The Gift of Ontario : A Local Guide to the Holidays

Wreath making with Jessica Hunter, the floral designer behind A Fine Medley

Wreath making with Jessica Hunter, the floral designer behind A Fine Medley

Oh, there’s no place like home for the holidays. So the song goes.. I couldn’t think of lyrics more true this time of year. When Ontario Travel asked me to share my favourite places to visit during the holidays, so many local memories and experiences came to mind.

Around this time last year, I met Jessica Hunter, the floral designer behind A Fine Medley. We merrily made winter wreathes and sipped mulled wine at her wreath making workshop. It was a wonderful way to start the holidays.

This year, Jessica has moved into a stunning new studio space at the historic Cotton Factory in the Dye Works building. With exposed red brick and beams, this light filled space is a beautiful backdrop for her class. 

The Gift of Ontario : A winter workshop at A Fine Medley's studio
 

The winter workshop is a true local experience.  The season's bounty -- foraged branches, vines, twigs, berries and winter greens come from La Primavera Farms. Coffee and treats are served from Vintage Coffee. And the delicious cheese + charcuterie boards, those are from one of my favourite Hamilton spots, Two Black Sheep

 
The Gift of Ontario : A winter workshop at A Fine Medley's studio.
The Gift of Ontario : A winter workshop at A Fine Medley's studio.

If you can't make it to one of her workshops, you can still order a beautiful foraged wreathe from Jessica here. They are the perfect adornment to your front door, and make for a lovely gift too.

The Gift of Ontario : A winter workshop at A Fine Medley's studio.

The Gift of Ontario : A drive through Hamilton's country side
A drive through the country side promises adventure, discovery and perhaps a different perspective from that which you you encounter each day.

This weekend I headed out on the open road. The journey was as beautiful as the destination, and I made some furry friends along the way. I enjoy shopping local for the holidays and I was delighted to discover Black & Smith Country General. A quick drive from Hamilton along quiet country roads, the shop stocks handmade housewares and gifts. 

I sipped on hot cider from Bennett's as I shopped.  Emma Smith's beautiful ceramics caught my eye. There were also natural scrubs and soaps by Wilderness Soap Co. (I couldn't resist buying the luxe bath salts), ornaments by Clarke Ceramics and handcrafted charcuterie boards by Craft Collectif

The Gift of Ontario : Black & Smith Country General
 

If you are looking for unique gifts for friends and family this holiday season, visit a local shop in your neighbourhood or a craft and makers fair. I'm looking forward to Craft Mart at Hamilton Artists Inc during art crawl this coming weekend. And Hamilton Flea's Last Minute Holiday Market on December 21 at Mills Hardware.

 

The Gift of Ontario : A tour of Dundurn Castle
The holidays are about traditions, new and old. And Hamilton’s historic sites certainly take you back to more traditional times.

From Whitehern Historic House and Garden to Dundurn Castle, I always discover beauty in the Victorian style decorations these homes are dressed in for Christmas. Every year  my mom and I take in a bit of history on a tour of Sir Allan MacNab's lavish home. I find myself admiring the Garden Club of Hamilton's seasonal adornments of cedar boughs, ribbons and dried flowers.  The evening tours are my favourite. You get to sample traditional Christmas goodies right in the historic kitchen. Oh, and I have to give a shout out to Brydie Huffman, who really is the best tour guide ever.

The Gift of Ontario : A tour of Dundurn Castle
The Gift of Ontario : A tour of Dundurn Castle

The Gift of Ontario : The Distillery District's Toronto Christmas Market
‘Tis is the season of giving. But let’s not forget the most meaningful gifts are not always those wrapped under the tree, rather the experiences we share together.
The Gift of Ontario : The Distillery District's Toronto Christmas Market

As winter drifts upon us, I find myself drawn to visiting the Distillery District's Christmas Market. From chestnuts roasting on an open fire to mugs of mulled wine shared with friends, there's a special kind of warmth and savory comfort that the market brings.  I always enjoy perusing the shops, galleries and artisan booths with a hot cup of cocoa in hand.

The Gift of Ontario : The Distillery District's Toronto Christmas Market

However you celebrate the season’s offerings, I hope you make local memories that last well beyond the holidays. Share your holiday traditions and memories in the comments. I love to hear from you!


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