Gift Guide: Ideas For Makers and Hackers

Image source: Ruth Suehle.

There’s not much shopping time left before Christmas, but it’s not too late to fill in the gaps with gifts for the makers and hackers (or would-be makers and hackers) on your list! Here are our recommendations, sorted by skill level.

Young Children

Image source: Amazon.

Snap Circuits (price varies)
You can get basic Snap Circuits sets for as little as $20, and they’re a great introduction to young ones with an interest in how things go together. You get to make lights light up, sounds buzz, and fans whir without soldering, but still with the ability to see what a complete circuit looks like.

Image source: No Starch Press.

Super Scratch Programming Adventure! (Covers Version 2): Learn to Program by Making Cool Games ($16)
I always recommend this book to parents who want to get their kids interested in programming. Scratch is very basic; it introduces the principles of programming with puzzle pieces and a clever cat. This book adds a comic book aspect and results in a finished game that the child made herself.


These items are ready for someone who has little to no programming or hardware experience.

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Makey Makey ($50)
If you’ve ever said to yourself, “Gee, self, wouldn’t it be great if somebody would turn this banana into a game controller?,” then the Makey Makey is just the thing you’re looking for. Basically, it turns anything into a keypress. Like what? The product description suggests ketchup, pencil graphite, your grandma, pets, and rain. Anything that can conduct at all. It’s a super-easy entry point to electronics.

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LilyTwinkle ($19.95)
This is the anybody-can-do-it path to LEDs in your hoodie. As long as you can hand sew without crossing the threads, you’re good to go. It comes with the board, battery, thread, and even the needles, as well as four white LEDs. Sew a path from the board to each LED, and you’re finished. Tip: The Firefly Jar Kit at Sparkfun is the same board and same price, but with a felt “jar” to give you a starter project. And you can always reuse the pieces later. Those ready for more complicated projects should check out the more advanced LilyPad board in the next section.

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Soldering Iron (price varies)
Any electronics builder is eventually going to need a soldering iron. There are several basic kits out there, including ones from Elenco, the company that makes the fantastic Snap Circuits toys. (Those are a great gift for the much younger future makers on your list.) Elenco also offers a Deluxe Learn To Solder Kit with more practical application practice.

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Electronic Dice Kit ($19.95)
This is a fun kit to build for someone who knows how to solder but not how to program, especially if they also happen to be gamers. About an hour of building, and they’ll have an LED D6 device.

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Metro-Gnome $14.95)
Similarly, the Metro-Gnome is a basic digital metronome for the music-loving maker on your list. It requires basic soldering skills (or serves as a learn-to-solder project).

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myDazzu ($19.95)
This programmable introduction to wearable electronics includes three LEDs and built-in light and temperature sensors. But you don’t have to know how to solder!


These are the gifts for someone a little bit older or a little bit more experienced. They don’t need to be programmers (yet), but these things will help get them there.

Image source: No Starch Press.

Python for Kids: A Playful Introduction to Programming ($21)
This is the book I recommend for kids who are a bit beyond Scratch, but not quite ready for the usual programming books.

Image source: O’Reilly Media.

Raspberry Pi—and related items ($35 and up)
A Raspberry Pi itself costs $35 from any number of retailers. If you’re looking to spend a bit more, you could buy a few accessories for a project you think might interest the recipient. There are also starter kits like this one from Adafruit, which are useful if you have no idea what to buy. However, in my opinion, they tend to be a bit overpriced for anyone who has any tinkering items at all already. Of course, I also have to mention my own book, Raspberry Pi Hacks: Tips & Tools for Making Things with the Inexpensive Linux Computer, which includes more than 60 tips and projects for users of every experience level. (See notes in the next section about whether you should get a Pi or an Arduino.)

Image source: Sparkfun.

ProtoSnap – LilyPad Development Board Complete ($69.95)
For those who would enjoy the LilyTwinkle mentioned above, but with a few more bells and whistles, the more robust LilyPad Protosnap includes more LEDs as well as a light sensor, temperature sensor, and buzzer.


These gift recipients know what they’re doing and are ready to build. They probably already have some programming experience.

