Support Local:
Shop Ambassador Picks for the Holidays

Show love to local and homegrown businesses this holiday with ideas from Torontonians in the know.

It’s no secret we think Toronto is one of the greatest cities in the world—and so do these folks. Our local ambassadors are some of the most passionate Torontonians. They love exploring and experiencing the city and inspiring others to do the same. 

We asked them to share their top picks for supporting local this holiday from their favourite small businesses to made-in-Canada gift ideas and their go-to meals or treats for takeout. Here are their essentials for celebrating the holidays during a pandemic.

(in alphabetical order)

Arienne Parzei, @seeusoontravel

Gift Ideas

Lunaria Flowers, a local flower shop, has long been a dream for owner Jieun Seong. She made that dream a reality,  during COVID no less, and does all the arrangements herself. She creates beautiful fresh and dried arrangements and is also creating beautiful holiday wreaths and planters, perfect for decorating your home or as a gift to a loved one. She offers pickup or delivery within the GTA for a fee.”

“Offering unique and beautiful stationery, giftware, crafts supplies and more, Hanji Gifts is owned and operated by a husband and wife duo who met in South Korea. The majority of products are imported from South Korea and additional products are made by local Toronto artists. They have 3 locations in Toronto (2 on Bloor Street West and 1 on Queen Street West), and you can shop online for delivery or curbside pickup.”

Festive Takeout

“For a sweet, pick-me-up treat, look no further than Glory Hole Doughnuts. Their daily, freshly-made doughnuts are amazing both in appearance and in flavour. Their offerings change from time to time and include seasonal favourites. They run their own independent delivery service but it’s easiest to pick up directly from one of their 2 locations in Parkdale or Gerrard Street East.”

Ryan Hinkson, @ryhanks (also Mr. @EatFamous)

Gift Ideas 

“There’s a strategy to my gift-giving list. I’m listing things that I want someone to get for me. A doormat from Stoop Dreams. This isn’t your ordinary Welcome Mat. These are the coolest custom mats ever. Drawing inspiration from fashion, hip hop and pop culture, these can put a smile on any face that walks through your door.”

“Beard oils and other grooming products from Beardhood. Winter is coming (as always) so I’m growing a beard for extra warmth. Now if I want a full healthy beard then I have to show it some love first.”

“How about a custom suit (if you’re looking to splurge) or the most stylish mask you’ve ever laid your eyes on? Check out Soren Custom. Sure, a lot of us are working from home for now but we know we are going to get through this and we are going to want to look our absolute best

Festive Takeout

“You have to finish every holiday dinner with an incredible dessert. I love Churnt Up Ice Cream because they have so many unique flavours, like Hong Kong Milk Tea and Gingerbread Caramel (which is perfect for the holidays). This may be the best ice cream you’ve ever tasted.”

“I love a great pre-dinner snack. Being of Caribbean descent, patties play a big role in getting meals started. Which is why I’ll be ordering from Street Bites Patties, not only do they make killer traditional beef patties but they have a wide variety of choices like Jerk Chicken or my fave Mac & Cheese.”

Solmaz Khosrowshahian, @thecuriouscreature

Gift Ideas

“If you have a tea lover on your list, I recommend the luxury loose leaf teas carefully sourced by Toronto-based tea sommelier, Hoda Paripoush. Sloane Fine Tea Merchants teas are meticulously hand-blended in small batches, beautifully packaged and make a memorable gift. Their most popular seasonal/holiday teas include Celebration Medley, Mint Chocolate and Ginger Twist. My personal favourite is the Heavenly Cream Signature Caddy. They’ll soon announce a limited-edition holiday gift so stay tuned to their social channels!”

“To help that special someone celebrate wine o’clock this holiday season, I recommend gifting the Pelee Island Winery Holiday Advent Calendar ($214.99). Want something that’s equally impressive at the fraction of the cost? The LOLA Holiday 3 Bottle Gift Pack ($49.95) is a great option—beautiful both on the inside and out.”

“For the chocolate-obsessed on your list, look no further than Soma Chocolatemaker. The Toronto-based company makes all of their chocolates in-house and has a devout following for a reason. You’ll find sweet treats at all price points from their Gingerbread Ninja cats ($5) to the Box of Plenty 2020 ($100) which is on my list. Wink wink.” 

Festive Takeout

“For a splurge-worthy holiday meal at home, I recommend the Turkey Festive Feast offered by Four Seasons Hotel Toronto ($255). Available now to Dec 31st, the 15lb herb butter slow-roasted turkey comes with rosemary gravy, sage and brown butter brioche stuffing, a citrus cranberry sauce, traditional side dishes (like maple mustard glazed winter vegetables and caramelized onion and chive mash potatoes) and can be paired with Sommelier’s wine selections. Roast beef and ham are also options if you want to skip the bird this holiday season. Orders can be placed by calling the hotel directly at 416-964-0411 and picked up at 60 Yorkville Avenue. The hotel will also give $20 from every feast purchased to benefit the Seeds of Hope Foundation.”

