goodies! There are a ton of themed crates that you can select based on who you are shopping for, but each one is a true combination of well thought out and functional pieces to create a memorable gift that any recipient will truly appreciate. Not to mention that for every crate purchased, a tree will be planted. (Themed crates for gals, guys, babies, Mom, Dad, Uncle Frank… pretty much everyone you know).
4. Heartbeat Hot Sauce Holiday Pack
Because three is better than one. Let’s taco bout how awesome you are Heartbeat Hot Sauce! Handcrafted in Thunder Bay using traditional methods and high quality ingredients, any of these three hot sauces will add an extra dash of spice to anyone’s life and is a very hot holiday package. Featuring El Tres Red, El Tres Green and the company staple Red Habanero, this is for true lovers of heat. Now it’s not a hot that turns your insides to molten lava (well maybe too much of the habanero), but they all have a different level of love that amps up any dish and is on the sweeter side. (No water, thickening agents or chemical preservatives used in production, making it as natural as it gets). Available exclusively at El Tres.
5. mars. clothing- mars Toque
It goes with everything, coming in different shades and colours (seven to be exact), disguises bad hair days, and of course keeps your head warm too. The mars toque is made in Canada out of Merino wool which is the crème de la crème when it comes to wool, with its exceptionally fine fibres making it the softest available. The affordable hat is the perfect winter accessory and definitely an easy add-on to any outfit. And if you’re looking for more to go with the toque, mars prides itself as a store that offers a twist on the basics with a wide range of price points. You can buy a t-shirt made in Canada out of bamboo for $20, or a duffle bag made out of suede for $500. Theres a mix of everything to create the perfect wardrobe and holiday gift.
6. Roots to Harvest Calendar
Eat your veggies and drink your beer! It’s a gift that ensures people know the date (and when Tap Room pairing parties are taking place) and is for a great cause- ‘punks growing food’. Roots to Harvest offers young people the opportunity to be engaged in the community and learn about the food system as growers, market gardeners and lifelong learners. How cool is that!? This Sleeping Giant Brewing Company + Roots to Harvest 2018 Calendar is in support of the not for profit organization and features graphics by local artist Heather Cranston on letterpresses paper.
7. Giorg Restaurant Cooking Class
Instead of sticking with the usual dinner and a movie combo, what about tastes from Italy, France or Mexico? Pick your country add the wine, and this is the ultimate date night. Three of Thunder Bay’s hottest chefs Allan Rebelo from El Tres, Neil Puzzella from Giorg and Joe Sposato from Bight (depending on the class you choose), will share tips and tricks that you WILL actually use at home, and did I mention there’s wine while you watch the restaurant team cook up a storm. Seated around the grill, you get a first-hand look at techniques while following along through all of the recipes. The night concludes with a full dinner in the dining room where you really get to enjoy all of the evenings creations. Sharpen your culinary skills and then next time you can test out your new skills on a date in your very own kitchen. It’s an experience that makes cooking fun! (And this means a lot coming for the gal who really can’t cook.) With some new concepts and different styles, the 2018 classes are a definite sellout.
8. Dilico Christmas Wish Bag
Help make a child’s Christmas wish come true this holiday season. Fill a Christmas Wish bag for a child in need as a gift for someone you love. The Dilico Christmas Wish Campaign provides a wish bag full of gifts and essential items such as mitts, socks, tooth brushes and learning supplies to those who might not have a merry christmas without one. You actually fill the bag based on a special profile tag you will be provided. It will tell you whether the wish bag is for a boy or girl, their age and interests and even clothing size. This year, over 750 bags are needing to be filled that will be delivered to babies, children and youth. Want to get a bag? Visit facebook.com/dilicochristmaswish.
9. Thread & Wood- Sign decor
Read the sign. Enough said.
With an obvious love for family and creating (and maybe Beyonce?), Thread & Wood (a hubby and wifey team) creates wood decor for your home. This holiday inspired creation will spruce up any room and have people singing a familiar tune before they even know what hit them.
BABY IN BOOTIES!!!! This is Callie.
Cue the ‘awwwwwwwessss’. She’s a baby and she’s so cute. Callie is modelling these handmade sheepskin booties! Inspired by traditional Nipigon nylons, these will protect the tiny little toes of your most precious bundles, keep them warm and are just beyond adorable. Rhonda Skilllen and Tiffany Stubbings are two chicks that are passionate about CREATING unique handmade greeting cards, invitations, and of course the booties for babies and toddlers.
Tis’ the season to drink great brews! This holiday seasonal brew is a Coffee Vanilla Porter infused with pure vanilla beans and locally roasted coffee that gives it that subtle sweetness. It’s paired with a Sleeping Giant Brewing Co. holiday pint glass, which is a brand new item on the shelf for the local brewery. The brew is only available during the Christmas season. While you’re at the brewery take a tour and learn about the beer, brewing process and the journey of Sleeping Giant Brewing Company while you grab a sample or a pint in the new tap room. Cheers!
12. Exquisite Gold & Gems- Les Georgettes Bracelet
J’adore! Unleash your inner designer and create a bracelet to match the personality and style of whom you are gifting it to. Making it’s way to Canada this past year, Les Georgettes line has brought a flare of Paris to Exquisite Gold & Gems in Thunder Bay. Featuring customizable bracelets and rings, the concept is simple. You select your choice of metal bracelet that comes in three sizes and a variety of different styles and finishes then you choose from a selection of reversible coloured leather bracelets that insert into a metal design. The reversible leathers allow you to switch up your style and match the outfit of the day. The bracelet itself is light, slips on easy and is a true statement piece.
