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Unique Gift Ideas for the Holidays

It is that most wonderful time of the year — a time of family, of gratitude, of giving and, of course, a time of frantically searching for that perfect gift for your loved one. Rather than trolling the aisles at your local mall or scrolling aimlessly through Amazon, you consider a more unique gift for your friends and family this year. Antiques as holiday gifts are not just for the antique collectors. You can find historic, thoughtful surprises such as antique watches and clocks or vintage items as well as household items that are both useful and beautiful at an antiques gallery like ours.

At M.S. Rau, this year we are calling on all to skip the mall and give a gift of beauty and history instead.  If you are looking to find a thoughtful gift for your special person this Christmas, this list of holiday gift ideas can help. Read on to discover our very special holiday gift guide, complete with creative ways to gift antiques to everyone on your list this year.


Glass and Crystal Decanters


The crystal decanter is a classic gift that is appropriate for nearly every big event, from weddings to the holiday season. They aren't just for the whiskey connoisseur anymore, as the trend for home bars that stock the basics has held steady over the years. Beautiful crystal decanters can, of course, be purchased new from all the big luxury names, but an antique decanter has a certain aura and grandeur that just can't be matched by something new off the shelves. A classic decanter can serve as the perfect gift for any loved one.



Art Nouveau Gold-Rimmed Cut Glass Decanter, Early 20th Century

A number of impressive antique glass decanters can currently be found in M.S. Rau’s collection, and we have a range of styles on offer, including the Art Nouveau example above. Hand painted with gilt detailing, it offers a more unique and glamorous touch to the bar compared to other decanters on the market today.


Wine Antiques


Continuing on the theme of bar-related gifts, we didn't want to leave out the wine enthusiast while compiling our these fun antique gift ideas. guide. There are truly so many options for the wine drinking to choose from in the antique world, from old school antique wine corkers to wine bottle labels to wine glasses and so much more.



Christofle Silverplate Wine Trolley, Circa 1890

A personal favorite of ours for any Christmas gift is the wine trolley, which is both practical and great fun at a party. This antique silverplate example by Christofle is designed with wheels that allows one to literally roll it around the table to serve guests. The angle of the trolley holds the bottle at the perfect angle to let it breathe, while the tilting mechanism helps to keep the sediment at the bottom of the bottle and out of your glass. Aside from its functional uses, it is just great fun to wheel around the table, making the perfect party piece for the host or hostess on your list.


Silver Picture Frames


The picture frame is one of the most tried-and-true gifts of all time. Grandparents adore receiving framed photos of their grandkids just as much as a close friend would appreciate a framed snapshot from a treasured day. While this antique gift is all about nostalgia and sentimentality, the frame itself should never be overlooked. It can be a significant keepsake in and of itself, and antique frames lend a particular grandeur and significance to this gift that is always a hit.



Chinese Export Silver Picture Frames, Late 19th/Early 20th Century

This pair is a particularly unique example from the array of antique frames you can find this holiday season. They are examples of a popular genre of silver known as Chinese export silver, which is silver that was made in China for a Western audience during the 18th and 19th centuries. These circular frames are adorned by chrysanthemum blooms with a slightly Eastern feel, making them a fairly neutral decor choice that is perfect for a range of photo options, from favorite vacations to trips to the park. What photo would you put in these frames for a loved one as a Christmas gift?


Sports Memorabilia


Looking for a unique gift idea for your dad or brother? The antique gallery might not seem like the most intuitive place to shop for the sports enthusiast, but there are plenty of antique and vintage treasures related to sports history that would make a highly unique holiday gift. We aren't talking old trading cards or collectables, but rather objects of provenance that were owned by the sports legends themselves. For instance, M.S. Rau has an impressive collection owned by none other than the Yankee Clipper, Joe DiMaggio, that would certainly be adored by any baseball fan.



Presentation Gold Golf Putter by Tiffany & Co.