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Bare Conductive Paint ($9.95)
Bare Paint is a water-based paint that lets you draw (well, paint) conductive lines on just about any surface where you can paint. It’s safe and way easier than acid etching, but it’s not waterproof.

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Arduino—and Lego! ($25 and up)
People often ask me whether they should get a Raspberry Pi or an Arduino. It’s an apples and oranges situation—the Pi is a full computer. Plug in an SD card and peripherals, and you can boot right into Linux. The Arduino is only a microcontroller. So for someone who has no idea what to do with it, it can be a lot less satisfying to dive right into after Christmas dinner. That said, if you do have someone in the family with more patience and/or programming experience, I recommend also picking up Arduino and LEGO Projects, a book of projects you can build with Lego bricks and enhance with an Arduino. There’s even a TARDIS project on the cover!

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DIY Gamer Kit ($56.95)
If you want to give a ready-to-build Arduino-based gift, this is a good starting point. It’s a tiny screen (8×8!), but you can upload your own game’s code to an Arduino and play it on this board. Tutorials are available for those who need some inspiration.

Membership to a local hackerspace (price varies)
Of course, anyone can benefit from this gift, but I put it under the advanced listings because they tend to not be inexpensive. If you’re not sure where yours is, check the listings at

GeekMom’s 2014 Gift Guide of Clothes and Household Stuff

Collage: Cathe Post.

It’s Black Friday! Today, we have a hodgepodge of items to recommend for the geek on your holiday shopping list. Anything from something to use in the home to wearables are included in this list. (Oh, there’s even a tasty drink, too.)

Since it is Black Friday and there are internet deals to be had, you may want to check out our other gift guides…

Gift Guide of Movies
Gift Guide of STEM Toys and More!
Gift Guide of Geeky Gadgets
Gift Guide of Video Games and Apps
Gift Guide of Table Top and Board Games
Gift Guide of Lego Bricks
Geeky DIY Gift Ideas

And now for today’s guide…

Things to Wear and Bags:

Image: Dakine Dakine.

Dakine Grom 13L 14S. Dakine Grom is a great backpack for your day-to-day needs. One GeekMom uses hers to carry daily essentials including Pride and Prejudice, an iPad mini and keyboard case, a journal, a wallet, and backup drives for work. Each bag is made 100 percent from recycled plastic bottles and comes with a lifetime warranty. $35

Image: Cathe Post.

Minecraft Creeper Backpack. Would you like to adopt a Creeper to be part of your family? A character who is known for blowing up may not sound appealing, but this backpack holds about as much as you might think a bag of holding can handle. It’s also super-cute, too. GeekMom Cathe adopted one! $39.99

ScotteVest Travel Vest
Image: Scottevest.

Scottevest Multi-pocketed Clothing. Free up room in your carry-on or even leave the extra bag at home. Scottevest’s products have almost endless, specially-designed pockets to hold all of your gadgets, activities, and reading material. Varies

Image: Her Universe
Image: Her Universe.

Dalek A-line Dress. It’s too late for Halloween, but this Dalek dress is still fun to wear at holiday parties and family gatherings. Pair it with a long-sleeved shirt and leggings for the cold and you’ll be ready to “exterminate” some homemade pumpkin pie. $39.45

Image: Isotoner
Image: Isotoner.

Isotoner Gloves. Isotoner’s SmarTouch gloves, for both men and women, come in a variety of styles and prices for tech-savvy folks who don’t want to remove their gloves to interact with their touch devices, including phones. Keeping you warm and comfortable while you stay connected, Isotoner gloves have been popular for decades, with good reason. Varies

Image: ThinkGeek.

ThinkGeek Backpack of Holding. If ThinkGeek’s traditional Bag of Holding isn’t right for you, if you need more of a rucksack-type of bag but still want to carry a laptop, then the new Backpack of Holding has got you covered. With a few handy-to-access exterior pouches and some internal pockets, most of this bag is one big space to hold your overnight clothes, shoes, and toiletries, or perhaps your hearty food and supplies for a day hike. And there’s a padded sleeve, of course, for the ubiquitous laptop. $49.99

Misfit Flash
Image: Amazon.

Misfit Flash. Misit Flash is a Bluetooth activity tracker that doesn’t require any charging. It’s the sister product to the Misfit Shine and is made for the sports enthusiast. $75

Image: ChicoBag.

