Gifts from the imaginative mind

Perhaps money can’t buy happiness, but it can provide a variety of intangibles that may be the next best thing. Instead of new clothes or the latest smartphone this year, try presenting someone with the gift of…

…Riding in a winter wonderland

Whether it’s a romantic sleigh ride or the rush of dogsledding, Adventure Seeker Tours has been partnering since 2002 with rural business owners to provide its customers with memorable winter experiences.

“It is definitely a gift that people remember,” owner Agnes Buss says. “We get calls all the time with people saying how happy they are to find us.”

Dogsledding, based in Huntsville, is the company’s top winter seller, with two half-day rides scheduled every day between Dec. 27 and the end of April. For $160 a person, visitors are divided into teams of two, assigned a team of six dogs and given a lesson on driving their sled. A guide and his team of alpha dogs then lead visitors along a nature trail in picturesque Arrowhead Park, just west of Algonquin.

Sleigh rides are based in Priceville, two hours northeast of Toronto. For $100, a guide leads couples through the village’s winter scenery for an hour. It’s the perfect backdrop, Buss says, for a wedding proposal.

…A relaxing day at the spa for him

Anka Miron knows that men don’t like the word “pampering”, but the owner of Mankind founded the hybrid barbershop/men’s spa in 2009 on a hunch that men would appreciate the chance to match their partners’ high grooming standards.

“Everyone wants to look sharp,” she says. “Especially with Christmas and New Year’s around the corner.”

Miron, who opened Mankind’s Eglinton Avenue East location in 2011, says the shop’s most popular treatment is the “alpha male”, which for $45 includes a scalp massage, hand massage, paraffin hand wax and facial toner, in addition to a wash and style.

…Or holiday cooking lessons

While the Chef Upstairs offers event dining, the midtown food venue’s most popular holiday gifts are its cooking classes and Private Chef at Home packages, owner Greg Heller says.

The facility runs adult cooking classes on Tuesday nights ($99 a person), couples’ classes on Friday nights ($149.50 a couple), children’s classes on Saturdays ($65 a child) and teen classes on Mondays ($75 a person).

“One day they’re baking cupcakes, another they’re making pizza from scratch,” Heller says of the children’s classes. “The teen classes are much the same … and we always have a family dinner night as well.”

The adult classes are usually themed, with aspiring chefs learning three seasonally appropriate recipes; the Winter in Italy class, for example, includes Venetian pasta and bean soup, Milanese risotto and sea bass in parchment. For $395, the facility’s Chef at Home provides a private dinner for two, a popular choice for couples planning wedding proposals, anniversaries or birthdays, Heller says.

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Posted: Dec 6 2013 4:08 pm
Filed in: Health & Wellness
Edition: Toronto