Is it just us or does the old saying, “You don’t know what you have till it’s gone” ring especially true this year? After November 1 we may even miss the Christmas carols playing ad nauseum until New Year’s at our favourite businesses. Likely gone as well are hour-long lineups at department stores and fist fights over $100 TVs at Walmart on Black Friday. Hey, maybe this isn’t so bad?
That’s right folks, we’re staying home this year to curb the spread of Covid-19 – so join us as we start crossing items off our Christmas lists early by indulging in our favourite coronavirus-coping-mechanism: online shopping.
12 Days of Christmas Bundle – $99.95
If you’re struggling to find the perfect gift for a special someone in your life, here’s a hint: self-care never goes out of style. The 12 Days of Christmas bundle from Lush offers a dozen of pampering products from bath bombs to shower gels and scrubs. It also includes an exclusive reusable box.
Birch Bark Coffee – $15.99
Any coffee lover in your life will appreciate these fair-trade beans, even more because for every 50 bags sold online, Birch Bark buys water purifiers for Indigenous homes experiencing boil-water advisories. The Ottawa-based company also supports small farmers in Latin America and has earned rave reviews for their freshly roasted, organic blends.
Your cup will taste better knowing you’re supporting an Indigenous inclusion continuum. Founder Mark Marsolais-Nahwegahbow, a member of the Whitefish River First Nation in northern Ontario, recently received a CANIE Indigenous entrepreneur award for his efforts.
Intelex Warmies Plush Slippers – $41.14
Look more forward to the long winter ahead with these Oprah-approved slippers that can be safely microwaved for a little added heat. They contain specially treated dried millet seeds and a hint of dried lavender flowers for both warmth and aromatherapy.
As feet are particularly susceptible to winter chills, a good pair of slippers can go a long way. Although reviews suggest there is limited support on the bottom, the soft plush cushioning is heavenly.
Lululemon Leggings – $59-$168
Arguably the originator of women’s active-wear fashion (just don’t tell the 1980s), Lululemon has an extensive and expensive library of leggings available through its online store. But the high price tags are part of what makes these an ideal gift. Most people won’t spend that much on themselves. This is where you come in. And, oh, by the way, my wife tells me they’re totally worth the money.
However, they also have inexpensive options starting around $60 with pricier leggings clocking in at three times that.
MaxKare Polar Fleece Heated Blanket – Full Size – $82.99
Winters can be cold, but there’s no reason you have to be. Big enough for two, yet cozy enough for one person to fully envelop themselves, this heated polar fleece blanket is guaranteed to keep the winter chills at bay. With four different levels of heat, you can stay as warm as you want.
The blanket comes with an automatic feature to power off after 10 hours, as well as an overheat protection for your safety and energy-saving concerns. A 14-foot cable ensures you more mobility. The blanket is also machine washable.
Foldable Survival Shovel and Multitool – $45.99
What to get for the man that has it all? Well, maybe something he’s never thought of. This stainless-steel folding shovel and multitool is the perfect thing to keep in the car, boat, ATV, skidoo or wherever it might come in handy. The shovel includes a saw function, while the rest of the tools – including a knife, fire starter, whistle, screwdrivers and emergency hammer – are stored in the handle.
Online, some reviewers have said the knife needs to be sharpened first, but beyond that, you get a durable tool that can be used in many situations. Collapsing into a carrying case that fits into your hand, it expands to over two-and-a-half feet long when fully assembled.
Grayl Geopress Water Purifier – $119.95
While not everyone wants to spend $100 on a water bottle, when you’re out in the bush and thirsty, this one will keep you hydrated and safe no matter the drinking source. Its heavy-duty filtering and purification system is designed to keep out bacteria, viruses and chemicals.
It works like a French-press coffee maker with something called a sub-micron trap for removing pathogens and unwanted odours and flavours. For rugged explorers, it’s also durable enough to withstand 10-foot drops onto rocks.
Zoleo Satellite Communicator – $269
Out on the land, water or road? No cell coverage? Well, the Zoleo connects to an Iridium satellite network through your phone or tablet so you’re never out of touch. You can let others know you’re okay by sending and receiving messages or by sharing your GPS location. It can tell you the weather forecast wherever you may happen to be. But most importantly, it has a SOS alert that’s monitored 24/7. The Nation tried it out and recommends this for all Cree.
Moistenland Hydroponics Growing System Starter Kit – $122.99
Have you or your loved ones ever dreamed of having your own year-round herb or veggie garden? With the latest in hydroponic technology, easily grown fresh and delicious foods can be always available. The system relies on LED lights to replace the sun on a controlled timer, requiring only the addition of water, nutrient solution and seed pods – sold separately.
Within a few weeks, you can have a flourishing harvest ready to eat. Choose from herbs like basil, thyme, sage or parsley, vegetables like cherry tomatoes and peppers, or even strawberries. The hydroponic kit has room for up to 12 plants to grow in soil-free biochar mud, up to five times faster than plants would grow outdoors. Some people even use the device to give outdoor plants a head start before replanting them outside. Either way, you’ll be able to enjoy fresh food in any season.