Chico Reusable Bags. Practical gifts can be pretty and fun, too! Now is the time to stock up on the sturdy reusable bags that wad up into tiny pouches and are easy to take with you anywhere. Some varieties come with a carabiner clip that is easy to snap onto the outside of a purse or diaper bag. ChicoBags make it easy to say “no” to plastic bags and are a handy way to always have a bag nearby when you need one—for groceries to library books to kid gear. The holidays are the perfect time to gift this practical item to a favorite friend, teacher, or family member. 4/$20


Image: Friday Afternoon.

Friday Afternoon Tea. Do you know a tea geek? Even if you aren’t geeky about tea, Friday Afternoon offers many geek-themed flavors of tea that are sure to please any pallet. With Harry Potter, Pirate, and even Cylon-themed teas, these sweet and savory flavors are a wonderful addition to any gift. $12 and up

For the Home:

WeMo LED Starter Kit
Image: Belkin.

WeMo LED Light Bulb Starter Set. Connected home light timers begone! The WeMo LED Lighting system will allow you to program lighting in your house while you’re there or away. Have lights turn on when the sun goes down or at certain times. You can even change your mind with a tap of a finger. $99.99

Image: Fitbit
Image: Fitbit.

FitBit Flex and Aria Scale. Combine a FitBit Aria Scale and a Flex (or any of FitBit’s other pedometer-type products) to keep track of your fitness and weight. Completely integrated together, these products help you reach your goals in a way that any data lover will adore. $99.95 and $129.95

Polaroid Cube
Image: PolaroidCube.

Polaroid Cube. For the action-cam enthusiast without the cash for a GoPro, the PolaroidCube is a great option. What we love about this camera is how tiny it is without sacrificing quality in terms of video and picture. $99

Image: Amazon.

Piper Home Security and Smart Switches. Piper is a home security solution for those who like to keep an eye on things when they are out and about. With an Android or iOS device, you can check in on your home and even yell into the device to get a pet’s attention. Piper also makes a selection of smart switches that let you program them to turn on or off while you’re away. Staying out late, but forgot to leave the light on? Use the free Piper app to turn a light on remotely. $199

3D Deco Light
Image: Amazon.

3D Déco Lights. 3D Deco Lights make for fun and geeky nightlights. One GeekMom has a Raphael up in her office at work, while her husband and son enjoy the Transformers line at home. They are battery-operated and give just enough light be a proper nightlight. $49

Image: Patricia Vollmer.

WeatherFlow Wind Meter. The WeatherFlow Wind Meter is not just for weather enthusiasts, but also for any hobbyists who depend on accurate wind data, from R/C craft operators to windsurfers. Simply plug it into your favorite iOS or Android device, download the WeatherFlow app, and you’re on your way. At only $34.95, this wind meter is not only affordable, but rugged for many outdoor activities. $34.95

Image: Oregon Scientific.

Oregon Scientific Weather@Home Bluetooth Weather Station. Oregon Scientific has been making affordable, user-friendly home weather stations for decades; it’s a trusted name in the industry. The Weather@Home series of products allows users to easily access their weather station information using a smart device’s Bluetooth Low Energy connection along with the Weather@Home app. This weather station has an outdoor transmitter so you can access outdoor and indoor temperatures in one convenient location. It’s a great gift! $60.21

Image: Goal Zero.

Goal Zero Solar Chargers. This is one of the very best items on the market for solar charging. It’s a great beginner kit that pulls power from the sun to be used to charge phones, cameras, and other electronic devices, as well as store energy in a small (included) power tube that fits into a pocket. The flat charging panels are lightweight and easy to attach to a campsite tree or hang off the back of a hiker’s backpack. One GeekMom writer charges hers on the back porch and always has “power to go.” $120

Photo: Goal Zero
Photo: Goal Zero.

Goal Zero Rechargable Flashlight. If you’re tired of never having a flashlight that actually works and buying expensive batteries that you can never find when you need them, pick up a few of these rechargeable flashlights. Lay them in a sunny window during the day and get hours of useful light at night. It’s a great gift for kids (bedside table for nighttime power outages) and teens. A few in your glove box wouldn’t be a bad idea, either. The price is right to stock up, especially when you subtract the cost and hassle of buying batteries. $14.99

Photo: Goal Zero
Photo: Goal Zero.

