Oh my gosh you guys. For the past six weeks I've been working on an all-local, all-awesome gift guide, and I finally get to share it with you today. I'm beside myself with excitement here at Amy in 613 headquarters! At Christmastime many of us have long lists of folks to shop for, and wouldn't it be super thoughtful to give a bit of the 613? Something unique? Something from right here in Ottawa, crafted with care?
This town is busting with talent so instead of hitting up the mall or a big shopping centre, all my gift ideas are homegrown. In fact, I don't think I've bought a single present from a chain or big box store this year. I love knowing that my dollars are going directly to a hardworking local designer or business owner; it just feels real, you know? Like in some small way I get to help them keep doing what they love. These cute animals wearing glasses feel much the same.
So, I've created a handy gift guide for ya: my top 13 in the 613. I've got ideas for your mum, your bro, your bestie, your coworker, your other half, heck even your mail carrier who's working extra hard right now. I've also got ideas for just about every budget, starting at $12.95 and going right up to Champagne Pappi (okay maybe not that much).
But you know what else? One of you lucky ducks is going to win EVERY. SINGLE. THING.
Yup, that's right. Everything on my list. $500 worth of legit 613 gifts. $500!
This is my biggest giveaway yet and if you're the lucky winner your Christmas shopping will basically be done for you. Bet I've got your attention now, eh?!
So let's get started! Drumroll please...
the AMY IN 613 GIFT GUIDE
1. "ROCK" BRACELET BY MALA RAE, $36
This gorgeous Rock bracelet was created by local designer MalaRae. The owner, Kyla Rae, designs and makes each piece herself with care, craftsmanship, and attention to detail. She uses only top quality semi-precious gemstones and crystals, and this bracelet uses a stone I'd never seen before: larvikite. larvikite. Available in wrist sizes XS through XL, this is a thoughtful gift for the yogi or yogini on your list.
2. SHAVING KIT BY STOUTHEART SHAVING CO., $47
I absolutely love the Stoutheart folks. I met Greg and Jen back in October at the Makers Pop-Up Bazaar and I was instantly smitten with them. They're genuine, humble, hardworking folks, and they've created some absolute gamechangers for lots of guys out there. This Stoutheart Shaving Kit contains a shaving brush, their signature shaving soap (lasts for months!), and their beard oil (which is also a dream on the skin and great for split ends). Grab it for your hubby, your bro, or your pops!
3. COLOUR LIKE KATERINA MERTIKAS & PENCIL CRAYONS BY ZEN COLORING PAGES, $30
Have you tried an adult colouring book yet? Now, when I say adult I don't mean NSFW, I mean colouring books for us big kids to help us slow down and chill the heck out. And Colour Like Katerina Mertikas is an adult colouring book that's 100% homegrown: beautiful illustrations by nationally recognized Ottawa artist Katerina Mertikas, and it was published and printed by Zen Coloring Pages right here in the 613. It just launched this week so you'll be one of the first to give or get one! Added bonus: orders of $50 and up on zencoloringpages.com receive a free set of pencil crayons. Zen Coloring Pages is throwing in a set for the lucky winner too!
4. GIFT CARD FROM PRANASHANTI YOGA CENTRE, $50
I love the idea of giving experiences rather than things, and a PranaShanti gift card is a great way to do just that. PranaShanti is one of the most established yoga centres in Ottawa with 80 classes per week (warm, power, yin, hot, you name it), on-site wellness services like massage therapy and reflexology, and a beautiful boutique with books, yoga gear, and more. Pop by PranaShanti to find the perfect gift for the yogi on your list or shop online!
5. SWEET & SAVOURY SAMPLER BY TOP SHELF PRESERVES, $20
Top Shelf Preserves is a small business nestled in the heart of Old Ottawa South, helmed by Sara Pishva. She crafts small batch handmade pickles and preserves in flavour combos that will blow your mind: think Sriracha pickled garlic scapes and blueberry and gin jam. Top Shelf makes a sweet and savoury sampler that's a no-brainer gift for hostess gifts, teachers, or even stockings. It's just $20 and contains 4x60ml jars: blueberry gin jam, crab apple jelly, rhubarb raisin chutney, and red pepper jelly. Big thanks to Lesley Marshall for this awesome photo!
6. "FLINT" PONCHO SCARF BY BLONDIE APPAREL, $55
I have one of these ponchos. I live in it. I think everyone should have one. Almonte-based Blondie Apparel makes these versatile ponchos from the softest bamboo rayon you can possibly imagine, and you can wear them as a poncho or an infinity scarf. Top tip: I switch mine to infinity mode if I'm about to put on my coat, then switch back to poncho mode when I take my coat off. I'm giving away the gorgeous "Flint" purple poncho above! Pick one up at JV Studios in Wellington West or grab one on Etsy. Your bestie will love you forever if she finds this under the tree.
