Rave: Creative wedding gift ideas

If you’re like us, most weekends this summer are already booked with weddings, leaving you with the daunting (and expensive) task of buying many, many wedding gifts. Choosing something from a registry is definitely the easiest option, but not always the cheapest or most personal gift to give. And while we know the newlyweds will appreciate the gift (after all, they chose it themselves) there’s something a little unsatisfying about spending $100 on coffee mugs. So if it’s more meaning and less money you’re after, here are some creative wedding gift ideas.


Artwork: This idea works best for a couple you know well, as you’ll need to know their style and preferably what their home looks like. Whether it’s a photograph or a painting, there is no shortage of places to buy inexpensive, yet beautiful, artwork in Toronto. With a philosophy that “everyone should be able to afford a piece of art”, Art Interiors (446 Spadina) is the perfect place to start. They also offer a gift certificate option if you don’t feel confident choosing art for someone else. 

There are little galleries all around the city as well as art work for sale in lots of restaurants



Vintage: Buying vintage is another way to give a special gift without breaking the bank. While your friends may be registered for Riedel wine glasses, they are most likely not going to be given vintage champagne flutes. One of our favourite stores, BYOB Cocktail Emporium, has everything cocktail related under the sun. From vintage glasses to gimmicky wine decanters, this is the place to go for a unique yet useful gift.

There’s something special about receiving a one-of-a-kind gift.

DIY: Another vintage inspired option is to simply refinish something, be it a table, chest, old mirror or bookshelf. Everyone has a soft spot for a homemade gift, and if it’s done well, it will look even better than something new. 

Turn something old into something new and you have the perfect gift!



A part of the wedding: If DIY projects aren’t your thing, there are other ways to turn your skills into a wedding gift. Whether you’re a DJ, photographer, or in a 90’s cover band, lending your services to the bride and groom will help cut costs on both ends, and will add a personal touch to the wedding.

On second thought… maybe stick to DJ’ing.

Honeymoon: Our last idea comes in the form of a gift certificate. Plan something fun for the bride and groom, whether it’s a nice dinner or day of snorkeling on their honeymoon, or simply a his and hers day at the spa after the wedding. They will have done so much planning (and spending) themselves that they will love the idea of you completely taking care of something indulgent for them. 

A surprise adventure for the bride and groom? A+ gift idea.

The main idea is to try to be creative. With a little thought and research you will be sure to find the prefect memorable wedding gift. And if all else fails, there’s always a good old custom throw, right?





DIY: Holiday crafts

Lately, we’ve been a bit DIY-obsessed on the fourth floor, so decided to channel that energy into a whole new blog category. We’ll be sharing our favourite do it yourself projects with you, as well as tips on fun projects to try yourself. If there’s anything you’d like to see us tackle, let us know! 

For those of us who eschew the madness of Black Friday and Cyber Monday in favour of a more personalized approach to holiday gifts, then DIY is the only way to go. Forget about generic mall gifts and give a gift that’s from the heart (mixed in with a little elbow grease). Plus, the chillier weather just begs for nights spent indoors with your glue gun, sewing machine and a little glitter. Maybe a glass of wine, too. 

For the cook

Even if you couldn’t cook your way out of a paper bag, you’ll be guaranteed to wow the home chef in your life with this gift. Preserved lemons are used in many Moroccan and Middle Eastern recipes, and are great in a salad. These are a cinch to make, but always cost a lot at a specialty food store. 

MJ’s Kitchen has an awesome how-to blog post (with video) that outlines two easy ways to make preserved lemons. Once you have them sealed in a jar, create a homemade label and wrap the jar in a ribbon. To take it one step further and write out a few recipes they can use the lemons in, such as this and this

For the tea lover

Loose leaf tea can make for a lovely gift. If you’re reluctant to buy just one type of tea or are looking to broaden one’s herbal horizons, then a personalized tea collection is a great idea. We loved how Broken Heel Diaries used test tubes to create a personalized tea collection. You can view their tutorial here

We suggest stopping by Tealish to pick up a selection of teas (our personal favourite is the Coconut Bongo). If you’re at a loss as to where to find test tubes, we stumbled across Efston Science a science “superstore” near Yorkdale, which should get you sorted out.

For the dapper gent

Ties have a bad reputation of being a cop-out present, something you picked up at the last minute because you couldn’t think of anything else. But we think there is something sweet about a necktie sewn by hand. Haven’t used a sewing machine since Home Ec? Fear not, the lovely ladies of The Workroom have got you covered. They offer a range of sewing classes, including (you guessed it) “Sewn Men’s Tie.” Visit their website for more details.

