Northern Alberta Institute of Technology

12 days of NAIT Christmas gift ideas 2018, Days 1-5

Stumped about what to buy? Try something unique and made in Alberta

We love this time of year. Sure, the temperature has plummetted, getting anywhere takes twice as long as it should, and it's dark except for the hours you're at work. But there's also the feeling that people are in the mood to celebrate.

Perhaps more than at any other time of year, we're mindful of making the most of the time we spend with family and friends. We also work hard at showing our appreciation for those relationships. As part of that, we give gifts – ones that say, "I saw this and thought it was awesome, and that made me think of you."

Happily, NAIT grads make that kind of stuff.

Here, we celebrate their talents with our annual Christmas gift-giving guide. It's 12 days packed with unique, high-quality items that will fit the bill for whatever kind of awesome you're looking for. It makes giving easy while supporting Alberta businesses and entrepreneurs. So bundle up, take your time, and brighten up the season by presenting someone special with something special. Check back on each of the next 12 days for a new gift idea.

Enjoy the holidays, and merry Christmas from the team at techlifetoday.ca!

Day 1: Treats
Day 2: Gender-neutral fragrances
Day 3: Kitty gifts
Day 4: Junior hockey sticks
Day 5: Escape room

Day 1: Treatsnait christmas gift ideas food

Wherever you work, it might seem like co-workers are currently trying to fatten you up like a holiday turkey. Resistance is futile. Eat, drink and be merry.

And dish out as good as you get. Whether you're doing your part for the workplace snack pile or you're looking for a non-perishable item as a stocking stuffer, check out these tasty treats.

Chocolate from Violet Chocolate Co. 

We've lost count of all the awards Rebecca Grant (Culinary Arts ’08, Management ’13) has won for her handmade bars. The Edmonton chocolatier has a reputation for exotic and unexpected flavours, so get ready to shock the chocolate lover who thinks he or she has tasted it all.

A dozen from Destination Donuts 

Watch out, Big Doughnut. This father-daughter team of Arlyn (Baking ’72, Steamfitter/Pipefitter ’09) and Jill Sturwold (Lab and X-ray Technology Combined ’97) are among the newest entries to Edmonton's fancy doughnut scene. The likes of the Snickerdoodle, Triple Play and Ode to Sunshine are sure to impress even the most dedicated Tim's fan.

A bag of Catfish Coffee

What goes better with a great doughnut than great coffee? Local roasters Dominic Ries (Culinary Arts '89) and Tracy Caron know how to ensure an excellent cup every time. Sold by the pound or half-pound.

Cookies from Confetti Sweets

After starting out at farmers' markets, Kathy Leskow (Management ’96) has grown her business into several shops around Edmonton. She's even served Confetti Sweets cookies to Hollywood stars. They'd be more than good enough for the rest of us even if she hadn't. Choose from about a dozen varieties to make your own dozen.

A tub of Revolution Ice Cream

Who says you can't eat ice cream in winter? This small-batch product is the brainchild of John (Mechanical Engineering Technology ’03) and Jess Steblyk, who were keen to bring "craft" to ice cream. Not recommended as a stocking stuffer (and not just because it's free of preservatives).

Day 2: Gender-neutral fragrances

josh smith, libertine fragranceJosh Smith (Forest Technology '09) loves everything about being in the forest and mountains except that getting there means leaving the city, which he also loves. To help strike the balance, he struck up a business, Libertine Fragrance.

Since teaching himself the craft of scent-making and launching his first product (appropriately called Soft Woods) in 2014, Smith has continued to produce eau de parfum, perfume oils and home fragrances in his downtown apartment.

Comprising smells such as leather, fig, sandalwood and more, the scents don't skew to one sex or the other, making for a unique – and, perhaps from the buyer's perspective, freeing – approach to a gender-oriented industry.

Bring nature with you wherever you go; shop online or at a handful of independent shops across Canada.

Day 3: Kitty gifts

olivia canlas, meowbox

Looking for the purr-fect gift for your cat? If you're among the more than one-third of Canadians who own a feline or two, this idea is for you.

In 2013, Olivia Canlas (Dental Assisting Technology ’12) delved into entre-paw-neurship with Meowbox, a package of cat treats sent to pet owners' homes each month. Each delivery contains toys, treats and, of course, the box.


“I like to pick really good quality, unique items,” says Canlas. “I like when I get feedback from customers and they say, ‘I never even thought about that’ or ‘I never knew that they made that for cats.’”

Currently, Canlas has subscribers across North America and the U.K. Care to join them? First boxes ship in about a week.

Day 4: Junior hockey sticks

raven hockey stickIf you're a fan of Dragons' Den, CBC's hit series in which entrepreneurs pitch to a panel of seasoned investors, you might be familiar with Raven Hockey sticks.

The idea is the product of team that includes Dan (Marketing ’95) and Lori Pilling (Legal and Realtime Reporting ’01), and is the solution to a problem that plagued minor-league hockey players. Stick makers were letting them down.

A modern adult composite stick is designed to flex, adding force to a shot. But once you cut that stick to junior size, flexing gets harder, weakening a shot. So, Pilling and two other hockey dads set out to create kid-size composite sticks that required no cutting, preserving the flex.

In 2016, that earned them a $500,000 investment from Dragon Michael Wekerle. Today, Raven Hockey is a thriving, Calgary-based stick manufacturer. Buy them online or at any of a few hundred stores throughout North America, and even Korea and Russia.

Day 5: Escape room

pamela woolger, escape city, escape roomMovies aren't the only source of escapism in the entertainment scene these days. Now, you can leave the world behind by being willingly locked in a room and using your wits to try to get out.

Escape City has offered just such an experience in a south Edmonton strip mall since 2015, when Pamela Woolger (Finance ’05), her husband Dave (Architectural Technology ’05) and three other business partners decided to open their own live-action puzzle game after trying one out themselves.

They fell in love with the concept: a group of people work their way through a themed room to find the clues and solve the mysteries that will lead to the key to escape. At Escape City, that has meant everything from getting trapped in a cabin during a fierce winter storm to having to free souls from otherworldly realms.

No matter what the scenario, it will likely mean a good time for you and your family and friends. Gift certificates are available for both the Edmonton and Saskatoon locations.


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