Goal Zero Lighthouse Lantern. Meet the lantern that can do it all. Charge it with a Goal Zero solar panel, USB, or hand crank, and get hours of light, using no batteries. The lantern can be set on a dimmer light to extend lighting time, as well as charge cell phones and other small electronic devices. This will prove to be the most useful device you own, in a home power outage or family camping trip. Kids might even love “camping” with it while playing in their bedrooms after daylight hours. $79.95

Image: Logitech.
Logitech Harmony Ultimate Home Touch Screen Remote. Logitech’s latest incarnation of its awesome multi-device remote can be programmed to control your lights, door locks, thermostats, and more. They’re really going for a home automation system here, not just a universal remote (which will program up to 15 separate home entertainment devices). You can also use your smartphone as a control. What’s a better gift than the ability to turn on whatever you’d like from the comfort of your couch? it’s available in black or white. $349.99

GeekMom’s 2014 Gift Guide of Music and Listening

Music and listening
Collage: Cathe Post.

There are so many audible geeky things! Between geeky music and geeky/techy listening devices, there is no end to the gift possibilities. Read on…


Nightlight Daylight. Daylight is a 30-song double CD set for children and others by master guitarist Muriel Anderson, featuring some of the world’s best musicians. The Nightlight CD offers soothing restful music, the Daylight CD is packed with lively tunes. A fiber-optic cover lights up with stars and fireflies when the moon is pressed. It’s a great gift for parents as well as little ones. $29.99

Image: Rockabye Baby.

Rockabye Baby. Have someone on your list with a little one? Help nurture those budding musical tastes, with the sweet sounds of a Rockabye Baby CD. The popular music label has made it a mission to make “rock music baby-friendly and kids’ music adult-friendly.” Each full-length CD takes popular artists and turns their hits into lullabies to help baby literally rock themselves to sleep. There are CDs with jams from The Beatles, The Clash, Pearl Jam, Pink, Rush, The Police, Led Zeppelin, Dave Matthews, and too many others to list here. $14.99 each

Image: The String Arcade.

The String Arcade. Give the gift of a little earworm. What started as a Kickstarter project is now a full-length CD, filled with all sorts of classic video game tunes. However, the hook here is that everything on this album is played by a string quartet. It features a total of 15 original arrangements, as well as two bonus CD tracks. That lineup includes “hits” from Galaga, Legend of Zelda, Sonic the Hedgehog, Minecraft, and more. $16.91 


Pimsleur Foreign Language Instruction. Learning a new language is a great way to expand your mind and set an important example for your kids. Better yet, learn a new language with your kids. Have German heritage? Planning a trip to Japan? Found a new friend who speaks little English? Pimsleur has more language instruction programs than I’ve heard of languages.  Price Varies

Image: The Doubleclicks.

Dimetrodon by The Doubleclicks. The geeky-sister-music-duo had a very successful Kickstarter this year and were able to release Dimetrodon. If you are not familiar with their music, check out their site. Find them on YouTube. They. Are. Awesome. $16.95

My ukulele. Photo by Ariane Coffin.
Image: Ariane Coffin.

Ukulele. Musical instruments tend to be expensive. Very expensive. Ukuleles are fun. Very fun. Also, they’re totally not expensive for a musical instrument! Get yourself or your loved one a tiny ukulele, load up a bunch of YouTube instructional videos, and learn a new skill with very little start-up cost! Warning: Ukes are totally addictive. $30 and up

casio 1
Image: Casio.

Casio CTK-2400 Keyboard. Piano is both simple and quite complicated. Simple to make a note or two or even a basic song, but complicated to master. This keyboard has instruction built in, along with plenty of fun sampling to keep you and/or your kids jamming to existing or brand-new songs. $124.66 for the set with stand, etc.; $99.99 for just the keyboard


JBL Synchros S700. The Synchros S700 luxury over-the-ear headphones sets itself apart from the other Synchros models in that it’s rechargeable. The headphones have a built-in Li-ion battery that will provide the LiveStage signal processing for up to 28 hours of continuous listening. $299.99


JBL Reflect. The Reflect headphones were designed with the headphones-wearing athlete in mind. One of the GeekMoms took these headphones out for several runs this past month and was absolutely enamored with their comfort and sound quality. $99.95

Image: Amazon.


