Ottawa

All in a Day's 2016 gift guide for avid cyclists, female magicians, sleigh lovers

Finding the right gift can be a real challenge, but All In A Day's gift guide is here to help this holiday season.

All in a Day host Alan Neal helps listeners find the perfect gift for finicky family and friends

Finding the right gift can be a major challenge during the holidays. (iStock)

Finding the right gift for the fussy and finicky in your life can be a real challenge, but All in a Day's gift guide is here to help this holiday season.

Host Alan Neal brought together a panel of experts to help listeners struggling to buy the right gift.

If you're buying for a cyclist

Laura writes: "Hi Alan! My 33-year-old son-in-law has got to be the hardest person to buy a gift for at Christmas time! He is athletic and likes to ride his bike in the Gatineau Park's hills and trails. I have no clue what to get him for Christmas! I only have one daughter and I come from a family of three girls so I'm relatively clueless as far as finding gifts for young men who have everything! I hope you can help me."

Fat biking through the snow in Gatineau Park. (CBC)

Nick Vipond, an avid cyclist and coach who has raced bikes for 20 years, suggests getting cyclists who like to ride year-round a waterproof item.

Vipond recommends a Castelli Gabba cycling jacket as a reliable option for those willing to spend a little more. For those looking to get something at a lower price point, bike-specific tools are a great option.

Ian Fraser, who works at Cyclelogik, recommends a dropper seatpost, which adjusts the height of the bike's saddle as the person cycles.

"You can get into an entry level one of those for like $260. They've been around for a long time but the quality is a little bit better and the weights are a little bit lighter and it's a little more reliable," he said.

However, something far less expensive that Fraser often buys for fellow cyclists as stocking stuffers is a dry shower foam called Muc-Off.

"It's like having a shower without having a shower," he said. Cyclists who don't have time to bathe after a sweaty ride can go back to work smelling good.

Cycling enthusiasts Nicholas Vipond (left) and Ian Fraser (right). (Alan Neal/CBC)

Christie Spence, the National Capital Commission's director of Gatineau Park, said season passes for outdoor lovers is an affordable and useful gift.

A season's pass costs $55 per person and cabin rentals in the park are available for up to 17 people for excursions. Yurts and winter cabins are also 40 to 50 per cent off during the week.

If you're buying for a female magician

Gwen writes: "Alan, my teenage daughter has gone through a few stages of interests now but whenever she's into something she takes it on with gusto. Everything she can find out about it. This new interest I know nothing about. She seems obsessed with female magicians. She keeps asking why there aren't more female magician types out there. She keeps pointing out games, stories, movies, shows that advertise male magicians. So it's a world I know nothing about. Are there gifts that would introduce her to cool female magicians?"

Genevieve LeBlanc — also known as The Geek Girl — is one of the head organizers of Queer Con 2016. She suggests Gwen purchase the DC Comic Zatanna for her daughter.

DC Comic Zatanna by Paul Dini. (Art by Jamal Igle)
Zatanna Zatara is a superhero who is both​ a stage magician and an actual magician.

"She is the first thing that comes to your mind whenever I think of anything to do with fiction that is a female magician. She's got this great outfit with a top hat and coat tails and tuxedo and she's got really cool powers," LeBlanc said.

The Ottawa Public Library has also put together a list of books with female magicians for readers interested in the unique genre. Library employee Ann Archer, also a member of All in a Day's book panel, suggests three reads that can be borrowed during the holiday season:

Soria (2016)

In 1919 Boston, best friends Corinne and Ada perform illegally as illusionists in an infamous gangster's nightclub, using their "afflicted" blood to con Boston's elite, until the law closes in.

Girl in the Shadows by Gwenda Bond (2016)

Eighteen-year-old Moira Mitchell grew up in the shadows of Vegas's stage lights while her father's career as a magician soared. More than anything, Moira wants to be a magician too, but her father is dead set against her pursuing magic.

Delusion by Laura L. Sullivan (2012)

Ann Archer (left), Genevieve Leblanc (middle) and Kaye Cormier (right) give advice on how to buy the perfect gift for female magic lovers. (Alan Neal/CBC)

Two teenage sisters, Phil and Fee Albion, descendents of a long line of stage illusionists, are sent from London to the countryside during World War II only to discover a hidden college of real magicians who just might help them save England from the Nazis.

Kaye Cormier, who works at the Comic Book Shoppe on Bank Street, recommends another DC Comic called Raven.

Cormier describes Raven as a strong female character with an interesting backstory. "Just the way that her magic works is really neat."

If you're hoping to hitch a ride on a sleigh

Tara writes: "I'm struggling not so much with finding what to get for someone, but how to get it. My four-year-old son has repeatedly asked for one thing only for Christmas: a ride on Santa's sleigh. Given Santa's very busy schedule, not to mention time zone and geographic logistical issues, I'm not entirely sure how to pull this off. Grateful if anyone has any great ideas on how to provide a sleigh ride experience for a four-year-old boy!" 

Ian's Christmas Adventure Park and Tree Farm in Beckwith is one of the official training sites for Santa's reindeer. (Ian's Christmas Adventure Park and Tree Farm)

Unfortunately, a CBC investigation revealed the real thing wouldn't be feasible given the time of year. 

Holly T. Elf, the Chief Postal Elf for Canada Post, said they do get the odd request for sleigh rides, but the vehicle is currently in the shop.

It's been moved into the Christmas Eve Journey Staging Garage so the mechanical team can fix the heater and update the GPS before Dec. 24.

"I haven't even been on Santa's sleigh," Holly T. Elf said. "This sleigh is 100 per cent magic ... and that magic only works with Santa on board. So unfortunately, [a ride] is just not something we can do here."

Fortunately, there are options around Ottawa that offer authentic North Pole experiences.

Ian Andrews owns Ian's Christmas Adventure Park and Tree Farm at 804 Richmond Rd. in Beckwith. The farm is one of the official training sites for Santa's reindeer.

"We don't have Rudolph, Rudolph stays with Santa, but we do have three," Andrews said. "Blitzen is our main reindeer, he loves everybody."

Andrews suggests Tara and her son visit the farm, which is open from 6 to 9 p.m. until Dec. 24, so they can meet Blitzen and his friends. While the farm doesn't have Santa's actual sleigh, it does have a giant replica to take pictures with.

Visitors can also visit Santa's workshop and an elf house which Holly T. Elf confirmed is "a 100 per cent authentic replica of an elf house from the North Pole."

now