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Practical gift giving

By Liisa St-Aubin

When it comes to gift giving, we all have that one family member that likes to throw a few caveats into the mix. Whether it be simple practicality or ratio of bedazzlement, it can be hard to stay within their parameters.

Don’t be afraid to think outside the traditional Christmas gift box.

Jelly of the Month
What can be more practical than feeding a loved one for a full year? Bonus: it comes with a monthly checklist where they can jot down notes about the taste and what they like about each jelly. Win, win!

Weeping Angel Tree Topper
For the perfect balance between traditional tree topper and an object of bowtie-quivering fear, you’ve got to go with the Doctor Who Weeping Angel Tree Topper. Why have a tree if no one looks at it, right? This will keep them staring…forever. Just Remember: Don’t blink. Don’t even blink.

Friendship Doves
Who doesn’t want to have a friend for life? Next!

Christmas Toilet Paper
Give the only practical gift this Christmas that will help with the clean up…and because everyone forgets to decorate the bathroom. Also, if your neighbour is being a Grinch, why not spread some holiday cheer and TP the heck out of their house!








Handmade Holiday Cards
Save them from having to do the work of making cards next Christmas (or this one if you gift it to them early enough). Or, you know what? Just write them a sweet message and send them a homemade card in the mail. Everyone loves snail mail. Plus, these come in a big enough bundle you can check 24 people off your list at once.



Social Media Gift Guide

Although we are all mourning Vine, and remember the five seconds that Ello was cool, there are some people on our Christmas lists who know and love social media more than life itself. They Tweet, they Snap, they Pin – they do it all!

But what do you get for your friend, who has seen it all (online anyway)? Here are five savvy social media gift ideas:

Punctuation Ornaments

punctuation ornaments

Sometimes it can be difficult to get your message across in 140 characters and still be grammatically correct. These punctuation ornaments add some much needed structure to tree trimming and are approved by the grammar police!





#SorryNotSorry Santa
Maybe your friend had too much eggnog at the office Christmas party, or used a bit too many swear words in their latest Facebook status. Either way, this t-shirt will let everyone know the score!

Hashtag Ornament
#omg #noway #Blessed This ornament says it all. But Twitter followers not included.

Adult Mad Libs
A good social media manager knows that great ideas come from interactive brainstorming sessions. Give your colleague a copy of Adult Mad Lib to get those creative juices flowing!

Santa Unfriended Me Coffee Mug


If your friend has made their way onto the naughty list, maybe it’s best to tell them with a mug full of egg nog . . . this mug full of egg nog.

Speaking of social media, follow us @RetroFestive on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram!


Big Savings During our Season Kick-Off Event!

Sweater deals online and in-store this weekend!

Saturday, November 12th marks our annual Season Kick-Off event at the RetroFestive flagship store in Oakville, and you’re invited to join us! For our friends who can’t come to Oakville, we’ve got special deals online, so you won’t miss out on all the fun!

It's an Ugly Sweater Party!

Join the fun at our Oakville flagship store!

Featured guests will be the Misty Kids from the Niagara Falls Winter Festival of Lights. So bring your kids for hugs and photos. Also appearing will be an all-female barbershop quartet named Skyfall. Saturday, November 10th, only!

  • Everyone who arrives in an Ugly Sweater wins a prize!
  • Special discounts on almost all Ugly Sweaters in store.
Misty Kids and Skyfall appearing Saturday!
Misty Kids and Skyfall appearing Saturday at our big Season Kick-Off event in Oakville.

Appearance Times:

Meet the Misty Kids: 11am, Noon and 1pm

Listen to Skyfall Barbershop Quartet: 10:30, 11:30 and 12:3


Our Favourite Kid Stars in Christmas Movies: Where Are They Now?

In light of the recent Macaulay Culkin/Kevin McCallister video that surfaced the net last week (embedded below just in case you missed it), curious feelings surrounding other various Christmas movie child stars have manifested into our nosy minds.

The video above depicts an angry, and not to mention, strung out looking Kevin McCallister (aka Macaulay Culkin), who has yet to deal with the abandonment issues and possible PTSD the 1990 classic, Home Alone has left him with.

