Beachy-keen gift ideas for Christmas

Dear Santa,

I figure you must have a pretty hard time finding all those presents for everyone, so I thought I’d help you out. Here are some things I especially like because they’re quick, easy and inexpensive. And you can find many of them right here in the Beach.

There are lots of fancy wall calendars around every year, but there are several that Beachers would especially enjoy:

• The annual Beach Metro Community News calendar, with cartoons by Bill Suddick, has space for writing in every daily block. It notes dates of local events, like the Easter Parade (and Beach News deadlines). And it contains a dozen great local-interest cartoons by Beach Metro cartoonist, Bill Suddick.
Just $5 at the Beach Metro Community News office.

• The Beach 2012 Calendar, from the Beach Photo Club, is a top-notch professional-level production. This full-colour beauty is spiral-bound and measures a hefty 33 x 27 cm. There’s one major photo, plus 3 smaller ones, for each month, along with smart photo tips from the pro’s at Vistek photo store.
$20 at Community Centre 55, Beach Metro News, Seagull Classics and other local stores.

• Our own local calendar girls and guys appear in the Au Naturel 2012 calendar produced by the Friends of the Glen Davis Ravine. Several committed members of the group got nekkid (tastefully) for this project to raise money to fight pending development of their ravine space.
$20 at Threads Lifestyle, Grinder Coffee and Beachcomber Hair; $23 online at

• It’s not strictly local, but the Toronto Gardener’s Journal & Source Book is a beloved tradition for Toronto gardeners. The spiral-bound desk calendar is thicker than ever this year, packed with more than 50 pages of resource listings like web sites, gardens to visit, retailers of gardening products and more. That’s in addition to the 2-page-a-week journal section. $24.95 at Book City and Bill’s Garden Centre (Pape & Mortimer).

Garden stuff
Since I’m also the gardening columnist for this paper, Santa, I’ll mention a few goodies gardeners would appreciate getting from you.

• Toronto Star columnist Sonia Day has written a brand-new book, The Untamed Garden. In her usual offbeat way, Sonia takes an earthy look at the essential business of plants and flowers: reproduction—i.e., S-E-X.  The racy history and legends of dozens of plants, including familiars like peonies, lilies and roses, are traced through the centuries and around the world. Stories of lusty gods, hot-to-trot nymphs and famous courtesans are told with Sonia’s trademark salty wit. (Full disclosure: I did some of the background research for this book.)
$26.99 at Book City.

• The Gardener’s Hollow Leg is an ingenious new belt-and-bag combo. Buckle it on before plunging in to trim and deadhead, and you have a sturdy, easily accessible fabric bag to hold all those leafy bits. With plastic bags at a premium these days, it’s a great, endlessly reusable option.
About $29.99 from Great North Outdoor Living Products, 1-800-720-7627.

Homey stuff
Santa, you should know we’re fortunate to have lots of stores in the Beach carrying clever, pretty and useful things. Here are some of my faves:

• Just visiting the Nesters store on Queen is a delight. People with deep pockets can find beautiful high-ticket items, but owner Patti Desjardins also offers a mix of irresistible stocking-stuffers: light-scented French soaps, gardener’s soap, botanical print paper items and sturdy wooden matches in Christmas-print boxes.

• Behind the tiny storefront of Stack Home Accessories is a wonderland of well-designed, practical, fun things for the home. Pick up one or build your own gift basket of surprises like Electro-Man (a human-shaped multi-outlet electrical extension cord), the USB Hub Dog (doggy-shaped USB hub) and the great non-scratch silicone and plastic veggie steamers.

• Stop by Binz and stock up on Envirosax — lightweight fabric shopping bags that bundle up into a tiny roll that fits in pocket or purse. They hold A LOT, last a long time and are bargain-priced at 3/$10 while supplies last.

• We’re known for our dog-friendly neighbourhood, Santa, so plenty of people would appreciate finding a roll of doggy poop bags in their stocking or under the tree. They sound kind of silly at first, but for the dog-owner, they’re one of life’s little luxuries. At Binz, Big Dog Bakery and The Dog Market.

Hope this helps your gift-giving, Santa. Here’s wishing you and our readers merry Christmas, happy holiday season and wonderful things in the new year.

Mary Fran McQuade is a hobby gardener and freelance writer.

Was this article informative? Become a Beach Metro Community News Supporter today! For 50 years, we have worked hard to be the eyes and ears in your community, inform you of upcoming events, and let you know what and who is making a difference. We cover the big stories as well as the little things that often matter the most. CLICK HERE to support your Beach Metro Community News!


Your interesting post made me laugh! Especially, the remark about little dog luxuries. It reminded me of my mother who banned me to go to the first dog bakery that was opened in the town where I grew up – just because as a kid I was able to spend all my pocket money for the stuff sold there! And she considered it as silly idea to buy treats for dog. Yeah, those times were like that. Funny memories these days. She came to visit me recently to Toronto, where I live now, and I was proud to show her where me and my doggie spend some time, either it is Kennel Café, Cosmopawlitan boutique, or Big Dog Bakery (with the most awesome dog food ever) – all of them proclaimed as best pet stores in whole Toronto. Well, my mum just shrugged her shoulders and tried not to care…

Click here for our commenting guidelines.

Leave a Reply