Decorations are starting to go up, pubs are advertising xmas lunches, and someone in the office is wearing a garish jumper, so here’s a selection of 20 gifts that would look exceptionally good in my, I mean, your living room.

1) Corinthian bookends

I saw these originally in the St Paul’s Cathedral giftshop, but they seem to be available in a number of places, and what I like is that they are both functional, and a bit of a classics joke — in that the columns are topped with Corinthian Capitals. The maker also does Ionic and Doric.

Sources: Amazon | Sir John Soane Museum

2) Wooden model kits

A company set up originally with a crowdfunder to sell a wooden kit steam train, U Gears has now expanded into a range of wooden assembly models from a horse to a boat to demonstration engines. And they all work — a rubber band is wound up and then you release to see the train, the car, the machine start to move. It’s industrial, but made from the oldest of living materials. That they just look stunning as well is just rubbing it in.

Sources: U Gears | Amazon

3) Science Museum History Of The Computer T-shirt

This was released when they started their retro computer gaming events, but it’s a lovely design with hand drawn images of key computer developments over time. Might be better for the older computer geek frankly, who can get a bit nostalgic looking for their early gadgets.

Source: Science Museum

4) Micrarium greetings cards and wrapping paper

One for the bug hunters – wrapping paper based on the famous display cabinet in the Grant Museum filled with slides of tiny insects and bugs. It could be used as intended – to wrap a gift, but actually, the paper wouldn’t look that bad framed and hung on a wall.

Source: Grant Museum

5) Tube roundels in a frame

An online seller of minimalist logos in frames has secured a license to do the same to the London Underground roundels. You can order a frame of between 4 and 12 icons, giving a potential to show each station on your daily commute to work. You can also mix up the roundels with other icons from their range.

Source: My Icon Story

6) Barbican Gin

Made in East London, in an old glue factory, this Gin is going to appeal to Brutalist lovers and gin lovers alike. If only it came in a concrete bottle.

Source: Barbican

7) Gingko Book light

I saw these in the Barbican, but the design seems to pop up in a lot of places, so you shouldn’t struggle to find them. I liked the idea, a bedside lamp that folds away when not in use, but when open the aesthetic is also quite appealing as a large lamp. Ironically, it’s not really bright enough to read a book by though.

Sources: Amazon

8) Xmas jumpers

Ok, this gift is probably either for you, or for someone you don’t like but are obligated to buy something for. You can find loads of xmas jumpers all over the place, but I quite liked these two from the Transport Museum and the Natural History Museum. I was going to add the House of Commons jumper, but they actually sold out of them!

Source: Transport Museum | Natural History Museum

9) Science Museum Baubles

I can’t see these for sale on the Science Museum website, but they had them for sale at the shop in the museum — and after I spotted them on the shop decorations I spent ages walking around trying to see if they were also for sale, and they are. The joke’s a bit obvious, but so what, it’s fun and raises a scientific smile.

Source: Science Museum physical shop

10) Cathedral models

These are made by just one guy, Rupert Cordeux as kits and are printed in black and white onto strong, tinted or white card so that with most kits, virtually no hand colouring is ever required. They look lovely, and if you have a history fan in mind, if they lived in a Cathedral city, it could be quite touching.

Source: Rupert Cordeux Model-Cathedrals

11) Steam train trips

Not something you can indulge in on Christmas Day, and I am personally firmly of the opinion that Christmas presents should be played with immediately, but if you have more patience than I have, then a fancy lunch onboard a vintage steam train is many people’s idea of heaven.

And while many of the trips are indeed very pricey, if you fancy a lunchtime jaunt around the home counties, then they’re not overly expensive compared to say a posh restaurant.

Sources: Steam Dreams | Belmond Pullman | Railway Touring | UK Railtours

12) Tube roundel lightbox

The best selling, award winning tube roundel lamp — in large and mini sizes is going to please any London Undergound geek (assuming they don’t already own it). Powered by a USB cable, it’s not a light that can be left on for hours, so more a bedside lamp. Mine is going to be wired up to a motion sensor as a night light for the hallway of my new flat.

Source: Amazon | Transport Museum

13) Wallpapers

These are delightful — illustrations of dinosaurs or other extinct animals as wallpapers. Not just geeky, but also rather beautifully done as well. Whether you do an entire wall, or just a space say above a fireplace as a feature I leave to your taste, and wallet.

Source: Divine Savages | House of Hackney

14) Phone box collectables

The only authorised seller of official telephone box bits, X2 Connect mainly work on maintaining and restoring old phone boxes, but have a side line in selling off unwanted pieces, or spare parts and even entire phone boxes. From very cheap weirdly interesting bundles of spare parts, I thought the phone box doors would be distinctive, in the right home.

Source: X2 Connect

15) Brutalist models

This is a nice idea, a combination of book to read, and model kit to make — as the book contains a number of cardboard models of London’s famous brutalist buildings.

Most adults will be happy to spend Christmas reliving a childhood sat on the floor cutting and gluing the models. Just don’t forget to buy some paper glue to avoid a sad face on christmas day. I also found a bit of sellotape helped in places as well.

Sources: Amazon | Foyles | Barbican

16) Dr Who Daleks as London icons

Imagine a fusion of Doctor Who’s famous villain, the Dalek and some of London’s more famous street icons, and you have a range of prints to please any Doctor Who fan.

Source: Stu MacKay and he will be at the Covent Garden market during Nov/Dec

17) Transport museum socks

Christmas isn’t Christmas without socks, so here are some tube seat cover based moquette socks for a change from the usual M&S gift pack.

Source: LT Museum

18) Stirling engines

The best gifts are sometimes totally pointless, yet bring pleasure and education, and a model Stirling Engine pretty much ticks that box.

A Stirling engine is a heat engine that is operated by a cyclic compression and expansion of air at different temperatures, such that there is a net conversion of heat energy to mechanical work. Or to put it simply, pop one of these on top of your morning coffee and watch the wheels go around.

Fun, and educational.

Sources: Amazon

19) Mamod steam engines

Mamod is either a company you have never heard of, or you just let out an enormous sigh of nostalgia. They make steam engines to play with. Load their supplied white fuel cells into a tray, light them with matches and watch the steam engine come to life.

More of an adult toy, they’re very old fashioned but are oh so beautifully made and as a kid, were always as much fun to oil the moving parts, heat the coals, get up and running, as to watch and — in my case — drive the steam car around the garden.

Sources: Mamod | Amazon

20) Gingerbread trains

Put away your soggy bottoms and warm up in the kitchen with a gingerbread train kit.

Inside the box you will find gingerbread shapes which when pieced together make a large, fully edible train, along with most of the ingredients (a few need to be fresh so will have to be bought separately).

Source: Amazon | LT Museum

…and that’s all folks!


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  1. JP says:

    What a riveting selection. You have had fun seeking out these esoteric pleasures. I hope that this is going to be an annual feast.
    Now does my mum who loves tug boats love jigsaws enough to convert herself to a model~maker, I wonder?
    Thank you for making my Christmas list already half-done. And if they’re not a hit with their intended recipients, well I could always reluctantly take them on myself…

  2. Pat Storey says:

    Lovely. Thanks Ian.

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