Next Gen Gaming Consoles – $399-$499
This will be one of the most popular gifts and thus the hardest to obtain this Christmas season. Microsoft and Sony will be releasing their next generation gaming consoles in early November (Xbox Series X November 10, PS5 November 12). Both developers promise their new consoles will make a significant step in terms of graphics, frame rates and processing speeds making them competitive with top-of-the-line gaming PCs for a fraction of the price. Both the new Xbox and PlayStation will have disc and discless options as well as variable pricing depending on how much memory you will need. The only choice left to make is whether you’re on team Xbox or PlayStation.
Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 2 Waterproof Bluetooth Speaker -$130.24
There are plenty of waterproof sound systems to take your party with you, but this one seems best able to keep the music going even after your canoe capsizes. Its audio projects 360 degrees with powerful bass, its battery lasts all day long and is compatible with all your devices.
The Wonderboom 2 is ready for all your amphibious adventures – it’s waterproof, drop-proof and it even floats! Reviews are very positive, and it delivers impressive sound and clarity for the cost.
Portal from Facebook – $179 – $379
With social-distancing protocols in place until a vaccine is approved to treat Covid-19, perhaps a good gift to give that faraway friend or relative is a face-to-face conversation. Portal from Facebook is a video-calling device that comes in two forms – a tablet or camera that plugs directly into your TV. With excellent image and sound, it puts video calling from your cellphone, computer or tablet to shame. It’s also easy to use and set up, even for the technophobe. All it requires is an internet connection and a Facebook or WhatsApp account. And if you’re worried about the device spying on you, we’d recommend unplugging when it’s not in use.
Vamvo Mini Projector L4200 – $169.99
Home projectors are all the rage, and for good reason – with more of us spending time at home, there’s never been a better time to enjoy the big-picture cinema experience chez nous. This compact model delivers 720p HD images with a surprisingly bright bulb, meant to last 50,000 hours. Connect to your TV, computer or favourite game console to turn any wall (or suspended white sheet) into a 200-inch screen.
While the projector has built-in speakers, you can also use your own to supplement the experience. The only downside is that it won’t be visible during a bright day outside – making it unbeatable in the long dark winters. The package includes a remote control, carrying case and several cables, but check to make sure you don’t need another cable for whatever device you want to connect.
Amazon Fire 7 – Kids Edition – $129.99
We all know that the pandemic has been especially hard on children. Amazon is offering a heavily discounted version of its standard Fire 7 tablet outfitted with a “kid-proof” case and stand and a two-year warranty – if your kid is somehow able to break it, they’ll replace it. The tablet comes with a year of Amazon Kids+ service, which includes educational content, books, apps and movies. You can also set parental controls and screen-time limits.
While the content is oriented towards kids aged 3-12, the tablet is fully useable as a standard Amazon Fire tablet and can be used for apps like word processing, Netflix or even games like Minecraft for older kids. The tablet features front and rear cameras, a microphone and a headphone jack.
Casio SA-76 Keyboard – $69.99
Music is an excellent pandemic-proof diversion for both young and old. Inspire your budding musicians to develop their piano skills with this 44-key model, with kid-sized keys and tons of tones and rhythms to spend endless hours with.
The SA-76 comes with plenty of practice tunes and five percussion pads, with decent sound quality and 8-note polyphony. Best of all for parents, the kids can play with headphones on!
Powerextra Mini Drone – $54.99
Give the gift of flight this year and let your kid(s) soar. Well, figuratively at least. This inexpensive but fully functional drone offers the perfect chance to see the world from a bird’s-eye perspective. While the drone is small enough to fit in your hand, it has a built-in camera that can livestream to your phone – perfect for capturing some incredible photos and videos.
The body is made of soft plastic and comes with propellor guards to lessen the damage from aircraft collisions with animate or inanimate objects. There are even a few modes where you can have the drone follow you or respond to hand gestures. Included in the package are a remote control, three batteries, spare propellers and a carrying case.
Subscription to Ask Magazine – $49.02
With more time indoors, kids are spending more time with screens. We’re not judging but if you’d like to get your child off the TV or tablet, you may want to subscribe them to Ask magazine, an arts and science periodical for kids ages six to nine.
A year’s subscription will see nine issues of Ask delivered to your child and is intended to spark their interest in arts and science by exploring questions they’d likely ask you, like “why do animals sleep? And why do people like music?”
Superhero Mask, Ouwah Store – $5
Masks have probably never been more popular than in this age of Covid. If your children need one or want to pretend that they’re a frontline worker, you can’t go wrong with a superhero mask from Chisasibi’s Ouwah Store.
From Batman to the Hulk, all the big names are available for ages five and under. There are also a wide variety of cool tuques and other gift ideas to be found at the store.