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GIVE JOY | Our Lovely Last-Minute Guide

via theofficialpandora on Instagram

Originally posted in The CLOSET

Whether you've finished all of your shopping or haven't even started yet, I'm not here to judge. After all, life is busy and December? Well, judging by my headache and ever-growing list of things to do/places to go/people to see, it's even busier. Since my job involves shopping and research, I love putting together gift guides each year. It's a win-win: I get to figure out what I'm buying everyone, I think of ideas to give people who ask what I want, and I get to share all of it with you in case you're super busy, too. 

These gifts are luxurious but come in all shapes and sizes for a wide range of holiday budgets.  My favourite thing to do when I can't afford to go it alone? Round up my family members or friends and go in on a bigger gift - strength in numbers, as they say. I found tech gifts and sweet gifts, fun gifts and fashionable, expected gifts and some not so much. Take a look and hopefully it will inspire you as you head out into the snow to pick up things for the ones you love. Good luck out there and remember, the best gift of all is you. And my daughter would argue a hoverboard...




GIVE A LITTLE BIT | The Vaughan Mills Love Lock Wall + Our Visit to Santa's Tiny Big Town

Messages of hope on the Vaughan Mills Love Lock Wall...

Epic snowstorm or not, we are on our way to Vaughan Mills. My kids are in the backseat, all dressed up, and there is no turning back. With school, soccer practices, choir performances and colds having delayed us over the last few weeks and Christmas only a week away, this is literally our only night to do this - and for the record, we're not just going to shop. As the Official Stylist of Vaughan Mills, I spend most of my days focusing on the fluffy stuff - the fashion, the shoes, the sparkly gifts I find on the daily at VM, all of which I love. But while Vaughan Mills is one of my favourite places to shop, it's their focus on giving back that means the most to me. And so, we're driving, through a blizzard, for 3 hours, to see Santa. 

Even a snowstorm can't stop these two from seeing Santa...


Made it! C & A, all set to meet the big guy at Santa's Tiny Big Town.

For the second year in a row, Vaughan Mills has partnered with Toronto's SickKids Hospital for Santa's Tiny Big Town, where 100%(!) of the proceeds generated from Santa Photo Packages will be donated to SickKids. We came last year and my kids still talk about how magical Santa's Tiny Big Town was. The set-up is beautiful with twinkly white lights everywhere and magical little elf houses dotting the path to where the kids eventually meet the man of the hour. This year, there were no line-ups, no waiting (see: blizzard) so C & A waltzed right in but VM has thought of everything so along the way, there are loads of games and distractions to keep little ones entertained. 

Fun games in the line-up make waiting loads of fun.

All is calm, all is bright...

Frame-worthy. And yes, Santa's beard is 100% real (I know because they checked). 

We're greeted by two elves, direct from the North Pole, who usher us into the room where Santa sits. The genius part is that you can't see the big guy until you're allowed into the room so it feels special and quiet and magical. Once inside, you finally see Santa, in all his jolly glory, sitting on his giant green armchair. My kids are in awe and I see them examining his beard. It's definitely real. They tell him their wishlist (which includes everything from rocks to hoverboards this year), then he gives them a magical key to leave out for him on Christmas Eve before posing for a pic, winking his eye and bidding them goodbye. 

All giddy after meeting the man of the hour.

"He's the real deal, mom," declares my daughter, whose grade 4 classmates in her 3/4 split have had her questioning things like Santa and the tooth fairy lately. Confidence restored and two thrilled kids in tow, I smile, realizing I get to keep them little for at least another year. Vaughan Mills is awesome so they've given each of my kids a gift card to pick up a little something for themselves as a pre-Christmas treat. We head to LEGOLAND®, the Disney store, Toys, Toys, Toys (where Alex is in Pokemon heaven) and Build-a-Bear, where my daughter gets to build and dress up her very own reindeer. She is 100% smitten. 

No trip to Vaughan Mills is complete without a visit to LEGOLAND®

Decisions, decisions...

Literally larger-than-life LEGO...

Talking Pokemon (a language I'm sure I'll never understand)...

Chloé's first trip to Build-a-Bear and her newly 'born' reindeer, Emma. 

An important reminder in this season of giving...

Shopping was fun but I'm most excited for this next part. The kids don't know it, but they're about to be part of something amazing. With the focus so quickly turning to what we want to get this time of year, I often struggle with how to teach my kids to give in meaningful ways. We make our way to the Sport Court (Entry 4A) to visit Vaughan Mills' newest charity initiative - the VM Love Lock Wall. The concept's inspired by the love locks in Paris where you write a message on a padlock and leave it behind. The Vaughan Mills Love Lock Wall is similar, but which each padlock purchased, 100% of the proceeds will be donated to SickKids. I was lucky to be invited to the media event last week to see the wall in progress and meet some of the families who regularly rely on SickKids - so many inspiring messages of hope have been left on the wall already and it really hits home when you meet these strong, incredibly brave kids. 

All ready to lock in our love for SickKids...

But first, cupcakes...

Vaughan Mills ambassador, Katie Zeppieri, gives C & A the Love Lock run-down...

I take C & A to meet Katie Zeppieri, former SickKids patient, TED speaker and Vaughan Mills Love Lock Ambassador. She explains how you buy a padlock, write a message on it, then lock in your love by attaching it on the wall. As a 'keypsake', you get to choose a charm necklace to take home or give as a gift. Um, teacher gifts: DONE. Katie explains that they can write whatever they want on their locks - from words of love, to a message of hope for the kids at SickKids. I can see their wheels spinning as they try to think of the best words to write. My son asks how to spell Pokemon so we explain it again to make sure he really gets it. 'OHHH, okay, how about Be Brave.' Perfect.  

