10 art-inspired gifts to add to your holiday shopping list

10 art-inspired gifts to add to your holiday shopping list

With the arrival of December comes the perennial countdown that ticks the commercial holiday season forward, lurching it toward the question: “How many shopping days are left?”

This year, filling carts will look different. Consumers are predicted to purchase more gifts online as the health crisis continues — a trend that has pushed the start of the retail season to earlier in the year.

To help sort through the bounty of gifts available online, the editors at ALL ARTS have rounded up a selection of trinkets for the art lovers in your life. All suggestions support local art institutions.

A DIY pinhole camera from ICP

This one goes out to the slow photography lovers out there. The International Center of Photography has a range of camera-focused gifts, but the time that it takes to assemble this particular model (1–2 hours) and the patience required to use it (the device must be held still!) catapult it to the top of our list. If a pinhole camera doesn’t strike inspiration, we also recommend the museum’s mismatched earrings and scores of photography books.

[DIY pinhole camera and solargraphy kit from International Center of Photography, $13]


Keith Haring Stacking Figures Game from the MoMA Design Store

This wooden game is built from 11 stacking figures that are inspired by the illustrations of artist Keith Haring. Geared for those ages three and up, the balancing box set can be found at the MoMA Design Store, which is packed with art objects for a wide-ranging budget.

Bonus: You can watch the ALL ARTS Vault film “Drawing the Line: A Portrait of Keith Haring” while playing for a truly immersive experience.

[Keith Haring stacking figures game from the MoMA Design Store, $35]


A literary sweatshirt from Harriett’s Bookshop

There are many ways to support your local bookshop or indie publisher, from purchasing a favorite title from their shelves or pre-ordering the next big book to packing away money on a gift card or picking out some household merchandise.

For those who might be looking for something to keep them cozy while reading (or thinking about reading), we recommend this sweatshirt — named for Zora Neale Hurston, Octavia E. Butler, Alice Walker and Toni Morrison — from Philadelphia-based Harriett’s Bookshop.

For shops in the NYC area, we suggest these delightful pens from Books Are Magic to use while underlining passages from books sent to your gift recipient via one of the many subscription services offered by bookstores and publishers (Books Are Magic, Cafe con Libros and Verso, to just name a few, all have several options to choose from). And because we’d be remiss to not mention the faithful companion of book schlepping, the modest tote, you can’t deny the celebrity status of the classic Strand Book Store bag.

[Zora, Octavia, Alice, Toni sweatshirt from Harriett’s Bookshop, $40–44]


Broadway puzzle from New York Public Library

When it comes to gifts large and small, the New York Public Library’s shop overfloweth. Though we suggest browsing all the offerings (you’ll find lions, trinkets and books, oh my!), this year, we’re lingering by the puzzles — particularly this gem designed by Michael Storrings. Lit up by the dazzling lights of Broadway, this 2,000 piece stunner has really tiny people and a lot of motion, which we puzzle-novices think might make a rewarding challenge.

[“The Great White Way” puzzle from the New York Public Library, $30]


Hand-dyed yarn from String Thing Studio

Have any crocheters or knitters in your circle? We are swooning over the yarn selections at String Thing Studio in Brooklyn. The merino wool “Madeline Tosh Triple Twist” pictured above is dyed by hand, threading a connection between creator and knitter. For those looking for an extra dose of craft, you can also purchase a “Felicia’s Favorite Things” subscription box, curated by the shop’s owner Felicia Eve.

[“Madeline Tosh Triple Twist” yarn from String Thing Studio, $28]


A paper flower from the Cooper Hewitt

Flowers are a wonderful gift for the holidays. They add a pop of color to the ever-shortening days and ever-growing nights. And while the petals at the end of newly cut stems fade, this hand-made-in-Japan pink paper poppy from the Cooper Hewitt’s shop will last years.

The paper bud features a stem wrapped in water resistant materials, which allows you (or your gift recipient) to blend it with fresh flowers.

[Paper Eden pink poppy flower from the Cooper Hewitt, $59]


A journal from Goods for the Study

Finding a good notebook takes work. This 190-page Book Notes journal from Goods for the Study checks all the boxes (in our humble opinion). Beyond the allure of its nicely weighted pages, the binding allows for the book to lay flat — the shop describes the creations as the “gymnasts of notebooks” for good reason. As for what lies beyond the journal’s soft cover, the pages are cream and lined with a red-ink grid. Soothing!

[Book Note journal from Goods for the Study, $27.95]


Socks from the Apollo Theater

“Socks?” you ask. “Yes,” we reply. It’s a classic gift.

These colorful calf-grazers are emblazoned with the Harlem-based Apollo Theater’s iconic marquee, making it so that a little piece of the venue travels along with you wherever you go. If socks aren’t on the list, you can also find a logo face mask, shirts, post cards, prints and more in the theater’s online store.

[Marquee socks from the Apollo Theater, $20]


Wagner’s ‘Ride of the Valkyries’ music box from the Met Opera

This Wagner music box is a petite reminder of the works of art that issue forth from the Metropolitan Opera, and (big bonus) it’s perfectly sized to carry in a pocket. For the music lover in your life who is missing the stage, we recommend gifting a year-long subscription the the Met’s on-demand platform, which houses hundreds of performances. And for those on your list who you know would just love to recreate some night-at-the-opera fashion, why not drape them in this “Pagliacci” inspired chiffon poncho by Richard Tsao?

[Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries” music box from the Metropolitan Opera, $13.95]


Ceramics from Brooklyn Clay Industries

If you have a little bit more room in your budget, this blue and white steamer is just one of the skillfully crafted ceramics you can purchase from Brooklyn Clay Industries. You can also pick up some virtual or in-person classes from the studio.

[Blue and white steamer from Brooklyn Clay Industries, $70]