by T. Mack
The year is half over. For me, the season of gifting begins now. The geeks in my life have birthdays beginning in mid-August and continuing each month right up until Christmas, when it’s time to give them each a completely different gift. As a geek myself, and also a lover of geeks, I’ve had to make myself an expert on giving gifts to these very special people.
Today, I’m sharing my tips and tricks with you. Hopefully, they’ll come in handy the next time you need to find that special something for a special someone in your life. Or perhaps you’re the geek and need to forward this article to someone else who hasn’t quite figured out how to find the right item for you in the past. Either way, I hope this these tips are handy and dandy to make your life and the life of your loved ones a little better and brighter during your own gift-giving season.
Tip #1: Know Your Geek
If you don’t know the person you’re shopping for, it’s going to be hard to find the right item for them. If they’re a geek, it makes life a bit easier. Because as a geek, by definition, they tend to get pretty enthusiastic about at least one or two things. And those things can be a great jumping off point. But the possibilities for geekdom are broad and vast. So it’s not enough to know that someone is a geek. You need details in order to narrow down your search for the perfect gift. That brings us to our next tip…
Tip #2: Know Their Fandoms
Knowing a geek’s fandoms is key to gift-giving. You do not want to give a die-hard Star Wars fan a replica of the Starship Enterprise (which is from Star Trek) or give a Harry Potter fan who is staunchly house Slytherin a t-shirt that reps house Gryffindor. Either of these would be a dreadful faux pas.
faux pas = an embarrassing or tactless act or remark in a social situation.
Instead make sure you know the details of what it is that makes your geek so geeky. Do they like TV or movies? Which television shows do they adore? Which movies are their faves? Are they book enthusiasts? If there is a movie of the book, which one do they love more? What kind of books are they into? Do they love gaming? Do they enjoy anime? If so, are they team subs or team dubs (that’s subtitles or voice dubbing for the uninitiated)? And most importantly, who would they most want to dress up as to go to any con (convention)? Knowledge is power. And you need knowledge to gain the power to purchase the perfect gift. So the next tip is key…
Tip #3: Ask Questions
You can’t necessarily be expected to know all of this unless you’ve been paying close attention. And if you have, well done. If you haven’t, that’s okay. Just ask questions. Geeks love to talk about their fandoms. So if you ask some random, off-hand question about it, they will answer it… at length… in great detail. They’ll give you a damned TedTalk if you let them. Trust me! I’m one of them. I know! The key is to time these questions carefully. Don’t ask them a week before their birthday or two days before Black Friday. Instead, ask them sometime here in the middle of the year when their birthday is four months away and no one is thinking at all about Christmas. Or if their birthday is around this time, ask in March when their birthday isn’t on their mind at all. It won’t occur to them that far away from the gift-giving date that you’re doing gift research. They’ll just think, for a few minutes, that they might have finally turned you to the dark side. Just nod and smile politely and take mental notes of key names and phrases. Then as soon as possible, write them down. Because a muggle like you likely won’t remember if it’s not within your own wheelhouse of interest.
