The Insider: Illuminated letters make a good personalised gift


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The Independent Online

A friend emailed to ask where she could get a giant letter "M" that lights up for her husband's 40th birthday present. Certainly, the typography trend isn't going anywhere – and old, illuminated letters are a nice twist on our lexical love affair. But they're not easy to find; here's what's available…

A-hunting we will go

For originals, eBay and Etsy will come up trumps… eventually. Keywords to try include: fairground marquee and lightbulb letter. Try, too:; (if you have cash to splash);; and the antiques-trade markets (locate them at

Word play

If you want something specific spelt out, and have a deadline, repro is your safest bet. I'm not usually a fan – signage can look especially twee – but make stunning old-style copies, the circus-y ones, with visible bulbs. Letters start at £195 each.

You make me feel like…

If you happen to want to spell the word "dancing", Rockett St George sells a beautiful – new – Perspex panel for £89, modelled on a 1950s nightclub sign, with red letters on the front; you can put your own light behind it if you like.

It's a gas

Alternatively, make like Tracey Emin with neon gas: buy ready-made words and phrases ("kiss", "hot", "I love you") or create your own, for £45 per letter (plus a transformer – from £45 to £100) from

Keep it simple

If you want to make your own, get step-by-step guides for the super-simple plywood, jam-jar and paint version at; or go a bit more pro here: sells the festoon light strings you'll need and "foamcore" is better known as "foamboard" here for Googling. Do send pics if you manage it!

Find Kate's blog on affordable interiors at