Holiday Gift Guide 2021: Small Businesses in Canada

It’s that time of year when businesses start thinking about end-of-year gifts to give to employees, valuable clients, or others who’ve helped over the year. Bonus! You can support independent Canadian companies with your corporate gift shopping! To give you some ideas, we’ve come up with presents from small- and medium-sized Canadian companies that will work for a range of ages and personalities, even if you don’t know the recipient well. All these stores offer shipping within Canada.

Standout Puzzles: Based in Kelowna, B.C., this five-year-old company hires Canadian artists to produce original art for its 750-piece jigsaw puzzles. Designs include wildlife, skaters, the ocean and summer cottages. Company owner Marlinna Stringers notes, “The puzzle industry has been blessed with unprecedented demand and cursed with a curtailed supply chain.” Which means they’re selling out! Jigsaw puzzles have grown their following over the past couple of years; they’re the perfect relaxing activity to do over the holidays with others or alone.

Café Pista: Please java-loving employees with a bag of beans roasted in Pista’s Montreal, QC, workshop. As a fun extra, the colourful design of the bags means no gift wrapping is necessary. Pista was originally launched as a bicycle-powered mobile espresso cart and, in 2019, they launched their third location, which includes their own roasting facility. With the business’s mandate to search for the highest quality coffee from the farm to the cup, you can even check out where the beans are coming from before you order. Corporate sales are possible.

Seventh and Oak: Crafted by hand in small batches in Vaughan, ON, what makes these coconut-soy candles special is their wooden wicks, which crackle like a mini fireplace. The candles’ packaging can vary from festive to calming, with designs inspired by the African roots of owner Annabel Okeya, who hopes the candles scented with essential oils and plant-based fragrance oils encourage more people to take self-care seriously. And to promote sustainability, customers can return the empty glass jars to be repurposed as a new candle.

Liquid Gold: Expertly paired olive oils and vinegars can be used for salads, dipping and everyday cooking, and a sampler pack gives people a chance to try out flavours like Sicilian Lemon White Balsamic. The first Liquid Gold store opened in Halifax in 2010 after the owners fell in love with a bottle of stunning, authentic extra virgin olive oil that they discovered while living in the U.S. Determined never to settle for commercial-grade oil again, they brought what they discovered home to the Maritimes and opened Canada's first extra virgin olive oil tasting bar. Today Liquid Gold has four locations.

The Apothecary: Have you ever ended up with a jumble of clear plastic bags on your kitchen counter once you’ve brought fruits and vegetables home from the grocery store? Mesh cotton produce bags sold by a Calgary green-living store, The Apothecary, are a (reusable) solution that will cut clutter and reduce the use of single-use plastics. The bags’ see-through mesh design allows cashiers to easily identify contents, and the bags can be thrown in the washing machine for cleaning. As a bonus, the bags are manufactured in Canada.

Northern Delights: Winter mornings get a little warmer with a mug of herbal tea from Northern Delights. Blends include Labrador tea, ground juniper, cloudberry and crowberry that are said to promote good health, clear thinking and relaxation. The plants are picked in Nunavik in northern Quebec. Then they’re cleaned, dried and blended with other herbs for a rich and fragrant flavour. The products support the Avataq Cultural Institute, which takes direction from the Inuit Elders Conference of Nunavik, and operates a range of linguistic, heritage and cultural programs.

Rising Tide: Gift baskets are a specialty at Rising Tide, a business that began as a way for the owner to easily bring together goods made by small businesses in New Brunswick. The shop has now broadened to include gourmet foods and crafty housewares from across Atlantic Canada. You can also filter by province if you want to create, say, a PEI gift basket. Options include curated gift baskets lovingly packed in their Saint John warehouse, or you could come up with your own theme or combination. If you’re looking for an inexpensive quick pick, check out the flour sack tea towel screen-printed with a red “Reindeer with Scarf” design.

While a unique gift is a charming way to say “We appreciate you,” give it that all-important personal touch. Deliver it personally and tell the employee or client how much you value them, or include a simple, hand-written note or card with the gift.

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