When it comes to finding unique holiday gift ideas, it can help to think outside the box and go for something a little less conventional. If you are shopping for a golfer rather than a baseball fan, consider this 14K gold presentation golf club by the inimitable Tiffany & Co. While today the jewelry firm has become synonymous with their little blue box, they have also crafted a number of presentation pieces such as this (which dates to between 1955 and 1965) throughout their long history. What makes it even cooler is the fact that Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis once gave her husband, President John F. Kennedy, a sterling version of this putter around 1960.


Scientific Antiques


This may come as a surprise, but there is plenty that an antiques gallery has to offer for the curious minds on your holiday gift giving list. Antique globes? Check. Historic medical equipment? Check. Even METEORITES?! Check.



Apollo 15 Flown Moonstone

If you want to be real hero on Christmas Day, how about this gift for the space lover — a moonstone that has actually been to the moon! This stone actually flew with the American astronaut James Irwin on the July 1971 Apollo 15 mission, which was the fourth successful moon landing in NASA history.


Luxury Cigar Accessories


When it comes to cigars, the gift-buying possibilities are practically endless. While you could go the tried and true route of simply gifting a few premium cigars, we suggest something a little more unique this year. From antique humidors to smoker’s canes, we have a multitude of items on offer that fit the bill for the diehard cigar lover.



Silverplate Model Cigar Lighter, Circa 1900

For the cigar aficionado who seems to have everything, this highly unique model cigar lighter makes a great gift. They surely haven’t seen anything quite like this before! Taking the form of a cannon, the lighter is filed with lighter fluid and can be lit at the working wick to “shoot” fire from its barrel. Designed to roll across the table from person to person, it lights a multitude of cigars with ease AND style.


Serving Pieces


Any gracious hostess would appreciate the gift of a timeless, elegant silver serving piece under the tree. In M.S. Rau’s collection, we offer a number of silver platters and utensils that would be an impressive addition to a dinner spread any time of year.



Chrysanthemum Silver Gilt Serving Tray by Tiffany & Co., 1902-1907

If your giftee appreciates a little glam on their table top, this Tiffany & Co. serving tray is the obvious, opulent choice. It has a timeless feel thanks to the classic Chrysanthemum pattern that adorns its outer rim, but the gilding on the silver lends it a glitz and allure that sets it apart from other Tiffany creations.




Objects that are both practical and beautiful, clocks make an excellent holiday gift, particularly for the mechanically minded. Antique clocks make particularly impressive gifts since they also boast a historic gravity with which their contemporary counterparts simply can’t compete. Skeleton clocks and industrial clocks are particularly popular amongst collectors, though M.S. Rau offers timepieces in a range of styles to match both your vision and your budget.



Onyx & Enamel Desk Clock by J.E. Caldwell, Circa 1920

This example by the Philadelphia-based jeweler and clockmaker J.E. Caldwell offers the perfect marriage of form and function. The gilded dial is enameled in midnight blue and celadon green, a color choice that beautifully complements the amber-hued onyx that frames the clock face. Compact enough to fit on a desktop or a mantel, this clock is sure to impress.


Vintage Cufflinks


Jewelry is a classic gift choice around the holidays, but it is not only for women! Cufflinks are a favorite stocking stuffer that are available in a range of styles to suit the personality of the giftee. From silly to historic to understated and elegant, M.S. Rau has an impressive collection to choose from.



Enameled Pig Cufflinks

This charming pair of vintage Italian cufflinks certainly skews towards the silly side of the spectrum! Crafted of silver and enamel, one side takes the form of a pig’s face, while the other resembles its backside, complete with adorable curled tail.


A unique antique can be a welcome surprise to someone who appreciates a truly thoughtful and one-of-a-kind gift. We hope this guide helped to take some of the guesswork out of giving gifts as antiques, though if these ideas don’t quite fit your list, one of our experienced Sales Consultants can undoubtedly help you make the perfect choice.


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