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Season's greetings! As is tradition, here I am again at the last minute with my top ten Museum gifts for this year. There are still a couple of days before last orders for guaranteed Christmas Day delivery (that's on 18 December for most products heading to UK mainland addresses, 16 December for unframed prints).


So, if like me you’re nowhere near prepared for Christmas, rest assured that you’re not alone, and hopefully my favourite festive gifts can provide a glimmer of inspiration. Here goes:


10. Cuddly roaring T.rex


It may not be our most accurate dinosaur toy (our models are approved for accuracy by our own palaeontologists). But, its huge feet, soft fur and novelty roar make it perfect for your prehistoric toy menagerie. No good playroom is complete without one. Lots of adults buy them too – apparently we’re all big softies at heart.


Give it a cuddle



9. Art of Audubon prints


Before we reproduced one of our own copies of the most valuable book ever (Audubon's The Birds of America fetched $7.9m at auction), it was very hard to come by a decent quality print of the amazing illustrations from Audubon’s masterpiece. Now, for a fraction of the auction price, you can own 16 reproduction prints from the book. Sorry, I mean give them away as a gift, of course…


Snap them up in our shop



8. Elephant poo-in-a-box


How could I not address the elephant in the room? It’s the controversial present that your secret Santa recipient will never forget. Elephants living in UK zoos and safari parks kindly donate their (odourless) poo for this product. And, though proceeds help support elephant conservation - I’m sure the elephants won’t be offended if the product isn’t for you – after all, they have a thick skin.


All poo gifts



7. Human skull mug


What’s not to love? With a touch of goth chic, an artsy design and using an illustration from the Museum’s own natural history art collections, this mug is special. And, there’s more where that came from – watch out for other cool gifts that take inspiration from the Museum's vast collections. It's a gift that could either be received with delight, or a mild sense of foreboding -  truly versatile.


Buy the mug


6. Dinosaur colouring book


Scientists are only just beginning to work out the colour of dinosaurs. Before they make any more progress, take advantage and daub the dinos in the hue of your choice, in our fun new colouring book. All facts within have been approved by our palaeontologists. Just add paint…


Read all about it





5. Shoal of fish tea tray


Watch the facial expressions on your coffee morning guests when they see this. The colourful critters decorating this fish tea tray are (modified) glass perch. Scientists dissolve their muscles using an enzyme, then dye the remaining cartilage blue and make the bone go red to help study them. Little did they know the interesting kitchenware gifts they would spawn in the process...


Pick up the tray



4. Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013 pocket diary


Tough, hardback cover... Fits into almost any bag, pocket or purse... Irresistibly cute baby orang-utan on the cover.... Strewn with beautiful pics from Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibitions... It’s the fail-safe gift that will delight any nature-loving recipient, from youngster to pensioner.


Get diarised






3. Pocket microscope


On closer inspection, this is probably the perfect stocking filler for curious youngsters. The microscopes are ideal for examining everyday household stuff – hairs, ants, food crumbs – for revealing their finer details. Could your little one be the next Alexander Fleming or Rosalind Franklin? Put a microscope in their mitts and find out. A great, educational toy, and lots of fun too.


Take a closer look



2. Fluff-up print on demand


One of my favourites from this year’s print range is this eye-popping black and white portrait, Fluff-up by John E Marriott. It’s such a striking image that it never fails to make people stop and look. We’re really pleased with the quality of the prints and, for the right person, this one would make a sensational gift.


Buy it online

Browse all our prints




1. Portfolio 22


Seen our latest edition of Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year? If not, shame on you. Either way - you can enjoy all 100 photos in this fantastic book. It’s another versatile gift that would please pretty much anyone. From landscapes to dramatic and sometimes humourous animal portraits, photojournalism and abstract views of the natural world, there’s an amazing array of images to keep eyes entertained well into 2013.


Snap up Portfolio 22


I hope you enjoyed my selections. For more gift ideas, check out our festive shopping guide or pop along to our shop to browse the full range of gifts available online. Merry Christmas!


Matt, online shop editor


Back by popular demand are my personal top 10 museum gifts for Christmas 2010. I actually hadn't been feeling all that Christmassy until a colleague declared all of their shopping done, wrapped and ready under their Christmas tree. Not a shred of tinsel has been near my house. I'm not even sure we 'do' tinsel in the East End of London.


Anyway if, like me, you still have yet to make a dent in your gift shopping and Christmas preparation, then I hope this will provide some inspiration.

Also, check our website for info about shopping at the Museum, or take part in festive events and activities. Here's my list of favourites.


10. Cuddly meerkat toy - £20





You might have noticed something of a meerkat fixation in the UK of late. We have been rather inundated with requests for meerkat toys, gifts, books... So we responded by introducing this lovely chap.


Do not try to resist its charms – it’s just too cute and cuddly to ignore. It’s also rather realistic, I think.


Give the meerkat a cuddle

















9. Grow a sunflower in elephant poo - £5




Surprisingly, this 'elephant poo in a box' is completely odourless. According to the (biodegradable) box, elephants produce 'about one tonne of dung every week'. That's quite a lot. Roughly equivalent in weight to 15 online shop editors. Some of that poo, collected from UK zoos and safari parks, ends up in this box.


