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65 unusual gifts: Ideas for the paleo, yogi, crossfitter, photographer and more

We've asked experts in 12 hard-to-shop-for fields for a peak at their wishlists this holiday season.

We've asked experts in 12 hard-to-shop-for fields for a peak at their wishlists this holiday season. Just scroll down to find the perfect gift for

The Paleo, courtesy of Dillon Zolnierczyk and Cameron MacDougall of the Barons of Beef

The Yogi, courtesy of Ryan Leier of One Yoga for the People

The CrossFitter, courtesy of Wendy Keown

The Traveller, courtesy of travel writer Ken Hegan

The Green Warrior, courtesy of Jen Rustemeyer of the Clean Bin Project

Gifts that make you Feel Good, with Sara Rose and Krista McKenna of Social City Networking INC

The Photographer, courtesy of Lindsay Elliott

The Sartorialist, courtesy of Style Nine to Five creator Christie Lohr

The Musician, courtesy of BeatRoute magazine's Glenn Alderson

The Party Girl, with Sydney Gregoire

The Gamer, courtesy of Simon Furminger (written by his sister-in-law Sabrina)

The Book Lover, courtesy of bestselling author Daniel Kalla.


Gifts for the Paleo

Lou Lou Childs photo

Crossfit athletes Dillon Zolnierczyk and Cameron MacDougall believe in a simpler era, and founded the Barons of Beef, in partnership with handpicked meat suppliers, to bring a simpler style of eating to communities across BC.

Called the paleo diet (you might know it as caveman, anti-inflammatory or elimination), it utilizes evolutionary clues left by our ancestors to optimize health.

A key aspect of the paleo diet is to select meals filled with whole and unprocessed foods whenever possible. This is becoming increasingly difficult, however, for the modern caveman or cavewoman while foraging for meals outside of their homes. Thus the modern-day paleo must opt to cook more of their meals at home.

The following items are their gift ideas for someone trying to embrace a more traditional paleolithic lifestyle:

Slow Cooker

While Grok the Caveman never had the benefit an electric slow cooker that doesn't mean that we cant enjoy the convenience of this modern technology. It should be one of the first tools in any primal kitchen, as making multiple meals at one time is a huge benefit for anyone living the paleo lifestyle. Entry level models start at around $25. Crock-Pot is the brand that sits atop our list; these guys have been making them since they were invented. Cuisinart, Black and Decker and Hamilton Beach also offer great options that start under $30 and can go up to $200.

Cast iron pan

One of the best modern cooking mediums to bring your meats whether a grass-fed filet minion or a wild-caught pacific salmon to a perfect temperature is the cast iron pan. A properly cared for pan will develop a nonstick surface that perfectly sears meat to lock in juices. Look around at garage sales or ask your grandmother if she has an extra one lying around before going out and purchasing one. These things will usually outlive their owner and can stay in a family for many generations, carrying with them the history of every meal. If you do have to buy new then we recommend Lodge.

Rubs/assorted salts

We have trouble pronouncing half the ingredients on the backs of sauces, spreads, condiments and dressings. Instead, get your primal friend or family member an assortment of spices and seasoning from plants, vegetables and minerals. Some great items to start with include cumin, paprika, oregano, coriander, cayenne pepper, turmeric, curry, cardamom and chili powder. Pre-mixed rubs and spices can be an easy way to get started as well. LB Emporium is a Vancouver-based company that takes the business of flavour very seriously. Check out their website to see where you can buy their products: They will be opening a retail location in February.

Storage Containers

Cooking more healthy meals at home will inevitably leave you with a great deal of leftovers, which can help you avoid office donuts and fast food lunches the next day. Metal, glass or ceramic food storage containers are a great holiday gift for a paleo friend. We recommend these over plastic because they are more durable and do not leak chemicals into your food. Lunchbots is our hands down winner for food storage containers. Metal is used on the contact surfaces to avoid leaching. They also offer insulated containers for hot food storage.


Cooking over an open flame is about as primal as it gets. When selecting the perfect BBQ for a friend or loved one, be sure to make the following considerations.