7. OTTAWA PRINT BY RAYMOND BIESINGER FROM GOODS SHOP, $60
I adore this print. Can't you just see it hanging in your pal's living room or in your buddy's studio? Or in your own house for that matter? The Ottawa City Print by Raymond Biesinger shows Ottawa on 7 May 1945, the day the Second World War ended in Europe. It's screenprinted in a 3rd edition of 111 copies and is 24" square on white 12 pt Bristol paper. Signed and numbered on the back. Get it in-store or online at Goods Shop in North Dal!
8. COCKTAIL KIT BY SPLIT TREE COCKTAIL CO., $39
You can't make a great cocktail with crappy ingredients so get the good stuff! Split Tree makes small batch cocktail syrups, cordials, and tonics that'll impress the amateur bartender on your list. Going to house party for New Year's Eve? Bring these for the host! And did I mention Split Tree recently slayed the dragons on CBC's Dragons' Den? Impressive stuff! I'm giving away a bundle that includes their Tonic No.3, Rhubarb & Elderflower Cordial, and Vanilla Ginger Syrup. Buy these guys online or at a whole slew of local shops.
9. ARTISAN CARAMEL SAMPLER BY MORSEL DESSERTS, $12.95
Morsel makes small-batch artisan caramels in mindblowing flavour combos like Pistachio Cardamom, Espresso Orange, Matcha Sesame, and their signature Salted Caramel. I keep a few Morsel gift packs on hand for occassions like impromtu dinners with friends, but these are also great to pop in your mailbox for the hardworking mail carriers that deliver our online purchases all year long. The sampler packs are wrapped and ready for giving, and include an assortment of 10 caramels.
10. GIFT CARD FROM SMUDGE BEAUTY BAR, $30
Smudge Beauty Bar is a spa and nail bar tucked into a gorgeous heritage building in North Dal. Think wing-backed chairs at their pedi stations and Eiffel chairs at their mani stations. It's like getting your nails did in a design magazine. For Christmas, treat one of your gal pals to some pampering in this pretty space, she'll be thrilled! My giveaway prize includes a $30 Smudge gift card, which is enough for a mani or some new brows.
11. WOODSMOKE & OLIVE BALSAM FIR CANDLE FROM MAKERHOUSE CO., $25
I stumbled upon this little gem at MakerHouse Co. in Hintonburg and it smells just like a walk through a Christmas tree farm. This is the *perfect* gift for your friends who love Christmas but can't fit a real tree in their teeny apartment/condo (that's me...), or your friends who want their place to smell like Christmas trees all the time (also me). Swing by MakeHouse and pick one up!
12. OTTAWA PILLOW COVER BY MY VINTAGE RETREAT, $28
This Ottawa pillow by My Vintage Retreat is just the thing for the proud 613-er on your list. This local artisan uses upcycled and vintage fabrics, so this is an extremely limited edition that anybody on your list will be thrilled to show off on their sofa. The pillow cover is a standard 18” x 18” size with a zipper enclosure. Grab one online at OOAK & Whimsy!
13. VERSATILE OTTAWA COASTERS FROM BOOGIE & BIRDIE, $35
I love these coasters to bits. Versatile makes them using vintage maps of our fair city, and prints the designs directly on to 4x4" marble stone tiles. Flip 'em over and you'll find four cork circle pads to prevent any scratches to your furniture. The lovely folks at Boogie & Birdie on Elgin Street carry these in a variety of Ottawa neighbourhoods, including Centretown, The Golden Triangle, The Glebe, Hintonburg, and the Byward Market. If you're not familiar with Boogie & Birdie, it's the sister shop to Mags & Fags and it's my favourite place in the whole of downtown for thoughtful gifts. Go visit them, they're wonderful! And they've kindly offered up a set of Versatile's Centretown coasters in the prize pack.
Whooooaa nelly, that's a lot of neat stuff. So how can you win it?
THE MASSIVE MEGA 613 GIVEAWAY
First up, a few rules:
Since this is a 613 giveaway, only local Ottawa-Gatineau residents are eligible.
Since this is a bulky prize you *must* be able to meet me in the downtown core to claim it. This prize will not be shipped. If you're the winner we'll find a date and time to meet up.
If you're good with those rules, it's time to enter! Here's how to win almost $500 smackeroos in locally crafted gifts:
1. Like Amy in 613 on Facebook.
2. Post a blog comment below telling me your favourite gift in the gift guide.
Want some extra entries? Sure you do!
3. For an extra entry, post your favourite gift on Instagram and tag @amyin613. Double points if you tag the designer or business who sells it too. Triple points if you tag your post with #613giftguide.
So there you have it, a whole bunch of ways to win! The contest closes next Wednesday December 16, 2015 at 6:00pm EST, and I'll announce the winner shortly after. By entering the contest you accept the terms: local residency and central pick-up.
These Christmas cats wish you good luck!