“Treat yourself or your family to a grazing box bursting with festive flavours this holiday season. All the GRAZE makes drool-worthy, Instagram-worthy grazing boxes that can feed anywhere from 1 to 10 people. Available December 1 to January 10th, 2021, you’ll want to order your box asap as they are popular! Pick up and GTA delivery are both available.” 

Vijaya Selvaraju, @vijayaselvaraju

Gift Ideas

Tia Bhuva has an amazing product called the Saree Silhouette that serves as the undergarment for saree draping. It is made of a super stretchy comfortable material that moves with your body and does an amazing job of holding your saree up. They come in a plethora of colours to match any saree and also double up as amazing loungewear. Tia also has a range of blouses, sarees, jewellery and fake eyelashes to choose from to round out your holiday look.”

“I am a huge fan of Onyx Chocolates on Gerrard Street East. I remember trying some of their Bonbons at an event and being absolutely smitten! Their flavours are unparalleled, drawing a lot of influence from South East Asian ingredients. From Yuzu Pine to Ovaltine, to Tom Yum Caramel there is something for everyone. Definitely an amazing gift to give this holiday season.”

Nom Nom ABC is a beautiful children’s book that also makes for a great coffee table read. Written by Vipoositha Gnanenthra, this simple picture book explores the letters of the alphabet with exotic fruits and vegetables. The illustrations are beautiful, and great for kids who are beginning to learn their ABC’s.”

Festive Takeout

“I will be ordering the Octopus Paella Meal and weekly Holiday Meal Kit featuring Spanish comfort food from one of my favourite restaurants in the city, Labora. Chef Rob Bragagnolo does an amazing job of creating dishes with high-quality ingredients that make you feel like you’ve been transported to Spain. His flavours are spot on, and my guests are always left impressed by his meals.”

Will Tang, @goingawesomeplaces

Gift Ideas

“To bring more lush colour to the home, a great gift idea for the home are house plants. Jomo Studio at Stackt offers a variety of plants that are easy to care for, air purifying, and pet-friendly.  They offer local pickup and delivery.” 

“Have a foodie on your list that would appreciate incredibly fresh and creative pasta? Chef Jess Maiorano has been making pasta professionally for 6 years and now brings her passion to her handmade and locally delivered pasta that ranges from ricotta and herb ravioli, capunti, pappardelle, cavatelli and more. In addition, she also offers specials such as stracciatella, focaccia, truffle butter, marinated olives, and other deliciousness to pair with that pasta.”

Designed locally, Peace Collective has some pretty sweet threads that are best known for their “Toronto vs. Everybody” and “Home is Toronto” designs.  With new collaborations with the Toronto Raptors, Nickelodeon and Sesame Street, they make great gifts for anyone that loves to show their Toronto and Canada pride.”

Festive Takeout

“For Christmas this year, we’ll be feasting on food that we’ve been craving and for us, that has to be dim sum and sushi. We’ll be grabbing takeout from Tak Fu Seafood Restaurant in Scarborough and sushi from Shinobu in North York. Tak Fu Seafood features all of the classic dim sum comforts including har gow, siu mai, rice rolls, BBQ pork buns, pork dumplings, and deep-fried squid. Shinobu is one of my favourites with exquisite dishes including takoyaki, toriten nanban chicken, shimesaba (seared mackerel sashimi), bluefin toro sashimi and negihama roll. For dessert, I’m excited about the custom holiday-themed cakes by Daan Go which are available for pre-order until December 5.”

Yashy Murphy, @yashyanthi

Gift Ideas

Resin art from Yolanda Fernandes for her ring holders and trays. They are one of my favourite gifts to buy for friends because she ships throughout Canada and her work is truly stunning. For the adult foodies on your list, Chocolat de Kat makes stunning handcrafted chocolate that not only tastes great but are true works of art. For the kid foodies, Sweet Sushi has some fun treats that kids (and their parents) will love. From Santa sushi to Chanukah cookie decorating kits, there’s something for every kid out there.”

Festive Takeout

“This year leave the holiday cooking to the professionals! The Fairmont Royal York Hotel’s Festive Meals to go has everything we need for a celebratory Turkey Christmas meal at home. I also love that $5 from each order will be donated to Make-A-Wish Canada. For dessert, we’ll be ordering some fun flavours from Pandoughrah’s Box and I’m eyeing their green Paan ice cream for an Indian twist to our dessert.”

See it. Snap it. Share it. In every neighbourhood, around every corner, through every door there's something that begs to be discovered in Toronto.

#OPENYOURCURIOSITY

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