The best gifts of the year, as chosen by experts

From beauty to books, for everyone on your nice list.
(Credit: Getty Images)

  Finding unique and meaningful holiday gifts can be stressful and time-consuming. To simplify things, we've asked a slew of professionals including fashion and beauty experts, artists, writers and a children's store entrepreneur to dish on five items they're seriously loving right now. The result is gift-giving gold for every person on your nice list. 

For stylish kiddos

Picks from Sonia Sultana, co-owner of Tiny Trendsetters children's' store in Toronto

A beautiful snow globe makes for a great year-round decorative piece for your little one's room or play space. This one also lights up, doubling as an incredible night light.

A Little Lovely Company Snow Globes, Indigo, $49.95

These headphones make a perfect gift for tweens this season.

American Jewel Cat & Unicorn Headphones, Amazon, $44.99

Watchitude Slapwatches have incorporated super fun prints that kids love with the awesomeness of a slap bracelet.

Watchitude Slapwatches, Watchitude, $22.00

This set is incredible for both indoors and outdoors as it is virtually indestructible. The pieces snap together like a puzzle so that children can be creative in their play.

Way to Play- Highway Flexible Durable Toy Road - 24 Piece Set, Charlotte et Charlie, $97.99

Twinning is a huge trend these days and kids love having their very own pyjamas that match back to their parents. We designed these ones to fill a void in the marketplace for tasteful pyjamas made from superior quality fabrics.

Matching Family Pajamas, Tiny Trendsetter, $39.99-$59.99

For culture aficionados

Picks from Elio Iannacci, Arts Reporter for Maclean's & Editorial Director @ Bookmark Content

Next year is the 25th Anniversary of John Berendt's greatest literary work to date and there are so many reasons why his famous non-fiction novel is still the longest standing New York Times Best-Seller to date (boasting more than 215 weeks on the list). Considered a modern Southern Gothic and based on Berendt's time in Savannah Georgia, the book is extraordinarily written and begs for a fresh read as it shines a light on prominent, real-life Savannah residents and their place in an unravelling mystery that tears the city apart.

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, Indigo, 16.49

Packaged in four acts, this beautifully designed boxed set of discs is accompanied by one of the most introspective essays Joni Mitchell has ever written. In it, she reveals some of the recording secrets she's kept for years with regards to groundbreaking albums such as Court and Spark and Don Juan's Reckless Daughter. The songs themselves are remastered so beautifully that no mp4 could capture the brilliance behind Mitchell's poetic intentions.

Joni Mitchell's Love Has Many Faces Boxed Set, Amazon, $50.37

You can't go wrong with a versatile and stylish carry-all bag. Saint Laurent recently unveiled a glitter version which is a cheeky ode to the '80s. This spangled, metallic number with tubular handles and a reflective exterior has a 9.8-inch depth to it so you can hold a whole lot of awesome around town.

Saint Laurent Black City Gym Bag, Ssense, $2602

For the person who loves to travel, an airline gift card will help them on their way to the next big unknown adventure.

Airline gift card, Porter Airlines, Air Canada

Artist John Parot's latest batch work — which ranges from painted oranges on gouache to limited edition zines which feature the artist's vivid preoccupation with certain zodiac signs — makes the perfect gift for someone who has everything. The artist can be reached through his Instagram account and prefers to personally connect with art buyers directly.

Art by John Parot's, @jparot, prices vary

For the fashion-y

Picks from Mosha Lundström Halbert, Fashion Director & Therma Kōta co-founder

This Icelandic artist and perfumer's line of niche fragrances are all stunningly peculiar and seductive. You can't go wrong with 'Dark', a woodsy, spicy rose scent that smells incredible on both men and women.

Andrea Maack's Unisex Scents, Mjolk, $175

My friend Amina Mauddi recently launched a new line of footwear that is beyond beautiful and unlike anything else. This Gilda crystal sandal is like jewelry for your feet.

Gilda Crystal Sandal by Amina Mauddi, Net-a-porter, $1210

One of my favorite gifts to give (and sweets to serve) is Vinarterta, a traditional striped Icelandic cake made with cardamom, plums and icing that we grew up with in my family. Luckily, Canadian baker Arden Jackson makes an incredible (and highly portable) version that can be easily shipped and served. It's a unique treat I love to share.

Vinarterta by Arden Jackson, Vinarterta, $44.99

BioEffect's luxe serum is like the Creme de la Mer of Iceland: it's pricey, yes, but a little goes a long way and it makes your skin stronger, plumper and more resilient. I've gotten quite a few men hooked on it too.

BioEffect's Luxe Serum, Holt Renfrew, $220

Therma Kota's reversible shearling coats are handmade in Canada, incredibly cozy and full-proof with made-to-measure sizing available to ensure the perfect-fitting coat. We also offer this same service for men.

Therma Kota's Reversible Shearling Coats, Therma Kota, $1799

For beauty junkies

Picks from Carlene Higgins, freelance writer and co-host Breaking Beauty Podcast

A celebrity favourite, dry brushing sloughs away dead skin cells pre-shower to smoothen skin from head-to-toe like no washcloth can. The perfect mate? G.P.'s spa-smelling Glacial Marine Clay Body Cleanser that detoxifies with the essential minerals found in glacial marine clay as it softens with cold-pressed moringa oil.

Goop Body G.Tox Daily Detox Duo, Goop, $62

Despite its price tag, this multi-use hair innovation has been selling out since it's buzzy launch last month. The wonder wand boasts multiple heads, meaning it can curl, wave, straighten, smooth — even dry hair, all using "Coanda" air styling care of a Dyson digital motor rather than strand-frying, extreme heat to lock in your look.