Though this video caused a few broken hearts for all the life-long wet bandit admirers, it also brought a nostalgic chuckle to audiences around the globe. The 5 minute Youtube video inspired us to do some intensive research to locate the 9 cute little kids that have starred in all of our favourite classics. Sadly, not everyone has had the career we all expected they would when they first started out. From Primetime Emmy nominations, to arrests and post-grunge bands,  there is a great range of triumph to demise within these 9 former child stars. Though, with what Macaulay’s post Home Alone years looked like, the most successful of the few may be the ones who opted out of show business; but we’ll let you decide for yourself.

1. Cindy Lou Who from ‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas’ (2000)

AKA Taylor Momsen

Momsen stole the hearts of movie go-ers everywhere, as the adorable Cindy Lou Who from the 2000 live action version of ‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas’. Singing a cute rendition of ‘Where Are You Christmas’ the young star set high hopes for her future career. Though, her music now is not quite as ‘cute’ and ‘happy’, as the Faith Hill festive single, Momsen has earned in her spot in the music industry with her alternative-rock band, The Pretty Reckless.

Following her highly sought after role as Jenny Humphrey on Gossip Girl, the former IMG Model signed on to be the new face of Madonna’s 2010 clothing line, ‘Material Girl’. In late August of the same year, Momsen’s band released their first studio album, leading to her decision to make music her main focus. In early September 2015,  the former childhood star confirmed that the band is working on new material in the studio. Maybe it will be out in time for next Christmas?

2. Charlie Calvin from ‘The Santa Clause’ (1994)

AKA Eric LLloyd

Eric Lloyd starred as Charlie Calvin in The Santa Clause at the tender age of 8 years old! It’s no wonder that his performance as Scott Calvin (aka Tim Allen) ‘s  son was nothing short of adorable. Charlie’s dedication and sense of belief made the film, about a man who inadvertently kills Santa on Christmas Eve, and then is forced to take his place, a truly magical time for us all. Lloyd went on to play the same character in the 2 not-so popular sequels of the film.

Now, at the age of 29, Eric has supposedly quit acting and partnered up with his college roommate, Tyler Payne, opening LP Studios, a production and post production music and film company located in California.

3. Jake from ‘I’ll Be Home For Christmas’ (1998)

AKA Jonathan Taylor Thomas AKA J.T.T

Another one of Tim Allen’s fictional sons! The teenage heart throb, nicknamed J.T.T, was plastered on every young girl’s wall during the 1990’s, thanks to Tiger Beat magazine. Though, his career seemed to fizzle out following the popular Christmas film, he did make a few cameo appearances on various television shows like Veronica Mars, Ally McBeal, Smallville, and 8 Simple Rules. Plus, the American sweetheart is not just all looks! J.T.T was enrolled at Harvard University, where he studied philosophy and history, prior to graduating from Columbia. Thomas currently guest starts on ABC’s Last Man Standing, reuniting him with his former TV dad, and The Santa Claus(e) himself, Tim Allen.

4. Rusty Griswold from ‘National Lampoons: Christmas Vacation’ (1989)

AKA Johnny Galecki

One of the running jokes of the National Lampoon’s Vacation movies is the inconsistency of son Rusty and daughter Audrey. Chevy Chase’s fictional children are played by different actors in each film, often of interchangeable age (Rusty being younger in the Christmas film, and older in the Vegas film). The 1989 comedy classic Christmas Vacation features Johnny Galecki as son, Rusty. The relatively unknown actor landed the role, despite having only done two previous movies (one of them another 1989 Christmas movie, Prancer). Three years after the successful Christmas flick, Johnny made his first appearance as David Healy (aka Darlene’s love interest) on Roseanne, making the actor a semi-regular cast member for the show’s last five seasons. In 2007, following multiple television appearances, he was cast on The Big Bang Theory as the loveable main character Leonard, scoring him a few Prime Time Emmy Nominations and seven People’s Choice Awards affiliated to the show. Not too shabby, Russ…not too shabby.

