It’s that magical time of year, when all of our wallets and purses become light with holiday cheer… and lack of funds.
Yes, it always seems like the holidays sneak up on us more and more each time, leading us to get rather creative with our shopping. This can get a little tricky when you have a bona fide Geek on your list, especially if you are unfamiliar with their particular fandom. So what’s a friend to do with a 4th Doctor Whovian who also enjoys 2nd gen. Pokemon?
Don’t worry, I’m here to help.
Even if you’re completely lost when shopping for your geeky friend, there’s a few tricks you can use to make sure you find them the perfect gift on a budget.
Know Thy Geek
As mentioned in a previous article about Geek dating, the most important thing to do is to get a general knowledge of their fandom. I’m not saying you should go out and read every back issue of Spider-Man if they’re a Marvel fan, but you should at least know if they prefer the web-slinger over Tony Stark.
The more specificity you know, the easier it will be to find something they like. As a general guide, here are some questions you should know the answers to for a few popular fandoms:
If they are a Disney fanatic:
What’s their favorite Disney film?
Do they prefer heroes or villains?
Do they collect a particular Disney thing (i.e. pins, art, books)?
If they are a Dr. Who fanatic:
Who is their favourite Doctor?
Do they have a preferred nemesis (i.e. Dalek, Cyberman, Master)?
Do they think bowties are cool?
If they are a Pokemon fanatic:
Which generation of Pokemon is their favorite?
Do they have a Pokemon/Pokemon type (i.e. fire, ghost, steel) they prefer?
How do they experience Pokemon? Games? Movies? Cards?
If they are a Firefly fanatic:
Why have you not watched Firefly?
You should go watch Firefly.
You can’t take the sky from me.
A Gift As Unique As Your Recipient
It’s important to note that there is a LOT of stuff made for each and every fandom, and not all items are created equal. You want to make sure you’re not getting junk, but not breaking the bank as well.
When you get a chance, take a look at whatever stuff your Geek already has to get a baseline of the type of things they prefer, and to make sure you’re not doubling up on something. Even the biggest Star Trek fan probably doesn’t need more than one phaser. You’ll also be able to get a judge on how they use these things. A fan of Lord of the Rings may like swords, but do they just like them to look pretty, or do they plan on hitting something with them?
It’s also a good chance to take general notes, just like you would for a non-geek. Clothing, for example, is always tricky business, but if you discover a store name they prefer, you can get a good baseline of sizing if you shop there. Be sure to hang on to receipts as well. It may be the perfect Battlestar Galactica tee, but the wrong size will mean little use.
Quest to Different Lands
If you’re not the same breed of Geek as your shopping target, it may become necessary to travel to stores you would not frequent yourself. It can be a bit intimidating walking in to a comic book store or the like for the first time. Remember, the denizens within are probably more scared of you than you are of them. Go forward with confidence, and do not be even a bit ashamed to ask for assistance. Odds are the employees at these locations will be well-versed in the geekery, and eager to lend a hand.
Sometimes, when your target’s particular fandom has been around for a few years, you can find absolutely FANTASTIC gifts for them at antique and consignment stores, often for a fairly inexpensive price. Geeky items tend to only have value to those that understand the geekdom, so cluttered chic stores may greatly undersell something special if they don’t get it. Moreover, it guarantees a unique gift!
If you can’t locate a local haunt, or are unsure of where to go, the internet is your friend. There are many sites dedicated to geekery, some entirely focused on whatever their fandom may be. For example, friend of Geek’s Corner (Tuesday nights @ 9:30PST) Madison runs a lovely Etsy shop called Madison Shafer Art, featuring some excellently geeky properties, from Disney parade performers to mermaid realness!
There’s also Madie of Dragon Alley Wands, selling magical tools both unique and aesthetically pleasing, perfect for the witch or wizard in your life.
And for our style aficionados, Nikki of Damsel Designed has the best in versatile garments, perfect for a dressy day in the parks (or a Disneybound or three!).
Supporting small businesses like the ones mentioned above is an excellent way not only to give a surefire exceptional gift, but to make sure their fandom is supported, which is ultimately one of the best things you can do for your geek.
Let’s Wrap This Gift-Giving Article Up
At the end of the day, geek or not, the person you’re buying the gift for is someone you care for, and the mere fact that you’re giving them anything at all is sure to make them happy.
Taking the time to pick a gift within their interests emphasizes how much they mean to you, especially if it’s not your particular cup of tea. With that in mind, I have two more general tips for you to consider.
First, I would highly recommend avoiding gift cards, unless they are for a very particular boutique store like the ones mentioned above. Even then, I would include a physical item as well, even if it’s a small, inexpensive thing. Gift cards tend to feel very impersonal, and while they can be useful, they don’t have a personal touch. Plus, everyone loves opening something. It’s a tactile thing.
Lastly, and I can’t stress this enough, don’t be afraid to make something yourself. Whatever your level of craftiness is, having something you took the time to make always means the world. All of my most favorite gifts are those that have been made for me by friends. Geeks are geeks because they care about something greatly, and that caring certainly extends to you, dear gift-giver.