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HTX Ready to Jingle 2012
Great deals for a great cause

From pretty to witty, Houston's best gifts come from unexpected places

museum gift shops, gift guide, December 2012, CAMH, cat playhouse

Whether your to-gift list includes gorgeous jewelry, toys to stimulate learning and creativity, easy accessories or design-forward home decor, you can find all of it an more inside the gift shops of Houston's major museums. Not only does your purchase support a key cultural non-profit, you'll find unexpected treats not available anywhere else in Houston, and  you can save up to 20 percent just by being a member. We call that a win-win-win.

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If you know a cat that acts like they're too cool for school — basically, if you know a cat — set them up with this turn-table scratching board and see if their skills match their attitude. $36, at Contemporary Arts Museum Houston.

Photo courtesy of Houston Museum of Natural Science
museum gift shops, gift guide, December 2012, HMNS, T-rex trying, coffee mugs

Showcasing the trials and tribulations of a dino just trying to fit in and make it through the day, popular Internet cartoonist Hugh Murphy created six "T-Rex Trying" sketches especially for the Houston Museum of Natural Science. We're officially obsessed.T-rex Trying t-shirts, $14.95, coffee mugs $9.95, magnets $2.95, at HMNS.

Photo courtesy of Taschen
museum gift shops, gift guide, December 2012, Menil, New York Times, travel book

The Menil Bookstore is mostly stocked with explorations of artists and their work, from Mario Testino to Banksy, but there are a few non-art books scattered around as well. The New York Times 36 Hours: 150 Weekends in the USA & Canada, $39.99, at Menil Bookstore.

museum gift shops, gift guide, December 2012, MFAH, earrings

Silver and amethyst earrings by Houston designer Via Vandi, $140, at Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

Photo courtesy of Thorsten Van Elten
museum gift shops, gift guide, December 2012, CAMH, antler coat rack

There's a difference between having an artistic disposition and leaving your clothes all over the floor. CultureMap has retired the Hipster Gifter, but if we hadn't, this would be on it. Alexander Taylor antler coat rack, $85, at Contemporary Arts Museum Houston.

Photo courtesy of Houston Museum of Natural Science
museum gift shops, gift guide, December 2012, HMNS, molecular chemistry

Where would Houston chefs be without their emulsifiers and dehydrators? Now home cooks can experiment with blending science and culinary prowess. Molecular chemistry set, $59.95, at Houston Museum of Natural Science.

Photo courtesy of Thymes
museum gift shops, gift guide, December 2012, Menil, fir candle

Houston doesn't exactly offer a winter wonderland, but an elegant fir-scented candle can still transport to holidays past — or imagined. Thymes fir candle, $26-48, at Menil Bookstore.

museum gift shops, gift guide, December 2012, MFAH, Zen

When art is temporary, the act of creation is free from the pressure of posterity. Also sometimes it's just fun to doodle at your desk and call it a mental health break. Buddha board, $38, at Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

Photo courtesy of Houston Museum of Natural Science
museum gift shops, gift guide, December 2012, HMNS, backpacks

These critter backpacks have a kitschy pre-historic vibe, and they're so fun they almost make us want to hit up elementary school again. Spikesaurus and bubblesaurus backpacks, $59.95, at Houston Museum of Natural Science.

Courtesy of Courtesy Menil Bookstore
droog vase menil 25

Even if you didn't make it to the Menil Collection's 25th anniversary extravaganza, you can still gift a unique artifact from the event in the form of a sponge vase by artist Marcel Wanders stamped with Menil25. Whether the giftee is yourself or another art lover is up to you. $225, at Menil Bookstore.

museum gift shops, gift guide, December 2012, MFAH, scarves

Soft, versatile and oh-so-pretty, there's a reason why everyone loves Sarah Stewart's damask scarves. $85, at Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

Photo courtesy of Houston Museum of Natural Science
museum gift shops, gift guide, December 2012, HMNS, Leigh Lena stingray cuff, bracelet

Leighelena's stunning cuffs can spark up a conversation based purely on aesthetics, but they look even cooler with the knowledge that the tough yet flexible leather is made from stingrays. Leighelena stingray jigsaw buckle bracelet, $115, at Houston Museum of Natural Science.

Photo courtesy of Guggenheim Museum
museum gift shops, gift guide, December 2012, MFAH, Picasso catalog

All the major museum stores include a huge selection of art books, from academic works to photographic treatises, but detailed exhibition catalogs, like the Picasso tome, right, contain images and information that often can't be found anywhere else. Picasso: Black and White exhibition catalog, $45-60, at Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

Photo courtesy of Flavour Design
museum gift shops, gift guide, December 2012, CAMH, Buddha Bowl

Let's all stop pretending that we sit in proper chairs at a table to eat. What is this, Downton Abbey? No, we eat our cereal or pho curled up on the couch, watching Real Housewives. Buddha bowls are accordingly shaped perfectly to fit in the curve of your hand, the ultimate marriage of form, function and shamelessness. Buddha Bowl, $25, at Contemporary Arts Museum Houston.

Photo courtesy of Houston Museum of Natural Science
museum gift shops, gift guide, December 2012, HMNS, geode bookends

You don't have to be a gemologist or a rock collector to appreciate the visual and practical appeal of a pair of geode bookends. Agate geode bookends, $95, at Houston Museum of Natural Science.

museum gift shops, gift guide, December 2012, CAMH, bags, purses

These may have been dubbed "hobo bags," but the lovely floral prints make the carry-all satchels as pretty as they are practical. Blue Linen bags, $89, at Contemporary Arts Museum Houston.

Photo courtesy of Houston Museum of Natural Science
museum gift shops, gift guide, December 2012, HMNS, stuffed planets

This is about as cuddly as the solar system gets. Except for Venus, which is adorable all the time. Stuffed moon, Earth, Saturn and sun, $24.95 each, at Houston Museum of Natural Science.

museum gift shops, gift guide, December 2012, MFAH, Stick 'em Up DVD

You'd think a major museum like the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, might be too stuck-up to support local artists — like Gonzo247, who produced this documentary on street art — but not so. Stick 'Em Up DVD, $20, at Musem of Fine Arts, Houston.

Photo courtesy of Antica Farmacista
museum gift shops, gift guide, December 2012, Menil, green fig handwash, soap

Essential oils, all-natural ingredients and gorgeous apothecary bottles make hand wash by Antica Farmacista the ultimate hostess gift or stocking stuffer. Green fig hand wash, $28, at Menil Bookstore.

Photo courtesy of Houston Museum of Natural Science
museum gift shops, gift guide, December 2012, HMNS, Alexis Bittar, earrings

Fun fact: The gift shop at HMNS has more jewelry by fashionista-fave Alexis Bittar than Neiman Marcus does (and good luck getting NM to give you 20 percent off for being a member). Alexis Bittar labradorite cushion earrings, $220, Houston Museum of Natural Science.

Photo courtesy of Dwell Studio
museum gift shops, gift guide, December 2012, CAMH, Dwell stamps

For only the most sophisticated toddlers, or maybe just your friends that tell people they are urban planners: Dwell Studio stamp sets, $24, at Contemporary Arts Museum Houston.

Photo courtesy of Karlsson
museum gift shops, gift guide, December 2012, MFAH, numbers clock

There's something quite dada about the mixed numbers wall clock, $120, at Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.