Holiday Gift Guide: 11 Creative Gifts for Art Lovers

The Honolulu Museum of Art shops offer an eclectic array with no mall stress.

Editor’s Note: Through our partnership with the Honolulu Museum of Art, HONOLULU Magazine publishes a monthly blog written by Lesa Griffith, the museum’s communications director and a talented Hawai‘i writer on arts, culture and food.


It’s no secret that museum shops, with their diverse selection of art- and design-related items, can be great for one-stop holiday shopping. The Honolulu Museum of Art is no exception. The shops at both locations—on Beretania Street and in Makiki Heights—are where you’ll find everything from kids’ art activity books to a gleaming koa wood table. And, of course, they have long been a source for striking contemporary jewelry. Here are just a few ideas that will take care of a lot of people on your list, and for every budget.


We’ve indicated at which shop to find the goods—M stands for main museum, SH is for Spalding House.


1. The best of HoMA in 162 pages

Collectio Highlights
Photos: Honolulu Museum of Art 

Out just in time for the holidays is the museum’s first general catalog in 24 years. Collection Highlights is a gorgeous roundup of the museum’s 133 best works of art, selected by the museum’s curators. From a 4,500-year-old Cycladic sculpture to a 21st-century Tony Oursler video-and-tchochke assemblage that talks to you—with dazzling Asian and Hawai‘i art in between—the parade of works reveals a collection of amazing breadth that we can all be proud of calling “ours.” Having this on your coffee table will make up for not visiting the museum at least once a year (sort of).

$29.95 (M, SH)


2. It’s hip to be square

Ludvik jewelry

Canadian designer Elizabete Ludviks’ jewelry is inspired by her Scandinavian and Baltic roots. If your significant other is a fan of modern design, shiny things and geometry, this is the perfect gift. The handcrafted sterling silver necklaces, pendants and earrings are available at the Museum Shop and Spalding House Shop in cube and triangle shapes.

Earrings: $75$140. Pendants: $90$150. Necklaces: $485-$620 (M, SH)


3. Ankle bites

Sushi socks

Perhaps no article of everyday clothing gets as much creative attention as socks, and these sushi designs take the fishcake. When neatly folded (Marie Kondo would approve!), the socks look like your favorite nigiri selections. Unfolded, the design wraps around your ankle. Choose from tako, maguro, ebi, ikura, futomaki and tamago.

$15.95 (two-pair set for kids is $24.95) (M, SH)


4. Art enlightenment

Understanding art

Do you look at Tracy Emin’s installation My Bed—which is literally the British artist’s bed, unmade and garnished with used pantyhose—and snort? Artist, Chinese art expert and collector Hugh Moss has thought a lot about art—and the theories we use to explain it—and has come up with his own theories to act as “tools to help us judge the difference between the banal and the sage, which will take confusion out of both modern art fare and the modern art fair.” In his slim volume The Art of Understanding Art, with Brit wit, Moss infuses Western-centric art theory with Chinese philosophy to create pearls such as, “To the Western mind, something was either abstract or not; the Chinese mind saw no reason why it shouldn’t be both at the same time.” A great little something for the thinking art lover in your life.

$15.95 (M)


5. Statement piece

Sandra Edwards jewelry

Honolulu-based Sandra Edwards designs one-of-a-kind jewelry under the name Heartsong. Pictured here is a necklace of aquamarine, jasper and Czech glass ($215), and earrings of sterling silver and vintage and reproduction Czech beads and glass ($45, $62). 



6. Light up their life

Ornament candles

Really, you want these affordable glam tree ornaments-turned-candles now, to add holiday cheer to your home, but they look so great, they make a dazzling stocking stuffer, too.

$9.95 (M)


7. Kawaii crew

Kawaii crew

The Museum Shop is dedicated to supporting local artists, which means the selection includes lots of Island-made items, from Ni‘ihau shell lei to koa bowls. Rochelle Lum is the queen of kawaii ceramics on O‘ahu, and her handcrafted menagerie is absolutely irresistible.

$50$150 (M)


8. Seasonings greetings

Salt and pepper shakers

Bring cheer to your dining table with these cute ceramic salt-and-pepper shakers of perfect culinary partners—eggs and toast and two peas in a pod.

$19.95$24.95 (SH)


9. Analog fun

Tic tac toe

Remember the days before you dug out the iPad to pass the time while en route to somewhere? When a pack of cards or an Othello game set kept your mind and hands occupied? Austin-based Bright Beams’ visually tasty travel tic-tac-toe will get kids (and the kidlike) off the screen for IRL play.

$25 (M, SH)


10. Heart-shaped box

Heart box

Museum Shop assistant manager Betsy Robertson is also a talented collagist (under the name Surebets), which she applies to 3-D objects, like this petite box perfect for keepsakes that still make you feel giddy when you look at them.

$100$200 (M)


11. Flame grower


Alusi candles, which are designed in Germany and made in Canada, are almost performance art. The sculptural forms have wicks running through every section, so, as these candles burn, additional flames emerge and shapes change. They also cast fantastic shadows, and, if you buy a few and line them up, they look like Arabic calligraphy when they start melting down. Cool, yeah?

$17$40 (M)



Lesa GriffithLesa Griffith is director of communications at the Honolulu Museum of Art. Born in Honolulu, one of her early seminal art experiences was at the Honolulu Museum of Art, when on a field trip her high school art history teacher pointed out that the ermine cape in Whistler’s Portrait of Lady Meux was not just a cape—it was visual signage leading viewers’ eyes through the painting.