If you’ve already finished all your holiday shopping but are just looking for some fun crafting activities, then check out Eat.Live.Shop’s list of holiday DIY workshops. We love the embossed gift tags (pictured above) and think they’d make the ideal topper for your presents. 

Special Media, Darling post: Holidays

For the holiday season, we thought it would be fun to ask some of our previous Media, Darlings how they’ll be spending their holidays. Here are a few of the answers, we’ll post more next Thursday!
Nathalie Atkinson

 Nathalie and her sister.

What’s your favourite holiday tradition?

Personally, I love wrapping presents. I have a bit of a stationery and wrapping paper problem in that I amass a lot of the stuff, more than I can use. (Especially the individual printed paper sheets at DeSerres, when they go on sale.) I could be wrapping and wrapping and wrapping all year long – I find it really relaxing, sort of methodical and meditative. Slowing down and doing that is my favourite part of such a consumer season. I wrap everything that goes into every stocking, all my extended family’s presents to each other, but that’s still not enough, so now I even offer to do it for my friends and their gifts for other people. I’m not exactly Candy Spelling but our rec room is a temporary wrapping workshop right now. I should probably volunteer for the Salvation Army wrap station or something and get it out of my system.

Favourite store to receive a gift from?
In Toronto? My gourmand side says Good Egg in Kensington Market, hands down. There isn’t really anything in that store I don’t love. I cook a lot (see above) and for my birthday last week a very clever friend gave me a book called The Flavour Thesaurus from there; Mika has great taste and is a terrific buyer; I always find things I’ve never seen before, and her staff know their stuff and can help you find the perfect thing for everyone on your list. Whether they’re a foodster or not. It’s a whole lifestyle store.

In Texas? Anything from Specs, the humongous liquor store chain. I collect hard-to-find small batch bourbons and they have aisles of the stuff. It makes my sister’s Christmas gift to me very easy!

How will you spend your time off?
I’ll be in Texas. Baking, swimming, reading and browsing antique and vintage shops around Houston and Austin. It’s all about spending time with my whole family together, which I don’t get to do very often. My father travels overseas a lot and my sister lives in Texas, where my parents have a second home and my mother spends half her time, so we’re really only ever all together at Christmas. Our French heritage really dominates come the holidays and even my father, who’s from England and is therefore mad about all things Christmas in a different way, gets in on the French-Canadian traditions. He’s made the signature tourtières for years (along with his mince meat tarts and the Bûche de Noël), and my very favourite part of the holidays is the last couple of days leading up to Christmas, and in particular, Christmas Eve. 

 The delicious Bûche de Noël
 

My sister, mother, father and I are all in the kitchen cooking and preparing the snacks, the cookies, the sausage rolls and the meal all day long. The ovens basically run non-stop, the kitchen is as warm as a bakery, and my dad and I compare notes on the craft holiday beer we’re drinking as we cook. And we listen to our favourite Christmas album, which is Kenny and Dolly’s Once Upon a Christmas, over and over, singing along with abandon like goofy lunatics. It’s really fun.

What’s your favourite holiday tradition?

Growing up, my brother and I had a sleepover every Christmas Eve (sleeping bags and alternating our rooms each year). When we woke up Christmas morning we were allowed to go through our stockings but had to wait until our parents were up to touch the gifts under the tree. The excitement of it all always made me happy and it still stands out as a favourite tradition.

Favourite store to receive a gift from?
That’s a hard one! Indigo has a really amazing selection of stocking stuffers, stationery and home stuff (not to mention all of the books and mags) so I can’t say I’m ever disappointed with something from there.

How will you spend your time off?
I’m heading back to the East Coast to rest, recharge and catch up with friends from home. Halifax can be damp this time of year but there’s nowhere I’d rather be (and then back to Toronto in time to ring in the New Year).


What’s your favourite holiday tradition?
Two weeks before Christmas, buying a tree, setting it up, writing and addressing Christmas cards while watching Bill Murray in Scrooged. (Ed. note: a must-see. Go rent it if you’ve never watched it!).

What’s your favourite holiday tradition?
The nine adults in my family draw names and exchange stockings on Christmas morning. It’s kind of cheesy but doing a lot of small presents for one person is a good way to acknowledge who they are and what they like: specific books, cosmetics, silly stuff, notes, treats. I dig it.
 