Charcoal vs gas grill: Users of charcoal swear by its superior flavor. However it is much more labour-intensive than gas and some apartment buildings dont allow charcoal BBQs due to safety concerns.

Tabletop or free-standing: When buying a BBQ as a gift, make sure you understand the space available. An added benefit of tabletop BBQs is that they can be transported for use at the beaches and parks.

Steel vs cast iron grates: Whenever possible, opt for cast iron grates; they trap and distribute heat more evenly over the entire grilling surface, leaving you with a far superior end product.

We like thisWeber Q 100 Gas Portable BBQavailable at Home Depot for $159.99.

Gifts for the Yogi

Lou Lou Childs photo

As a firm believer that, through steady practice and devotion, all people regardless of age, gender, race or religion can experience the Oneness of Yoga, Ryan Leier has focused on making it accessible for everybody.

His donation-based yoga studio, One Yoga for the People, offers the support of yoga in times of plenty and in times of need.

The Wanderlust instructor also founded Vinyasa Yoga for Youth, an innovative non-profit organization designed to meet the physical, mental and spiritual needs of youth ages three to 23.

Although the yogi isnt supposed to want or need anything; Ryan offers suggestions that will spread some love this Christmas:

A pass to the Float House (70 W. Cordova) is a great way to recharge and tune out distractions while tuning into yourself.

Local beeswax candles are always a favourite.

The Manduka Black Mat (available at is mymat of choice. It is a little thicker and heavier than most mats, but is also more comfortable, more stable and less slippery.

Books: The Essential Rumi by Coleman Barks is illuminating and entertaining and Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse is a must for any seeker.

Arcade Fire's Reflektor is the best album of the year! Dance with a tear in your eye.

Also, any yoga nerd will love the movies Enlighten Up or I Am.



Gifts for the CrossFitter

Kate Webster photo

CrossFit is a style of strength and conditioning exercise, sometimes described as gymnastics-meets-Olympic-lifting, that was created by former gymnast Greg Glassman in the '70s. It emphasizes muscular strength, cardiovascular endurance and flexibility, and workouts offer a mix of exercises that dont require treadmills or other equipment. It also happens to be the fastest growing fitness phenomenon worldwide.

Vancouver stylist and CrossFit athlete Wendy Keown crowdsourced this list of gift ideas from the members of her CrossFit class:

Jump rope; RX brand is a must.

PR wrist straps, for heavy overhead lifts and handstand push-ups.

Olympic lifting shoes; any are great.

Weight lifting belt. I prefer the non-leather Velcro option as it adjusts to any size, with tight support; a material one may fit more snugly than leather.

Rings. This is the Mecca of gifts. Rings will help to practise ring dips, ring rows, and their first muscle-up.

Gym tape, or KT tape, which will help recovery, support for injuries, and tears in their hands.

Other ideas include their own kettle bell for home or knee-high socks to keep from skinning their shins.

Gifts for the Traveller

Rob Newell photo

Ken Hegan is a travel writer, billionaire playboy, senior copywriter at Blast Radius, award-winning columnist (MSN, Rolling Stone, National Post, GQ) and screenwriter (TSN, CBC, Comedy Network).

Hes caused trouble in more countries that we can count, so hes our pick to offer up gifts for the frequent flyer:

The Ostrich Pillow is designed to give you a nap at the drop of a hat. The heavily padded pillow lets you fall asleep in any direction without straining your neck. Its like a glory hole for your face. Slip it on like a diving helmet and itll block out sound and light from every direction; $99.

Got a tight connection and have to sprint between terminals? Ride this scooter suitcase and youll never miss a flight again. This clever and retractable luggage is the product of a partnership between Samsonite and a Swiss company called Micro Mobility; $250.

Are you too tall for comfortable plane travel? Tired of having your knees bashed by the person in front of you? Time to get Knee Defender. Slide these hard-plastic clamps onto your tray table to prevent the guy in front of you from slamming back into your knees or laptop. Truly obnoxious/awesome; $24 per pair.

No more sweating like a fiend while you desperately search your luggage for your passport. The Bellroy travel wallet is plus-sized, so it has a sleeve for your passport and can handle the worlds biggest currency. It even comes with a tiny pen for filling out customs forms; $124.97.

