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Christmas Classics

Updated: Oct 11, 2021

Corinthian clumns lit by blue Christmas lights. Coruba, Spain.

Christmas shopping can be hard, and yes, I’m talking about Christmas shopping in October. You think it’s too early? You’re wrong. What is apparently the most wonderful time of the year can quickly turn into the most financially crippling time of the year, especially when you’re buying for someone special.

So two things to help with that, one - get prepared early, and two

- read this list, because if you’re buying for a Classics lover they DEFINITELY don’t want another copy of The Odyssey.

So, onto the gifts. The only rules here: no Amazon (boo!), no mugs (please, stop), and no socks. Couldn't bring ourselves to link to The British Museum, either. They’re ordered by price, from low to less-low, and we didn’t put anything too prohibitively expensive on here, but hey if you want to buy a life-size Athena statue for £5700 you do you.

Gift: Classics-Inspired Tea Blends

Price: £3.95 - £6

Who for?: Anyone who likes tea and classics, so that’s all of us, right?

Description: These little tea packs look far more expensive than they are and, given along with a book or a tea strainer, could form quite the care package for someone who studies too much. Taking inspiration from Virgil, Homer, Sophocles, and more, the teas are blended to compliment the smell of old books and the cosiness of a library. Our personal favourite is the Aristotle blend - made with liquorice, peppermint, and fennel.

Gift: Pandora’s Jar Enamel Pin

Price: £8

Who for?: Someone who likes to wear their love of Classics on their sleeve. Or, indeed, on their shirt.

Description: A dainty and inventive piece of jewellery that details the plagues and disasters trapped inside Pandora’s Jar (it was a jar up until the 16th Century, they’ll be impressed you knew that). Despite the uneasy subject matter, the pin itself is beautifully made, with gold embossed enamel telling the story within the confines of a 4cm canvass. It’s also presented on a gold foiled backing card with Greek meanders. Classy.

Gift: Anacreon Notebook

Price: £9.71

Who for?: Quite literally anyone who has ever needed to put ink on paper

Description: There are some great Classics-themed gifts on Redbubble, and supporting creators is a great thing to do at Christmas regardless, but we’ve chosen just one item to spotlight in this article. It’s an inspiring ethos: “Forget about money and power; drench your beard with scent and crown your head with roses”, and the intricate bookplate style was hand-drawn by Dr Cora Beth Fraser, a multi-talented friend of the site.

Gift: Gods & Goddesses Coasters

Price: £10.99

Who for?: Someone who gets through multiple hot drinks while they’re grappling with the complex concepts of ancient mythology.

Description: Displaying both the Greek and Roman names for these top-tier gods, along with detailed illustrations, we figured these were worth mentioning despite being mug-adjacent. The Twelve Olympians are all present, making these a great bit of sneaky Classics decor for an office, study room, or just around the home.

Gift: The Odyssey Novel Poster

Price: £12

Who for?: Someone with an office to decorate, or for that one person who is always hard to buy for.

Description: A very subtle way of showing love for Classics, this poster features the entire Odyssey word-for-word in completely legible text. Not only that, but viewed from a distance it shows a lone ship traversing the sea. It’s a great little statement piece for professional settings, and gives your giftee something to read when they need a moment’s peace!

Gift: Books - but hear me out, okay?

Price: £9.99 - £15.99

Who for?: The Classics student who has read (and wants to read) everything, people interested in contemporary political movements, or those on the left. If they have a bit of starting knowledge, even better.

Description: I know, I know, another book, another unread heap of paper to add to the ever-growing pile. I hear you, I really do. But not all books are destined to end up on the “to read” pile forever. These two: ‘Peasant-Citizen And Slave: The Foundations Of Athenian Democracy’ by Ellen Meiksins Wood, and ‘The Assassination Of Julius Caesar: A People’s History Of Ancient Rome’ by Michael Parenti, are both united in two things. One - they have long titles. Two - If you’re looking for a pacy, leftist exploration of a controversial thesis about classical civilisations, these are some of the best examples.

Gift: The Forgotten City Video Game

Price: £19.49

Who for?: Video game fans looking for something new, or history buffs who love a bit of immersion.

Description: The Forgotten City is an incredible little mystery tale that takes place, largely, in a Roman city trapped underground. You arrive from the modern-day, immediately getting swept up in the villagers’ issues, all while uncovering the main puzzle that plagues the inhabitants of this lovingly crafted town. The game got pretty solid reviews (shameful plug but here’s mine) and was praised for its attention to detail, having consulted Dr Sophie Hay in creating authentic architecture. Expect swearing in Latin.

Gift: Classic Classics Board Games

Price: £24 - £40

Who for?: Strategy, politics, wordplay, and boardgame fans. Families.

Description: These two are a little on the pricier side - ‘Pandemic: The Fall Of Rome’ comes in at around £40, and ‘Latin Scrabble’ is usually around £20, but they make great gifts for whole groups of people. Couples or families, or even university flatmates will be thrilled with a gift that brings them together, and both these games will guarantee at least a few hours of fun on Boxing Day when no one can be arsed to move.

Gift: Egyptology (from Templar’s -Ology series)

Price: £25

Who for?: Enthusiastic kids, first-time classicists, classroom-workers, or fans of Egyptian art.

Description: The -Ology series was EVERYWHERE when I was a kid, the most famous being Dragonology which was a repeated bestseller. The hefty hardbacks with shimmering jewels on the front are immediately recognisable and universally loved, making Egyptology a pretty exciting prospect for ‘90s kids or actual kids. And it’s more than just a book. Inside, there are pieces of “mummy cloth”, a pull-out how-to on writing Hieroglyphs, a full boardgame, and more. It’s basically a mini museum.

Gift: Lime Crime Prelude Exposed Venus Eyeshadow Palette

Price: £29

Who for?: Humans of all ages who enjoy makeup and will be appreciative of a Classics twist.

Description: The Venus line from Lime Crime is not only genuinely great makeup (tried and tested by yours truly), but also has shades, names, and aesthetics inspired by the art of Classics. This particular palette is adorned with a reclining Venus and offers a subtle yet sparkly blend of vegan/cruelty free eyeshadows in renaissance colours. It’s a great gift for when you don’t want to be too gimmicky but still want to embrace their love of Classics.

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