As the biggest gift-giving holiday of the year quickly approaches, many of us are still left with the question of what to get the geek (or geeks) left on the shopping list. Sure, you might know exactly what they want, but how do you summon the means (or will) to cough up the money it would take to purchase the kind of gadgets that would truly make them happy?
Contrary to popular belief, you can make a geek very happy with a gift that doesn’t require batteries, an outlet, or any other external power source. There are plenty of creative gift ideas that can put a smile on even the most critical geek’s face without breaking the bank. Believe it or not, some of the best gift ideas can be found for under $40.
Here are five low-tech gifts for geeks that are sure to make them very happy this holiday season.
Buckyballs — $35
Magnets and geeks go hand-in-hand. The age-old question as to how the blank they actually work may stump the masses, but a science geek knows. Buckyballs are a larger, magnetic representation of fullerenes. Fullerenes are spherical carbon molecules that are a favorite among science geeks.
This amazing gift can keep a geek’s hands occupied for hours on end. Creating unique shapes, creative designs, and simply playing with the miracle of magnetism is great fun for just about anyone. The best thing about them: They don’t require batteries or a Wi-Fi connection.
Portal 2 Warning Sign Coasters — $20
Few gaming series have captured the hearts and minds of both casual and hardcore gaming geeks like Portal. From the ending credits of the first release featuring an iconic song about science by Jonathan Coulton to a trip through the original training facility in Portal 2, this series truly caters to the science geek in all of us.
These incredible little coasters feature the various warning signs you encounter throughout the testing process. Whether it’s a long drop or a springboard that launches you into orbit, these coasters are sure to give fair warning to any testers that may visit your home.
This is a great gift that serves as a great conversation piece in any home. Not only that, but with no moving parts or batteries to replace, these coasters are sure to last through many years of use keeping those unsightly rings from forming on the table.
Critical Hit LED D20 Die — $15
Low-tech doesn’t always mean it can’t light up. In fact, that’s all this gadget does. When you roll a 20 on this 20-sided tabletop role-playing die, it blinks to indicate that you have struck a hearty blow to your enemies, succeeded at some great feat of skill, or simply lucked out and avoided being poisoned by the trap your clumsy rogue just triggered.
Dungeons and Dragons players will enjoy this gift, and you don’t have to break the bank to give it to them. Rolling a critical hit (or save) can make or break an adventure, so having this little added bonus is a fitting reminder of just how awesome that roll really is.
This is a great, inexpensive gift for any geek on your list who likes taking part tabletop role-playing games.
Titanium Spork — $9
Few eating utensils are as geeky as the titanium spork. This multi-purpose tool is tough enough to withstand the harsh environment of a geek’s bag of holding, yet elegant enough not to attract too much attention at the mess hall of your local starship.
Titanium is a durable, hypoallergenic metal that can last for years beyond traditional (less geeky) sterling silver flatware. Not only that, but it’s much harder to rust, meaning it will look just as good after five years of sitting at the bottom of your book bag as it did the day you bought it.
Whether you’re chomping down on a cup of ramen or a plate of Gagh delivered directly from the Klingon embassy, this spork will get the job done and ensure that you’re never without a proper eating utensil.
As a gift, it’s perfect. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a geek alive who hasn’t found themselves trapped in a situation where eating utensils are nowhere to be found. The spork is the ultimate all-in-one solution to this problem, and sure to be one of the most functional gifts they’ll receive this holiday season.
Inka Pen — $20
Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you really needed something to write with, but couldn’t find a pen anywhere in your bag? How about when you do find a pen only to discover that it has dried out or even leaked during its time sitting idle?
Pens are among the greatest gift any geek can receive. No matter how much they might enjoy their iPad, laptop, or smartphone, the age-old practice of putting pen to paper is still a preferred pastime amongst the technically inclined.
Does your geek have Post-it notes and various other writing surfaces strewn about their desk at work? Is their home office a virtual tree graveyard? Chances are, they’re writing things constantly. Having a pen with them that is truly portable and readily available at a moment’s notice is a huge plus, especially when they’ve got to jot down the next big startup idea on a napkin at the local coffee shop.
Give your geeky friend a gift that they can truly use. The Inka Pen is versatile, portable, and capable of writing upside down. After all, the ink cartridge is pressurized just like the Space Pen, making it the perfect writing utensil at any altitude, temperature, or angle.
Gift giving doesn’t have to be tied to a specific holiday or time of year. It should, however, be as personal as it is useful. Geeks love gifts, but these tokens of friendship don’t have to be expensive or technically advanced. Sometimes, it’s the simple things that are the most appreciated over time. Every time your friend, love, or relative takes out their nifty little low-tech gadget, they’ll remember how awesome it was that you thought enough to send it their way.