Say farewell to dead laptop batteries. Billed as the world's first smart bag, Phorce is the perfect gift for the traveller who has everything but power. It looks like an ordinary tote bag, but Phorce which just completed a successful Kickstarter campaign is also a powerful battery that charges all your mobile devices: laptops, tablets, smartphones, cameras, and headphones. Its just entering production; updates at

Green Gifts

Rob Newell photo

Jen Rustemeyer is an independent writer and film producer by night and an analyst for a green building non-profit by day. She is a dedicated recycler, zero-waster and community-builder who produced The Clean Bin Project (, a multiple award-winning documentary film and blog about a year-long competition to live waste free.

She recently spent six months living off discarded/rescued food as part of a forthcoming documentary on food waste called Just Eat It (

The following are her gift ideas for someone trying to embrace an eco-friendly or even zero-waste lifestyle.

Eco Bathroom Kit

My bathroom staples are a wooden toothbrush, refillable tooth soap and lotion, package-free bar soap, and a safety razor. Once hard to find, these quality items are making a comeback, and your friends will think youre straight out of Mad Men. Look for them at The Soap Dispensary (3623 Main) for $2-$100, depending on what you get.


Who doesn't love homemade goodies? One of my favourite all-time gifts was a cookie of the month tin from my Mom that I returned each month to be refilled with a new kind of cookie. That was 12 months of deliciousness in one gift! Make the cookies yourself or check out Vancouver Farmers Markets (they also have gift tokens); $10-50.

Metal or glass storage container

I was gifted a really good quality metal lunch container, and I take it everywhere. Look for these at the Tiffin Project or Life Without Plastic; $25. Throw in a gift certificate for a local eatery (like one of the Tiffin Project partners) and a set of bamboo cutlery, and you have the perfect, reusable gift that can be appreciated every day.


Gift certificates for massage, a sports game, cooking classes, the Museum of Vancouver, Science World, or a concert are something that the whole family can enjoy. They take up zero closet space and are one of my favourite things to get and give. If possible, I try to book an actual date and time to make sure it gets used.

Make Your Own Soap Kit

This is for those who are the DIY type and love making things from scratch. Making your own soap is not as hard as it sounds, and its a great way to avoid the packaging and the toxins found in many commercial soap bars. Available at Homesteaders Emporium (649 E. Hastings); $70.

Gifts that Give Back

Rob Newell photo

When you ask Krista and Sara Rose McKenna for five gift ideas, they deliver 10. Not only is that indicative of their passion for going above and beyond, but it also fits well with their topic of expertise: Gifts that give more.

Co-founders of Social City Networking INC, Get Warm Project, and Team Awesome. these identical twins and superhumans are all about positively engaging their community with businesses and events.

Here are their suggestions for ways to give that have a warm and fuzzy ripple effect.

Stocking stuffers:

Inside every black LUSH Charity Pot is a whole lot more than creamy body lotion. Of course its filled with the finest ingredients, including fair trade organic cocoa butter, and made by hand with love. But what makes it so special? Every penny that you pay for a pot, excluding the tax, goes to fund and support grassroots charities all around the world; $5.95-$22.95.

Kiva is a person-to-person microloan site where you can lend money (starting at $25) to real entrepreneurs in need of funding throughout the developing world. Kiva Gift Cards give your family and friends the opportunity to choose which borrowers they want to support.

When you purchase Body Shops Dragon Fruit Lip Butter (our favorite!), 100 per cent of the profits go to charity; $3.

Save On Meats Food Token program, providing hot meals to the hungry, aligns 100 per cent with our community initiatives. Social City Networking co-founded a local social initiative called the Get Warm Project, and last year partnered with Save On Meats. They were wonderful in their support, and donated 100 food tokens for us to give out with our Get Warm outreach bundles. Available for purchase online and at the store, the $2.25 meal tokens can be redeemed for a nutritious hot breakfast sandwich at the sandwich window (7am-4pm) or in the diner (7am-10pm). People canchoose to distribute them directly, or purchase the tokens and have Save on Meats give them to one of dozens of community partners to share amongst their organization.