Dyson AirWrap Styler, Sephora, $649.99

Celine Tadrissi, founder of Hammam Spa in Toronto, launched a stellar line of body care called Céla earlier this year. Aside from the next level, marbled packaging, the line's commitment to Canadian botanicals ingredients is truly impressive. The star "Essential Balm" changes from solid to liquid with the heat of your skin, and treats common irritations from chapped knuckles to ingrown hairs to bug bites. The spa-like lavender and bergamot scented oil can even be used on split ends and dry beards alike.

Céla Essential Balm Miracle Multi-Use Oil, Céla, $45

This mini lip and cheek stain delivers a pretty pop of cherry, and the precious hang tag is already set up with a "from" and "to" notification, so it's ready-to-please without any further bows or packaging needed.

Benefit Gogo Tint Lip & Cheek Stain Mini, Shoppers Drug Mart, $16

Is there a person alive who doesn't love a scented Jo Malone anything? This five-piece set includes a hand and body wash in the cultishly adored basil & neroli scent, plus a room spray, linen spray, and two travel candles.

Jo Malone London House of Jo Malone, Holt Renfrew, $260

For foodies

Picks from Karen Kwan, freelance writer and HealthandSwellness blogger

Whip up a batch of caramel corn or granola and fill these pretty metallic mason jars. Add a bow and you've got a thoughtful, personal gift ready for all your favourite people.

Metallic Mason Jars filled with treats, Real Canadian Superstore, $3.50

Kitchen storage is tight for many people so this compact and ultra-sexy coffee grinder is perfect for the coffee lover in your life.

Bodum Bistro Coffee Grinder, The Drake General Store, $60

Any of your loved ones, runner or not, will enjoy this cookbook. It's filled with simple but delicious good-for-your recipes. I love the Superhero Muffins and the Slow Cooker Beef and Lentils Minestrone.

Run Fast. Cook Fast. Eat Slow. Quick-fix Recipes for Hangry Athletes, Indigo, $23.18

Sometimes the best gifts are things you might covet but be reluctant to purchase for yourself, like this Sodastream.

Sodastream Fizzi One Touch Sparkling Water Maker, Soda Stream, $179.99

Used for citrus zest or for hard cheeses, this grater is great for the home cook on your shopping list.

Microplane Zester, Amazon, $22.50

For bookworms and storytellers

Picks from Kate Inglis, photographer and author of Notes for the Everlost: A Field Guide to Grief and The Dread Crew: Pirates of the Backwoods

A gorgeous blank book and tools to write, dream, and scribble ideas the old-school way. My go-to blank book is a bright red LEUCHTTURM1917.

LEUCHTTURM1917 notebook, LEUCHTTURM1917, $41.95

We take so many pictures these days, but they're all languishing on old, soon-to-be-obsolete hard drives and social media accounts. Go to good local pro lab and see what magic they can do with canvas, enlargements, or books. Or pop over to places online that do other quirky things; I love the square prints from Parabo Press, and it's so easy! Choose right from your Instagram feed for a pack of 25.

Parabo Press Photo Prints, Parabo, $5 for 25

We're lucky, in Nova Scotia, to have a wealth of fantastic independent bookstores staffed by poets, novelists, and seriously knowledgeable enthusiasts. In Lunenburg we've got Lexicon — they curate the most beautiful and most essential reads — and in Halifax I could get lost in Bookmark II and Woozles for hours. It's not just the books you walk away with, it's the experience of choosing them.

A gift certificate to a local indie bookstore, Lexicon Books

I work from home in my third-floor crowsnest studio, and for me to be comfortable and keep my mind moving, the air needs to be animated somehow.  Give the gift of scents to help animate a space and create that feeling of hygge — a Danish term defined as "a quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being."

Dots & Loops Candles, Dots & Loops, $36

Kids are fascinated by them, and adults love collecting records; choose from the Crosley line of record players from Urban Outfitters. They're not fancy in terms of sound (they're meant to be portable and carried from one basement party to the next) but you can plug it into a bigger speaker if you like, and they're such a highlight in any room.

Crosley Record Player, Urban Outfitters, $119

For art lovers and creative souls

Picks from Toronto artist, Amanda Clyne

Tim Ingold is a revelation. An anthropologist with an artist's sensibility, Ingold roots his poetic observations to historical, scientific and philosophical research. One of those rare books that will change how you see the world.

The Life of Lines by Tim Ingold, Amazon, $44.78

I'm an avid tea drinker, and the comforts of tea seem more essential than ever these days. I discovered Sloane tea while having lunch at the Aga Khan museum. It is the best tea I have ever had. Great stocking stuffer. The Earl Grey Lavender blend is sensational - and I say that as a person who doesn't even like earl grey. 

Gourmet Tea, Sloan tea, $20.95

My interest in weaving began with my love of the works of Sonia Delaunay and Anni Albers, but it was re-ignited last year after seeing the small weavings ("sketches") by Sheila Hicks at the Textile Museum. (A beautiful new book on Hicks' small works just came out and is also a must-have.)  Now, with contemporary artists like Brett Wadden and Ethan Cook making the art world give weaving a new elevated platform, it may be time for a fresh look at the loom's possibilities.

A weaving loom, Yarn Canada, $57.00

For the art historian on your list, you can't go wrong with a gorgeous art book like this catalogue from a 2017 exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum. Sadly, I didn't see the exhibition, but I came across this book in New York at the Met's bookstore and have wanted it ever since.

English Medieval Embroidery: Opus Anglicanum, Indigo, $87.36

This would be a splurge purchase, but well worth it. The artist's luscious brushwork transforms Fragonard-worthy florals into even dreamier confections. Her playful yet sophisticated musings on the feminine, painting and the decorative are endlessly seductive.

A painting by emerging artist Tess Michalik, Tess Michalik, 8"x10" $950   

Brought to you by:


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.