Valentine’s Day Gift Guide

Valentine’s Day is almost here and while some of us have had our plans sorted and gifts purchased for at least a week, many of us have only just clued in to the fact that today is, in fact, February 13th. With just one day to go, here are some of our best last-minute gift ideas that you can pick up right here at Manulife Centre, for everyone you love.

Timeless Classic

Want to go big this Valentine’s Day? Make your love swoon with a stunning piece from Birks. Jewelry is a Valentine’s Day go-to, but it needn’t have a heart pendant to say “I love you”. We are currently loving the Birks Gold & Pearl collection, which is a perfect pairing of classic elegance with modern styling. With it’s ability to go from daytime to evening seamlessly, we know this is a gift that would be cherished (and worn) forever.


Something to Savour

In love with a whisky lover? Treat them to a bottle of Bruichladdich scotch whisky that tastes as great as it will look on their bar cart. Described by the LCBO as “pale gold” in colour with floral, honey and dried fruit aromas, a palate of caramel, apricots and banana, and a light smokiness on the finish, The Classic Laddie has a little something for everyone. The unmistakable turquoise bottle and outer packaging makes it incredibly easy to find among the wide selection of whisky at the LCBO on our Concourse Level, making it the perfect last minute gift.

A Gift that Lasts

We don’t have a florist at Manulife Centre, but we do have the wonderfully stocked Bloorstreet Market where you can conveniently pick-up a selection of cut flowers and potted plants. Instead of a bouquet that won’t survive into March, why not pick up a beautiful potted orchid? Orchids are traditionally associated with love and admiration, not to mention that they can live for years or even decades! Just be sure to care for them and don’t panic when the flowers drop, as orchids have multiple blooming cycles.

In the [Girl] Gang
Looking for the perfect gift for your Galentine? Give her something that will fuel her self-expression like this amazing Feminist Icon Cross-stitch book. Cross-stitch and embroidery is having a bit of a moment right now, and we think this is the perfect empowering gift for any feminist. With this book, not only do they get to read about some incredible women in history, but they also get the gift of a cool new hobby! Pick up a copy from Indigo Bay Bloor and give this great gift with the request that they make you the one for your next birthday (because everyone needs an inspiring cross-stitch of Beyoncé on their desk to get them through the work day). It’s a gift that keeps on giving!


Sweet Nothings

What’s Valentine’s Day without candy? While chocolate is the more traditional option, when we think of Valentine’s Day we’re reminded of the candy hearts of our youth. So, give the gift of nostalgia this year with some sweet treats from Rexall Pharma Plus. For the full effect, we recommend pairing your candy gift with a novelty valentine – you know the kind. A simple gift like this one is sure to make the heart go all a-flutter!

No matter how (or to whom) you say “I love you” – from bling to blossoms and more – Manulife Centre has got you covered.

Holiday Feasts at Manulife Centre

The holidays are synonymous with entertaining, but we know that sometimes we don’t have the time to be “the host with the most” between work, taking care of the kids, holiday parties and shopping for gifts.

That’s why we’re bringing you a recipe for a beautiful yet simple starter for when it’s your turn to host this holiday season. It’s elegant, light, and easy to pull together when you don’t have the time to prepare hours or days ahead of time. The best part about it? You can pick up everything for this dish right here at Manulife Centre – including the perfect wine pairing!

Festive Lobster & Lemon Dressed Greens

Serves 4

1 Bunch of Rapini, trimmed

1 Bunch of Asparagus, trimmed

6 Cups of Pre-Washed Spring Mix

8-12 Pieces of Shelled, Cooked Lobster, mix of claws and tails


For Lemon Vinagrette

1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest.

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice.

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt, or to taste.

3 to 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Freshly ground black pepper to taste


In a medium saucepan of salted boiling water, blanch rapini and asparagus for 2 to 3 minutes or until al dente. Strain and cool quickly under very cold water to maintain their bright green colour. Set aside.

Prepare vinaigrette. Simply combine all ingredients for Lemon Vinaigrette in a small bowl and whisk to combine.

In a large bowl, toss spring mix, rapini and asparagus in lemon vinaigrette. Divide salad evenly among 4 plates.

Top each salad with 2-3 pieces of cooked lobster from Bloor Street Market. Serve with Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc from the LCBO.


The Gourmet Next Door

Helen Yurman lives across the road from Manulife Centre with her husband. She’s 69 years old with two kids and two grandkids. And she knows good food.

Since she retired, she’s taken cooking classes in France and Italy. She also mastered the sous vide and hosted more than her fair share of dinner parties.

We sat down with Helen in the concourse-level lounge the other day to talk about why Bloor Street Market’s her go-to grocery store.


MC: I see you have a takeout meal from Bloor Street Market.

HY: Yeah, it’s roasted chicken with seared veggies.

MC: Good choice. Healthy.

HY: Yes. That’s what I love about their take-out section. I was debating between this and the seared salmon, but I wanted something warm. It’s cold out there.

MC: How often do you take out from Bloor Street Market?

HY: Much more so now that I have grandchildren. My son drops them off for the day, and I’d rather play with them than cook. Of course, they always want McDonald’s, but not on my watch.

MC: What do they like?