Proceeds from sales of the elephant poo-in-a-box go to elephant conservation charities. So do your bit by giving someone you love some poo for Christmas.


Elephant poo in our online shop







8. Giant T.rex soft toy - £1021.74


Has that special person in your life got all the other cuddly dinosaur toys? Do you also have rather a lot of disposable income?


If the answer to these questions is 'yes', then this is the cuddly dinosaur toy for you. It measures over 2m tall.


Notable, I thought. Imagine the fun.


Be astonished by the Giant T.rex in the shop












7. Bird brooches - £40


bird-brooch-red-blue.jpgApparently these are gorgeous. I am told by female colleagues that they would definitely please the special lady in your life.


There are 4 different styles to choose from, and they are all hand-painted. There isn't much stock though, so hurry!


See all 4 bird brooches






6. Wildlife Photographer of the Year hardback diary - £9.99




This is a really nice gift for nature lovers. Being a bit of a photo enthusiast myself I love the crisp, full-page pics that seem to pop out of the glossy pages.


It also has captions, which make interesting reading. Lovely. And it's made by our friends in Natural History Museum Publishing.


Have a look at the Wildlife Photographer of the Year diary in the shop





5. Pink, articulated Stegosaurus model - £10




It may not be the newest dinosaur model in our collection, and it definitely isn't a T.rex, but this Stegosaurus model is my personal favourite, and comes highly recommended as a Christmas gift for kids.


It takes prime position on my desk, clambering up some natural history books, and is frequently admired by office visitors ('Look but do not touch').


View the pink Stegosaurus in the shop








4. Dinosaur art set for kids - £12




I used to like colouring things in when I was very young. This gorgeous dinosaur art set is ideal for little ones just beginning to discover their inner David Hockney.


Chunky felt-tip pens, colouring pencils, oil pastels, sharpener, eraser, 6 scary dinosaur pics to colour in... What's not to love?


Check out the Dinosaur art set in the shop





3. Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2011 calendar





This lovely calendar is from the current incarnation of Wildlife Photographer of the Year - sponsored by Veolia Environnement (French accent, please). I love the tarsier on the front. If it were not completely irresponsible, I'd probably look into importing one to keep as a pet. There are lots of other amazing images for the other months, too.


I also chose this because, if you're a bit stuck for a gift, it's pretty much ideal for anyone.


Give a Wildlife Photographer of the Year calendar to someone special







2. Pteranodon kite




Is it a bird? Is it a plane (and so on)? What a brilliant invention the Pteranodon kite is. Perfect for dinosaur addicts and ideal for the blustery climes of the UK.


We tried one out near the Museum and it's incredibly light so it sails in the breeze like a dream. It also made my colleagues very jealous. That earns the kite second place.





Buy a Pteranodon kite in our online shop







1. Prints on demand - from £15





We recently started working with a new prints supplier. The quality and range of images is fantastic and there are more options than ever for customising them. This one, Paris life by Laurent Geslin, is my favourite.


See if you can choose a favourite (it's tough).


Visit our prints on demand shop


Last Thursday museum scientist Paul Barrett (the man when it comes to dinosaurs) took part in a Nature Live event on Dinosaur Diversity.  We covered everything from the latest news about ginger dinosaurs to how we know what noise dinosaurs made.  We also talked about Oxford Street!!  More commonly associated with massive department stores and high street fashion, Oxford Street is currently home to some impressive animatronic dinosaurs!


As you can see from the photo below, Paul brought a few things from the museum collections with him.  Notice the large lower jaw on the left of the photo (next to Paul) - a cast from a T-rex specimen.  And, of course, there was the poo....dinosaur poo (hiding in the white box on top of the table and referred to as coprolites).  Believe it or not, it is possible to find fossilised dinosaur poo - it's pretty hard, and no longer smells (!), but it can still help scientists to understand more about these remarkable animals.


Brilliant stuff! 




‘What’s a megatherium?’  That’s what I asked Saturday’s Nature Live audience.  They looked as blank as I would have done, had I not already met palaeontology curator Andy Currant. 


Andy looks after all the large mammal fossils within the palaeo department, and has a hoard of wonderful stories to tell about ancient giant animals that once roamed the land….Megatherium was a giant ground sloth, found in north and south America. 


They’re a distant relative of today’s living tree sloths, and didn’t look that dissimilar.  They went extinct about 10,000 – 12,000 years ago, but have left certain ‘evidence’ behind of their existence.  As you would expect, there are bones – it’s estimated that a giant ground sloth could weigh about 2.5 tonnes, so their skeletons are massive!  However, they also left behind skin and poo, of which we have some great examples!  During Saturday’s event, Andy had a large piece of skin and a ball of dung, both about 13,000 years old.  We let the audience have a feel and a closer look afterwards, and I was amazed at how fresh they still appear!  The dung ball no longer really smells, but trust me, it still looks pretty fresh!  If you missed the event but would like to see a Megatherium for yourself, there’s an impressive example at the end of the Marine Reptiles Gallery – an exhibit not to be missed on your next visit!