Where to find the best Christmas gifts online from UK museum and gallery shops

By Jessica King | 22 November 2013

Our guide to the best online shops for culture lovers this Christmas

A photo of a red christmas bauble
© RAF Museum
Museums and galleries have raised their game in recent years. These days the amount to choose from, particularly online, can be a bit bewildering. We've picked some of the best shops to visit via your screen, as well as picking a few favourite potential gifts you might like to ponder investing in...

A photo of a small tall book with a blue and white cover
© V&A
The V&A

From making the stocking, filling the stocking and writing out artist-made Christmas cards to choosing the perfect design-led gifts and the glittery bow on top, the V&A offers a fantastic range of Christmas products.

The easy-to-use navigation system makes it quick and simple to whittle a gift down through product, theme, artist, price range or you can search for something specific.

We like: The V&A's exclusive cloth-bound edition of The Pearl (£12.99): not many of us escape a Christmas without receiving a book or two and this limited edition, published on the occasion of the major V&A exhibition, Pearls, will be gladly received this Christmas.

Where to buy: vandashop.com

An image of the front of a book with a yellow cover and First World War words in black
© National Archives
The National Archives

Genuinely vintage gifts here, from classy pocket diaries by the likes of the Bodleian and British libraries to 100 Postcards of our Past - all chosen by English Heritage - and Lucy Worsley's deathly tales, A Very British Murder.

Although there's much to deliberate over, the well-organised sections make it easy for you to take your pick. Gifts are split into ideas for children and avid readers, for example, or ordered into humour and whimsy.

All orders over £50 receive a free copy of the Archives' official 2014 calendar.

We like: The Wipers Times £6.99: The First World War trench newspaper had a style which inspired Blackadder Goes Forth, not to mention a subsequent BBC dramatization.

Where to buy: bookshop.nationalarchives.gov.uk

A photo of a classical cookbook with a painting from the British Museum on the front
© British Museum
The British Museum

Prints galore are available from all over the globe. There is also an extensive range of books and media on art, poetry, exhibitions, research, masterpieces and new releases.

The jewellery section is notably unique, with stunning pieces from the Beyond El Dorado exhibition range providing the sparkle this Christmas.

We like: The Classical Cookbook (£10.99): this traditional style cookbook explores dishes from Rome and Greece covering every class and every occasion.

Where to buy: britishmuseumshoponline.org

A photo of two shiny multicoloured earrings
National Portrait Gallery

As well as exquisite artist print Christmas cards and glittering wintery decorations, the National Portrait Gallery also offers up playful gifts for kids and a unique range of jewellery.

It includes a wonderfully large print-on-demand service with more than 75,000 prints available in numerous formats. Handily, a gift ideas section is provided for yet more inspiration.

We like: Turquoise Murano glass earrings (£28): handmade by artisan glassmakers on the Venetian island of Murano, these beautiful pieces are designed by Francesca Randazzo. Each piece is unique and contains 24ct yellow or white gold flecks.

Where to buy: npg.org.uk/shop.php

A photo of a set of paints and a yoyo

BALTIC’s unconventional and unique style will ensure your gift stands out this Christmas. This online shop is bursting with matchless design-led products, from stylistic limited edition prints by Jim Shaw to charming pieces for the home.

The only thing tricky about using this online shop is deciding what to buy! With prints starting from just £2.

We like: Design Your Own Yoyo (£11.95): this retro, child friendly kit will provide hours of fun on Christmas day.

Where to buy: balticmill.com/shop

A photo of a multicoloured plate
© Tate

Just as in the galleries, the online shop serves up a visual feast of creativity. Each gift can be found in easy searching categories such as “for him” or “under £10”, and there’s even a “for teens” section, which we all know can be a challenge. The homeware section is enjoyably diverse with designs from Andy Warhol, Jeff Koons and John Balderssari to name a few.

Their current collection of artist print silk scarves are beautifully detailed and well worth a look in the “for her” section. As well as all this, there is also a broad range of prints available from all the Tate classics starting from just £12.

We like: Kusama Plate - Love was Infinity (£28): made exclusively to accompany the Kusama exhibition at Tate Modern, this stunning plate can be used functionally or as a decorative piece.

Where to buy: shop.tate.org.uk

A photo of two elegant tall wine glasses
© National Gallery
National Gallery

With a diverse range of design-led products, the National Gallery provides a creative hub of gifts and gift ideas for Christmas. Featuring easily-navigated categories, this online shop will provide you with an array of classic prints, artistic homeware, beauty products and of course the ever essential union jack yatch model.

More upscale luxury gifts are available such as vintage champagnes, intricate jewellery and bouquets for you to impress with this Christmas.

We like: Gold Rim Wine Glasses (set of 2, £35): these stunning mouth blown wine glasses were inspired by the Facing The Modern exhibition and have gorgeous gold painted detailing at the rim making an elegant gift for someone this Christmas.

Where to buy: nationalgallery.co.uk

An image of a necklace in the shape of a cylindrical piece of gold and a piece of turquoise
© Ashmolean
The Ashmolean

This culturally and historically rich online shop offers a fantastic print on demand service with prints spanning the centuries. Alongside this the site draws on The Ashmolean’s extensive collections to provide a whole host of Christmas decorations, stationary sets, gifts for kids, books and jewellery.