5. Ralphie from ‘A Christmas Story’ (1983)

AKA Peter Billingsley

6. Michael from ‘Elf’ (2003)

AKA Daniel Tay

Buddy the Elf’s supportive little brother, Michael, was played by 11 year old Daniel Tay, who has not been active in the Entertainment industry since 2009. In 2003, the same year Elf was brought to the big screen, Tay played a young Harvey Pekar (the older version played by Paul Giamatti) in the critically acclaimed American Splendor. Following this film, and a few small television roles, Tay began doing voice work, providing several video game voiceovers in such works as Bully and Grand Theft Auto.

7. Sam from ‘Love, Actually’ (2003)

AKA Thomas Brodie- Sangster

Thomas Sangster played Sam in Love Actually, a little boy in love with his classmate, Olivia. Since the romantic Christmas flick’s release, Sangster kept up with his acting career, landing solid roles in Game of Thrones and the Maze Runner. His most recent role was a small one in the newly released and highly anticipated Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Though his Wikipedia page does state that he is 25, the fact is questionable considering he still has that baby face we know and love. Lucky girl, Olivia!

8. Jamie from ‘Jingle All the Way’ (1996)

AKA Jake Lloyd

Next to Macaulay, Lloyd’s career seemed to have the most promising potential. Following his role, alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger, in the 1996 hit Jingle All the Way, Lloyd scored the highly pined over role of young Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace. After voicing the same character for several Star Wars video games, the child actor disappeared from the entertainment industry, only to sporadically resurface on the TMZ home page, after multiple arrests and even a death hoax.

Several entertainment websites state that after his role in the famously hated first prequel, Lloyd reportedly destroyed all of his Star Wars memorabilia and quit acting. The infamous flop film, directed by George Lucas, caused the former star to be bullied in school, where children would taunt him in the halls, making lightsaber noises whenever he would walk by. If that wasn’t sad enough, following the June 2015 arrest, his mother Lisa Lloyd, revealed that her son is schizophrenic, and that in March of this year he attacked her after going off of his medication.

9. Kevin from ‘Home Alone’ (1990)

AKA Macaulay Culkin

Macaulay was easily the most well-known child stars of the last few decades. After the very successful Home Alone in 1990, our hearts broke as he played the cute-as-can-be preteen Thomas J in My Girl, a film that left everyone leaving the theatres in hysterics. Following his tear jerking performance in the early 90’s classic, Culkin went on to star in the Home Alone sequel, Richie Rich and the Good Son. And, like any other young star, Macaulay made his rounds on American television, even hosting Saturday Night Live in 1991.

It is no secret that Macaulay had a tough time, after his initial attempt to quit acting at the age of 14. Though, he resurfaced after his parents nasty divorce and custody battle, dating That 70’s Show and Family Guy star Mila Kunis for 8 years. The couple broke up in 2010, which allegedly lead to his demise, and struggle with drugs and alcohol. As Culkin once said: ‘I had all the fame anyone could want, and I ran away from it’, learning the tough lesson that his Home Alone character came to realize, be careful what you wish for.


I Heart XMAS with Linda Olsen

Welcome to the I Heart XMAS Q&A, where Retro Festive asks notable Canadians about their own Christmas traditions and what they would like to find under the tree!

Linda Olsen
Anchor of the Early News at 5 and co-anchor of  Calgary’s News Hour at 6

Linda Olsen

What is your favourite Christmas movie or TV special? 

Elf!  I think it’s so cute and has a great message about the Christmas spirit.



Does your family have a special or quirky Christmas tradition?
We have a few traditions coming from our Danish heritage.

We would hold hands and sing Christmas songs and walk around the tree.  Also, we would put a whole almond in the desserts, citronfromage and risalamande.  The person who gets the whole almond in their serving has to keep it secret, hidden in their mouths, until everyone eats up all the dessert.  Then we found out who had it all along and that person wins a prize.

Which do you prefer: to give or receive?  

I definitely prefer to give!  I enjoy finding a few special gifts that my friends and family will really appreciate.

Which Peanuts character do you think your friends and family would say reminds them of you?
My daughter said Charlie Brown’s teacher who says ‘wuh wuh wuh.’

Ugly Christmas Sweaters: Not a Chance – or – The Uglier the Better?
I have not purchased one for myself yet, but my three kids have and they wear them with pride and yes, the uglier the better!

What do you want Santa to bring you this year?
I would like Santa to find a way to make the days longer so I can have more time with my kids and parents.