Under the tree:

We work directly with the team, and highly recommend their website as a source of holiday gifts. creates scholarships for Canadian students by implementing an automatic donation with every purchase made from their online store. Not only are they providing students financial support with scholarships, but theyre also providing access to incredible deals on quality brands such as Sitka, IceBreaker, Metal Mulisha, The Berrics, and more.

For each peaceBOMB piece of jewelry sold, Project peaceBOMB donates the equivalent of the cost of clearing 1 to 15 square metres of land in Laos of unexploded ordinances/landmines. Local artisans also fashion the jewellery out bomb shards. Kristas favourite: The Peace Ribbon Sterling Silver Bangle. Saras favourite: PeaceBomb Arrow Bracelet Set and the Lets Spoon Necklace.

We love Lüt Boutique, a space that supports local and emerging designers and artists as well as national and international brands with unique visions. Lüt Boutique has been an active supporter and contributor to the Get Warm Project since day one. From Lüt, we suggest Ten Tree Apparel: purchase a product and they plant 10 trees. Ladies Ten Tree Breeze Hoodie or The Hippie Tree. Mens Ten Tree Nightlife Hoodie or Ten Tree Live Unbound T-Shirt.

We also support the Pacific Wild Organization because the founders are West Coast natives through and through. Nothing beats the beauty of the environment we live in, and keeping our coastline safe and protected is their priority. Donations are always welcome, but Pacific Wild products (books, cards, DVDs) make great gifts that spread their message.

Charities To Support:

The Get Warm Project is a community blanket and goods drive that strives to ensure that members of our city will be warm this winter. Members of the community, such as Lüt, are hosting Get Warm Project donation boxes. All donations will dropped off at Union Gospel Mission. We are asking to fill the boxes with new or gently used warm clothes, blankets, and quality essential items such as shampoo, soap, toothpaste, quality razors, winter boots, etc.

We support Beauty Night Society because we strongly believe in the impact wellness can have on changing someones life. Everyone deserves to be treated with respect, dignity and support regardless of their situation.

We also love YWCA for their three Sponsor a Family programs that offer assistance and support to families in need during the holiday season.

Gifts for the Photographer

Lindsay Elliott photo

Vancouver photographer Lindsay Elliotts CV reads like an arts and culture retrospective on the city. The girl who shoots for everyone from the Cheaper Show to Vice to Aveda offers these gift ideas for the photographer:

Renting new gear is one of the best ways to get excited about photography, gain confidence through experimentation andfigure out what you might like to buy in the future. Flashpoint (171 W. 3rd) offers gift certificates in $25 denominations that can be used rent lenses, strobes, flashes, backdrops and pretty much anything else youll need to experiment without spending huge amounts of money. The crew at Flashpoint is also ridiculously knowledgable, friendly and clearly have a passion for the business.

Ive always struggled with proper colour correction but the X-Rite ColorChecker Passport makes it virtually impossible to mess it up. The card is a checkerboard of 24 squares in a range of colours that represent natural objects (skin/sky/trees), which reflects light properly and gives you an Adobe DNG RAW profile to match your images to. On the other sideyouve also got a handy, tiny grey card for your camera bag.Available at B&H photo and most professional camera stores in Vancouver, such as Kerrisdale, Beau and Leos; $89.

Every photographer needs to own a reflector. The Interfit is great because not only do you get silver and white, but also soft sun (gold), black and a 1/2-stop translucent defuser. The defuser will save the day if youre shooting in harsh sunlight and the stand + arm comes in handy if you shoot alone (bring a sand bag on windy days!). Interfit Photographic INT273 5-in-1 reflector kit (42) with arm + stand; $129; Kerrisdale Cameras.

It feels like everyone owns the Canon Nifty 50 and has been frustrated at some point by some of its quirks and limitations. Canons new(ish) 40mm F2.8 Pancake lens corrects so many of the issues I had with the 50mm. Its64mm on a cropped sensor, semi-wide angle coverage on a full frame, no more plastic mount, sharpas a tack, and not much bigger than a lens cap. This is a great, cheap lens to add to a collection or as a first lens to add to a camera+lens kit. $209.99; Broadway Camera.

