Looking for Christmas pressie inspiration? Here's our hand-selected gift guide, featuring exclusive Londony present ideas, and beautiful things crafted by independent companies in the city. By the end of this article, you might have most of your festive shopping done!
Gifts for transport geeks
After London transport-themed goodies? Here are a few pressie ideas.
- Any transport lover will be au fait with the London Transport Museum shop, and its embarrassment of transport-themed riches, which cover all ages, from babies to veteran tube lovers. Next stop: a moquette tea towel... or sofa.
- Adam Nathaniel Furman's trippy take on the classic London Underground motifs (designs including 'Bakerloo Boogie Woogie' and 'Mighty Metropolitan') make for eye-catching cushions, mugs, backpacks and sweaters. A refreshing change from the usual moquette designs which everyone now seems to be wearing as socks (us included).
- Friend of Londonist Luke Agbaimoni — aka Tube Mapper — has released a 2024 calendar — each month featuring one of his finest tube snaps from the past year. This time it's even got trams on it.
- Supperclub.Tube — in which you get to eat delicious Colombian food in an old tube carriage — really is a memorable night out, and you can get gift cards here.
- Tube (and architecture) nerds will drool over London Tube Stations: 1924-1961, a coffee table tome that captures in vivid vignettes those interwar (and beyond) London Underground stations masterminded by Leslie Green, Stanley Heaps and co.
- Shopping for more of a bus anorak? London Bus Museum's online store is chocca with double-decker themed tea towels, calendars and jigsaw puzzles.
- And while we're talking buses, Londonist contributor Harry Rosehill has a marvellous (and marvellously illustrated) tome — Routemasters of the Universe — which explores where 50 of London's former Routemaster buses have wound up.
London walking tour gift vouchers
If you're after a present for someone who likes nothing more than wandering London's storied streets while gleaning new trivia, they'll surely appreciate walking tour vouchers.
- The ever-fascinating Look Up London sells gift vouchers for private guided tours, where you can choose from a long list of neighbourhoods, from Bankside to Soho to Waterloo. There's a much-lauded feminist Jack the Ripper tour, too.
- The sagacious Footprints of London team — with whom we've enjoyed numerous enlightening wanders over the years — offer a range of vouchers for public, private, and even virtual, tours exploring the city's nooks and crannies.
- Living London History — aka Jack, who's an Open City trained tour guide — also sells gift vouchers, which can be used on a range of walks, covering everything from Lambeth's legendary trailblazers to Westminster's saints and scoundrels.
- You can also get gift vouchers of various denominations to go towards TfL's Hidden London tours — just be aware that these experiences can be on the spendy side.
London history fans
A gift subscription that history fans will drool over.
Have you discovered our weekly newsletter about London's history? Each week, Londonist: Time Machine digs deeper into a little-known chapter from the capital's past. We ask questions like "Who was the first person to ever ride the tube?" and "Who was the first woman to stand as an MP?" We see how Londoners of yesteryear imagined the 21st century city might look. And we've got an exciting new strand coming up on London cartography.
BUT there's an added level to Londonist: Time Machine. For a small subscription, you get to access additional newsletters, browse the full archive, get invitations to meetups and behind-the-scenes tours and be part of the Londonist: Time Machine community.
If you know somebody who's really into the city's history, consider getting them a gift subscription for Christmas. It's just £5 for a month or £45 for a whole year.
Boozy London gifts
Suggestions for beer, wine and spirit drinkers — we've even got teetotallers covered:
- Beer: If you're buying London-crafted beer for someone, and don't know where to start, check out our list of taprooms, and click on the web shops to see what they offer (lots of them sell selection boxes, which make a fine festive gift). A brewery tour makes a thoughtful present for a beer lover too; among London breweries offering them are Fuller's in Chiswick, Five Points in Hackney, Small Beer in Bermondsey and Sambrook's in Wandsworth.
- Wine: If it's vino you seek, make sure it's a London label: Blackbook make "bloody good wine" in their Battersea winery, thanks to grapes sourced from vineyards a stone's throw from the capital. The artwork for their Sea of Love pinot blanc surely takes its cue from David Bowie/the Victoria line tiles, which in itself has us sold. Otherwise, pick up a mixed case of reds, whites and sparklings from E17's Renegade Urban Winery, and dish them out among your mates.
- Rum: Feeling in a spirited mood? Eschew the usual supermarket biggies like Gordon's et al, and plump instead for something a little more unique. Cabby's Rum — distilled in London by a taxi driver — will perk up any festive punch. Or, head to the Black Cultural Archive's shop to buy Market Row rum, described as "Brixton in a bottle".
- Gin: We've heard good things about Fatty's organic London dry gin, crafted in small batches in Dulwich. (The magic ingredient, we're told, is dill.) By the way, you can find more mother's ruin-laced inspo in our Best London Gins... Delivered To Your Door.
- Whisky: Yes, London-made whisky is a thing. Although, if the person you're buying for prefers the stuff sourced from north of the border, the Scotch Malt Whisky Society sells various memberships, giving access to their plush Hatton Garden tasting rooms.
- Booze book: Want to gift a little liquid literature on the side? Hoxton Mini Press recently released a thirst-inducing book featuring East End boozers, which is a must-have for those who swoon over a proper London boozer.