The perfect holiday gift for teachers, friends and family this holiday season...

You can't miss the massive GIVE sign...

Choose from Hero, Love, Dream or Best Friend - purchase a lock and you get to take home a 'keypsake'...

Bright red locks all ready to be personalized...

Thinking of the perfect message is the best part...

A writes 'Be Brave' on his lock...

Love this message.

The Love Lock Wall is starting to fill up...

C & A try to find the perfect spot for their locks...

C leaves her message on the Love Lock Wall...

After the locks are locked on, we head back out into the storm and make our long, slow trip home. As my kids fall asleep, my daughter murmurs from the backseat, 'That was so worth it.' I totally agree. 

Want to give back this holiday season? Be sure to head to Vaughan Mills to visit Santa's Tiny Big Town (hours here) or the VM Love Lock Wall (or both) until Dec 24th. While you're there, be sure to snap a pic of you locking in your love and share it with the hashtag #VMLoveLockWall. Also, don't miss our 


Share your Love Lock Story and you’ll have a chance to win a $200 Vaughan Mills gift card and a padlock to lock in your love at our Love Lock Wall.
All you have to do is:
1. Follow @vaughan_mills on Instagram
2. Like the Vaughan Mills 12 Days of Giving post on Instagram
3. Tag a friend
4. Comment on our Instagram post or share a video about who you will be locking in your love for
5. Winner will be announced on @vaughan_mills 12 Days of Giving post at 1:00pm and will win a $200.00 Vaughan Mills gift card and a padlock to lock in your love at our Love Lock Wall.
6. Profile must be public



LUXE VS. LESS | The 10 Most-Wanted Gifts for Her

via HudsonsBay on Instagram

Originally posted in The CLOSET

With gift-giving season in full swing, I keep running into men and women with one thing in common: they have no idea what to buy the women in their life. Women, it turns out, are not always so easy to spoil. I could tell my husband I want makeup for Christmas but he compares Sephora to that time he asked me to go to the hardware store to buy him wood screws. I walked in all confident and, 45 minutes later - after wandering through the aisles, lost, alone, with no Wi-Fi or cell phone reception and a decidedly unhelpful summer student who also knew nothing about screws - left with a bag of nails. I thought they were screws. And why are there 7,000 kinds of screws in the first place? And no, it is not the same thing as nailpolish. We NEED all the colours. 

And so, I consulted my friends, fellow bloggers and female family members to see what everyone is secretly wishing for this year. This guide is personal, as all guides are, but with luxe vs. less options, I hope it helps you in your hunt. And I'm not gonna lie, I also secretly hope this will make it through cyberspace onto the screens of my loved ones, just in case anyone happens to want to get me the Sunday Riley Power Couple Duo. It's at Sephora. And, in case you need a little help when you get there, either ask a Sephora Expert or come back here - last time I checked, they have Wi-Fi ;)




SEEING STARS | 39 Reasons We Want Stars on Everything RN

via Elle Sweden

Originally posted in The CLOSET

Day or night, they are everywhere. Stars. Stars on errthang. Turn on Netflix and it's all about the Gilmore Girls and Stars Hollow. Apple Music? We get it The Weeknd: you're a starboy, starboy. Before I launch into this post, let me just remind you of the ridiculous lyrics to Starboy:

I'm tryna put you in the worst mood, ah
P1 cleaner than your church shoes, ah
Milli point two just to hurt you, ah
All red Lamb’ just to tease you, ah
None of these toys on lease too, ah
Made your whole year in a week too, yah
Main b*$%@ out your league too, ah
Side b*$%@  out of your league too, ah

House so empty, need a centerpiece
Twenty racks a table cut from ebony
Cut that ivory into skinny pieces
Then she clean it with her face man I love my baby

I don't get it. Just me? Why is his girlfriend cleaning a piano with her face? Does anybody else get these lyrics? Like, love you The Weeknd but.... Le Petit Prince is a legit, OG starboy. I guess Chris Hadfield could call himself a starboy if he really wanted to. Like I said, I don't understand what makes the Weeknd a starboy or why he'd ever want anyone to call him one.

Back to stars, though: I'm obsessed.  From Valentino and Alexander McQueen's starry fall frocks, to the street, where every fashion girl is currently going galactic, stars make everything look so much cooler. Whether you go dainty with a sweet silver star charm necklace or dare to rock stars all over with a metallic starry dress, forego every other print this season and reach for the stars. I don't know about you but I can't get enough. 

I've rounded up 39 starry finds I'm loving right now, perfect for adding a bit of celestial charm to your wardrobe this winter. Happy shopping! 




SHINE BRIGHT | 4 Fun New Ways to Dress Up This Holiday Season

Originally posted in The Fashion Scoop

December has arrived and here we are: officially in the thick of it. We're about to embark on a month-long bingefest of eating and drinking and general merry-making. And while you might be tempted to throw on your flannel onesie, snuggle up in your mermaid blanket and just call it a day, remember that 'tis the season for dressing up, too. I mean, other than summer, is there any time of year more social than December?

You'll be out grabbing gifts with your fellow shoppers, fuelling up at brunches with big men dressed in red, sipping cocktails with your co-workers and fêting all things festive. And then there's all that time with your family - from Christmas recitals to epic full-day feasts. Your flannel onesie is not going to impress your mother-in-law. You are better than your flannel onesie...