I really miss having albums full of images. When I discovered the 4x6 Canon Selphy CP900 photo printer last week I was completely sold on the quality and price (photos are about $0.39 each to produce). You can purchase refill packs at Staples for $42.96 and they come with paper and ink for 108 images. You can also wirelessly print jpegs from your iPhone or Android. The printer could handle a party photobooth and it prints your Instagrams to send to grandma.Starting at $89.99; Amazon, London Drugs.


Gifts for the Sartorialist

Lou Lou Childs photo

Growing up in Port Hardy (pop. 5,000) Christie Lohr always imagined something bigger. After undertaking her fashion marketing certificate at Kwantlen, studying broadcast journalism at BCIT and interning at MTV Canada and FASHION Magazine, the Vancouver transplant founded Style Nine to Five, a one-stop fashion career website that brings fashion industry employers and job seekers together, and Beauty Nine to Five, the sister site for beauty jobs. She is a household name in the Canadian fashion industry, and offers of these picks for the well-decked:

Comfort and style are two of my favourite things. I love the gold buckle detail on these Le Chateau leather boots, $139.95.

The perfect amount of sparkle. These sterling silver studs by Vancouver designerElsa Corsi are not only a jewelry wardrobe staple youll wear with everything, but a fantastic stocking stuffer.$25; Jeweliette Jewellery (1090 Hornby).

This moto-inspired lambskin leather Mackage Rumer jacket is on my wish list! Its a higher price point, but something your family can all chip in on. Youll wear this season after season. $690; Aritzia.

Amp up your dull winter wardrobe with hot colours like the RB python clutches. $205; Rebecca Bree Boutique (3680 W 4th).

It Girl and style muse Alexa Chung gives us an inside look at her life in her book It. $31.50; Chapters.



Gifts for the Musician

Rob Newell photo

Glenn Alderson is editor and co-publisher of BeatRoute magazine, an independent monthly music, arts and entertainment publication. He also plays in local post-punk hardcore outfit NEEDS and is a member of the legendary rap ensemble Too High Crew:

A musicians jam space is a special place of creativity and behind every musicians creativity is weed. Get your special little rocker this special Sweet Leaf key by Good Worth & Co. to remind them where their next good song will probably come from. $9; Sharks and Hammers.

Filled with reflections on the most nihilist of all pop movements from its key players, I dont care if you play in a punk band or a shitty jam band that fumbles your way through Bob Marley covers, Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk is important to your future as a musician and you need to read it. $15; Pulp Fiction Books.

The Throbblehead figure of Joe Queer from the Queers assaulting the stage in full-on live mode is limited to 1,000 numbered units, stands at seven inches tall, and is fucking awesome. Aggronautix makes tons of different musical icons including GG Allin, Joe Shithead and Andrew WK but nothing says THIS PLACE SUCKS like New Hampshires crowned king of pop punk. $24.95;

Shitty earplugs make hearing not very fun, which is why most musicians dont mess with them. Regular use of these bad boys will save your ears and keep the party going all night long. Etymotic Musicians Earplugs; $235.20. Sound Hearing Clinic (#207-1160 Burrard).

Stay warm on those late nights and long walks home from the gig with a Kwanzaa sweater from Shredders Apparel. Rappers are musicians too and this hip-hop Santa sweater is pretty believable, although Ive never seen Santa personally so I cant confirm. $79.99;


Gifts for the Night Owl

Sydney Gregoire

Scott Loudoun photo

Parties. Art. Pretty boys. Booze. Photos. Night and noise. That about sums up Sydney Gregoire. Vancouvers hardest-partying night owl offers gift suggestions for those cut from the same midnight cloth:

A wig from New York Novelties (2429 Main). Every raver kid needs a good wig selection.

This Business Crop Top from Meat clothing, a latex clothing brand that every party girl should own something from (; $190.

A room at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver, for partying or relaxing.

Novelty booze something I wouldnt buy myself, like a giant bottle of Champagne.

Dj lessons from the School of Remix, so I can host my own nights (courses start at $39).

Gifts for the Gamer

Rob Newell photo

Simon Furminger loves videogames so much that he found a career where he's paid to play games all day long.

