Father’s Day Gift Guide 2015

Image: Dakster Sullivan
Image: Dakster Sullivan

Welcome to the Father’s Day Gift Guide 2015! We have a great line-up of suggestions from all of us here at GeekMom. Whether your dad is into books, movies, clothes, or tech gear, we have something for everyone.

Books and Movies

Inside The SideShow Studio – $18.50
Inside The SideShow Studio gives you an insider’s look behind the doors of one of the best makers of collectibles out there. After flipping through the book myself, I’m a bit jealous of the offices and freedom the employees have in their workspace. Along the tour, readers get to see the offices of some of the influential and the creative minds behind their favorite collectibles.

Find Momo Coast to Coast \ Image Amazon
Find Momo Coast to Coast \ Image Amazon

Find Momo Coast to Coast – $10.49
Find Momo Coast to Coast is an adult version of Where’s Waldo but Waldo is a real dog and he’s hiding in real pictures his owner took of him on their road trips. It’s a fun and challenging book that will give dad a run for his money while looking at some great photography.

Ghost Hunters Season 9 on DVD Part 1 and Part 2– $24.99
Ghost Hunters is a fun show that my husband and I enjoy watching together. In fact, it’s the only paranormal show I can handle. Maybe it’s the geek in me that loves watching Steve and Tango set up the equipment. My husband enjoys watching them try to disprove before deciding if something is really paranormal or just normal. Jason and the team hit up well known haunts like Sowden House (The Black Dahlia Murder), Jennie Wade House in Gettysburg, and the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum which features a guest appearance by Grant Wilson (co-founder of TAPS).

D-BOX Tickets for Jurassic World – Pricing varies, depending on theater
What could make your dad’s Jurassic World experience that much more enjoyable? If he could feel every stomp of that Stegosaurus, the Triceratops, and even the mighty T-Rex. The blockbuster action flick will be shown at several theaters that are equipped with D-BOX motion-enhanced seating, which can deliver vibrations that are in sync with the on-screen action. There are currently D-130 BOX-enhanced theaters in the U.S. and 350 locations nationwide.

The Royal Imperial Boxed Set: William Shakespeare’s Star Wars Trilogy – $24.92
Short blurb: This beautifully illustrated retelling of George Lucas’ Star Wars in the style of William Shakespeare contains Verily, A New Hope; The Empire Striketh Back; and The Jedi Doth Return. Han shooteth first? Forsooth! Also included is a full-color poster.

 Image Folio Society
Image Folio Society

The Complete Calvin and Hobbes Box Set (paperback)– $59.45
It’s possible dad’s got one or two of these, dog-eared and much-loved. A new set to share with the next generation of snowball-throwers and lovers of stuffed tigers everywhere may be just the ticket.

The Folio Society’s Dune by Frank Herbert (pre-order) – $125
This exquisite reprint of a beloved classic will arrive in the summer, Shai-halud willing. But knowing that it, like the waters of a distant homeworld, will someday come, will be a gift of its own. Illustrated by award-winning artist Sam Webber, the book is a standout of epic proportions. (GeekMom Fran swears this is a present for dad. She’s totally not stealing it the first chance she gets.)

Bags and Accessories

Humvee TacPacks – Transport Gear Pack – $49.99
Give dad the gift of an awesome backpack with the Humvee Gear TacPack. It has more pockets and straps than even he might not know what to do with.

X-Train 2 by OGIO – $80
This is the ultimate sports bag for dad (or mom). It has a separate compartment for shoes, clothes, and small items as well as a means of carrying around a workout mat.

Geeky Jerseys – Average price is $99 to $105, depending on design
These really nicely made hockey jerseys with geeky themes range from popular television and movie designs from Star Wars to Walking Dead, as well as some more lesser-known references like the “Roughnecks,” and “Zebes Hunters.” There is also an occasional baseball jersey design available as well.

Casual Vader Shirt \  Image: SuperHeroStuff
Casual Vader Shirt \ Image: SuperHeroStuff

The one big set-back is not all designs are in stock at all times. There are many very cool designs “on demand,” which means “wait and see until they come back in stock.” If only that TARDIS would come back in stock. Sports lovers should check back often to see what’s available, and don’t hesitate to get any available designs they like. They might be not be available for long.
Image: Geeky Jerseys

Casual Vader Shirt by SuperHeroStuff.com – $21.99
I picked up this shirt for my husband at MegaCon this year and he loves it. It’s the perfect lazy day shirt for any dad.