We like: Sankofa Heart Pendant (£30): handmade in a family run community in Ghana, this beautiful brass heart, silver bead and glass bead hang from a simple silver chain to create a stunning gift this Christmas.

Where to buy: shop.ashmolean.org

An image of a chocolate ration bar
Imperial War Museum

With a charming 1913 Christmas section, the IWM will provide you with many old-timey gift ideas from a retro FM wireless radio to war time propaganda posters. There’s also a fantastic traditional toys section to keep the children busy this Christmas.

It will have you browsing vintage homeware, books, clothing, jewellery and models as you become inspired by these period pieces.

We like: Blackout Ration Chocolate Bar (£4.50): handmade in Somerset, these war time chocolate bars are a tasty treat for anyone to find at the bottom of a stocking.  

Where to buy: iwmshop.org.uk

A photo of a tall brown bottle of gourmet ginger syrup
© English Heritage
English Heritage

This online shop celebrates all gifts quintessentially British with a large food and drink section filled with hampers, cordials, preserves and biscuits. Their Christmas card collection displays some of Britain’s most beautiful natural locations.

We like: Gourmet Ginger Syrup (£5.99): a quick and tasty way to add warming spices to a hot drink this winter.

Where to buy: english-heritageshop.org.uk

An image of a photo of a small elegant stopwatch next to a dark emblazoned box
National Railway Museum

All things locomotive, this online shop offers up a multitude of railway inspired gifts for all ages. From framed prints, cushions and clocks to trinkets and DVDs, it’s easy to find inspiration for gifts this christmas.

We like: GWR Pocket Watch (£25): this beautiful Quartz pocket watch would make the perfect gift for any trainspotter this Christmas.

Where to buy: nrmshop.co.uk

A photo of a small tall silver drink holder
© National Museum Scotland
National Museum Scotland

The vast choices of gifts from the National Museum Scotland are steeped in Scottish history and culture, from medals and coins to archeology, science and art. The Phoebe Traquair collection is particularly impressive, with a printed cloth starting from £3.99.

If you’re looking for a more amusing twist to your gifts this christmas, have a look at the Scots Dialect coasters priced at just £2.25 each.

We like: Kells Purse Flask (£28): this purse flask, embossed with Kells circles, makes a lovely Scottish- themed present.

Where to buy: shop.nms.ac.uk

RAF Museum

Stirring fare at the RAF Museum, whose latest range is themed around Dad's Army. That means you can buy your own biscuit rations barrel or a tin - Don't Panic! It's In Here - to keep handy throughout the year.

A photo of a mug with the words hangover stupid boy on it
© RAF Museum
Much of it is effortlessly on-trend in the days when Keep Calm-style merchandise seems ubiquitous. Try a Spitfire t-shirt or a Dambusters DVD.

This is practically a one-stop site if you know a real military history enthusiast, too. The latest Haynes manual on offer documents every section of the De Havilland Mosquito plane, and there's even a multicoloured set of museum-branded baubles.

We like: Dad's Army Travel Mug - Hangover? Stupid Boy (£8.99): a cup of convenience which is ideal if you're on the run and in need of warming up, the scalding tone of the message on the front is only slightly hotter than your drink will be. Other motto-bearing mugs are also available for those less inebriated souls this season.

Where to buy: rafmuseumshop.com

Tyne and Wear Museums

A photo of a silvery heart-shaped piece of jewellery next to two elegant boxes
© Tyne and Wear Museums
This online shop is a cache of history and art inspired gifts for Christmas. The Simon Kemp jewellery collection is particularly note-worthy, with beautifully intricate designs and the unique ‘gold and silver effect’, ranging from £60-£120.

There are also art books for all ages, homeware, toys and prints.

We like: I Give You My Heart wooden box (£5.95): delightfully endearing, this little trinket is ideal for a loved one this Christmas.

Where to buy: shoptwmuseums.co.uk

A photo of two covers for a smartphone emblazoned with a photo of a turtle at sea
Natural History Museum

Another great print-on-demand service with hundreds of prints categorised by year and animal.

Novelty animal head hats, educational books and animal print homeware should bring out your recipient's wild side.

We like: iPhone Skins (£8): in a range of designs such as lions and badgers, even the history museum has kept modern with these stocking- filler phone cases.

Where to buy: nhmshop.co.uk

A photo of a glowing light package against green grass
© Science Museum London
Science Museum

This online shop will ensure a unique and fun gift find, delving through all things experimental and science. It’s a fantastic site when on the hunt for kids’ presents and those who are still secretly kids at heart.

There are plenty of do-it-yourself kits to engage and encourage creativity, as well as traditional gifts such as telescopes and stargazing gadgets.

We like: LuminAID Solar Lantern (£22): a solar-rechargeable, inflatable lamp that packs flat and inflates to create a lightweight waterproof lantern. Not only a practical gift but geekily marvellous, too.

Where to buy: sciencemuseumshop.co.uk
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