Favourite store to receive a gift from?
Any used book store. I love getting books more than anything. Barring that, Holt Renfrew. 

How will you spend your time off?

I’ll be in suburban New Jersey and New York City at Christmas this year, so I’ll be chasing my nephews and nieces in the snow, and doing the classic Manhattan-at-Christmas stuff. 

Rockefeller Center


A visit from…Shopgirls Gallery Boutique

Even though we’ve already posted our holiday gift ideas (part 1 and part 2) with gift ideas from our fab clients, we still wanted some more for our best girlfriends, moms and sisters. We invited clients Michelle and Ashley from Shopgirls Gallery Boutique up to the fourth floor to give us some more great ideas for our holiday gifts. You can never give too much! 
 
We came to visit the rock-it promotions ladies up on the fourth floor, and brought some of our favourite things from our shop with us. We take great pride in our collection of cute clothing, fun home items and gorgeous little decor pieces. Plus, we only feature Canadian artists and designers. 

Toronto Buildings Napkin Set by Avril Loreti, $16 each

The holidays can sometimes drive people to drink (or eat too many cookies, cakes, slices of mincemeat pie…you know). Not just for celebratory reasons, but often as an escape from the over-crowded shopping malls, where you manage only to pick up impersonal gifts that leave you and your wallet feeling empty.

These gifts show you’ve put a little thought into someone’s personality and will make giving more fun than receiving. Everything at Shopgirls has an interesting back story. Come in and ask us to share them with you! An interesting story is so important when purchasing something one-of-a-kind.


Tansy & Co.‘s desk clocks are a much cooler way to count down the minutes to 5 p.m. than your digital computer clock.

 Desk Clocks featuring original photography from Tansy & Co., $55

We love how fuzzy and warm Rachel F.’s recycled fur hats and earmuffs are. Plus, you can feel good about wearing them (or giving them).

 Recycled fur accessories by Rachel F., from $65 

This glass decanter is a visually interesting way to serve wine, and is a good idea for the hard-to-shop-for person (like the in-laws that literally have everything). 

Balance Glassworks Decanter, $180

This key necklace is handmade and one-of-a-kind. Perfect for your best friend or sister.  

Multi-key Necklace by Ashley Winnington-Ball, $240

And, to wrap up your visit (pun intended), we carry lovely hand-crafted stationary and will wrap your purchase for free. If you can’t make it to the store, shame on you. (just kidding.) You can shop online to find exactly what you’re looking for.  
We have so much fun picking and choosing the items for our store, and sharing them with rock-it was even more fun. Who doesn’t love giving a gift that will elicit gasps of appreciation?  Happy shopping!
Shopgirls Gallery Boutique
1342 Queen Street West, Toronto
416-534-7467

Do Me A Solid: Jake’s Gigantic Give

One of the best parts of PR is helping charities throw fundraisers that benefit those that are less fortunate, or need our help with research, awareness, life’s necessities or simply some toys to play with. We happily pitch in for these events, and they’re often some of the most fun that we work on (or attend!) all year. 

This new section, Do Me A Solid, is devoted to featuring the worthy charities and events that we, and other PR colleagues, are working with. We want to help spread the word about the great charity work that so many are dedicated to. Help us shout it far & wide!  

We’re thrilled to launch this series with a wonderful, child-focused charity called Jacob’s Ladder, The Canadian Foundation for the Control of Neurodegenerative Disease. This charity was created after Jacob Schwartz was born with Canavan disease, an inherited, neurodegenerative disorder that affects his ability to walk, speak, see and eat. Jacob’s parents, Ellen and Jeff Schwartz, were told by doctors that their son would not live past his fourth birthday. 

Photo by Hudson Taylor

This past year, with great fanfare, Jacob celebrated his 13th birthday. Although severely disabled, Jacob loves life and this infectious optimism inspires all around him. Since launching Jacob’s Ladder in 1997, the Schwartz family has organized various annual fundraisers and initiatives raising millions of dollars. 

Jake’s Gigantic Give, presented by Scotiabank and Fabricland, is a unique holiday fundraiser where children can experience the power of giving back during the holidays.

Participating children (and adults) come in to a big “warehouse” full of 10,000 donated toys, from Mastermind Toys and Spin Master Toys. They will choose one to give to a child in need to one of seven charities (SickKids, Variety Club of British Columbia, Jewish Family & Child Services, Children’s Aid Society, Chum City Christmas Wish, Chai Lifeline, Starlight Children’s Foundation Canada and the Jean Tweed Centre). In the end, they can choose a gift for themselves, teaching them that giving always has its rewards. 

