The Gift of Experience

Who are the hardest people to buy for on your holiday gift list? When I ask around , everyone says it’s their parents.

While we struggle with them saying “no, we don’t need anything,” we still WANT to get them something…anything. Money is always a fall-back plan and snow removal is hit and miss. “Too much money!” I always hear. “What if it doesn’t snow? Waste of money!” I hear that too!

So, while we’re trying to sort out what to get, here are some ideas that are more the gifts of experience rather than material things… Ramin Karimloo and Com Wilkinson. Photo credit: Cylla von Tiedemann

LES MIS – In Toronto there are a number of great, and I mean GREAT shows happening. LES MIS is probably the most obvious choice. The cast is incredible and it’s a familiar show. There is a special performance happening on January 11th, 2014, that will bring veteran star Colm Wilkinson on stage to perform as the Bishop along side with the extremely talented and current actor/singer Ramin Karimloo as Jean Valjean. This particular show will have proceeds going to five charities. 

TSOTORONTO SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA – a tradition for many families is to attend the annual performance of Handel’s Messiah. There are various performances from local choral groups in churches to the grand presentation at concert halls. At Roy Thomson Hall the TSO joins forces with 140 voices of the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir and internationally renowned vocal soloists for this holiday tradition. Hard not to sing along!


SOUND OF MUSIC – my sister and I grew up watching the Sound of Music on television every Christmas holiday. We were chatting on the phone last night and broke out in song. She said “I wish we could sing along, it would be so much fun!” Well, at the TIFF Lightbox there are special sing-along screenings of the classic Julie Andrews’ film over the holidays. We may take mom out to this one. We know she would have a blast! 

THE ROYAL ONTARIO MUSEUM has an incredible exhibition on for those who love photography. The Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition features the world’s best from this internationally acclaimed competition. This exhibit features 100 breathtaking images from the 43,000 from around the world.  A great gift idea is the Total ROM Experience. For $32 adults the ticket includes general admission, Mesopotamia Exhibition and the Wildlife Photographer of the Year admission! a great outing for the family!


THE ART GALLERY OF ONTARIOThe Great Upheaval special exhibition is a significant collection of modern masterpieces directly from the Guggenheim Collection in New York. The focus is on the period between 1910 to 1918 as the world witnessed the most impactful changes in modern history including the introduction of new technologies and scientific advances combined with World War I. It was a time of sweeping social change and when artists were evolving. Artists like Picasso, Kandinsky, Chagall, Modigliani, and Matisse experimented with new forms of art and expression.

Art Gallery of Ontario Photo credit: Sonya Davidson   Have any other ideas on what to get for those hard to buy for people on your list? Let us know!

Sonya is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of She is also a well-established contributing lifestyle writer to other sites and magazines sharing her passion for arts & culture, fashion, beauty, travel and food. Sonya is based in Toronto, Canada. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @theculturepearl

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