Shop Talk

Making a list, and checking it twice – the gift guide

“Oh the weather outside is frightful” …

“Baby it’s cold outside” ….

“Let it snow let it snow let it snow” …

“Santa baby, slip a sable under the tree for me” – ah. Here are some lyrics we can actually relate to. We may have all been waiting for the snow to fall to get in the festive spirit (and start our shopping – whoops), but with Christmas exactly two weeks away, we can’t wait any longer. Here it is – our gift guide. Happy gifting readers!

The list. As the holiday shopping season approaches, have you made yours? Who’s been nice? What are you buying for Aunt Mildred? Add stress to the very real struggle that is winter in Ottawa (boots + dresspants combo, has anyone figured this out?) and it’s enough to push you to consume an entire gingerbread house. We feel for you: when putting together the gift guide, we threw around a few ideas, but nothing seemed quite right. Enter Santa’s helpers: Balance InStyle’s concierges, who routinely help clients with holiday shopping (not to mention event planning, running errands, and more). The Ottawa company’s president, Amanda O’Reilly, and her team, personal concierges Sarah-Jean Maher and Jillienne Currie-Payant, have put together the perfect wish list, along with a few tips on how to keep stress at bay. And we’ve included a few gift picks from the Ottawa Magazine team because we can’t help being a part of the holiday cheer. Life just got a little easier.

ocm christmas

Silver Belle
The Kate Spade initial pendant necklace is available in silver or gold, with or without pavé crystals. Flip it over, and “one in a million” is stamped on the back. $81. Nordstrom, Rideau Centre, 50 Rideau St., 613-567-7005.
­ — Sarah-Jean Maher

If you need even more sparkle for this season, grab a statement necklace for holiday parties. This black-and-silver jewelled piece is sure to turn heads. $695. True Bijoux, 206 Sparks St., 613-232-2229.
— Ottawa Magazine

Fun With Fragrance
This fragrance sampler pack is up there as far as perfect gifts go.  Your giftee will receive seven sample perfumes (in legit mini-bottle versions of the regular) and a certificate for one full-size bottle of her favourite. Available in men’s cologne as well, it can make a great his-and-hers gift (both sets have a Giorgio Armani, Givenchy, and Burberry). Nothing says love like sharing a scent. $97. Shoppers Drug Mart, various locations.
— Jillienne Currie-Payant

ocm christmas

Stocking Stuffer
You will never hear the pitter-patter of little feet if they’re snuggled up in these faux-fur-lined booties from Robeez. Soft Soles are the perfect gift to keep tiny toes nice and toasty, and you can choose from several styles, colours, and sizes. $38. Belly Laughs, 300 Earl Grey Dr., (in Kanata Centrum Plaza), 613-963-0711.
­ — Ottawa Magazine

Festive and Foxy
Wrap a loved one (or yourself) in luxury this chilly season with the silver fox faux fur throw (say that four times). Fireplace, hot chocolate, Christmas tunes — can you feel it? Velboa lining, naturalistic faux-fur, and 60 inches by 70 inches in size, this throw adds sophistication to any space. $129. Urban Barn, ByWard Market, 22 York St., 613-860-6020.
­ — Sarah-Jean Maher

A Bow on Top
This year saw men’s fashion reaching a whole new level, with stores, barbers, and beards all coming into the limelight — and men’s accessories are no different. These off-the-rack and custom reversible bow ties will add a pop of colour to any outfit and are made locally by an Algonquin College professor. Normcore be damned! $35.  Stroked Ego, 131 Bank St., 613-667-3008.
— Sarah-Jean Maher

Close Shave
During the holidays, packaging matters, and the Warren Chase Shave Kit comes dressed to the nines. The Legacy Bag was designed in collaboration with Canadian designer James Brooks, crafted with oil-tanned leather and stainless-steel cast closures, and filled with the Warren Chase signature razor, silver-tip badger brush, shaving stand, retreat luxury shaving cream, and hazel post-shave tonic. Bring on the mistletoe. $350. Warren Chase Urban Retreat for Men Inc., 515 Industrial Ave., Unit 1, 613-241-0818.
— Jillienne Currie-Payant

Toe Tip 
Matching socks are so 2014. Solmate socktinis for your little one’s piggies come in colourful quintets (two pairs and one spare) created by the Socklady and made in the USA. An excellent stocking stuffer, they also come in men’s and women’s sizes. A perfect match for your feet because “life is too short for matching socks.” $20. Boogie + Birdie, 256 Elgin St., 613-232-2473.
— Amanda O’Reilly

Sarah-Jean’s Tip
Avoid the crowds and the stress by shopping online. Many online retailers will offer special discounts on their products. If you’re travelling for the holidays, purchasing gifts online and sending them directly to your destination will save room in your bags and might even avoid extra baggage fees.