As well as the fun gift giving experience, there will be tons of entertainment and snacks, including food donated by Pizza Pizza, Kernels, Hershey’s and Cake For You (750 cupcakes!).

The toy-filled fundraiser expects more than 2,000 people to participate and over 200 volunteers to help with logistics and act as “Mission Makers” – working with the kids to choose their gifts. 

Everyone is welcome!  

What: Jake’s Gigantic Give
Where: 150 Lesmill Road, Toronto, Ontario
Why: To support local charitable organizations and help fund research of neurodegenerative diseases.
When: Saturday, November 27 and Sunday, November 28, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day
Admission Fee: Adult admission to the lounge is by voluntary donation; $25-admission fee for participants
We hope to see you there. x

Rave: On The Fourth Floor Holiday Gift Guide – Part 1

We know you love shopping as much as we do, but finding the perfect gifts for loved ones can be a difficult task, even for the most seasoned of shoppers. Fear not, On the Fourth Floor has done your shopping for you! Here, we bring you stylish finds from some of our clients for everyone on your list. We’ll bring you even more ideas next week.

For the Budding Designer with Marc Jacobs Style Dreams: Design Your Own Dinner Set from Drake General Store, $68
The creative kid will get design happy this holiday season with Seedling’s Design Your Own Dinner Set from the Drake General Store. Complete with a plate, bowl, mug and egg cup, children can personalize their very own dinner sets with paint, glitter, feathers and ribbons. Sets can be designed with an Alexander Wang-cool aesthetic or with a girly Nanette Lepore touch. Either way, bake them in the oven for an hour and use them for a lifetime.

For the Glamorous Lounger: Cicciabella Cowgirl Slippers from Tryst Lingerie, $65


Finally, there is the perfect accessory for the glam girl’s leopard print Snuggie. Your favourite lounger can kick up her feet in style with Cicciabella Cowgirl Slippers from Tryst Lingerie. Embroidered with faux suede and lined with super soft faux sheepskin, this is one pair of comfy footwear she simply won’t want to take off. Luckily, with hard sole bottoms, she doesn’t have too. 



For the Newlyweds: Starburst Mirror from Homesav.com, $99

Normally retailing for $240, this mirror is a steal for just $99, available on Homesav.com from today until Wednesday. Not familiar with Homesav.com yet? It’s an online shopping destination, offering the latest designer furniture and décor at up to 70 per cent off. The progressive site is the first of its kind in Canada, offering an exciting approach to home decorating.


For the Next Suri Cruise or Romeo Beckham: Wide Stripe Sweater with Initial from You Name It Baby!, $96 



If Suri Cruise has proved anything, it’s that children can be trendsetters too. To keep the kids in your life fashionably on trend, try personalized Wide Stripe Sweaters with Initials from You Name It Baby! Hand-knit, these super soft cotton sweaters feature the child’s first initial against a striped background. Casual and cool, this sweater comes in your choice of colours, and is delivered to your door. 

For the Gourmet Chef with an Apartment-Sized Kitchen: Frigidaire Portable Induction Cooktop, $199

Even the most tolerant chefs can get frustrated with the tiny, ancient stovetops that come with most rental apartments. To help, Frigidaire has come out with this nifty cooktop to bring food to the next level. Aspiring Jamie Olivers can melt chocolate and boil water, and save on utilities at the same time – the cooktop is 70 per cent more efficient than gas and 20 per cent more efficient than electric. Plus, the surface is easier to clean, since heat transfers right to the cookware. Available across Canada at Sears, The Brick, Leon’s, The Bay, and additional select major appliance locations.  

For the Beauty Junkie: Intraceuticals Oxygen Treatment from Bay Dermatology Centre, $225

The beauty-obsessed can now rock Hollywood’s A-list face treatment in Toronto with an Intraceuticals Oxygen Treatment at Bay Dermatology Centre. This non-invasive skin treatment takes only 40 minutes and results last for up to three weeks. Give the gift, and let the beauty fanatical join the list of celebrity Intraceuticals fans, including Katy Perry, Madonna, Justin Timberlake, Eva Longoria-Parker and Dsquared² design duo, Dean and Dan Caten. With healing properties that reduce inflammation after IPL or PhotoFacial treatments, chemical peels, acne and sun damage, your skin will be ready for any photo shoot, TV appearance or celebratory occasion – like your next holiday soirée.

