I am frequently told that I am the most difficult person (ever) to buy for. This somewhat astounds me as I think I’m quite straightforward…..but then don’t we all.

I think the fact that I am a designer has my loved ones quaking in their boots. It’s probably also why my husband and I don’t really give presents at the expected time of the year – i.e. birthdays, anniversary’s and Christmas. We tend to gift when the perfect thing comes across our path (regardless of the time of year) and we tend to go away for weekends and/or vacations around our birthday’s. It means a whole lot less stress and a whole pile of unexpected fun when you’ve had a great or crappy week and the one you love surprises you with something to make your heart sing that you REALLY didn’t expect or see coming!

In order for something to stay in my life / closet / home I have to love it unconditionally – I don’t care about the dollar value, I care about how it makes me feel. I love order and a clutter free existence (except when it comes to toss pillows on my sofas and then all bets are off!) and nothing makes me happier than a closet / cupboard with space. So it makes me annoyed when gifts are purchased for purchasing sake. I find malls at this time of year really bleak places, I see people loaded with bag upon bag of stuff and I bet that close to half of it will be returned / never used / left to fester in the dark recess of a closet. Euch!

I view gifting the same way as I do design – it should be thoughtful and tailored for the person you are giving it to, or you shouldn’t do it at all. A big budget doesn’t necessarily mean a tasteful gift – the same can be said when it comes to decorating & design.

I know that gifting (especially) at this time of year can be really stressful so I thought I’d help and share with you, some of my favourite things for you and or your loved ones!

1. Fresh Flowers

You can never go wrong with fresh flowers if you purchase from a GREAT florist. A great florist will ensure fresh flowers that will last and not droop and wilt within 48 hrs of purchase. Go the whole hog and have them put them in a great looking vase – this saves your gift recipient looking at you with a mix of happiness and horror when they realize that the only vessel they have big enough is a blue bucket in their basement (I am talking from personal experience here….). I needed something with a really large neck and this was all I had until in a moment of sheer brilliance I remembered a vintage Moet Champagne bucket – it was made for the flowers and now it gets used all the time!!! In addition to a vase let the florist know the colour scheme in the room – if in doubt go with whites and greens – you can NEVER go wrong with that.

Our florist of choice is the fabulous Sarah McDonald and her talented team at Summerhill Floral Boutique on Mount Pleasant. They are amazing and also deliver!


2. The Gift of Flow

My yoga studio is a little sanctuary in the city. The staff and talented team at 889 Yoga are AMAZING. They blend the feeling of a city spa with a top-notch yoga studio with the most talented and unique yoga teachers that (in my opinion) this city has to offer. I love this place, it keeps me sane, flexible and happy. What’s not to love.

From Flow Classes that challenge every cell in your body and are a constant reminder how far you have come and how far you have still to go, to Yin Classes that leave you feeling 2″ taller and Restorative Classes that make me so blissed out, it’s all I can do to make it home. At every level this studio has you covered.

I started here with a 40 day pass – it’s a great stocking filler and it allows you to try out as many classes as you can within your first 40 days for $80.00. A single class costs $25 – so this pass is a superb deal. A great gift for you or for someone you love! It’s a life changer.


3. Great Bedlinen

Ok, so this a fairly personal gift and one that is probably better purchased by the recipients or their designer. This was our Christmas gift to each other last year – new pillows, duvet insert, sheets, duvet cover, blanket and a decorative toss or 3! I swear I thank myself for this purchase all the time. Nothing beats a great bed. It’s an investment for sure but once you’ve done it you will never ever regret it. As the temperatures drop and our drafty 100-year-old home gets a bit chilly – I no longer care. As a designer I have access to some of the most beautiful linen collections from home and afar that I have acquired on my travels. I tend to find that clients don’t always invest as much as they should in bed linens or in the master bedroom period. It’s a private space and we tend to think more about the public spaces in our home – shake things up a little and do something for YOU instead of your guests and buy great linens!