Toys, Games and Geek Swag

SuperHeroStuff.com Hero Boxes – $49.00
Subscription boxes are all the rage right now, but most have a theme that changes from month to month. SuperHeroStuff.com HeroBoxes work a bit different from that. You can choose to buy dad the specially themed box of the month or choose from a variety of character mystery boxes for him. And for $49.00 he is guaranteed to get at least $70 worth of goodies!

Star Wars Dagobah Shower Curtain – $24.99
When I put the Deagobah shower curtain by ThinkGeek up in our bathroom, my son declared that “Finally! This bathroom has some style!” And my husband wholeheartedly agrees with him. Now to add in some fake snakes and a Yoda statue to make it complete.

Cards Against Humanity Science Pack \ Image: Cards Against Humanity
Cards Against Humanity Science Pack \ Image: Cards Against Humanity

Cards Against Humanity Science Pack – $10 per pack.
The much-respected field of science is about to get a little more immature, as the hit Cards Against Humanity game’s latest expansion product to the popular party game. Each pack comes with 23 random white and 7 black cards on scientific theories. They also promise an appearance by Uranus. It does require the basic Cards Against Humanity set, so they won’t work on their own. The best thing about these, however, proceeds from each sale benefit the Cards Against Humanity and SMBC Science Ambassador Scholarship, a full-ride scholarship for women seeking undergraduate degrees in science, technology, engineering, and math.

Bondi Band Solid Moisture Wicking Headband, Black – $9.00
Keep dad comfortable while working out with the Bondi Band moisture wicking headband.

Customized Photo Story Book – Price: as low as $8.00 with coupon (google to the rescue!), $25.00 without
This is a typical gift idea. But you can do much more than just populate some photos and print. I made it a story about my favorite two guys, the things they have in common, and how much they love each other. A year later it’s still a favorite bedtime story in our house!

Nerf Mega BigShock Blaster – $7.99
Short blurb: The Mega BigShock blaster is a perfect “small gift” for Dad, perhaps from a younger child. Dad will love the small size, but the large darts featured here. Dad can play blasters in the yard with the kids, or take this one to work to hide in his desk, coffee table, or workbench for some fun in the off-hours.

Nerf FireVision Ignite light-up flying disc – $14.99
Does Dad enjoy playing Frisbee with the kids, the dog, or with friends? The FireVision Ignite is a battery-powered flying disc that lets his game go on for hours, right into the nighttime hours! The disc takes three “A76” batteries: not the most popular ones, but at least your first set of batteries will be included for you!

NERF Zombie Strike FlipFury \ Image: Amazon
NERF Zombie Strike FlipFury \ Image: Amazon

Nerf Zombie Strike FlipFury Blaster – $19.99
Nerf has outdone themselves with this double chamber Nerf gun that has an impressive two chambers for a combined total of 14 ammo. This is my favorite of all the NERF I’ve ever tested and my husband loves using this in battles against our son.

Blast-off Espresso Cups – $23.98
Never enough rocket fuel in his rocket fuel? Try these espresso cups out. In the Wilde Household, GeekMom Fran says they’re tried and true.

Super Soaker FlashFlood water gun – $19.99
The Super Soaker FlashFlood offers victims a double-whammy of water: the 23 oz. reservoir feeds into either a traditional 40+ foot water stream, or into the “flood” section which blasts your opponents with a “whole mess of water”, in the words of my 12-year old. Dad will enjoy this in the backyard with the kids…or maybe even with the neighbors?


Leef Magnet USB 3.0 Drive – $26.24 to $52.49
In the words of Master Yoda, “Size matters not. Look at me. Judge me by my size, do you? Hmm? Hmm. And well you should not.” That is the case with the Leef Magnet USB 3.0 drive. It’s small and slender in design but packs a quick fist full of power for dad to store up to 64GB of information on.

Vader 3D Light FX \ Image: 3D Light FX
Vader 3D Light FX \ Image: 3D Light FX

Star Wars 3D Deco Lights – $39.99
I’ve raved about the 3D Deco Lights in the past and now they have added Star Wars to their arsenal of decor options. 3D Deco Lights make a fun addition to any room in the house.

Refuel InVIctus – $99.95
Do you remember the time dad let you play on his phone and you drained the battery over Candy Crush? Yea. That’s what I thought. Help him keep his phone charged with the Reful InVIctus case. It has a built-in battery to recharge dad’s phone when you’re done playing with it.

SOUL Electronics: Run Free Pro – $129.99
Does dad need a pair of comfy and wireless running headphones? Pick him up a pair of the SOUL Electronics: Run Free Pro. The price may seem a bit steep for headphones, but they are comfy to wear and actually stay in your ears while running.