JBL Synchros E10. The Synchros E10 headphones are a basic model of in-ear headphones, particularly well-suited for listening to your favorite tunes while on your commute or while flying. They are super-lightweight and will coil up nice and compact for easy travel. $39.95

The JBL Synchros over-ear Bluetooth headphones are super-comfy for all-day-at-your-desk wear. Photo: Patricia Vollmer.
Image: Patricia Vollmer.

JBL Synchros E40BT. The JBL Synchros E40BTs are over-ear wireless Bluetooth headphones, available in a variety of colors. One of the GeekMoms thoroughly enjoyed these headphones in an office or commuter environment; she wore them for several four-hour periods listening to audio books and online job training with virtually no discomfort. They are highly recommended for those who don’t want the constraint of a cord. $149.95

Image: id America

id America TouchTone Bluetooth Speaker. The id America TouchTone Bluetooth wireless speaker is a great value for the price. With an MSRP of only $79.99, it provides capable sound anywhere you want, without draining your bank account. Unlike the other Bluetooth speakers we’ve seen, the TouchTone talks to you! It can be used with your smart devices not only as a standard speaker, but also as a telephone speaker. $79.99

Image: Amazon

V-MODA M-100 and VMODA XS. V-MODA has a great line of headphones for the headphone junkie. One of the GeekMoms loves her comfortable Crossfade M-100 headphones because they cover her ears nicely, while Dakster’s 9-year-old son loves the XS model because they fit his ears just right. Both models come with a sturdy case and have noise isolating features. $296 for the M-100 and $200 for the XS

Phiaton Headphones
Image: Amazon

Phiaton BT 220 NC. The active noise canceling on the Phiaton BT 220 NC earphones will block out 95 percent of surrounding noise. They are easy to pair with Apple devices and the battery lasts for at least 9 hours and then some. $159

Photo: Boom Urchin
Photo: Boom Urchin

Boom Urchin Portable Speakers. This handy little splashproof, wireless, hardy speaker will get lots of use in your household. Take your music (or wireless call) in the bathroom while you bathe the toddlers, hang it from a campsite tree with its handy hook, or just move it around the house as you go about the day. It comes in fun colors and is priced to be one of the most inexpensive exciting tech gifts under the tree. $42 and up

Image: Amazon

Crosley Cruiser Portable Turntable. The Crosley Cruiser portable turntable is a fun and vintage addition to any music library. Thanks to it, one of the GeekMoms has been exploring the wonderful world of records with her son. There’s a fun selection of records on eBay and more current hits, like My Little Pony, at HotTopic for all to enjoy. It’s very easy to set up for record novices, too. $79.95

Image: Amazon

TMNT Ukulele by Peavey Electronics. One of the GeekMoms says that her son loves his TMNT ukulele and enjoys making up his own tunes. It measures in at 20 inches and is made of real wood. $28

Image: JBL

JBL Charge 2 Bluetooth Speaker. The JBL Charge 2 follows up on their 2013 popular Bluetooth model in offering compact, yet powerful, wireless sound. Expect the Charge 2 to be a bit larger and heavier, in part because of the larger bass ports that will actually vibrate when the bass is powerful enough. Like the original Charge model, expect up to 12 hours of playtime, speakerphone capability, and the ability to charge other devices via USB. Another feature that makes the Charge 2 a great gift is the ability to connect up to three Bluetooth users at once to a single speaker, allowing multiple playlists to become available at once. $149.99

Image: Amazon

Harman/Kardon Esquire Mini Bluetooth Speaker. We have one word for this portable Bluetooth speaker: “sexy.” That sounds strange, but the trim size, sophisticated design, and powerful sound turn the Harman Esquire Mini into a holiday must-have. The size of a Samsung 5 or iPhone 6 Plus, this speaker easily fits into your pocket, ready to grace audiences with its elegance. Not only does this speaker work to provide sound for your favorite music or video, but you can also use the Esquire Mini’s speakerphone capabilities as a classy-looking office conferencing system. In addition, you can charge your devices with a USB connection. The kickstand easily folds into the unit when not in use, and the Esquire includes a real leather strap for easy carrying. $149.99

