With Christmas right around the corner, I thought it would be fun (and hopefully helpful) to put together a list of inexpensive gift ideas for geeks, all for under $10. (And I’m not going to cheat and mention $10 gift cards, either!)
Pocket LED Flashlight
Every geek needs a good flashlight, and even better if it fits in our pocket! Great for wrangling with hard-to-see computer connections or venturing behind our A/V systems to connect new gear, a bright LED flashlight is a must-have. X-treme Geek sells a nice mini LED flashlight for just $9.99.
If there is one universal truth, it’s that geeks can ALWAYS use more batteries. Between our wireless keyboards, wireless mouses, digital cameras, wireless game controllers, A/V remotes, Nintendo DSs, PSPs, laser pointers, gizmos, gadgets–wait, what was I saying? Oh right: MOAR BATTERIES! You can’t go wrong giving geeks a nice big pack of AA or AAA batteries. A tad impersonal, but extremely practical and definitely appreciated–particularly during those moments we realize our battery supply is critically low and we dread thought of actually getting up to change the channel.
We love our Sharpies. They’re great for everything from labeling the latest disc of pirated legally downloadable software you burned to Sharpie-ing perverse things all over your friend’s face when he falls asleep drunk on your couch. (Don’t ask.) From Ultra Fine Points to Sharpie Minis to good ‘ol Original, there’s a Sharpie product in a wide range of colors for every geek’s Sharpie fetish.
Over 11 million people play World of Warcraft. Odds are you know at least one of them, and have no idea what to get them for Christmas. The Blizzard Authenticator is a must-have accessory for anyone that plays WoW. It protects their account from keyloggers, trojans, and other malicious attacks. It’s a great gift and for just $6.50, it’s also super inexpensive.
Moleskine Pocket Journals
The “legendary notebook used for the past two centuries” (if you believe their marketing bull), Moleskine brand notebooks are a favorite low-tech vice of writers, artists, and geeks to ceremoniously commit our thoughts and sketches to paper. Though the full-size notebooks are a bit pricey, you can score a pack of 3 cashier pocket Moleskines for about $8, blank or lined. These pocket-sized journals are perfect for keeping in your pocket (shocker) to make quick lists or register random ideas on the fly.
For the D&D nerds, Magic players, and board game geeks on your list, a set of shiny new dice makes for a very thoughtful and useful gift. What’s your geek’s favorite color? Odds are you can find a cool-looking set of dice to match. Board Game Central has a great selection of 6-sided and d20 dice sets all for under $10.
Whether it’s in the form of coffee, chai tea, energy drinks, or soda, most of us geeks require an endless supply of caffeine to help us through our late night coding projects, marathon gaming sessions, and the abysmal work day that follows. Though cases of the really good stuff like Bawls and Jolt are on the pricey side, for less than $10 you can still give your geek a smaller-serving caffeinated shot in the arm. How about gifting a sampler of 20 oz. energy drinks, or a trio of coffees or teas? Also try Pacific Chai, Monster Energy, and there’s always Red Bull.
Comic books have evolved so much over the years, it’s perhaps more appropriate to think of them as readable works of art than the humble colorful distractions they used to be. As the quality has gone up, so has the price, but you can still walk into any comic shop and pick up some great new issues with that glorious new comic smell for less than $10. And with so many different titles to choose from, you’re sure to find something for everyone. Who knows, you might even get your geek hooked on an awesome new series. There’s also manga for the Japanophile on your list.
Between writing, brainstorming, troubleshooting, or figuring out why our damn program isn’t working, geeks need some kind of immediate stress reliever/creativity spark by our side. Give your geek some inexpensive “thinker toys” for his or her desk. Try some Silly Putty, Play Doh, Koosh balls, or perhaps a “thinky Slinky”? Or go for the classic Rubik’s Cube (though it may cause more stress than it alleviates). Anything goes, as long as it’s small, mildly entertaining, and keeps our hands and minds momentarily busy.
Computer Cleaning Products
Geeks love their computers and gadgets but it can be a neverending battle to keep them clean. Crumbs in the keyboard, fingerprints on the laptop screen; these are our perpetual annoyances. Which is why any geek can appreciate a little help to keep our LCD monitors and iPhone touchscreens sparkly clean. Staples sells a nice little keyboard brush for less than $5 and a mini screen cleaner for under $10.
Hope I’ve given you some good ideas for the geeks on your Christmas shopping list!