For the Yogi Striving for Inner Peace: Passport to Prana, $20 to $30
Help the yoga junkie in your life get Zen with Passport to Prana, the card that helps yogis get acquainted with the city’s best yoga studios at a fraction of the cost. Buy this passport for a yoga class at each of Prana’s destination, boutique and community studios. Regardless of exercise style, Passport to Prana has the class to suit any yoga subscriber. For a gift that keeps on giving, a $30-Toronto card will get the exercise buff in up to 70 yoga classes. Roll out that yoga mat! 

For the Dapper Gent (or one you want to make more dapper): Fred Perry Toggle Shawl Collar Sweater, $215


This cute and cozy sweater is great for almost any dude – stylish, yet manly, and warm enough that you’ll never hear him complain about the cold again. Better yet, it’s timeless cut and colour ensures that he’ll have it around for ages – which means you can swipe it for yourself after a year or two. Available across Canada, at the Fred Perry store in Toronto and online.


For your Mini-Me: Comfy Cardi from Mini Mioche, $42 (infant) and $46 (child)



Mini Mioche makes adorable, organic clothing for infants and children, from newborn to six years. Its Canadian-made line is super soft and available in surprisingly hard-to-find neutrals, like black, grey, olive and natural. Not only will your li’l ones look good, but you can feel good too, since Mini Mioche strives to reduce its carbon footprint as much as possible, with reuseable dyes, water-based or discharge graphic prints, and 100-per-cent recycled materials for everything from hang tags to catalogs. What’s not to love? P.S. Mini Mioche will also open its first bricks and mortar store at 795 Queen West in early December.


For the Foodie Friend: Home-baked Taste with PC Home Baker’s Gift Loaf Pans, $9.99




Channel your inner Martha Stewart and whip up the perfect gift for the foodie on your gift list. PC Home’s Baker’s Gift Loaf Pans are oven-safe, silicone-coated paper pans that make for an easy release after baking. Bake a special treat in one of these reusable pans and tie it up with a fabulous red bow for the perfect presentation.

Need a recipe? Try Martha Stewart’s Banana-Walnut Loaf. Serves 10.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 cups mashed medium very ripe bananas (about 6)
  • 1 cup chopped toasted walnuts (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-by-5-by-3-inch (2-quart) loaf pan; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda; set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. With mixer on low speed, add flour mixture in three additions, alternating with two additions of banana; mix until just combined. Stir in walnuts, if desired, by hand.
  3. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out with only a few moist crumbs attached, 60 to 70 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes in pan, then deliver to your loved one!
     
     Happy Shopping!

A visit from…Gifted

Buying the perfect gift can be tricky, no matter who we have to buy for, or what the occasion. Luckily, we have some shopping-savvy friends who come to visit us on the fourth floor. Alison Lawler-Dean from GIFTED knows exactly how to find the perfect gift for every occasion, “thank-you” or milestone.

We were stuck on what to get some friends for various upcoming celebrations (lots of birthdays and weddings this month!), so we invited her up to the fourth floor to give us some fresh ideas.

Here are Alison’s top picks:

My 5 favourite types of gifts

1. Memories – Collecting memories into a custom photo album or family tree makes for a personal gift that people will look back on time and time again.

2. Problem Solvers – Tools of all types make for great gifts. Reflect on a person’s interests or current life situation and choose something that can assist their endeavours, such as a beautiful chef’s knife for an aspiring cook or a tool kit for someone setting up a new home.

3. Charity – Most people have more “things” than they need, so instead of another trinket, give a gift that keeps giving. Make a donation in someone’s name to a cause close to their heart, such as Kiva or the Stephen Lewis Foundation.

4. Humour – Knowing what someone will think is funny shows you really know them. Create a custom t-shirt with a message they will chuckle at or give a perfectly cheeky card.

5. Experiences – The memories from experiential gifts outlast most store bought gifts. It doesn’t have to be extravagant like a Nile boat cruise. Inexpensive, thoughtful activities around your own city, like a fun scavenger hunt are sure to please.

P.S. I use this awesome new site to aggregate gift ideas and more – check out Gifted on Pinterest.

Find Gifted
Website: http://www.givegoodgift.ca/
Facebook: www.facebook.com/givegoodgift
Twitter: @givegoodgift
Pinterest: pinterest.com/allield/givegoodgift