Image: JBL

JBL Flip 2 Bluetooth Speaker. JBL’s Flip 2 is an upgraded version of their popular, affordable entry-level 2012 portable Bluetooth speaker. About the size of a soda can, this speaker will provide about 5 hours of playtime and can be quickly recharged with the included micro-USB cable. The sound is powerful coming from such a small size, and the Flip 2 can also be used as a speakerphone. The Flip 2 comes with a lightweight hardshell carrying case, which is an improvement over the neoprene case that was included with the original version two years ago. The variety of colors makes this a fun gift for all ages. $79.95

GeekMom’s 2014 Table Top and Board Game Gift Guide

board game gide
GeekMom’s 2014 Table Top Game Gift Guide. Collage: Cathe Post

With hits like Wil Wheaton’s YouTube show TableTop, and major retail chains like Target and Amazon featuring games from the show, it is no surprise that board games are prime gifts to give during the holiday season.

I wanted to add all of the games from last year’s gift guide (as I played several of them—like Pathfinder ACG—multiple times throughout the year), but instead I will just say that the games from last year are still highly recommended, along with new games GeekMom writers have played this year.

20 Express. Image: Blue Orange Games

20 Express  Great for the teacher on your list, 20 Express is a fun large-group guessing game that sneaks in number-line and math facts. $16.59

Gravity Maze. Image: Thinkfun

Gravity Maze This award winning game, from the makers of Laser Maze, is marked as a single-player game but would be great to keep one or many players entertained and puzzling for hours. Who would have thought a marble run could make your brain hurt…in a good way! $23.99

Krosmaster Arena. Image: Kickstarter

Krosmaster Arena This game is worth the price tag. Made for family gaming, the rules are mini-game boards that prove as a learn-while-you-play tutorial. With miniatures and cute cartoon cardboard cut-outs, this game feels like a table top version of a turn-based RPG video game. Once mastered, there are expansions available, too. $54.18

Image: Crash Games
Image: Crash Games

Council of Verona Backstab your foes and try to get ahead in this fantastic card game set in Romeo and Juliet‘s Verona, Italy. Will the lovers be united? Will the families betray each other? It is within your power to affect the outcome. $14.99

Damage Report. Image: Break From Reality Games

Damage Report You and your friends are the crew on a heavily-damaged spaceship. Can you repair it before the life-support gives out or the enemy craft blows you to pieces? This real-time strategy game is an exciting adventure for two to six players. There are several missions of varying degrees of difficulty and lots of fun little bits to pass around. $52.31

Gravwell. Image: Renegade Games

Gravwell In this game, which loosely (okay, not really) follows the laws of gravitational pull, use periodic table elements (again, not quite accurate) to boost your way out of the black hole. $31.50

Happy Birthday. Image: North Star Games

Happy Birthday In the same vein as Apples to Apples and Dixit, Happy Birthday is a great game for kids in a small or large group to judge their favorite and least favorite white-elephant type gifts. This would also make a great stocking stuffer. $12.17

machi-koro IDW Games
Machi Koro. Image: IDW Games

Machi Koro  Enhance your city in this nail-biter of a resource collecting game. $23.20

Machine of Death. Image: Machine of Death

Machine of Death This morbid, cooperative party game places you and your friends in the role of a group of assassins who need to creatively use the tools you are given to make sure your target dies in the manner fate has determined. If you need more reason to add this to your gift list, I can give you eight. $39.99

Paizo Publishing, LLC
Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Skull & Shackles Base Set. Image: Paizo

Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Skull & Shackles Base Set The second game in the Pathfinder ACG series offers more characters and more difficulty as your party of adventurers travels the seas in search of booty and trouble. $38.48

Game Salute
Pixel Lincoln. Image: Game Solute


Pixel Lincoln You are an 8-bit time-travelling President Lincoln in this retro-video game style deck builder. Since the game offers different level cards, difficulty can be set easier for family gaming or harder for experienced players. $30.00
Rampage. Image:

Rampage (Terror in Meeple City)  Agility and reflex control is the basis of the game Rampage. Flick, drop, and blow buildings full of meeples to the ground so you can get them in your monster-belly! $39.53

ROFL. Image: Renegade Games

ROFL Illustrated by the amazing and talented John Kovalic, this game challenges you to encode phrases with the shortest number of characters possible, and then decode those phrases made by others. It’s trickier than it sounds! $20.66

TMNT Monopoly
TMNT Monopoly. Image: Dakster Sullivan

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Monopoly The makers of TMNT Monopoly did a great job putting everything turtle fans love about the show into the game. $27.00

SJ Games
Zombie Dice Expansions. Images: Steve Jackson Games/Collage: Cathe Post


Zombie Dice Expansions If you have the award-winning insanely-popular Zombie Dice, try adding Zombie Dice 2 – Double Feature and Zombie Dice 3 School Bus Game to the stockings this year. $7-10

GeekMom Gift Guide: Essentials for the New Mom

This year the holidays have come faster than the Millennium Falcon in warp speed (well, when it works, right?). And considering I have a six month old daughter, I guess that makes sense.

While I might be behind in every aspect of my life at this point, and up to my elbows in diapers and onesies, I’d like to think I’ve got the inside track into what to get the geeky new mom on your list this holiday season. It’s a list that contains a variety of items, from the simple to the somewhat elaborate. Pampering is important, especially after the Herculean task of childbirth!

Image by: Petunia Pickle Bottom – The Wistful Weekender bag, in Santiago Sunset

Petunia Pickle Bottom Diaper Bags
As if I needed any proof of my GeekMom status, I crowdsourced my diaper bag on Twitter. After going a few months with a hand-me-down that was passable but not exactly ideal, I needed something new for my trip to California with the baby in tow. This unusually named company piqued my interest, and though I was a little wary with the price, the patterns and design changed my mind. After much deliberation I went with the Wistful Weekender.

I don’t know what I would have done without this bag on my trip, that not only holds all the baby gear (so many inside pockets!) but fits a laptop, my iPhone, and a variety of other things. One Amazon reviewer claimed it was a “Mary Poppins bag” and it is exactly that. I’m pretty sure there’s something magical sewn into the seams, because everything from diaper changes to feedings to grabbing a tube of lipstick or my iPhone went down as smoothly as a spoonful of sugar. Absolutely worth every penny. And I get compliments on it everywhere. Seriously. Compliments on a diaper bag.

The iPhone 5. Image by Apple

The iPhone 5
from $199 (varies by carrier)
Okay, so first, I don’t actually have an iPhone 5. I have an iPhone 4S. But the new one probably makes more sense if you’re getting a gift, right? Anyway. I was slow to the iPhone bandwagon. I resisted, for a number of reasons, for a very long time. Then, just a few months before my daughter was born, I broke down when my Droid X had a colossal meltdown. And if there’s one item that’s changed my life in the last ten years, it’s the iPhone (sorry MacBook Pro…).

I’m not the first nor the last person to extol the virtues of this phone, and I don’t think I need to sell it really. I’ll just say that it’s saved my sanity. Being disconnected from the world is never a good idea when you have a kid, as I learned enduring postpartum depression with my first child. The iPhone’s kept me plugged in without going overboard, allowed me to have fun, and helped me stay informed and entertained these last six months. Particular props to Flipboard and Pinterest apps. Not to mention it’s helped me document the first six months of my daughter’s life, in photos and videos, effortlessly. I don’t think I could have survived without you, little phone. Continue reading GeekMom Gift Guide: Essentials for the New Mom

GeekMom 2011 Holiday Gift Guide: Etsy Gifts Part 1

Here at GeekMom we love handmade gifts and there is nowhere better to shop for something unique and lovingly made than on Etsy. The GeekMoms have rounded up some of our favourite Etsy stores to shop at this holiday season.

Art Geek

Art Prints © The Gorgonist
Art Prints © The Gorgonist

The Gorgonist makes stunning beautiful art prints featuring Firefly, X-Men, Lord of The Rings, Professor Layton and so many more that I couldn’t even begin to list them all. There’s also a range of steampunk paintings to choose from.


