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A sneak peek into the Mastermind Toys’ Gift Guide—the most coveted wish list of the holiday season

Ever wonder how Canada’s Authority on Play creates their iconic, highly-anticipated gift guide? Mastermind Toys shares the behind-the-scenes on how their expert toys curators make their best picks and how their creative team brings it to life on the pages and in-store.

Mastermind Toys started as a “smart, little toy store” in Toronto, Canada in 1984, selling educational software for home computers. Since then, we’ve grown to be the nation’s largest specialty toy and children’s book retailer with 68 stores across Canada. Each store is uniquely designed to encourage a sense of wonder and be a place where curiosity guides kids—and kids-at-heart—to new discoveries.

At Mastermind Toys, we take play very seriously because we believe deeply that “Play is Kids’ Work.” We have developed our Why Kids Play model, which is the foundation for selecting every toy, game, puzzle, and book we sell in our stores and online. Our toy and book curators are industry-leading merchants that deliver the best selection of products based on age and learning stage, and lead thinking on development, education, and play patterns in the industry.

When the pandemic hit, we quickly adapted our customer experience to be a reliable resource for parents who were facing new challenges as a result of lockdowns; setting up their backyards as recess, driveways as art studios, and basements as classrooms. We stocked up on engaging, educational, and entertaining toys and books, as well as workbooks and supplies needed to support remote and home learning. We offered daily “Story Time Live” on our Instagram and hosted virtual weekly birthday parties, providing a fun outlet for kids and parents alike through our online channels. It was also a priority for us to provide new ways for our customers to shop; we introduced contactless curbside pick-up, a brand new and improved website experience, and most notably, a buy online and pick-up in store option for those looking to shop at home.

As we enter the holiday period, there’s no denying that 2020 has been a tough year, but there have been silver linings. Families have spent more time together, new traditions have been created, and communities have come together like never before. When it came time to create our annual holiday gift guide, we wanted to celebrate those silver linings and continue to help families by making this holiday season special with all that there is to celebrate. With this in mind, our headline theme for our 2020 gift guide is “So Much to Celebrate.”

Our team hand-selected the year’s top toys and children’s books and we recruited amazing kids to be the toy testers featured in our gift guide. We wanted to recognize the important role family and home life has played in the past eight months, and with health and safety restrictions, we had the unique opportunity to invite real families from the same social bubble to be our gift guide heroes. We asked the kids to bring in their parents, their grandparents, their siblings—and the result is better than we could have imagined. We proudly included kids of different abilities and diverse backgrounds throughout the pages, as having our gift guide be emblematic of the real faces that make up Canadian life is something we’ve always valued at Mastermind Toys.

Our gift guide highlights what makes us unique in the industry. Our signature holiday gift wrap—featured on our front and back cover—is designed in Canada, with many patterns to choose from, and free in our stores every day. We also feature our Mastermind Toys exclusive products that are great gift options as we offer some of the best toys and books that shoppers can’t find just anywhere. We know gifting is going to look different this year, which is why we have made it easy for loved ones to give gifts coast-to-coast. Customers can buy their gifts online, have them gift wrapped, and sent to a Mastermind Toys store nearest to friends or family. With our holiday return policy extended until January 15, 2021, we are looking to make holiday shopping as convenient as possible for our shoppers.

We recognize more consumers are looking to shop locally this year and so it was important to showcase our 36-year Canadian heritage. We partnered with Hatley—another locally-loved brand on the international stage out of Montréal, Canada—to feature some of their famous Canadiana-themed sleepwear, great for the whole family.

We are so excited with how the gift guide came to life that we are bringing that same wonder and excitement into our stores for those looking to visit us in-person. Holiday-themed window displays and our wintery signage will bring a warm, joyous feel to stores and encourage shoppers to celebrate the little moments. As Canada’s Authority on Play, customers can find the perfect gift for every kid and kid-at-heart on their wish list this holiday season.

As we share on our back cover, when we reflect back on 2020 we’re incredibly proud of the ways Canadian families have reimagined community, togetherness, and play. We have so much to celebrate. We’re grateful for every chance to embrace family milestones and holiday traditions – old and new. This year more than ever, we hope you find wonders of all sizes to celebrate in your own lives. And we hope we can play a small role in bringing joy to your family this holiday season.

Discover the wonder of the Mastermind Toys gift guide for yourself on our website:


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