Amazing Handmade Gifts for the Holidays

An homage to handmade holidays

By Si Si Penaloza


No one loves the festive season quite like the family dog. Whether it’s that bit of heavenly turkey stuffing fallen to the floor, or that half-nibbled gingerbread abandoned on the coffee table – a dog can sense the annual spruce-scented time of hedonism has come.

Between sledding sessions and cozy fireplaces, the holidays amount to doggie heaven. The more frisky breeds embrace the rituals whole hog, getting in on the wrapping paper mayhem. Why yes, I’ve entered the search term “puppy plays with wrapping paper” into YouTube more than once. And what sentimental boyfriend hasn’t strapped a jewelery box to his buxom bulldog’s back to make a gift more endearing? We tingle at the mere thought.

If there’s one thing that dog love has taught me, it’s the beauty of the humble gesture. There’s nothing like a handcrafted gift to pull at the heartstrings come holiday time.

Hand Hammered

Toronto-born designer, Michelle Ross, combines an edgy ethos with nostalgic remnants to express her take on the limits of contemporary jewellery. It doesn’t get more handmade than this; Ross produces her collections of sought-after pieces out of an attic atelier in her home at Avenue Road and Eglinton. The more hypnotic pieces are glam and grunge all at once – one of the toughest juxtapositions to get right. Ross nails it with ease. She choshandmade holidays5es deliberately and the tarnish or patina that develops is intended to add to the aesthetic of the piece. Necklaces get more expressive with age, just don’t wear them in the shower.

Her Hoxton collection is a huge hit with savvy stylists and involves ingenious, intricate metalwork. The Eden collection features found vintage objects in whimsical arrangements and compositions. Think semi-precious stones and metals in union with unusual glass and ceramics. The Nova Scotia College of Art and Design graduate also studied at the London College of Fashion and interned at esteemed fashion label Erdem. Her sublime works can be found at Eko boutiques, but look for her standout semi-annual home sale alerts on Facebook.


Etsy is the leading online destination for artists to sell their handmade creations, and for buyers to source that one of a kind find. Powered by those who use it, Etsy’s creative ecosystem reflects a vibrant revival of handicraft in an era dominated by crass mass consumption.

Find that elusive set of small batch vegan soaps. Score that crocheted merino wool scarf that reminds you of a Wes Anderson film. Etsy is a place where new and seasoned indie businesses can find niche audiences and build cult followings. More than just a web-based marketplace, Etsy has enabled creative types to drop out of corporate life and do what they really love. What was once a pipe dream for some has become a viable living. Enghandmade holidays 4aged shoppers browse more than 20 million creative items every day, ranging from art to furniture to vintage fashion, and everything in between. The home décor and handmade jewelry sections are among the most popular.

Other than Etsy, where in the world would you find Under the Num Num Tree? This line of prints is beloved among twee pet lovers, not to mention the editors of Country Living, who featured it front of book. I especially love this one entitled “Cairn Terrier and Girl”. It’s beyond charming, an ode to the ever-present childhood companion. Artist Jane Purcell also does custom pet silhouettes – think Warhol-meets-Beatrix-Potter! This is an artful gift pet loving friends will go bananas over. Each print is signed on the front, then signed, dated, and titled on the back.

Earlier this fall, Etsy’s Made in Canada flagship event will take over the atrium of the MaRs Centre in Toronto, featuring one-of-a-kind goods from 100 local sellers. The concept, led and created by the Etsy Canada team, was designed to connect local Etsy sellers to each other and to shoppers in their communities by sharing resources, and encouraging collaboration both on and offline. In addition to being a leading destination to source products from around the world, Etsy features a fantastic local search option that allows users to discover unique talent from within their own creative communities.

Hand Drizzled

Interactive experiential gift giving is on the rise, and one of the top, most in-demand outfitters is Chocolate Tales. Adore handmade truffles? Want to experience another form of mobile entertainmhandmade holidays 2ent other than your iPad for a change? This is an experience you didn’t even know you craved. Chocolate Tales comes to you with engaging chocolate making workshops of all stripes – from spirited home gatherings, bridal showers, kids parties to corporate events. Imagine a duo of chic chocolatiers in matching chef coats arriving at your door, ready to guide your gaggle of friends in the fine art of chocolate confection. These seasons pros take care of all party details – no ingredients to buy and no clean up, so you and your inner circle can relax. For purists and connoisseurs, rest assured, Chocolate Tales uses only the finest high grade Belgian chocolate.

Nibbling while you work is not frowned upon, all the while making cocoa dusted creations to proudly present to friends and family. Perhaps best of all, this experience reunites old friends and sparks new bonds like nothing else. Positive vibes all around! This is a company that knows how to cater to discerning types; they are completely customer service focused. They relish in indulging special requests rather than rolling their eyes – so feel at liberty to request nut free, egg free, gluten free options.

Chocolate Tales founder David Levy’s passion for all things chocolate started at an early age, when his father would bring back the most exquisite gourmet selections from around the world. After 10 years of management in the food and beverage industry and trips to Europe

for inspiration, he established his unique business concept of sharing and entertaining people with the secrets of specialty chocolate making. Chocolate Tales provides services in the Greater Toronto Area.

Hand Delivered

The gift that keeps on giving – a custom juice cleanse from The Good Press. Here’s to ridding your body of toxins and holiday bhandmade holidaysloat. Ring in the new year with a reboot of your system, giving you more energy to recover from those late nights out, a deeper level of nutrition to improve overall health. Detoxify with six 500 ml fresh, organic, cold-pressed juices with The Good Press cleanses. These health-packed beverages will nourish your body with vitamins, minerals, enzymes and nutrients, leaving you with clearer skin and improved digestion.

The Good Press juices are also available by delivery two ways: the on-demand bike courier service, Hurrier, delivers The Good Press menu weekdays and weekends. Dispatched courier service is also available within 90 minutes from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays, satisfying juice cravings across Toronto.

The Good Press was founded in May 2014 by husband and wife Andrew and Leila Ois – the team behind Sunshine Wholesome Market. Located at 87 Yorkville Avenue in Toronto, The Good Press offers a fresh menu made from only the best local and organic ingredients, including cold-pressed juices, smoothies, live energy shots, açai puree fruit bowls, house-made nut milks and a selection of wraps and salads.