Times have changed, and so has gift giving. In our digital era, more and more people are avoiding the crowds and hassles at the mall and buying their gifts online. People are also turning away from consumerism that values the acquisition of stuff and favouring the importance and desirability of experiences, building memories with people they love. With this in mind, we have compiled a list of clutter-free ideas for gifts in Toronto and beyond.

Note: Due to the ever-changing situation regarding COVID-19 safety precautions and venue capacity, it’s a good idea to check ahead with any public venue before you head out. As always, please be safe!

Tourism & Experiences

Christmas Event Guide

First off, be sure to peruse our Event Guide for family-friendly happenings around town. There are lots of great ideas for a special family outing.

Shows and Sporting Events

Tickets to a performance or sporting event is a fun way to spend together while being entertained. There are some big-ticket shows coming in 2022, including Disney On Ice, Cirque du Soleil at Ontario Place and Mirvish’s “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child”. For something more sporty, check out our stories about going to Blue Jays and Raptors games during Covid.

Hotel Staycation

Did you know that the Ontario government recently announced a 20% staycation tax credit for 2022 (up to a maximum of $1,000 for an individual and $2,000 for a family, with a maximum pay-out of $200 or $400 respectively)? Feel like a tourist in your own town! My wish list includes a gorgeous view (like the Ritz-Carlton) and my kids request a pool (like the Chelsea with its waterslides or the spa vibe at the Westin Harbour Castle).

Active Experiences

Kids can get some exercise while having a special family trip: bounce at SkyZone, run around at an Indoor Play Place, swing at a Mini-Putt Course, zap somebody at a Laser Tag facility, climb at a rock climbing centre (such as Basecamp Climbing, The Rock Oasis and Joe Rockhead’s) and more!

Escape Rooms

Get smart while getting out of the house! There are many escape room experiences around town and each offer various themed mysteries to unravel. Check out The Imaginarium, Looking Glass Adventures, Captive Escape Rooms and the Casa Loma Escape Series.

Guess Where Trips

This is a service where you pick a theme, they send you details of a mystery travel day and off you go! There are even trips designed for families with adorable themes such as The Fairy Tale Trail.

Personalized gifts

Family Photography

I take so many pictures of my kids and pets throughout the year that I make my parents a photobook every Christmas from Black’s and often add personalized presents as well: pillows, mugs, framed canvas art, etc. What grandparent can resist a puzzle with their grandchildren’s faces on it?! It’s technically a material gift but it’s not clutter in their eyes.
If you’re not so artistically inclined, a family session with a professional photographer would be an amazing present for busy parents.

Little Me Figurine at Little Canada

How about becoming a part of a major attraction? The likeness of your gift recipient (or yourself) can be made into a Little Me figurine at Little Canada, which is then placed somewhere in the displays of Canadian locations. Then, they can go on a treasure hunt to find themselves! Check out the different packages here – you can even buy a slightly larger (5″) version to keep.

Memberships & Classes

Museum & Attraction Memberships

When my kids were younger, we would buy a different museum membership every year. Assuming you go more than 2-3 times, it’s a great money-saver and it would also be a welcome gift. Every museum has some sort of membership or gift card option. Some of our favourites are Aga Khan Museum, Art Gallery of Ontario, Bata Shoe Museum, Black Creek Pioneer Village, Canada’s Wonderland, Casa Loma, Centreville Amusement Park, LEGOLAND Discovery Centre, Little Canada, Ontario Science Centre, Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto Railway Museum and Wet ‘N’ Wild Toronto.

Food & Drink

Because of Covid-pivoting in 2020, many restaurants and food makers have come up with different online delivery options to keep themselves afloat. Help support your local business and get a full belly at the same time! Grab a gift card for your favourite restaurant for an in-person visit or get dinner delivered to have a private party at home.

Food baskets from local spots: Cumbrae, Eataly, La Bottega di Terroni, Mattachioni, Nibbl Cheese, Pusateri’s, Saul Good Gift Co. and delivery from the many shops of St. Lawrence Market.

Festive Treats: Artisan chocolate from Mary’s Brigadeiro, Soma and Stubbe Chocolates; fancy baked goods from Cinnaholic and Nadège Patisserie; deliciously insane cookie flavours from Craig’s Cookies and The Bearded Baker, and seriously addictive donuts from Glory Hole Doughnuts.

Drinks Just For Parents: Coffee subscription delivery from Coffee Tree Roastery, Parachute CoffeePilot Coffee Roasters, and The Social Blend; Craft beer monthly surprise subscription from Small Batch Dispatch (I got this for my husband this year… Shhh!); cocktail kits from Dillon’s Gin, Mother Cocktail Bar and Reid’s Distillery, and locally distilled spirits from Nickel 9 and Spirit of York.

Looking for more Christmas events in Toronto? Click here for more!