HY: The older one’s all about the sushi. He loves the ginger and the soy sauce. And he’s getting really good with chopsticks. Better than me for sure.

MC: You’re not into the Asian foods?

HY: Actually, I love Asian food. Aisle 5’s my home away from home (editor’s note: Aisle 5 has sauces and marinades from around the world), but that’s also because the younger one’s all about Thai spicy. We don’t like it, but it’s not about us anymore.

MC: Do you bring the grandkids food shopping?

HY: Are you kidding? That’s the best! We couldn’t really do it before because the carts weren’t big enough for them to sit in. But now that the older one can walk on his own, the “Boor Market” is one of his favourite places.

MC: What’s his favourite take-out?

HY: Definitely the chicken fingers. And I can’t blame him. They’re excellent.

Hosting Christmas this year?

Good for you. Someone in every family has to step up, and whether it’s your choice or your turn, you’re doing right by the people you love. Doesn’t get more Christmas-y than that.

On the flipside, hosting is stressful. So we put together a 45-minute plan visit to Manulife Centre for the express purpose of receiving stress.


Stop #1: Parker’s Cleaners (5 min)

Picking an outfit in advance will make the day-of so much easier, and help you avoid the closet-vomit on your bed. Bring your choice in for a dry clean so it’s perfectly pressed for the occasion. We recommend leaving it in the plastic wrapping until the big day.


Stop #2: LCBO (10 min)

Your ideal wine pairing will be less than ideal if the LCBO’s sold out of what you want. Stock up early so you’re good to go with no “uh-oh’s.” And for those guests who prefer shots to chardonnays, you can take the opportunity to refill your liquor cabinet. And don’t leave without a bottle of Bailey’s.


Stop #3: Indigo (10 min)

Every family has two people who can’t sit together, whether they’re too immature when they’re in close proximity or they’re just too shmoopy with each other. Table cards are a great way to avoid this. Indigo has a style for every setting. And while you’re there, you can spend a minute or two in the cooking section to get inspired.


Stop #4: William Ashley (10 min)

Yes, your food will make the event, but your table will set the tone for the evening. And nobody puts dinner decor together better than Ashley’s. Walk through the showroom for a few ideas, and take a few pictures so you know exactly what you’re doing the morning of. Also, have a look at the centrepieces in the under-$100 section. You may find exactly what you’re missing.


Stop #5: The Varsity Theatre (5 min)

Movie passes make the best stocking stuffers. Anyone can use them and everyone has time over the holidays to catch a flick.


Stop #6: Guest services (5 min)

Don’t forget that you’ll get two hours of free parking if you spend $25 or more in the Centre in addition to the free holiday valet service. Just bring your parking ticket and your receipts to the guest services desk on the concourse level.


You’re best to execute this plan the week of December 12th, partly because it’ll give you time to relax before the event, but mostly because the Steve Koven Duo will be here setting the mood with some holiday jazz.


Enjoy the holiday season, and enjoy hosting!

Shopping for Pops

Mother’s Day is a breeze to shop for compared to Father’s Day.

We did another one of our informal polls around here, and found that 7 out of 10 women feel like they’ve never knocked it out of the park for Father’s Day — interesting because in a similar poll, 80 percent of men thought they nailed Mother’s Day this year.

Last month, we walked around Manulife Centre looking for great Mother’s Day gifts, so we thought we’d do it again for the poppas. And while we found stuff at Bay Bloor Radio that any dad would love to have, we decided to dig a little deeper and go a bit off the board. Here’s some of what we discovered:


Socks at Quattro

Seriously? Socks? Yes, seriously. Funky socks are all the rage this year, and Quattro Clothiers is sporting some of the best from 7 Downie Street, a surprisingly Canadian company with a finger on the pulse of Saville Row fashion.

We wouldn’t say any of them were “traditional,” but none are outlandish enough to make Dad stand out for the wrong reasons.


A Pen from Birks

If you have an “old-school” dad, a Birks classic writing utensil will make his year. It says “educated,” “distinguished” and “important” all at the same time, and it looks just as good on display as it will on the page.

This is an especially good gift for dads who run businesses — because every entrepreneur needs a lucky pen to sign cheques and contracts.


Phil Knight’s New Book from Indigo

As the founder of Nike, of course he’d name the book Shoe Dogs. And, of course, any dad would love it. Especially the part about turning the NBA, a league that was in a bit of trouble, into the juggernaut property it is today by commodifying the feeling of being “like Mike.” It’s on display by Indigo’s lower level cash desk, across from the LCBO. Speaking of which…


Vintage Whisky from the LCBO

Any other time, you can bring your dad a bottle of wine and call it a day. But on his day, you can go a bit above and beyond. The selection of specialty Whisky in our LCBO is impressive. We have our favourites, but we’ll remind you that with Whisky, presentation is just as important as taste. If you can find a sexy bottle, we suggest you pounce.


Cocktails set from William Ashley

Mad Men might be off the air, but its legacy of sipping cocktails with your buddies and solving the world’s problems is still very en vogue. See to it that the next one is at your house. And while you’re at William Ashley, pick up something nice up for Mom — you know, for putting up with Dad.


If you come across anything else around here you think your dad would like, feel free to share it on our social channels @ManulifeCentre