The CBC Arts holiday gift guide: 2017 edition

Discover great gifts made by Canadian artists. Until we open one of those As Seen on TV shops, this list will have to do.

Until we open one of those As Seen on TV shops, this list will have to do

See something you like? (Editorial, WKNDR Shop, Jo Lee, Poketo, Stephanie Cheng, The Paper Place)

You've survived Black Friday and Cyber Monday and whatever you call an average day at a box store during the month of December. And yet, somehow, you're still shopping.

Sorry about that.

But look! We made you this list!

It's packed with gift ideas, items that are especially great because they're all made by artists we've featured on this very site. It's like CBC Arts opened one of those "As Seen on TV" stores, but instead of Shake Weights and Thighmasters, we carry an unusually large assortment of enamel pins. Let's get browsing...


Artist-inspired pencil case

Jo Lee, $20

What would Frida do? Same goes for Bowie. Jo Lee's watercolour portraits of her favourite artistic icons feature on these cute pouches. They don't just hold pens and pencils — they might just inspire you to use them. 


Sloth socks

Jo Lee, $18

Another option from Toronto illustrator Jo Lee...because some people actually like getting socks for Christmas.


Beasts from Bricks by Ekow Nimako

Quarto Publishing, $24.99 (USD)

Maybe you know someone who's still getting Lego from Santa — or maybe they've collected enough bricks over the years to stuff 50 sleighs. Now, they can play Lego like an artist. Toronto's Ekow Nimako wrote this guide, which includes instructions on how to make 15 rare animals, from plastic elephants to orcas.


Winnie Truong wallet

Poketo, $12 (US)

A gift for the friend whose spending habits can get, well, a little hairy. This limited edition vinyl wallet features illustrations by tress-loving Toronto artist Winnie Truong.


Paloma Dawkins, $4.99

You've seen the GIFs on CBC Arts: Exhibitionists — now play the game! From Montreal animator (and former Exhibitionist in Residence) Paloma Dawkins, Gardenarium is described as "a chill adventure taking place on a cloud in the sky." Call of Duty this is not, but then, you probably figured as much from those eye-melting cartoon graphics.

Joseph Wu with one of his creations. (CBC Arts)

Origami supplies

The Paper Place, $3.95

Countless paper cuts and 142 sheets later, they'll be folding like a pro. To get them started, share this this video about origami artist Joseph Wu.


Rollin'Dice knit and Nu Camo dog sweater

Hayley Elsaesser, $150 and $30

Christmas sweaters don't have to be ugly, but they're best when they're bold. Designer Hayley Elsaesser has a few colourful options to choose from — for both humans and animals.


Poor Gray hoodie

Editorial, $60

Or maybe you're shopping for someone who's more of a Christmas "hoodie" person. Tis the season for aimless lounging — and no Canadian art character reps the sloth life more than Poor Gray. This hoodie features a wee, embroidered version of Claire Milbrath's creation. Find a variety of colours through her Editorial Magazine shop.


Ness Lee loose tees

Stay Home Club, $46

One for you, one for me. Toronto's Ness Lee has designed two new slouchy and soft T-shirts for Stay Home Club. 

A sampler pack of authors. The Short Story Advent Calendar, created by Alberta publisher Hingston & Olsen, is back for a third year. (Hingston & Olsen)

Short Story Advent Calendar

Hingston & Olsen, $55

We're already a week into December, which means it's too late to start from the beginning, but so long as you're not shopping for a stickler, this story-a-day calendar is a dream gift for book lovers. If you don't mind a few spoilers, follow the hashtag #SSAC2017 to discover what people are saying about the collection so far.

Guillermo del Toro's Bleak House. Guillermo del Toro: At Home With Monsters runs at the Art Gallery of Ontario Sept. 30 to Jan. 7, 2018. (Photo © Josh White/ of AGO)
(AGO Shop)

At Home with Monsters

AGO Shop, $39.99

Whether they visited the AGO's Guillermo del Toro exhibit every weekend since October or just wished they could snoop through the show's 450+ items in person, this exhibition catalogue offers an even deeper dive into the director's love of horror movies, comics and all manner of macabre and fantastical pop culture.


"Dark Matter" throw pillow

Callen Schaub, $59

It's OK to get paint on your couch. Toronto's Callen Schaub sells a selection of throw pillows splashed with pictures of his spin paintings.

(CBC Arts)

An authentic piece of CBC Arts history!

Etsy (MichelleGauthierArt), $175

As seen on CBC Arts, it's the very same "embroidered and beaded menstrual pad" featured in this video about artist Michelle Gauthier. Own the piece that inspired a handful of Facebook trolls — or skim her Etsy page for other designs. She has plenty available, including framed Christmas ornaments.

(Etsy/Fur and Loathing)

Stuffed squirrel

Etsy (Fur and Loathing), $300

As taxidermy artist Cindy Klippenstein told us earlier this year, "There's a lot of weird people out there." Maybe you're shopping for one. If so, the Yukon artist finds that the best weirdos really go for her stuffed squirrels. As of writing, there's only one left on her Etsy page, so snatch it up before another lovable creep finds it.



So many pins, various prices

We can't say how long this trend's been going on for, but at the tail end of 2017, enamel pins are still on point. Pictured, check out designs by Vancouver-based artists Ali Bruce (WKNDR Shop, $11 US) and Rafael Mayani (Rafael Mayani, $8 US). And as seen on This Art Works, a pin version of Kayla Polan's "Felon Melons" (Kayla Polan, $18).


2018 Year of the Dog calendar

Stephanie Cheng, $30

A two-colour screen print for the "ruff" year ahead. Design by Toronto's Stephanie Cheng.


Dorota Pankowska, $20 (US)

Are you seriously still looking for something?

Just buy "Something."

Designed by Toronto's Dorota Pankowska, this particular "Something" is really just a plastic brick the size of a chocolate bar, but it is — by definition, at least — so much better than nothing. Signed by the artist, there are just 120 available.


Leah Collins

Senior Writer

Since 2015, Leah Collins has been senior writer at CBC Arts, covering Canadian visual art and digital culture in addition to producing CBC Arts’ weekly newsletter (Hi, Art!), which was nominated for a Digital Publishing Award in 2021. A graduate of Toronto Metropolitan University's journalism school (formerly Ryerson), Leah covered music and celebrity for Postmedia before arriving at CBC.