Looking for a unique present? Some small businesses are offering you the chance to give a gift that can’t be purchased by others — one you’ve created yourself.
As the holidays approach, you can find workshops for pottery, candle-making, rug-making, cooking, and many other classes across Toronto.
Attending these sessions has become more popular over the years as more businesses continue to open across the city, allowing people to break from their routines and experience something new.
People prefer making gifts for their loved ones because it is more personal, says Desiree Maklin, owner of the Clay Room.
“It is showing effort, thought, and creativity in the gift instead of just going to the mall and purchasing something that anybody can purchase and give,” Maklin says.
The Clay Room has been at 279 Danforth Ave. since 1995. It helps people paint their own ceramics and take them home, offering a variety of products to paint like mugs, bowls, ring dishes, vases, and much more.
“Not only do you get to just spend time with family and friends making something, and put your phones down because your hands are busy, there’s the enjoyment of the creation of the gift,” Maklin says.
For the holiday season, The Clay Room is offering a variety of items such as gingerbread cookie plates, Christmas trees and ornaments.
“You get a keepsake forever, it’s just a permanent piece of ceramic that’s functional and can be used forever,” Maklin says.
Fresh Paint Studio + Cafe, 1849 Danforth Ave., started in 2016 as a place where people could “create art fearlessly,” owner Roxane Tracey says .
People are welcome to come in for different painting events, including modern and abstract painting, learning how to paint the northern lights on the water, or freestyle painting nights.
Like Maklin, Tracey believes customers attend arts and crafts classes to “lose themselves for a few hours.”
“People create crafts to unplug from life’s distractions and to find comfort using their hands to experience the joy of creativity,” said Tracey.
Sometimes the materials being used in workshops are not particularly cheap, especially with inflation affecting many, which is why some of these experiences can be on the pricier side.
David Levy, who founded Chocolate Tales in 2009 at 100 Marmora St., has been in the food industry for a long time. He came up with the idea of starting a company that focuses solely on doing chocolate-making workshops as a solution for all sorts of occasions.
According to consumer intelligence data by NielsenIQ, chocolate prices have risen by 14 percent in the past year.
“We are definitely more expensive than we’ve ever been — there is a sensitivity in the market for prices,” Levy says.
The business still focuses on giving good value when it comes to their chocolate and their classes he says.
“We are one of the more affordable cooking-related classes available in the market,” Levy says.
By running larger classes than other companies they have been able to provide better pricing according to Levy.
Like other workshop enterprises, Chocolate Tales offers Holiday-focused classes only for the month of December. According to Levy, these are the most popular classes in the year.
The Chocolate Tales workshop has an expert chocolatier to help create hot chocolate with candy cane whipped cream, holiday-themed truffle and chocolate making, and even holiday-themed packaging.
“You’re learning and you’re also experiencing,” Levy says. “You’re taking something tangible back with you, which you’ve made yourself.”
Levy has seen that for the holiday season, most people give the workshop as a gift. While there are people who also make chocolate and give their chocolate, the experience is something they are gifting their loved ones for the holidays.
“Some people prefer to make gifts instead of buying them because they are giving … a small piece of their creative spirit transferred into each gift,” Tracey says.