The true-crime fan in your family or friend group might seem difficult to shop for, but murder, mayhem, and mistletoe go together surprisingly well. This year, skip the generic fruit cake and surprise your favorite dark-side dweller with a gift tailored especially to his or her sinister interests.
Books by Vincent Bugliosi and Ann Rule
Pay tribute to these true-crime titans, both of whom passed away this year, by gifting a mini-library of their most acclaimed books. Bugliosi’s first-hand account of prosecuting the Manson murders, Helter Skelter, is a must-own for any true crime fan; And the Sea Will Tell profiles a less well-known case, but is no less of a page-turner.
My Friend Dahmer
The most insightful book about Jeffrey Dahmer is this graphic novel written and drawn by Derf Backderf, who met and befriended the budding killer when the two were high-school classmates.
Crime Scene Sandwich Bags and Bandages
Here are some gag gifts that are perfect for your favorite wannabe CSI team member: plastic sandwich baggies for collecting evidence (or encasing a delicious sandwich), and bandages to close up any suspicious wounds (or paper cuts).
Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast Gift Shop Items
So your favorite true-crime buff hasn’t yet made it to Fall River, Massachusetts, to visit the rooms where Lizzie Borden’s father and stepmother met their infamous ends. (You can even stay overnight, if you dare!) Fear not: This B&B has a museum with a gift shop filled with essentials that’ll help replicate the experience of actually visiting, including a coffee mug emblazoned with “Everything I Know About Anger Management, I Learned From Lizzie Borden;” cookie cutters in the shape of a pear (an important crime-scene detail... trust me, if they know the case, they know what pears have to do with it) and a hatchet (significance: duh); magnets decorated with crime scene photos (and the skulls of the victims); authentic brick dust from the house; and golf balls that cheekily read “Keep Hacking Away.”
“Cereal Killer” Spoon
Etsy shop Eve of Joy sells vintage, silver-plated spoons hand-stamped with “Cereal Killer,” with (or without) a teeny li’l skull and crossbones. Perfect for that pun-and-murder-loving fiend on your gift list! The shop also has a bazillion other cute phrases to choose from, as well as a custom option.
Pogo the Clown Patch
For 10 dollars, this spooky square of embroidery—straight from the Museum of Death, no less—will turn your ordinary patch jacket into a garment of pure evil, suitable for wearing while hiding bodies under the house. Even those who don’t recognize John Wayne Gacy’s self-portrait of his alter ego will be spooked by the sight of this dead-eyed clown.
Image via Associated Press/Nick Ut
LA County Coroner Gift Shop Items
The LA County Coroner’s Office has a gift shop. It’s called “Skeletons in the Closet,” and while it doesn’t turn much of a profit (and some have questioned its appropriateness), it still offers up some excellent holiday ideas for the morbidly inclined, including: a body outline beach towel (available in a variety of colors); a Sherlock Holmes-ish cotton tote bag; and the stuffed animal every kid wants, a stuffed likeness of the real-life LA County Coroner’s official cadaver dog, the delightfully named “Indiana Bones.”
Bonnie and Clyde Ambush Museum Gift Shop Items
For fans of the notorious outlaw couple, this museum—located on the site of the Louisiana cafe where Bonnie and Clyde unknowingly had their last meal—offers a treasure trove of unique memorabilia. Pick up a reprint of their wanted poster, a coloring book, or even a hearts-and-arrow temporary tattoo.
Serial Killer Playing Cards
Dear Satanic Santa, I have been very good and not actually murdered anybody— just read lots of books and watched questionably-produced programs on YouTube about serial killers. Please bring me this set of 54 different playing cards depicting some of the worst humans in history. Etsy seller FeastYourEyesDesigns promises that “each card features serial killer name, alias, description, kill count, age, activity, and their preferred methods of murder.”
“Spy Mission Kits” from the Spy Museum
Washington, DC’s Spy Museum has a huge online store stuffed with gadgets (um, lock-picking cufflinks?), toys, novelty sunglasses, and more. For the budding Bond on your list, check out the fun array of pre-made “Spy Mission Kits,” including a disguise collection with “rearview glasses,” temporary hair color, and all manner of fake mustaches, piercings, and tattoos.
Black Dahlia Candle
The gruesome murder of glamorous Hollywood hopeful Elizabeth Short—a.k.a. the Black Dahlia—is one of history’s most enduring unsolved mysteries .It’s also alluring enough to inspire a luxurious candle from Loved to Death, perfect for your favorite femme fatale. It’s described as “a sensual and dramatic combination of black pepper, jasmine absolute, amber, and Mysore sandalwood,” and burns for 60 hours.
Arsenic Fragrance Gift Set
This set from Tokyo Milk comes swathed in goth-tastic packaging, and contains perfume, hand cream, and lip balm—but no actual deadly poison. You’d think it would be scented with almonds, but the fragrance is described as a combination of “absinthe, vanilla salt, cut greens, and crushed fennel.”
“How to Host a Murder” Game
More interactive than Clue, but just as much of a 1980s relic! Find one of these sets (either a vintage version on eBay or Etsy, or a brand-new one on Amazon) and give it to your friend who happens to live in the biggest, spookiest house (bonus points if they have a butler), and let the games begin.