It's been months now and we've been looking for the right new contributor to invite onto the Unplggd team. We think we might have found the next addition to our lineup. Hailing from Portland, Laura Hall, starts her tryout with this geek-oriented gift list for the cool, smarty-pants in your life. Tell us what you think and feel free to add in your recommendations too.
The time for holiday shopping is upon us, and with it comes my annual search for gifts for the most elusive of recipients: the geek guy. Holiday gift guides for men tend to be all barbecues and power tools, or books about sports and history. But geeks of all stripes tend to be up to date in their fields of choice, so even giving a historical volume or sports memoir can be tricky, especially if you haven't read – and vetted – it yourself.
Other than gift cards, what options remain for the gifter wishing to venture outside the realm of ThinkGeek? (A man can only have so many black slogan tees and novelty USB gadgets, after all.) Our favorite source is Etsy, a treasure trove of handmade, stylish products. Far from being limited to jewelry and art prints, the site has every category of item imaginable, and many Etsy artisans will customize their creations for you.
Here are ten handpicked selections which are sure to please this holiday season.
Triforce End-Grain Cutting Board: 1337motif is an Indianapolis-based cabinet maker who applies his woodworking skills to game-themed items for the home. This walnut and hard-maple cutting board featuring the Triforce from Legend of Zelda ($125) is great for "gamers that like to cook...or cooks that like video-games...or really anyone that likes things that look nice and are made of wood." (1337motif also sells keychains and coasters in the same style for those who want the look without the price tag.)
Topographical Error Map Necktie: From toybreaker, purveyor of "Ties that don't suck", we have a huge range of unique silkscreened designs on standard width, skinny and bow ties, in silk or microfiber. Shown here is the "topographical error" tie ($30), featuring a sea floor contour map. Other designs include botanicals, cameras, vinyl records, satellites and circuit boards, all in subtle and understated colors. Way better than tiny golfers.
Q-Bert Pillow: Fans of arcade game Q-Bert will recognize the pattern on this felt pillow ($42.50) by regansbrain in Minneapolis, and non-gamers will appreciate it for its geometric flair. The colors (which are also customizable) will blend in with any decor without the gaming statement being too over-the-top.
Cedar iPad Docking Station: This cedar iPad docking station ($138) from upstate New York's woodtec is a great way to add a touch of the organic to your Apple devices. Its standard USB plug threads neatly through the back for a clean look.
For a slimmer (and cheaper) Apple-device-holding option, this Walnut iPad Stand ($59) by Seeker Design in Costa Mesa keeps your iPad upright and secure. Hand-carved, it holds your iPad at a 12 degree angle for easy viewing.
Macbook Decals: Etsy has hundreds of Macbook decals to suit every taste, from 8-bit videogame styles to Disney princesses, from cult films to Banksy. Too many to choose from? Many sellers also offer gift certificates. Shown here: "I Smell a Rat" decal ($7.99) by Signsndecals, Retro Rainbow Apple Logos ($8.99) by MacSticker.
Geekery Soap: Handmade soap is an Etsy staple, and stocking stuffers everywhere breathed a sigh of relief when artists started turning their efforts toward geek-related topics. Etsy offers a huge variety of geek-things-in-soap-form, including Han Solo encased in carbonite, Nintendo DS game cartridges, robots, coffee beans, and dinosaur skeleton fossil replicas. Search for "geekery+soap" to browse for an item that lines up with your geek's interests.
Shown: Black Wiimote Soap with real wriststrap ($15) by Digitalsoaps, "When Dinosaurs Roamed" glycerin soap ($4) by TwinDreamCreations.
The Part Time Clock: The $17 clock by Cyber Moon in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho is great for a guy with a sense of whimsy. Great for a home office or workstation.
This Comic Strip Lampshade: This lampshade ($62) by France's SpookyShades features Golden Age superheroines in shades of black, white and red, and is a stylish complement to any comic fan's decor.
Pac Man Wrapping Paper: For some all-encompassing geek-themed gifting, try adding some Pac Man Wrapping Paper. $22 for a six foot roll.
None of these suit? Try searching Etsy for your geek's favorite subject + "geekery" (the name of the category). Or have your fella download the Amazon Bookmarklet. He can add gifts to his Universal Wish List from any site on the web with a single click, allowing you to exactly fulfill his desires come Christmas morning.