Our Annual Gift Guide

Written by The Editors

It really IS better to give than to receive —when you find the perfect gift that is warmly received, and you haven’t felt caught up in shopping mall madness. To help you achieve this end, we’ve polled a fine range of independent retailers — the real shopping experts — for suggestions for the special people in your life. Whether you’re looking for a big present for someone close to your heart, or a small gift for a hostess or your friend at work, here are some new as well as tried-and-true suggestions from the experts. Happy Shopping!

The Pristine Olive has come up with many delicious ways to help customers stuff their Christmas stockings (with over 60 flavours of oils and balsamics). This year, owner Jamie Griffiths has created The Pristine Olive’s Travel Pack. Keep it “fresh” wherever you go with a zippered padded pouch, including two 60 ml bottles, and a stainless steel funnel. Fill them up with your favourite fresh olive oils and balsamic vinegars and hit the road! If you’re travelling, or just heading out for dinner, this pack is your perfect travel companion, or a delicious gift idea for everyone on your list.  $14.95 The Pristine Olive 884 Adelaide Street N., London www.thepristineolive.com 519-433-4444 

A range of bath and beauty products might be expected at a lavender farm shop, but Steed & Company Lavender also offers a number of culinary items. In limited supply, the Steed & Company Lavender Farm Honey comes from their own bees at the farm. “It’s a delicate blend of nectar from our lavender and various local woodland flowers,” says proprietor Suzanne Steed.  $8.25  Steed & Company Lavender 47589 Sparta Line, RR#5 Aylmer  www.steedandcompany.com 519-494-5525

Gerhard Metzger’s Christmas-themed salamis are available at Metzger Meats in Hensall or at The Village Meat Shop at The Market at Western Fair. These festive salamis are perfect for gift baskets and stocking stuffers for the meat-lovers on your list. $7.99–$9.99  Metzger Meat Products 180 Brock Ave, Hensall www.metzgermeat.com 519-262-3130

Few activities are as civilized and restorative as the taking of Cream Tea, a form of British afternoon tea (a light meal), consisting of tea enjoyed with a combination of scones, clotted cream, and jam. Introduce this tradition to someone you care about with Ilderton’s Village Teapot’s Cream Tea Gift Basket, including delicious tea, a jar of clotted cream, local jam, and fresh scones. $35.00, cello-wrapped with a ribbon. The Village Teapot 13257 Ilderton Rd, Ilderton www.thevillageteapot.ca 519-298-8327

These are heady days (pun intended) for craft beer lovers, with so many delicious ways to explore the world of beer from our local brewers. Amongst other seasonal options, Anderson Craft Ales is offering a limited-edition 2018 Holiday Belgian in 750 mL bottles. Also available is a very limited amount of the 2017 Holiday Belgian, now aged for one year. The delectable flavours of raisin, plum and light spice in this beer are enhanced with aging, but can also be enjoyed immediately after purchase.  ­$10.00 Anderson Craft Ales 1030 Elias St, ­London www.andersoncraftales.ca 506-253-9440 


Stuff your stocking and stock your fridge with the gift of holiday cheer from Black Swan Brewing Co. The well-balanced Porter (ABV 5.3%, IBU 45) is heavy on dark malt with notes of chocolate and coffee. Or try the English Pale Ale (ABV 5%, IBU 30), a traditional British-style beer made with English Noble hops and eight varieties of malt. Now available in 355 mL bottles! Black Swan Brewing • 144 Downie St, Stratford • www.blackswanbrewing.ca • 519-814-SWAN (7926)


Watson’s Chelsea Bazaar is a long-standing Stratford favourite, with two floors displaying an eclectic range of goods from around the world. You’ll find a fine selection of Emma Bridgewater Pottery from England, including festive mugs. There’s all manner of Christmas caroling, capering and cavorting in this snowy lantern-lit woodland scene . Dishwasher & microwave safe.  Mugs each $39.00  Watson’s Chelsea Bazaar 84 Ontario Street, Stratford watsonsofstratford.com 519-273-1790

Nestled among the rolling hills outside Woodstock, Gunn’s Hill Artisan Cheese produces an impressive and delicious variety of Swiss-influenced cheese with milk from the family dairy farm. Select from ready-made options, or create a customized gift basket to meet your specific needs and budget. Choose from a suitably-sized basket, gift box, or this heftier Gunn’s Hill Bushel Basket, that includes 200 g each of Gunn’s Hill Handeck Cheese, 5 Brothers Cheese, Flavoured Oxford’s Harvest, another Flavoured Oxford’s Harvest, and either Beau’s Abbey or Darkside of the Moo, along with a box of crackers from Barrie Brothers, creatively arranged and cello-wrapped in a wooden bushel basket.  $50.00  Gunn’s Hill Artisan Cheese 445172 Gunns Hill Road, Woodstock www.gunnshillcheese.ca 519-424-4024 

