The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) has officially taken over the city, rolling out the red carpets for Hollywood’s finest.

But it’s not just about the films, snapping cameras and glam, guest list-only parties (and mild hangovers). The jam-packed gifting and experiential suites are bustling at the seams with swag and services (hair, makeup and massages) to so generously gift the familiar faces that grace their doors.

Naturally, being a celebrity comes with some pretty nice perks – but being in media does too. We got to check out some of the sweetest suites for ourselves…

EGPR Essentials Lounge
Each year, lifestyle public relations company EGPR arms Toronto media with everything they need to survive the festival. Now in its 10th year, the lounge, which took place on Wednesday, September 4, is a must-hit and anyone who’s been in the past knows it.

Credit: Ryan Emberley

Taking over The Richmond, media were invited to indulge in an express facial compliments of skincare and wellness brand This Works – a company that specializes in beauty sleep solutions, including morning-specific skincare –  who also stocked our bags with items to help the late night/early morning cause.

Credit: Ryan Emberley

Reps from beloved brand Aveda were onsite to offer makeup touch-ups and brow shaping, and to educate on the new Brow Definer, which we got to take home in a limited edition Aveda gift bag. The smudge-proof, multitasking brow pencil is enriched with a balanced blend of vegan, botanically derived emollients, conditioning agents, waxes and minerals – and it’s one of my new favourite things.

Credit: Ryan Emberley

Carolina Herrera New York infused the lounge with polka dots to celebrate their new fragrance, the Good Girl Dot Drama Eau de Parfum, a Collector Edition – the first from the brand – inspired by the emblematic Polka Dot pattern. The fragrance is exclusively designed by Carolina Herrera de Baez, Creative Director of Perfumes, with Karlie Kloss. Media left with personalized bottles.

Credit: Ryan Emberley

A team of hair professionals from Goldwell Kerasilk was onsite to ensure that guests left with red carpet-worthy hair, gifting them with a complete collection of the new Kerasilk Revitalize routine, designed to protect and counteract key signs of scalp aging and shield the scalp from oxidative stress. As a beauty expert for the brand told me, “it’s like a facial for your scalp.”

Credit: Ryan Emberley

Guests were also invited to relax with a shameless reality TV fix from the all-reality subscription video-on-demand service Hayu – who offered guests free trial subscriptions – while enjoying a shoulder or foot massage. Many did so with a cocktail in hand, thanks to the tasty libations served by Moxie’s Bar and Grill. Accompanying this was chips and 10/10 guacamole(!), spicy tuna sushi and steak bites from Moxie’s, who offered each guest a gift certificate to keep them coming back for more.

Credit: Ryan Emberley

Other appreciated swag bag additions included AlumierMD’s Clear Shield Broad Spectrum Sunscreen (SPF 42), ROAR Organic’s organic low-calorie electrolyte infusion beverage and Thursday Plantation Tea Tree Face Wipes.

Bask-It Style Suite
Back for its eleventh year, Toronto public relations company GLO Communications held its annual media day on Wednesday, September 4 at the Thompson Toronto Hotel. Members of the press enjoyed the VIP treatment as they got acquainted with this year’s 20 sponsors. The lounge delivers VIP swag bags to visiting celebs in town for TIFF.

One of the main highlights of this jam-packed suite – at least for me – were the limited edition travel totes designed by California-based brand Amber & Ash. The large black tote features straps that can convert into a backpack and is full of internal pockets, including a protected laptop pocket – so you can leave your case at home (amazing).

The decided star of the show this year – and one that aptly made its rounds on social media – was an attention-grabbing DeLorean from Back to the Future thanks to peer-to-peer ride sharing company Turo (the car is actually available on their site; no joke). Professional photographers were ensured that the experience was properly documented. Guests took home a $200 Turo credit.

Guests were also invited to take off the pre-TIFF edge with D.O. (Destination of Origin) Rueda, who showed up to offer tastings of 17 different Spanish wines. Guests took home a bottle of their choice to sip after a night of busy TIFF action.

In addition to the crowd-pleasing wine, guests also sipped tea thanks to British Columbia-based Oteas. The rapidly growing family-run business offers aromatically energizing blends that range from sweet to spicy, all neatly contained in plant-based packaging and biodegradable teabags.

The beauty experts from MONAT Global both educated on their intensive anti-aging haircare line and offered touch-ups with their flagship product, REJUVENIQE. Also onsite to help the pre-TIFF beauty game were reps from skincare company Indigena Skincare. The brand’s Glowing Travel Kit (which guests were gifted includes Labrador Tea Day and Night Cream, Rose Petal Eye Cream, Sea Veggie Face Lotion and Blueberry Bliss Lip Scrub) was the topic of discussion and a welcome addition to gift bags.

Because optimal TIFF health isn’t skin-deep, the team from Tru Niagen was there to offer the Hollywood-loved supplement, which contains a unique form of vitamin B3 called nicotinamide riboside (NR).

Completing TIFF-worthy looks, Michael Hill showcased an assortment of coveted jewellery, including this season’s essential gold pieces, like their dainty stackable 10-karat gold and diamond rings and 10-karat gold mini hoop earrings – which we got to take home (and are currently wearing). .

Perfect for post-TIFF down time, the suite offered the chance to explore a collection of the latest fall titles from two major publishing houses. MIRA showcased its latest title Good Girls Lie by J.T. Ellion and DK Publishing showcased their latest and greatest, including the coffee table book Fashion, New Edition: The Definitive Visual Guide. Media left with both books, knowing full well that they wouldn’t be opened until the festival wrapped.

Other well-received gift bag items included things like soaps from Dr. Bonner, chocolate from Green & Blacks and Welo probiotic bars, to name a few.

NKPR IT House x Producers Ball
A few years back, NKPR evolved their annual gifting suite concept with a central hub for innovation, experiences and philanthropy with Scott Brothers Entertainment. The influential public relations company and its powerhouse owner Natasha Koifman (who is pretty much synonymous with TIFF) hosted the NKPR IT House x Producers Ball at The Purman Building – a 7,000 square foot loft-style space in the heart of the film festival activities.

In this bustling hub of all things TIFF-related, Rolling Stone returned with a celebrity portrait studio where renowned NYC-based photographer Leeor Wild was busy snapping away, taking portraits of the entertainment world’s most familiar faces. Leeor is no stranger to the celeb set, having photographed stars like George Clooney, Emily Ratajkowski and Halle Berry, to name a few.

This year, hair care brand OGX Beauty offered guests the star treatment with hair touch-ups from September 5-8, using OGX’s extended range of dry-styling products, and supplied talent with hair products to take home. Also helping the pre-photo shoot cause, beauty brand Bobby Brown was onsite to help media and talent get ready to get behind Wild’s lens, and gifted IT House guests with mascara and liquid eyeliner.

For the third consecutive year, Swarovski returned to the IT House with a series of experiential programming to promote the brand’s new FW19 Tarot, Power and Nirvana collections. Their four-day styling lounge loaned and gifted talent and industry leaders with product to wear to their TIFF events. Highlights included Aura Reading and Celestial Chart Mapping as a nod to the Tarot collection, and guests left with Swarovski tarot magic necklace.

Making for a nostalgic Instagram op, on September 5, Canadian mattress-in-a-box brand Sleepenvie offered a throwback set-up that mirrored the bedroom of teenybopper cult classic Mean Girls.

Other talking points included the debut of Lightspeed Founder and CEO, Dax Dasilva’s novel Age of Union, a smoothie bar from Pure Protein and no shortage of custom cocktails from Hounds Vodka (famous for their black vodka) and Flow Water.

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Erin Davis