Forget Oxford Street and Amazon, the gift shops of London’s museums and art galleries are a treasure trove of perfect Christmas presents. Check out our guide to the brilliant, beautiful (and sometimes slightly bonkers) items on sale now and beat the last-minute buying blues with one simple instruction: exit through the gift shop.
The seriously classy gift: Anni Albers ‘Untitled 1926’ rug at Tate, £850
Tate Modern’s Anni Albers show was one the highlights of 2018 and, for those with £850 to spare, it need never end. Take home your very own hand-tufted rug made to an original 1926 Albers design and continue to salivate (not literally please, it’s a very pricy rug) over Albers’ Bauhaus brilliance.
The passive-aggressive gift: Phallus amulet replica at Freud Museum, £12
Want to not-so-subtly tell an in-law they’re a bit of a cock? Try this phallus amulet replica for size. Sigmund Freud was always interested in dysfunctional family dynamics and the museum that bears his name now provides you with the ideal method of continuing to express your own bad feelings at this most magical time of year.
The most random gift: Richard III magnet at National Portrait Gallery, £3.50
Celebrate one of England’s most hated monarchs with a magnetic replica of an unknown artist’s portrait of Richard III. Whack it on the fridge door and when Christmas lunch gets tense you can draw courage from visions of locking those pesky nephews in a tower.
The most expensive gift: Victorian wooden rocking horse at The National Gallery, £2,599
We’ve all been there, you pop into the museum gift shop in search of a 50p postcard and leave with a £2,599 rocking horse. This full-size nineteenth-century pony toy is hand-carved from mahogany and has a mane and tail made from real horse hair. What better way to impress the neigh-bours?
The G&T-lover’s gift: Gin necklace, inspired by Gilbert & George, by Tatty Devine at Museum of London, £40
Put the ‘gin’ in gin-gle bells with this cute necklace by Tatty Devine at the Museum of London. Along with allowing you to show your appreciation for the renaissance of gin-making, you can also use it as a handy visual guide to point at whenever you find yourself at a bar that’s so full of office parties you can’t make yourself heard.
The sexy gift: Klimt/Schiele nudes postcard pack at Royal Academy of Arts, £6
Planning on sending your beloved a cheeky Christmas Day selfie, naked as the newborn baby Jesus? Forget it. No one wants that kind of cheap smut on the holiest of holy days. Instead, sext them the art-snob way with a little help from Vienna’s finest. This selection of postcards features Klimt and Schiele’s lithe and lavishly drawn nudes, currently on show at the Royal Academy.
The purrfect gift: The Book of the Cat: Cats in Art at the British Library, £12.99
The ideal gift for anyone who likes cats and art. And books. Which, in the venn diagrams of life, is quite a lot of people. On sale to coincide with the British Library’s ‘Cats on the Page’ exhibition, this beautiful book is just the thing to curl up with for a short cat nap post-Christmas lunch.
The macabre gift: Blood bath shower gel from Wellcome Collection, £6.99
After solidly consuming nothing but mulled cider and pfeffernüsse for six weeks, you might be feeling in need of minor medical attention. Revive your bloated, lethargic body with a blood transfusion courtesy of Wellcome Collection! Or, a nice hot shower. Or, a nice hot shower with a bag of strawberry shower gel designed to look like a hospital drip bag of vampire food. YUM.
The cutest gift: Baby T-rex costume at Natural History Museum, £22
The best thing about being a kid is that you can dress up in weird and wonderful outfits instead of wearing, like, suits or jeans. And the best thing about having kids is you can dress them up – in this instance as a teeny-weeny cutesy-wutesy dinosaur. Certain to keep your little one warm, even if they’ve just been born in a stable.
Want to combine Christmas shopping with seeing an exhibition? Click here for our guide to the 10 best museum exhibitions in London.