ocm christmas

Holiday Helix
Turn your DNA into a work of art. Using DNA11’s prep kit, take a swab of your cheek and send away the sample. In true CSI fashion, your unique markings will be printed onto a canvas that can be hung in your home. You can create pairings (his and hers) or even get a printing of your pet’s DNA. Various sizes and colours available. From $261. DNA11, 613-860-7000,
— Amanda O’Reilly

Winter Warmth
Classic, durable, and well-insulated, the Canada Goose women’s freestyle vest is a versatile transition piece and a must-have for layering. $345. Sporting Life, Lans­downe, 125 Marché Way, 613-216-6000.
— Sarah-Jean Maher

Maple mittens
Show a bit of national pride with the HBC 2016 Canada Red Olympic Mittens! The vibrant red will add a splash of colour to any winter wardrobe, while the fleece lining keeps hands toasty and warm. $12. Hudson’s Bay, 73 Rideau St., 613-241-7511.
— Ottawa Magazine

Wake Up, Shake Up
When the time comes for you to rise, Clocky will run away beeping, jumping up to three feet in the air off your bedside table, and roll around the floor until you get out of bed and shut it off. Try sleeping through that! Warning: side effects may include profanities. $60. Dreamweaver, 320 Richmond Rd., 613-695-0174.
— Sarah-Jean Maher

Sounds of the Season
Size doesn’t matter: the HMDX Dynamite wireless portable speaker has a great price point and sound despite its small stature. Rechargeable and holding up to five hours of juice, this Bluetooth speaker (with a range of 30 feet) also works as a speaker phone and is splash-proof. Like to sing in the shower? Fret no longer! $50. Bed, Bath & Beyond Trainyards, 500 Terminal Ave., 613-241-1233.
— Jillienne Currie-Payant

Join the Circus
This collectible tin toy is a replica of a 1950s version, proving that everything old is new again. Wind it up and the elephant rides his trike while the ball spins on the end of his trunk. Other models, including a Ferris wheel and a carousel, are available. $28.95. Tinseltown, 1096 Somerset St. W., 613-680-7557.
—Ottawa Magazine

Amanda’s Tip
Don’t wait till the last minute! When time is running out, common sense seems to disappear and the temptation to overspend creeps in.  These temptations are especially strong when crowds are high and your patience is low. Get organized with a list and have a budget in mind and stick to it!  

ocm christmas

Family Heirloom
Help a child count the number of sleeps until Christmas. This gorgeous wooden Advent calendar has 24 numbered compartments that are big enough to hold a small toy or a treat. $69.96. Tinseltown, 1096 Somerset St. W., 613-680-7571 .
— Ottawa Magazine

Writers Tears
Curl up with some Yeats and enjoy an award-winning Irish Whiskey made with single pot still and single malt varieties. Hailed by some as the “champagne of whiskies,” its warm, honeyed tones are perfect for the aspiring writer on your list. $50. LCBO. 981 Wellington St. W., 613-729-1275.
— Ottawa Magazine

Lift Your Spirits
Holidays are for celebrating, and there’s no better way to shake things up than with Bittermilk. This new line of cocktail mixers created by bartenders for the amateur is made with many natural ingredients. Just add your favorite spirit. The perfect gift for a party host or friend who always offers you a drink. $20. Jacobsons, 141 Beechwood Ave., 613-746-6002.
— Jillienne Currie-Payant

Adopt a Tree
Adopt an olive tree: Nudo’s olive trees grow in four groves from three regions: Le Marche, Sicily, and Liguria. Once you’re a proud parent, you will receive premium extra-virgin olive oil four times a year and 20 per cent off all other Nudo products, and you are always welcome to visit your tree should you venture to Italy. You will be shown around the olive grove, introduced to your tree and, depending on the time of year, shown the olive press in action.
$94. Nudo Adopt,
— Sarah-Jean Maher

Chop! Chop!
For those who like to find recipes online and usually resort to leaving their smart phones on the messy battlefield that is the kitchen counter, the Victorinox swivel knife block with tablet stand is the perfect kitchen gadget. No more worries about spilling an ingredient on your trusty piece of tech — the block displays your recipe with ease and away from the spill zone. And with two beautiful wood stains to choose from, it’s the perfect match for any kitchen. $60. C.A. Paradis, 1314 Bank St. 613-731-2866.
— Jillienne Currie-Payant

Jillienne’s Tip
Think outside the box! What gift has never been purchased for them before? Think of something so unusual that there’s no chance of their having ever received such a gift. For example: register a star in the recipient’s name or get something custom made that is sure to be a first!