mug·gle = a person who is not conversant with a particular activity or skill;
also a person without magical abilities
Tip #4: Plan Ahead
As the previous tip suggested, you may need to begin researching your subject very early. This means thinking about gifting long before it’s actually time to do so. Besides just doing the research on the geek themselves, you will also need to be collecting data on sources that carry the kind of geek-tastic fare you’re going to be looking to purchase for your special geek. Depending on their interest, you may or may not be able to simply walk into the local Walmart or mall and find something that speaks to their geeky soul. And depending on the sources you find, you may have to give yourself time to place orders, wait for custom creations, and allow for shipping. Gift-giving is serious and can take a lot of time on top of effort. You need to start early to make sure you’ve given yourself the time you need to get it done right. Which brings us to…
Tip #5: Know Possible Sources
Being a geek used to be frowned upon by many, if not most people. But now it’s totally mainstream. This is good for you since it means it’s easier than ever to find the perfect gift for the geek in your life. You just have to know where to look. Of course, there’s always Amazon.com, but they don’t have the best selection when it comes to great gifts for the discerning geek. Other places you should try are:
Etsy.com (my personal fave – just search a fandom name and see what treasures appear)
Boxlunch.com (some of the coolest geek gear around)
Hottopic.com (pretty basic, but a good source for tees and toys)
Torrid.com (fun fashion for the plus size lady in your life)
Entertainmentearth.com (collectibles and toys galore)
Half Price Books (in person if your town has one)
2nd & Charles (in person if your town has one)
Tip #6: Know Their Collections & Style
Before you shell out cash to these establishments, though, make sure you’ve checked into what your geek already has on hand. If they currently have 4 complete collections of the entire Harry Potter series of books with different collectible covers, maybe don’t buy them another one… unless you know for certain that they really want that new one that just came out. If they have 56 Funko Pop figures, make certain that a) they actually want to continue collecting them, b) you’re purchasing one they really care about and truly want as part of their collection, and c) that they don’t already have the one you’re now eyeing for them. And if your friend has several kitchen cabinets filled with Starbucks mugs from every city she’s ever visited, don’t automatically bring her one from your trip to Chicago or Toronto. Before you leave, find out if she gets them to remember her time in those places or if she just likes having them from all over. One answer means she wouldn’t care about having one from your trip. The other answer would mean she’d love it. Also, does she already have one from where you’re going? Try to know these answers before you bring it home. On that note, Starbucks takes me right into my next tip…
Tip #7: Know Their Other Interests
People often reduce geeks down to their geekness. And I understand why. Often, we just won’t shut up about our respective fandoms. So it can seem like that’s all there is to us. But try digging a bit deeper. I promise that each of us is much more than that. If you make the effort, you can find out the other things about us that make us tick. And those things can also be a terrific source for gift-giving. Last year, when I gave one friend her birthday gift, I chose to ignore all of her many fandoms and instead, focused on her obsession with cats. The entire gift box was cat themed, down to the wrapping paper, and each gift inside was cat-related. Sometimes, you have to leave conventional geekness behind and embrace the non-geek things that bring people pleasure.
Tip #8: Don’t Be Afraid to Combine Their Interests
Of course, you can always combine interests. For example, one of those cat gifts I mentioned previously was a set of kitty bookmarks, because my friend is a fanatical book nerd (a specific form of geek, even though the term uses the word nerd). This combination of loves made her doubly giddy and the item went over twice as well. You can do this, of course, with many things. Come back on Friday and I’ll show you more examples of this technique.
Tip #9: Have Fun!
The most important thing is to have fun. Gifts are supposed to be fun, both for the person receiving and the person giving. Get to know your person, find out what they’re into, what they like, what they already have, and try to add to their collection of awesome. It’s basically that simple. At a loss or just looking for a fun twist? Try a theme. Select a theme that you know the person likes, and get a few small gifts that fall under the theme. You know they like to cook? Put together a kitchen gadget basket. Someone in your office love Star Trek? Hop online to one of the sites to see if you can find a pen, notepad, or other office supplies that are themed from the show. I bet it won’t be hard. And it probably won’t cost much. Got a Disney fan you need to shop for? Find out their favorite animated film from the Disney Renaissance and I promise you’ll be able to find them a mug from that movie somewhere on the internet. If it’s one of the colder seasons, get them a scarf or some other cozy item that sticks to the theme, stick it in the mug, and you’re good to go!
Disney Renaissance = the decade from 1989 to 1999 during which Walt Disney Animation Studios returned to producing critically and commercially successful animated films that were mostly based on well-known stories… The animated films released by Disney during this period include The Little Mermaid (1989), The Rescuers Down Under (1990), Beauty and the Beast (1991), Aladdin (1992), The Lion King (1994), Pocahontas (1995), The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996), Hercules (1997), Mulan (1998), and Tarzan (1999).
Gift-giving is fun. When you put in a bit of effort, it can be well worth it in the end. I hope these tips were helpful for you or someone you know and love. What are your tips and tricks for giving the perfect gift? Let us know in the comments below. Happy gifting, everyone!