I’m looking at the date and realize I now have just mere weeks to finalize my gifting situation. No pressure. Well, lots of pressure actually — coupled with the fear of supply shortages and wanting to gift meaningful gifts, I’m sure many can relate. It’s easy enough to get gift cards (teens love that) but we always tend to lean towards gifts that come with experiences especially for those who are the hardest to buy for. We all have those people on our list. Heck, I know I’m probably ON that list. (honestly, I’m cool with time together!)

With all that in mind…I have a few suggestions that will save you the stress!

Eataly Cooking School: ongoing. There are several hands-on classes with dinner to choose from for adults and kids. From creating pastas or gnocchi from scratch  to Tiramisu. A delicious way to enjoy the holidays and beyond. Available virtually or in-person options.

Immersive Nutcracker: You may have the Nutcracker Ballet as a holiday tradition with the family, but did you know you can also experience it in this whole new light? From the creators of Immersive Van Gogh and Immersive Klimt comes this dreamy world of marching toys and sugar plum fairies all projected floor to ceiling in this larger than life 500,000 cubic square feet space. Sure to get the littles in the spirit of the holidays!

HOAME Meditation Studio: This go-to meditation centre hosts a number of beautiful workshops over the holiday season. We’re eyeing the Full Moon Cacao & Meditation Circle, Astrology Birth Chart Readings w/ Still Water Alchemy, and Holiday Sound Bath. Of course, you can still book into their meditation sessions and salt caves as well. Perfect way to de-stress during the holiday frenzy! Great with your BFF.

NEW Dawn of Life exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum: The newest permanent gallery takes visitors on an epic journey back 4 billion years ago -ish to the origins of the world. Nearly 1,000 astonishing specimens (60% are from Canada!) are on display in this bright and airy 10,000 square foot gallery space. From expertly  preserved and detailed fossils to animated and immersive technologies help bring the stories to life. Interactives provide engaging ways to explore and learn about evolution of life’s history. Consider a year’s membership for a family!

The Fast and the Furiously Festive with Second City Toronto at The Comedy Bar(Danforth): until January 9, 2022. Laugh along with The Second City as comedy’s best, brightest and funniest roast the chestnuts outta all the things we love to loath about the holiday season!  Featuring sketch comedy, improv, songs and more merriment than should be street legal!

Art Gallery of Ontario:  Picasso: Painting the Blue Period on until January 16, 2022. Focusing on the artist’s earlier works (1901-1904) the exhibition tells the story of how Picasso, then a fledgling painter in his late teens and early twenties, formulated his signature Blue Period style as he moved back and forth between the cities of Paris and Barcelona. The exhibition will reveal how the young artist borrowed from and transformed the subject matter and motifs of his contemporaries and predecessors during these critical years. Importantly, the exhibition will also show how Picasso’s multi-layered responses to the social and political events around him resulted in spellbinding works that to this day force audiences to grapple with uncomfortable issues such as poverty, labor unrest, gender inequality and war. Not to be missed is also the Matthew Wong Blue View exhibition — the first museum exhibition dedicated to the short-lived but brilliant career of Toronto-born Chinese-Canadian artist. Featuring more than 40 paintings from the artist’s Blue Series, made between 2017 and 2019, the exhibition invites viewers into a world of imaginary nocturnal landscapes, brooding interiors and vibrant still life compositions.Consider gifting an annual AGO membership (starts at $35 per person!)

Come From Away: returning for the holiday season is the smash-hit musical that has taken the world by storm, with continuing sold-out, record-breaking engagements on Broadway, in London’s West End, Melbourne, and on tour across North America. This joyous musical shares the incredible real-life story of the 7,000 airplane passengers from all over the world who were grounded in Gander, Newfoundland in the wake of 9/11, and the small community that invited these ‘come from aways’ into their lives.