The longtime Vancouverite is a game capture artist. His job description: to play an assigned game in order to capture footage that can be used in trailers and in-game cinematics — and he has wielded his skills on some of the biggest titles to emerge over the last several years, including Deus Ex: Human Revolution and Sleeping Dogs.

While Simon is all set for games (he's currently playing through Grand Theft Auto V and Batman: Arkham Origins), he's still got a wish list to guide all of the Santas in his life.


The popular EXP Restaurant & Bar, a Pender Street eatery, is the only videogame-geared venue of its kind in the city. From the themed menu to the décor (they're currently displaying a giant Mass Effect Reaper made entirely out of gingerbread, because nothing says Christmas like a giant gingerbread Reaper), EXP is the go-to establishment for Vancouver's gamers. Gift cards available (309 West Pender).


Gaming sessions can last for hours, and the most successful gamers eat strategically. They're not contending with complicated fare like spaghetti; they're consuming manageable food that'll fill their bellies while also kicking their energy up to the next level — food like Awake Caffeinated Chocolates, a made-in-Canada, super-charged treat that'll keep players in the game. Safeway, Shoppers.

Health & Wellness

Gaming can be hard on the body, especially those parts responsible for operating the all-powerful controller. Soothe tired arms, shoulders and hands with the locally produced Be Soothed Muscle Balm (and consider throwing in a gift certificate for a massage). $24; Spruce Body Lab.


Consider giving the gamers on your list a selection of movies that delve into the art of gaming: classics like War Games, The Wizard, and Tron and the 2011 Disney animated flick Wreck-It Ralph, in which the titular character (a protagonist in a videogame) grows tired of his own game, jumps into others, and then — sorry, no spoilers. Future Shop and Best Buy.


The best gaming sessions occur when you're able to fully immerse yourself in your game — a difficult task when your body is slouched on a lumpy old couch. Behold the PYRAMAT Video Gaming Rocker Chair, which positions the body so that it can comfortably endure hours of uninterrupted gaming while also offering surround sound, bass-booming subwoofer, connection to your console, and more. $299; Sears.


Many gamers will be hoping to find one (or both!) of the hottest new consoles under their trees come Christmas morning. Xbox One/PlayStation 4... Is one better than the other? It's hard to say, although there are plenty of opinions on the net. Wherever you fall on the spectrum (Simon would be happy with either), they're selling fast, so buy sooner than later. Xbox One is $499 at Future Shop; PlayStation 4 is $399 at Future Shop.

Gifts for the Reader/Writer

Rob Newell photo

Born, raised, and still residing in Vancouver, Daniel Kalla spends his days (and sometimes nights) working as an emergency room physician. In his off time, though, he is the author of eight books, two of which have been optioned for feature films.

As a reader, writer and many other things, he thinks these gift ideas will please the book lover on your list:

An e-reader will never replace the tactile joy of holding an actual book, but it sure is a convenient way to take a story with you on a trip. Kobo Touch Black. $79; Chapters.

On those cold winter nights, why not curl up with a great new Canadian novel? The Orenda by Joseph Boyden is a bleak, raw and beautifully told story set at a pivotal point in the nations nascent history. Not recommended for the faint of heart, though. $32 at your local independent book store.

Every writer even ones who compose only emails, memos or school essays ought to have an easily accessible online thesaurus. My personal favourite is WordWeb Pro for Windows. Conveniently, it works as a pop-up within Word and most Windows-based programs. $25.

Theres no harm in giving a child the gift of story and literacy. A Good Book Drive allows you to donate a book online to the Frontier College Waiting Room Literacy Pilot Project. A few of my favourites from those halcyon evenings spent reading to my own kids? Love You Forever (Robert Munsch), Goodnight Moon (Margaret Wise Brown), Olivia Saves the Circus (Ian Faulkner) and Walter The Farting Dog (William Kotzwinkle). Learn more at

Help save your marriage with the LED Ultra Bright Booklight, a little clip-on reading lamp that provides great illumination for your book, without lighting up the whole bedroom! For those of us who like to read a little later than our partners, this is just one of many LED options in this category. $12.99; Chapters-Indigo.