Retro Sci-fi and Fantasy Album Covers © Joebot

Joebot creates retro LP (remember them?) artwork based on sci-fi and fantasy classics. The prints are 12.5×12.5 inches so they look like “real” album covers and feature imaginative band names such as “River Tam & The Fireflies” and “The Frakkin Toasters”. You can even buy a double pack which includes the “back” of the album with a full track listing.

Cross Stitch Geek

Cross Stitch Patterns © Velvet Elvii
Cross Stitch Patterns © Velvet Elvii

I am a sucker for cross stitch patterns, the nerdier the better, and they don’t get much nerdier than these designs by Velvet Elvii. The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide, Harry Potter, Portal 2, The Hunger Games and even Inspector Spacetime all have patterns here. One of my favourites is a QR code that actually scans (assuming you stitch it correctly) to read “Home Sweet Home”. Be aware that some items in the store are NSFW although the words are crossed out on the main listings.

Cross Stitch Patterns © Crafty Companion
Cross Stitch Patterns © Crafty Companion

Crafty Companion is one of those shops that makes me squeal with excitement whenever I see that they have updated. In fact I just did when I went on to get the images for this post and spotted a new Christmas TARDIS pattern. Must. Buy. I have bought nearly every kit in the store now and the rest are on my “to buy” list because they are such good quality patterns that create amazing designs. The Star Wars/Shakespeare pattern is the hardest thing I have ever stitched and right now I am slowly working away at the Hogwarts Express.

Cross Stitch Patterns © Wee Little Stitches
Cross Stitch Patterns © Wee Little Stitches

Pixel art is very popular at the moment and it lends itself perfectly to cross stitch. these little pixel people from Wee Little Stitches work really well and the range of characters available is huge, from all manner of comic book heroes and villains through Buffy and The Princess Bride to Doctor Horrible. The shop also sells a variety of phrases and kawaii designs as well as the comic book alphabet above.

Cute Geek

Peg Dolls © Randomly Generated
Peg Dolls © Randomly Generated

There was a time when peg dolls were a common toy; that time has now passed but these peg dolls make me want to start collecting them. Available as both large scale sets and individual characters, Randomly Generated has a doll for everyone on your list from Top Gear’s Stig, to most iconic horror movie characters to Ziggy Stardust. As the company is based in Scotland, there are lots of British characters here too, not just American favourites like Doctor Who but lesser known ones like the cast of Red Dwarf too.

Kawaii Robot Sculptures © Lubu
Kawaii Robot Sculptures © lubu

Kawaii robots. To be honest I’m not sure if I even have to write more here, but I will. These adorable little robots by lubu are made from polymer clay and beads and they stand around an inch high. Elf bots, Marie Antoinette bots, Ninja Turtle bots and Harry Botter, there’s a lot of variety and on top of all that there’s a range of kawaii sculptures too. I’m particularly taken with the Lump of Christmas Coal but the pumpkin and gingerbread men are frakkin adorable too. Finally there’s a full robot nativity set too if you’re looking to geek up your nativity scene this year.













Toddler Dresses © Wild Things Dresses
Toddler Dresses © Wild Things Dresses











Wild Things is a clothing label which sells handmade toddler dresses in bright, retro designs – I adore this rainbow dress, it makes me wish I had a daughter. There is also a range of animal based character play dresses, aprons and accessories. The label has a Scandinavian feel to it and the vintage styles and patterns are a welcome change from much of the clothes available for little girls on the high street which often appear far too adult for many people’s taste.


Cute Bugs and Snakes © Weird Bug Lady
Cute Bugs and Snakes © Weird Bug Lady

Bugs and snakes may not be traditionally associated with “cute” but the items at Weird Bug Lady definitely are. The store stocks a range of plushie snakes, bugs and fossils as well as drawings, keychains and Christmas stockings. Zoologists will enjoy the fact that these creatures are entomologically (and anatomically) correct whilst kids will enjoy the fact that they make great cuddly friends – and that giant black widow spider would be great for scaring dad too.

Needle Felting Kits © Woolbuddy
Needle Felting Kits © Woolbuddy
Adorable made easy! These Woolbuddy kits come with everything you need including wool, felting needles, and step-by-step instructions to make squeal-worthy little critters. Great for beginners and experts alike.