What are you up to this weekend? Will you get a head start on the upcoming holidays or straight up chill? Last weekend, I managed to accomplish both – at the same time. Score! The Huz was away on biz, so I made a plan and whisked my daughter, Eve, away to WestHills in Calgary.
WestHills Towne Centre is my go-to spot when I need to get a lot done, but also want to add in some fun. When it comes to this time of year, braving the mega malls isn’t for the faint of heart. Or for me. I’m not into being at war with the mall and everyone in it – unless we’re talking about my favourite competitive sport: Boxing Day shopping.
But during the frantic holiday season, I need it to be light. Simple. Easy. I need parking, like now! I need a spot where I can holiday shop without stress, grab a quality bite and nail off a dozen tasks – like gas, groceries, the post office – and maybe treat myself to a movie when all is said and done.
Here’s a look at how Eve and I spent a blissful Sunday afternoon, plus deets on where you can get free pet and Santa pics in the city.
Where to find gifts for kids and teens at WestHills Towne Centre
When shopping with kids, bribery works wonders. First, we hit up Mastermind Toys, so Eve could get a little something to amuse her should I take too long in the adult stores. Here, they’ve got it all, from LEGO to Playmobile, toys for tots to teens.
We were both surprised they had such an extensive book selection for kids of all ages. Also of note is the Our Generation line – a knock off of American Girl, but priced so much more affordably. I used to only find this line at Target in the States.
What to buy the ladies on your list
Child placated, we then moved on to my favourite shops. At Urban Barn I found the most delightful Christmas tree decorations (perfect hostess gift!), plus luxe throws and beautiful stemware.
At Daniadown, they have this amazing travel cloth called Erase Your Face that takes off waterproof mascara with just water. It’s only $5! I nabbed some silk pillowcases for me, as they’re supposedly really good for your hair and skin.
One of my favourite cult celebrity items is Prtty Peaushun, a tinted body lotion with light-reflecting particles. I’ve only ever found it at Joydrop and they also sell it travel size! Give this to any girlfriend to cement your BFF status for life.
They’ve also got crystal facial rollers, fantastic affordable and designer jewelry, plus Sugarfina sweets for luxe stocking stuffers. Gwyneth would love this store!
Gingerbread scones for the win!
Around this point, we were both getting hangry, so into COBS Bread we went. I’m a huge fan of their high fibre loaves and buns sneakily made with oat flour. Everyone thinks their noshing on plain old white bread, but it’s got 4x the amount of fibre as a wheat loaf. But we’re here for immediate sustenance, and quickly scarfed back a gingerbread scone that tasted just like Christmas!
For the dudes on your list
To continue with the shopping is fun vibe, I steered us into Skoah, where we made a nuisance of ourselves trying each and every sample. The divine smelling Holiday Hand Lotion snd Body Kream was our fave. I still use their Kleansing lotion (great for taking off makeup and cleansing at same time), but for dear old Dad, we found Kream, a luxe shaving cream that acts like a moisturizer.
Inside Bentley, we discovered a ton of great stocking stuffers: a portable clothesline and luggage scales, plus some colourful luggage straps and tags. This is the spot to pick up smaller items (or a decent suitcase) for anyone you know who’s planning a trip.
Back to the ladies and teens
Just for fun, I ducked into Aldila. I go here because whatever clothing I find, I know my friends won’t have it, much less guess where I bought it from. I ended up buying that gorgeous raspberry-coloured puffy jacket that you see above. I’ve got my eye on their knitwear, specifically the leg warmers, but kiddo was not down with more time in the change room.
If I were with my girlfriends, I would’ve made a beeline for Mint Nails Spa and Lounge, but Eve isn’t into girly stuff, so we hit Play it Again Sports. Every year, kids need new skates and being a Robbins, I refuse to buy them at full price. Here, they have new gear, but also a ton of second-hand options for skates and skis.
It was time for another boost, so into Petland we went. If kids (or spouses) are grumpy, simply trot them inside for an instant mood shift. There are hamsters and bunnies to pet, plus a schwack of other pets to mesmerize yourself with.
Fully restored, we could attack the last two stores on my list. First up: Best Buy. I was interested in getting an Instant Pot, but I’m still on the fence. (Sweet deal, though.) Instead, I was smitten with the iHome Vanity Mirror. It’s my belief that every woman over the age of 40 ought to have one of these super magnifying mirrors.
You have no idea how much wacky hair starts growing where you least expect it. It’s horrifying. Anyway, this mirror comes with lights, a speaker and phone charger. It didn’t buy it, but it’s made its way onto my wish list.
Carter’s Oshkosh was our final spot because my friend Sarah just had a baby girl! Little did I know they stock clothing for kids up to 14-years-old! I thought it was a six-years and under kind of shop. Nope.
Heads up: It’s unlikely you’ll be able to walk through here without snapping up something adorable – like a bowtie for baby’s first holiday season or a leopard-print swing coat for an 18-month-old.
Where to eat at WestHills Towne Centre
After all that hard work, I took Eve into National. Kids always get such a kick out of eating in a pub. Little did she know, children are always allowed in this venue – anytime of day. We were too early for their awesome happy hour, but fried chicken and waffles hit the spot as did a Glory Bowl that made me feel very virtuous, indeed.
Fully satisfied, I knew I could pull off one more stop: Famoso. Not to eat. I was still stuffed (though I am a fan of those motza balls wrapped in prosciutto), but to buy one last gift. Famoso’s Campania Tomato Sauce is an awesome thing to have on hand.
And with proceeds going to MealShare, you get charity points! Delicious and fresh, it’s made with only two ingredients: tomatoes and salt.
And then we were done! It was time for a movie at Cineplex (Bohemian Rhapsody – don’t judge!) and just for good measure, a slab of gingerbread cake at Earls before heading home. Now I’m a gal who really enjoys her shopping. So much so, I get a jolt of pleasure reviewing what I’ve purchased.
- Puffy winter jacket from Aldila for moi.
- Set of silk pillowcases at Daniadown, also for me.
- Gingerbread scone from COBS Bread, shared.
- Pet stocking from Petland for Buddy, our adorable mutt.
- Skoah’s Holiday Hand Kream for the family. Wink.
- Half a dozen jars of Famoso’s Campania Tomato Sauce – some for us, some for others.
- Second-hand skates for Eve from Play it Again Sports.
- Pokemon cards for Eve from Mastermind Toys.
- Premie sleepers and other adorable items from Caters Oshkosh for my friend Sarah’s new baby (who wasn’t born premature, but is so tiny and precious at five pounds!).
- Travel-size Prtty Peaushun from Joydrop for my squad.
- Kit Kat non-gingerbread house (smells divine!), stamps, padded envelopes, hot chocolate and conditioner from Shoppers Drug Mart for the family.
Admittedly, I shopped more for myself, but there’s nothing wrong with treating myself, while treating others, is there?
The post is presented in partnership with WestHills Towne Centre. Thank you for supporting the brands that make Travels with Baggage possible.