Established in 1895, Bradshaws remains one of Canada’s great stores. The emphasis is on pieces that are design-driven “lifetime” purchases and unique and innovative products. Such as Seedlip — The World’s First Non-Alcoholic Spirit — which answers the question, “What to drink when you’re not drinking.”® Choose from three unique and complex blends: Spice 94, Garden 108, and Grove 42 and create non-alcoholic cocktails for the designated driver in your life. Simply mix Seedlip with quality FeverTree tonic or create more sophisticated non-alcoholic cocktails by following incredible recipes on their website.  $39.95  Bradshaws 129 Ontario St, Stratford www.bradshawscanada.com 519-271-6283

Sarnia’s Kitchen Widgets, established in 1995 to provide high quality kitchen tools and houseware products from around the globe, is featuring a hot item for entertaining. “Don’t just host the party … join it!” Reinvented for the modern era, a Raclette Grill is the perfect addition to your next dinner party or social gathering. Designed for several people to cook at once, these indoor party grills offer unique tabletop entertainment, healthy preparation, and mouth-watering results. The cooking surface at the top offers room for grilling, and eight dishes underneath allow you to melt cheese or warm sauces, for unique combinations. Make traditional Swiss recipes, or create your own.$149.99 Kitchen Widgets • 129 Mitton St S, Sarnia • www.kitchen-widgets.com • 519-332-0880

Featherfields is an inspiring destination for distinctive garden décor and specialty gifts, like this beautiful stoneware ­Butterfly Puddler featuring an attractive thistle design. To attract butterflies, add sand and a teaspoon of water to its shallow well of recycled glass. Butterflies seek the moisture as well as the minerals left behind as the water evaporates. Handmade in Ontario from high-fired stoneware, it’s entirely weatherproof. Bring nature home for the holidays!  $48.00  Featherfields 1570 Hyde Park Rd #5, London www.featherfields.com 519-474-1165

Whether you’re shopping for a craft beer lover or a fashionista, Cowbell Brewing Co. has your feet covered! Get the Fancy Feet Variety Pack featuring four fun styles — stripes, polka dots, argyle and Cowbells. Available at the Cowbell General Store in Blyth and online. Cowbell Brewing Co. 40035 Blyth Rd, Blyth www.cowbellbrewing.com 519-523-4724

Patrick’s Beans offers consistently high quality organic coffee blends. Ethically-sourced beans are roasted in small batches, then blended together to attain tailor-made tastes and complexities not found in single varietal selections. A number of popular blends are available, with custom blends for the true aficionado. Check Patrick’s Facebook page for locations. From $15 for a 1 pound bag. Patrick’s Beans www.patricksbeans.com 226-378-5100

Stonetown Artisan Cheese in St. Marys has established a strong reputation for its award-winning cheeses. Hans and Jolanda Weber immigrated from Switzerland in 1996 and now their sons look after the dairy farm while they tend to the cheese. They also sell quality cheese boards and a variety of gift boxes and baskets. The Large Stonetown Gift Box, includes 170 g each of their popular Baby Swiss, Homecoming, Wildwood, Grand Trunk, Muskoka Bliss, Farmstead Emmental, Game Changer, and Kalamata Kiss.  $49.50  Stonetown Artisan Cheese 5021 Perth Line 8, St. Marys www.stonetowncheese.com 519-229-6856 

Does anything inspire warmer feelings than a freshly brewed cup of espresso? Named one of Southwestern Ontario’s great coffee shops, Locomotive Espresso has been gathering loyal patrons for three years in London, and they’d love to inspire reuse with KeepCup Brew Cups. Barista-designed and BPS & BPS-free, they retail several different cups designed for use under any espresso machine. Baristas brew straight into it. Partner the KeepCup with a stainless steel reusable straw with cleaning brush. Your gift giving can reduce the consequences of wasteful convenience behaviors.  Brew Cups $18-38, Straw $7.75  Locomotive Espresso 408 Pall Mall St, London www.locomotiveespresso.com 519-601-3896

Jill’s Table offers a wide variety of specialty food items, kitchen gadgets, cookware, bakeware and fabulous cooking classes. Jill is featuring La Fabrick Whiskey Barrel-aged Maple Syrup this season. Smoky and sweet like s’mores on the campfire, this stellar syrup is produced by the Masse family in the Eastern Townships of Quebec. Category 1 amber maple syrup is aged in Rye whiskey barrels for 4–6 months, creating the distinctive flavour, with hints of brown sugar, vanilla and a touch of baking spice. This would make a terrific hostess or corporate gift for the holiday season. $29.99  Jill’s Table 115 King Street, London jillstable.ca 519-645-1335

A gift certificate from a unique store or a fabulous local restaurant can be a reflection of your good taste and the interests of the recipient. They are available from most businesses, in denominations that fit your budget.


Considerate guests are always looking for appropriate hostess gifts . Some people bring wine. But why not bring a Homemade Lasagna from Marshall’s Pasta Mill? Marshall’s is a family-owned and operated restaurant/catering/retail store of homemade Italian food. In addition to outstanding lasagna that serves eight (meat, roasted vegetable or seafood), Jodie and Blake Marshall offer a variety of fresh pastas, sauces, Portuguese breads, prepared meals, soups and meatballs. Gift Certificates are also available.  From 36.00  Marshall’s Pasta Mill 580 Adelaide St N, London www.marshallspastacatering.ca 519-672-7827 

About the author

The Editors