13. SWEET TREATS: Everyone needs sweet treats over the holidays
Sweet North Cookie Box:
Over the last couple of years, I have become really good at going to functions and events bringing homemade cookies at Christmas, pies at Thanksgiving, and cinnamon buns for all the in betweens… all thanks to the sweetest of them all- The Sweet North Bakery. This Christmas is no exception with the bakery offering a box of goodies. With a menu of treats that many of us grew up with, you will have the option of picking a Traditional or Fancy Cookie Box. The treats were all hand selected by baker Erinn D. as recipes from her childhood, keeping the tradition going as she now makes them with her sons year after year. She’s quite excited to share them with all of you! (But make sure you put in an order soon).
Milk & Water Baking Co. Cupcakes:
It truly is seeing (and tasting) cake in a new way #cakereincarnated. These cupcakes sell out daily and during the holidays, they sell out early. Only open for business for the last two months, Milk & Water has become a massive sensation not only in Thunder Bay, but with 83.5K followers on Instagram, I would say the Red River Rd Bakery is known world-wide. From the second you enter the doors, to the moment you lay eyes on that icing covered cupcake you will understand why. The colours, blended with the different flavours will not only blow your mind but your tastebuds too. With holiday cupcake flavours like snickerdoodle, after eight mint, peppermint mocha, church window (which is my favourite as it’s a take on those awesome little chocolate marshmallow squares mom makes every year), rum and egg nog and gingerbread cream cheese, I would recommend you reserve a box for that special someone.
14.Macrame + Driftwood- Handcrafted wall hanging
Add some boho spirit to a home! Tiffany Allen of Macrame + Driftwood creates these fringe dreamy macrame wall hangings that are an accent piece and work of art to any wall. The beautiful one-of-a-kind wall hanging is made of cotton yarn, hand dyed and on a unique piece of driftwood. Inspired by nature and Lake Superior, the drift wood is collected by Tiffany and her family as they carefully comb the shores of the great lake looking for the perfect pieces that will compliment your home, cottage, office or even special event. The decorative woven hanging is designed to not only to break up space, but to add texture, movement and personality to any room. Each one is slightly unique as the wood and colour is a bit different each time. Tiffany mentions that she started making the wall hangings after discovering them on Pinterest and had a desire to provide a more affordable option…which she definitely does. (The one featured in the picture is only $55)
15. Thuja Florist Design- Christmas Cactus
This is a gift that can be enjoyed year round. The Christmas Cactus is an ideal holiday plant that is easy to care for and can be grown indoors throughout the year. During the holiday season the cactus is just starting to bloom with flowers coming in pink, red and white. For those that aren’t that great at maintaining plants, this might just be a perfect pick. They can grow in low to bright light conditions, but produce the most blooms in bright light. Thuja Florist also has really cute “Grinch Trees”. Once you see them you will understand the name.
16.Blush Boutique- Glitter/Sparkle GLAM Dress
Christmas is too sparkly, said no one ever! The holiday season is here and New Years is right around the corner. Anyone that wears this dress will shine throughout the night and leave a little sparkle wherever they go. Everyone needs a WOW piece and an item that makes them feel like a diva and this is it! At Blush you can find perfect party outfits with a selection of clothing from simple and classic must haves to trendy and elegant dresses and accessories. Perhaps this could be that one special gift you buy yourself!
17. Me and you and the Red Canoe by Jean E Pendziwol
Written by local Thunder Bay author Jean E. Penziwol, this children’s book captures a great little tale about camping and being out on the lake. Featuring vintage-inspired artwork by first time illustrator, Phil, the illustrations encompass Northwestern Ontario’s landscape and wildlife and is a great story to read to your young ones while sitting around the fire and reminiscing about warm summer days out at camp. Pendziwol’s books for children have been shortlisted for the Governor General’s Literary awards, the Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Award, and the TD Book of the year, and are simply charming.
Also check out Penziwal’s debut novel, The Lightkeeper’s Daughters that is set on the shores of Lake Superior.
18. Prime Gelato- Gelato
You had me at Bourbon Eggnog. (Proceed immediately to 200 Red River Rd.) Prime Gelato has a gift that really does keep on giving and is way better than going to the gym. The 2018 Gelato Club Membership includes 12 pints and an insulated cooler bag. Every month, members enjoy a pint and brand new members-only flavour. Sign me up!!
19. Vanderwees Home & Garden- Pickle Christmas Ornament
It’s the Christmas pickle. Find it on the tree on Christmas morning and you get an extra holiday gift. For pickle lovers, it’s a dream, for others it might just look plain weird. But this tradition has been happening for hundreds of years and is one of my absolute favourite holiday gifts. For as long as I can remember I have been visiting Vanderwees every December to check out the land of Christmas. It’s a magical place that makes you feel like you are literally walking in a winter wonderland, with the nursery full of poinsettias, Christmas trees, twinkling lights, and thousands of holiday finds and decorating ideas. The Christmas pickle can usually be found on one of it’s decorated trees, and is a unique gift that I promise will make an excellent conversation starter. So what’s the tradition about the pickle? Well you will have to find it to learn more.
20. Sauna Tee
Not for your coffee cup but for your sauna bucket! Orysi aromatherapy & body care has packed these tee bags with herbs and essential oils of eucalyptus, peppermint, lemongrass and lavender. Get the sauna nice and hot, immerse the sachet in a bucket of warm water and let it steep. Then you simply pour it on the rocks.
Happy shopping and happy holidays! Bay Awesome xo
Photography (of Amanda Bay) by: Dave Zahodnik of DZ Photography.