- Booze calendar: Lydia Wood continues on her admirable ambition to draw every single pub in London — and has produced a 2024 calendar, starring 12 of her faves. Her shop also sells prints.
- Booze-free: Drink gifts for the non-drinkers in your life? How about tickets to a Club Soda event or a tea tasting at Twinings.
London book gift ideas
2023's been another bumper year for books about London. Here's our shortlist of the best.
- Lee Jackson goes in search of early Charles Dickens tourism (as in so early that Dickens was still alive) in Dickensland.
- Caroline Buckland's Hillwalking London will have your giftee reaching for their Nordic walking poles and marching up and down the inclines of London all Twixtmas.
- Denmark Street: London's Street of Sound is Pete Watts's latest tome, which invites you to take a stroll down 'Tin Pan Alley', to discover old haunts of everyone from 17th century ballad writers, to the Sex Pistols.
- Wes Anderson-inspired illustrator Joel Holland fills a book with quaint drawings of London Shopfronts — but only the prettiest/quirkiest, mind — there's not an Iceland in sight.
- Queer Footprints by Dan Glass is a rollicking rollercoaster ride through the joys, heartbreak, anarchism and debauchery of London's LGBTQ+ history.
- Mathew Browne (not to be confused with Londonist's own Matt Brown) flaunts the beauty of London's built environment in London: A Modern City in Photographs.
- Philippa Bernard ran a bookshop in Chelsea for many years, and looks back on the business, customers — and the incredible vibrancy of the area — in A Bookshop in Chelsea.
- Ten years after his exceptional book This Other London, YouTube perambulator John Rogers is back with more capital explorations, in Welcome to New London. This time round, John focuses on how London is changing through new, often controversial developments.
- The erudite architectural wit Ian Nairn gets another republish with Modern Buildings in London, the new edition of which has a foreword by Travis Elborough.
- Head Gardener at Lambeth Palace, Nick Stewart Smith, takes us behind the gates of this ancient urban oasis in his book The Thousand Year Garden: Inside the Secret Garden at Lambeth Palace.
- Guess this is also the place to remind you that we have not one, but two incredibly-illustrated tomes: Londonist Mapped (a gorgeous cartographic voyage around London Trivia), and Londonist Drinks, which overflows with knowledge on liquid London — from gin to craft beer to milkrounds.
- Our Editor-at-Large Matt Brown also has ANOTHER epic coffee table book on the shelves in 2023, Atlas of Imagined Cities, that'll delight anyone with an iota of interest in film, TV or literature. (That's everyone, right?)
- And if, SOMEHOW, none of the above ruffles your truffles, take inspiration from the article we published back in March, when we asked readers to name the best novels about London.
Tickets for London theatre shows in 2024
The answer to the question: 'what do I get the person who has everything?' is often: 'tickets to a show'. Even if said person has seen EVERYTHING so far on the theatreland stage, they can't have ticked off the shows that only launch in 2024. To name a few:
- Kieran Hodgson: Big in Scotland: For a big laugh early on the in the new year, we highly recommend the latest show from comedian and impressionist extraordinaire, Kieran Hodgson, on at Soho Theatre (16-26 January 2024)
- Sister Act: Beverley Knight is back in the role of brassy nightclub singer-turned-sister Deloris Van Cartier, this time with Ruth Jones from Gavin and Stacey as Mother Superior (opens March 2024)
- Starlight Express: If someone you know loves their theatre dished up with extra cheese (and roller blades), tickets to Andrew Lloyd Webber's prog opera could be just the thing (opens June 2024)
- The Devil Wears Prada: No, Meryl Streep isn't reprising her 2006 role as the fierce fashionista Miranda Priestly, but the stage adaptation of The Devil Wears Prada does have songs from Elton John, and is sure to make waves in its own diva-ish way (opens October 2024)
- Dr Strangelove: The Kubrick cold war comedy is spun into a stage show, as adapted by The Thick Of It creator Armando Iannucci, and with Steve Coogan in the trio of lead roles originally taken on by Peter Sellers (opens October 2024)
Check out more shows to see in 2024 in our roundup.
Londony stocking fillers
Simply looking for something small to slip in a stocking? Here are a handful of suggestions.
- Taking the concept of London neighbourhood-inspired aromas, and running with it is Soapsmith. This Walthamstow-based setup crafts soaps and bath soaks with names including Brick Lane, Lavender Hill, Marble Arch, and Hackney Marshes.
- For something dainty (and relatively cheap), have a look at Open City's gift shop, where there are smart municipal-themed socks and soap bars, as well as construct-it-yourself cardboard models of the Trellick Tower, Tolworth Tower and Dawson's Heights. Swoon.
- Blue Crow Media have a knack of producing maps you instantly need to buy; in their collection they have Londony maps on Black history, art deco, brutalism, alleyways, Christopher Wren and more.
Londonist merch (aka the shameless plug section)
From t shirts to prints to mugs to tea towels, the Londonist shop is brimming with Londonist merch that you won't find anywhere else. Plenty here for smashing secret santas, stocking fillers and main pressies, even if we do say so ourselves.
Still got some bits and pieces to tick off your shopping list? Read London's Best Christmas Markets And Festive Fairs For 2023.