Activity gifts they'll immerse themselves in

Fun present combos designed to spark a new hobby — or at least a few hours of at-home entertainment.

Fun present combos designed to spark a new hobby — or at least a few hours of at-home entertainment

For that hard-to-gift person on your list who generally prefers experiences to things, this holiday season might be trickier than normal. After all, depending on where you (and they) live, taking them out for a nice meal or ordering tickets to a musical performance or art exhibition may simply not be possible right now. 

An alternative idea? Send them a thoughtful hobby starter pack or crafty how-to kit that they can try at home in the new year. Whether it sparks a life-long passion or simply offers a few hours of fun and entertainment, these activity-gifts are both memorable and easy to personalize. And, if you're on a tighter budget, you could always gift just one of the components of each set — with a thoughtful note explaining the idea behind your DIY-ready present — or look for a similar version of some of the parts on sale or at your local off-price retailer. 

Here are seven beginners' level, activity-inspired sets to give this holiday season.

A natural tie dye kit: Fabric dye + socks

Trust us, tie-dyed everything will continue to be a trend through 2021. Instead of gifting a box of synthetic dyes, you could package one or more natural dyes from Vancouver's Maiwa store with a comfortable pair of knit-in-Toronto socks for a winning, all-Canadian pairing. 

Cotton Socks, $16, OkayOk

Eastern Brazilwood (Sappanwood) Dye, $19.95, Maiwa

An easy baker's kit: Cake mix + icing spatula + pastry tips

For your friend with a sweet tooth who is new to baking, a kit that contains a few essential tools plus a gourmet cake mix might just be the answer? Montreal's Zoe Ford also offers mixes for brownies, cookies, scones and more — all available for Canada-wide shipping. 

Carrotey Cake Mix, $9.95, Zoe Ford

4" Olive Wood Straight Icing Spatula, $16.99

Ateco Pastry Tip Set, $25, Williams Sonoma 

A useful embroidery set: Pattern + embroidery hoop + tea towel

Needlework of all types is a relaxing and productive way to keep hands busy while streaming shows or listening to podcasts. Get them started with a pretty pattern and a simple tea towel that can double as a surface for embroidery. 

Half Baked Embroidery PDF Download, $10, Hook Line & Tinker

Frank A. Edmunds Embroidery Hoop: Polished Beech 7", $16.95, The Workroom

Check Print Kitchen Towel, $19.90 for 2-pack, Zara Home

A minimal knitting set: Circular needles + yarn

Well-made needles and super soft yarn make for a great start to many potential knitting projects. Both Good Night, Day and We Are Knitters also offer patterns, too, if you want to include specific instructions with the materials. 

ChiaoGoo Bamboo Circular Knitting Needles, from $19.25, Good Night, Day

5 Baby Alpaca Skeins, $85, We Are Knitters

A grown-up colouring kit: Watercolours + colouring book

You can buy complete adult colouring kits and paint-by-number sets. Or, put together a personalized artsy pairing that is both budget-friendly and adaptable to their personal interests. Beam Paints' beautiful palettes are handmade weekly on Manitoulin Island. 

Mini Birch Cookie Set, $75, Beam Paints

The Art of Wallpaper Coloring Book, about $26.04 CAD, Anthropologie

A colourful friendship bracelet set: Threads + beads 

Making friendship bracelets can be a nostalgic and fun activity for (almost) all ages. And the opportunities for customization and creativity are endless if you include some colourful beads that can be incorporated into knotted and woven designs.

DMC Anniversary Embroidery Floss Pack, $29.99, Michaels

Ceramic Beads, $5.25 per colour package, Beaded Dreams

An indoor gardening set: Terrarium + plants

There are a few nice all-in-one terrarium sets available now from florists and plant retailers, but putting together a set yourself allows for more creativity and personalization. After all, you probably know better if the gift recipient has a green thumb, or would prefer something more low-maintenance. 

Small Glass Terrarium With Wood Lid, $44.95, Crate&Barrel

The "Crazy Cactus" Bundle 6-Pack, from $40 (on sale for $27.99), Plant Collective

Truc Nguyen is a Toronto-based writer, editor and stylist. Follow her at @trucnguyen.

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