The Cast of COME FROM AWAY – Canadian Company. Photo by Cylla von Tiedemann 2019

Sensory BOX TYA: Young People’s Theatre. December 19, 26 to 30. A unique theatre experience with a surprising adventure. The adventure begins with a wrapped box delivered to your door or  (no peeking until the event!). On the day of your performance, you’ll tune into a livestream, pop on a blindfold (included), and begin your tactile trek along with an online audience of young people. In the comfort of your own home or classroom, and alongside the gentle guiding voices of the host, you’ll discover the mysterious contents of your box – and the pure fun of play!

Candlelight Concerts by Fever Up!: Intimate and casual concerts (yes, with candlelight) are a perfect way to warm up the winter nights. Not just classical concerts performed by talented musicians but the roster also includes modern tunes like Modern Divas of Pop Featuring Songs by Beyoncé and Lady Gaga (January 11) or Film Scores and Hollywood Epics (January 13). Concerts take place in iconic spaces including Longboat Hall and the Metropolitan Community Church.

Tribute to Louis Armstrong with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and Byron Stripling: (January 4 and 5) His voice was unmistakable and his artistry astonishing. In this loving and electrifying homage to Louis Armstrong, celebrated trumpeter Byron Stripling deforms and leads the TSO in many of Satchmo’s greatest hits including “What a Wonderful World,”, “Sait Louis Blues”, and “Ain’t Misbehavin'” — great for the grandparents! In addition to the live and in-person concerts, the TSO has added two live stream performances for this musical event.

Bach’s Brandenburg & More with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra: January 7, 8 and 9. The glorious music of J. S. Bach, led by Concertmaster Jonathan Crow and spotlighting the artistry of the TSO’s musicians, includes the stunningly inventive Brandenburg Concertos and the ever-calming “Air on the G String”. Joining the TSO musicians is nine year-old violinist Chelsea Gu, winner of the Play Along with Jonathan Crow All-Star Award—these concerts also feature the entrancing prelude to Cello Suite No. 1, and a rarely performed concerto for bassoon.

Moussa, Wagner & Dvořák with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra: January 12, 13, and 15. Winner of the 2021 JUNO Award for Classical Composition of the Year, the fiery violin concerto by Canadian 2021/22 Spotlight Artist Samy Moussa was inspired by Sicily’s Mount Etna and evokes the ancient fire god said to have lived beneath. This concert marks the composer’s TSO conducting début and features wunderkind violinist Kerson Leong. The concert includes Wagner’s Siegfried Idyll, a ravishingly beautiful birthday gift to his wife, and Dvořák’s rhapsodic Seventh Symphony, the work often regarded as his crowning achievement.

Elmwood Spa: There’s a reason why this remains as one of Toronto’s favourite day spas right in the core! They consistently delivers high quality services to help you refresh and relax. Spa packages are worth checking out. For example, the “Serenity Retreat” package is a 4 hour visit comes with water therapies, Elmline Essential Manicure, Elmline Essential Pedicure, and 3 course lunch at their Terrace Restaurant all for $153. Great outing with all your girlfriends!

Haute Goat: Spend Christmas Day or New Years Eve with shmurling with goats! We’re not kidding! Bundle up for this unforgettable outdoor experience cuddling up with baby goats (they are super affectionate) and have your cameras ready to capture all the fun. Limited space and must be booked in advance. There are other dates available as well (and gift cards!). Great for families and anyone who needs a cuddle sesh.

Black River Wilderness Park: The Indigenous owned and operated 180-acre destination, 90 minutes north of Toronto, stretches alongside the river and offers scores of different campsites. Stay in a yurt, teepee or cabin or your own tent or RV. Immerse yourself in the culture and history of the Chippewas of Rama First Nation. Stop by the fully stocked Trading Post to pick up a sandwich and a pair of moccasins then take a workshop to learn how Indigenous crafts are made. Find out how to build a teepee, learn to drum or create jewelry. Take a medicine walk and learn about the importance of the Eastern white pine. Join an interpretative walk along 10 kilometres of trails accessible by three bridges across the river.