Nancy Koltes(Image courtesy of Nancy Koltes Linens)


 4. A Trip to The Spa

There are some awful ‘high-end’ spa’s out there. Some have locker rooms that make me feel like I am back at school and others are run like a cattle market. The best spa in the world is Fletcher’s Cottage Spa at Archerfield House, East Lothian Scotland. I know it’s a bit of a trip, but if Scotland is in your future for goodness sake spend some time here. The spa looks onto a walled garden and all the products are organic. They even have a Himalayan salt treatment room…

My gorgeous friend took me here a couple of years ago when it just opened and we now go religiously every time I am home. They had me at hello. The decor is impeccable and the staff are AMAZING. They totally understand service, delivery & exceeding client expectations. So much so I keep their treatment menu on my desk as a constant reminder to me about the power of good service. I am a repeat client with this spa (they know they have me for life) and yet I am always treated like its my first visit and nothing is ever taken for granted. They are a true luxury brand and they have taught me a lot.

Seriously a trip home now HAS to include a visit to Archerfield.

Archerfield-Spa-10-474x264 Salt-room

If anyone knows of a great organic spa in Canada – please let me know, I am willing to travel just not willing to be slathered in chemicals!

5. A Great Bag

I can buy a latte every day or I can buy Prada. Just do the math…! A Prada is for EVER a latte is for 5- 10 mins. I NEVER buy coffee or tea on the go. I swear its my Scottish roots. My Dad (now retired – used to work in finance) always used to shake his head at his staff who’d walk in every day with a store bought cup of something, when (and I quote) – “there is water in the tap and a perfectly good kettle in the staff kitchen”. I used to roll my eyes and look at him like he was from another planet but I swear a lot of what he preached has stuck. Now there is no way he was thinking his staff should be buying designer handbags, and he’d have a stroke if he knew how many I had, but that’s another discussion. All I am saying is switching a cup of overpriced coffee everyday for a beautiful investment handbag doesn’t seem a silly thing to do and maybe you could do it for the one you love? A good investment never ever goes out of style.


5. Cashmere

Marks & Spencer’s and or Johnstons of Elgin to be precise. They don’t pill or bobble and they are machine washable. I’ve purchased expensive cashmere from a certain high-end Canadian retailer and it bobbles and pills after a single wear and its dry clean only – its RUBBISH. M&S cashmere is well priced, gorgeous and they ship to Canada for free! Sometimes you get dinged the duty and other times you don’t – it’s a bit of a lottery – but even with the duty it’s still better value than buying here (sorry to say). Johnstons of Elgin refund the VAT.

They have the most gorgeous sweaters and cardigans, pajamas and robes and even SOCKS. Honestly, cashmere socks make you wish for winter!  Give it a go and if the exchange rate is in our favour – buy a little more.



6. A Good Looking Tray or Catch All

We all need somewhere to stash our stuff and the designer trick is trays, bowls and or baskets. They need to look gorgeous and the contents can’t get out of hand. I would shop at One of A Kind starting this weekend if you are in Toronto to see some gorgeous hand crafted pottery and ceramics. There is also the Christmas Market at the Distillery District in Toronto. Pimlico Gallery on Dupont has some gorgeous pieces too. There is also Etsy.

Who wouldn’t love this – from Barceramics. It’s $30.77. Perfect on a night table for holding your rings and smaller items of jewellery.

Barceramics, Etsy


7. The Gift of Design

At Gillian Gillies Interiors Inc we offer the gift of design – which to be honest is a PERFECT gift as it’s a 2-hr consultation with me!

It’s a great new home gift or a gentle reminder to your loved ones that they REALLY need to do something with their home. Recipients are always blown away by the gift and these turn out to be really fun consults. From getting you pointed in the right direction with a template to work from alone or as a start to a project its a great idea to bring focus and attention to the job in hand.

Start 2015 off right and get your design on. Please contact Bonnie@gilliangillies.com and read all about the consultation here.

We can & do transform how people live in their homes!

Hopefully one of these ideas will help you get out of  a gifting dilemma.

Happy Shopping!


Leave Reply

Your email address will not be published.