2020 was the year that made us re-evaluate how we live, where we live and who we live with. It was the impetus to embrace virtual experiences, discover new hobbies and (finally) make time for self-care. It was the year that reminded us that our local restaurants and shops are the heart and soul of our neighbourhoods.
Today, we’re sharing 24 of our Favourite Things and Places that helped us get through 2020. There are some great gift ideas here – and if you’ve bought or sold with BREL, watch your inbox – we’re giving away one of these gifts every day up until Christmas!
Our Favourite Things: 2020 Pandemic Edition
1.BREL Onesies- CLAIMED
Truth: the BREL onesie has been the official work-from-home uniform of the BREL team for a few years now, and made regular appearances at our weekly Zoom team meetings in 2020.
Get your own custom onesies at Snug As a Bug – Canadian-made comfort, with an online shop, fast delivery and in non-lockdown times, a great storefront in the Junction.
BREL Clients: We’ve got His ‘n Hers BREL onesies for one lucky winner!
2.Indigo Wellness Weighted Blanket – CLAIMED
Weighted blankets have been a hot ticket item for the last few years. It’s hard to beat the warmth and comfort that a heavy blanket brings, and given they help reduce anxiety and insomnia, it’s a 2020 must-have.
While we love our Hush and Avoin blankets, the Indigo Wellness Weighted Blanket is the perfect mix of style, comfort and affordability. You can buy one online here.
BREL Clients: We’ve got a 15-lb Indigo Wellness Weighted Blanket for the lucky winner!
3.The Sweetest Things- CLAIMED
We love The Sweetest Things (online and in the Beach). Discover unique gifts that bring comfort and joy, from sweets and spa items to alpaca-wear, jewellery and toys. There’s something for everyone on your gift list!
BREL Clients: We’ve got a $200 gift card to the Sweetest Things for the lucky winner.
4.Aerogarden Hydroponic Indoor Garden – CLAIMED
If, like us, you dabbled in growing your own herbs and vegetables this sum
mer, you need to check out the Aerogarden. No green thumbs needed here – the Aerogarden is an almost-foolproof all-in-one indoor gardening solution.
You’ll be enjoying herbs and lettuces within a few weeks, and tomatoes and peppers in about a month. Never worry about the vegetable supply-chain again.
BREL Clients: We’ll be drawing for the Bounty Aerogarden!
5.Craftsy Membership + Michaels Stores- CLAIMED
I’ve never been particularly crafty, but the pandemic drove me to knit and lo
om (I hope my family is ready for made-with-love scarves and hats this year). Early in the first lockdown, I discovered Craftsy – home to thousands of online courses that will teach you to knit, sew, quilt, crochet, make jewellery and more. They’ve also got some great cooking and baking classes (empanadas, anyone?).
If you’re new to crafting and need supplies, check out Michaels online store – you can buy pretty much anything your craft heart desires.
BREL Clients: We’ll be drawing for a one-year Craftsy membership AND a $100 gift card to Michaels!
6.Masterclass Subscription – CLAIMED
Masterclass has been targeting me on Facebook for years and I finally clicked an ad during a lonely week in lockdown. I should have listened to Facebook long ago! Masterclass has thousands of online classes, taugh
t by some of the best chefs, style icons, writers, musicians and professionals in the world.
Learn to write with Margaret Atwood and Malcolm Gladwell, cook with Gordon Ramsay, Wolfgang Puck and Thomas Keller and get style advice from Bobbi Brown, Anna Wintour and RuPaul.
BREL Clients: We’ll be drawing for a one-year Masterclass membership!
7.Beer Advent Calendar – CLAIMED
We won’t pretend that beer didn’t help get us through COVID-19, so we jumped at the chance to buy a beer advent calendar from Canada Craft Clubs. 24 days and 24 beers? Sign us up! While they’re sold out for 2020, make sure to get your name on the list for next year’s beer calendars.
BREL Clients: We scored one of these before they sold out!
8.Eataly Virtual Wine Tasting (with wine, of course) – CLAIMED
The pandemic wouldn’t have been the same without wine, and we love Eataly’s wine club – complete with a live virtual online tasting of that month’s wine selections. The club explores a different part of Italy each month, and membership gets you 3 bottles of hand-picked wine and the virtual tasting. There’s a more affordable Classico club and the fancy Riserva club!
BREL Clients: We’ll be drawing the Riserva wines and virtual tasting for January!
9.Barque Gift Card – CLAIMED
We love Roncesvalles and one of our faves is Barque – truly some of the best ribs and brisket you’ll find in Toronto. During lockdown, the choice is yours: heat-to-eat or takeout!
BREL Clients: We’ve got a $150 gift card ready for the lucky winner!
10.Skip-the-Dishes Gift Card – CLAIMED
We’ve eaten a lot of takeout this year to help support our local restaurants (and who are we kidding, avoid figuring out what to make for dinner). We love that Skip-the-Dishes was quick to support the restaurant industry with reduced commission during the pandemic and we’re excited about Toronto’s efforts to regulate delivery services to ensure more of our money goes to the actual restaurants. You can pick up a gift card online.
BREL Clients: We’ve got a $150 gift card to Skip-the-Dishes in the draw
11.Le Dolci Cookie Decorating Kit + Virtual Baking Classes
We love cookies. We love baking. We love easy.
Check out Queen West’s Le Dolci cookie decorating kits and virtual baking classes, where you can learn to make macarons, eclairs and profiteroles and more!
BREL Clients: The winner of this prize will receive a cookie decorating kit and gift card to an online baking class.
12.Bergo Designs – CLAIMED
Bergo Designs (in the Distillery District and online), is one of our go-to spots for unique gifts and housewares. We love it so much that Brendan and I actually had our wedding registry with Bergo. Bergo has a great online store and if you don’t know what to get your special someone – you can grab a gift card too. Browsing their store, in-person or online, is half the fun.
BREL Clients: We have a $200 gift card to Bergo Designs for the lucky winner!
13.The Drake General Store – CLAIMED
You’ll find an awesome collection of curated gifts at the Drake General Store, online during the lockdown and in Queen West in more normal times. We love all the Canadian-made gift options and the Toronto swag too.
BREL Clients: The winner of this draw will get a $200 gift card to the Drake General Store.
14.Jiffy Gift Card- CLAIMED
Like most of you, we’ve taken lockdown time to get our houses in order, literally. The folks at Jiffy on Demand (accessed via their mobile app) can help with that to-do list you’ve been putting off. Access handymen, duct cleaners, electricians, furniture assemblers, BBQ cleaners, appliance repair people and more at just the click of a button.
BREL Clients: We’ve got a $200 gift card to Jiffy up for grabs!
15.Ice Melter Delivery -CLAIMED
While we hate to admit it, winter is coming…and with it, slippery driveways. How does ice melter delivered to your (slippery) doorstop sound? Jiffy On Demand delivers treated salt right to your doorstep.
BREL Clients: Win this prize and you’ll get a 50 lb bucket of treated salt delivered to you…and 3 refills when you need ‘em, just in case.
16.Foodi Pressure Cooker/Air-Fryer – CLAIMED
This is one of my favourite purchases of the year…and it’ll replace so many of your current appliances. It’s a slow cooker. It’s a pressure cooker. It’s an air fryer. It’s a rice cooker. It’s a dehydrator. It’ll make cooking for your family this winter easy-peasy.
Pick up a Foodi at Candian Tire and think of us when you roast a perfectly golden chicken in less than 30 minutes with a side of good-for-you-and-surprisingly-like-the-deep-fried-version french fries.
BREL Clients: We’ve got a Foodi waiting for the lucky winner of this prize!
17.Toronto Chef Cookbook Collection-CLAIMED
We seriously upped our culinary skills this year with the help of some of our favourite Toronto chefs. Check out:
- Toronto Cooks – 100 Signature Recipes From the City’s Best Restaurants – Amy Rosen
- Gather – A Dirty Apron Cookbook – David Robertson
- Bar Chef – Frankie Solarik
- For the Love of Cheese – Afrim Pristine
- Bobette & Belle – Classic Recipes from the Celebrated Pastry Shop – Allyson Bobette
BREL Clients: We’ve got a $200 gift card to Chapters or your favourite local bookshop!
18.Hotpot and Raclette-CLAIMED
While we missed travelling this year, we loved recreating international flavours at home (and it’s easier than you might think). We fell in love with making hotpot and raclette at home and can’t wait to enjoy all that warm-you-up goodness this winter.
BREL Clients: We’ve got our favourite hotpot and a raclette grill for the lucky winner!
19.Sugo – CLAIMED
We love italian food and it doesn’t get much better than Sugo. Authentic italian cuisine at Bloor and Lansdowne with a great delivery option too.
BREL Clients: We’ve got a $150 gift card for the winner at Sugo
20.At-Home Spa Experience-CLAIMED
Why not bring the spa to you? We had (way too much fun) re-creating a spa day at our house, complete with facials and pedicures, spa music and a safe in-house massage from Massago.
BREL Clients: Enjoy an at-home spa experience with a $100 gift card to Sephora and a $100 gift card from Massago.
21.Chocolates, Chocolates, Chocolates! -CLAIMED
Does it get better than indulging in decadent chocolates created right here in Toronto? We love SOMA Chocolates in the Distillery District, Stubbe Chocolates on Dupont and the Belgian Chocolate Shoppe on the east-side.
BREL Clients: We’ve got a $200 gift card at Stubbe Chocolates for the lucky winner!
22.Tea to Go from the AGO – CLAIMED
Treat yourself to an at-home afternoon tea from the AGO this festive season, with all the fun sweet and savoury goodness you need, from macarons to biscuits to mini sandwiches (and some bubbles too!).
BREL Clients: We’ve got Afternoon Tea for 2 from the AGO for one lucky winner!
23.Local Hamilton Craft Beer-CLAIMED
99 craft bottles of beer on the wall…99 craft bottles of beer….Can you name a better pandemic friend than beer? I didn’t think so. Check out Hamilton’s Clifford’s Brewing, beloved by our beer-loving Hamilton agent Kellye. And yes, they deliver across Ontario!
BREL Clients: The winner of this prize will get $200 of local craft beer from Clifford’s Brewing, delivered right to their home.
24. Fresh Flower Subscription – CLAIMED
One of the absolute best things I did for myself this year: I bought myself a spring and summer flower subscription from Floralora. Looking and smelling fresh flowers every week from May-August made every day 300% better.
BREL Clients: The winner of this prize will get a Spring & Summer flower subscription!
BREL Friends with Benefits Giveaway Calendar
BREL Buyers & Sellers: Check your inboxes! One lucky winner will be randomly drawn each day from Dec 1-24 and will get to pick from the prizes below. If the image shaded, it’s already been claimed, so pick something else!
And don’t forget to send us your nominee for BREL-it-Forward, where we donate $1,000 to 5 deserving individuals, families or non-profits that’s had an especially hard year.