Griffin Technology: MOTO TC Rally – $32.99
Pick dad up a remote control car of his own and watch him go back to being a kid again. My husband agrees that this is the smoothest and fastest of the RC cars I’ve ever tested.

PEAR Sports: Mobile Training Intelligence System – $78.48
For the athletic dad, grab him the PEAR Sports: Mobile Training Intelligence System. With the free app, they can sync up the included heart rate monitor and watch their progress. The app also gives advice while he’s running. I’ll go ahead and tell you right off the back that the headphones that come with this system are not the greatest, so pick him up some skull candy ones while you’re out.

Boom Box Touch Speaker \ Image: ThumbsUpUK
Boom Box Touch Speaker \ Image: ThumbsUpUK

Boom Box Touch Speaker from ThumbsUpUk.com – $38.39
This speaker is really cool in the fact that you don’t have to hook it up or sync it up with anything before using it. All you have to do is place your device on top of the speaker and it will automatically pick it up and play. I tested this speaker with my iPod (out of a case) and my iPhone 6 plus (in a case) and both worked fine.

Martian Red Notifier – $129.99
I’ve bragged about this watch before and I’ll do it again now. The Martian Red Notifier is the ideal smartwatch for someone who wants the convenience of notifications on their wrist, without all the bells and whistles. The glass on the watch is also super durable and so far has withstood me walking into dressers, walls, and other sharp corners (and not a scratch on it).

SmartThings Smart Home Starter Kit – $199
The promise of home automation has finally arrived! SmartThings will jump-start your adventure on the Internet of Things.

Fitbit Charge Activity Tracking Wristband – $124.99
Whether dad loves gaming a workout or the comfort of data-loging every move (and sleep too), the fitbit tracker is an excellent choice.

JBL Charge 2+ Splashproof Bluetooth Speaker by Harman – $149.99
JBL’s immensely popular Flip and Charge series of Bluetooth speakers has now been taken to the next level with their splashproof versions! Dad would love a JBL Charge 2+, which takes the Bluetooth speaker complete with device charging and speakerphone capability and adds the ability to take the speaker to the beach, poolside, or out in the rain with confidence. The manual even claims you can wash the speaker off under running water! With JBL’s “social mode” up to three different users can connect with one Charge 2+ to take turns streaming their favorite tunes. The rechargeable battery is capable of providing over 12 hours of music and speakerphone support, and bass fans will love to watch the “Bass Radiator” in action at the two ends of the soda-can-shaped speaker unit. The Charge 2+ is available in 8 colors…be sure to get Dad’s favorite!

The Grillbox \ Image: Grillbot
The Grillbox \ Image: Grillbot

Grillbot – $119
Dad may love grilling, but cleaning up the aftermath is a whole other story. Forget getting him one of those floor-cleaning robots. This gadget is willing to take a funky ride on that BBQ grill–and clean it! Just push one button and watch Grillbot go. It also has a CPU chip, an LCD alarm and timer, and cleaning brushes that can pop off and go right into the dishwasher.

Striker Light Mine – $19.99
If your dad is into working on his car, he could always use a little help–and we’re not talking about an extra set of hands. Available in two sizes, this light can easily fit into tight spaces and even attaches via a magnet. More importantly, it packs in a powerful LED light, so dear old dad can actually see what he’s doing under the hood.

BioLite Camp Stove – $125.95
Dad doesn’t need to be outdoorsy to appreciate this handy camping gadget. In fact, this thing would get even the biggest hermit to come out of his (or her) shell. It’s got some patent-pending thermoelectric technology, which means that the stove doesn’t need sticks or fuel. Once you get a nice fire going, the CampStove can convert that heat into usable electricity to power up phones, lights, and other gadgets, all while Dad is rustling up some vittles.

littleBits Smart Home Kit – $249.99
This little package will allow Dad’s inner-DIYer to turn that home into a smart home. It includes something called the cloudBit, which lets you “snap the internet to anything.” That anything can be everything, from the coffee maker to the curtains to the refrigerator. The kit comes with a total of 14 Bits, which also includes the MP3 player, the Threshold, the Number, the Temperature Sensor, and the IR transmitter. And just in case Dad needs a little inspiration, the package has 14 project ideas and 11 accessories.

The Modlet \ Image: ThinkEco
The Modlet \ Image: ThinkEco

ThinkEco modlet – $50
Whether it tackles the TV, the DVD player, or toys, most dads love remote controls. Imagine being able to add that same type of control to almost any electronic device? The modlet (or modern outlet) is a magical device that makes remote control over anything electronic possible. Just plug the modlet into an outlet and plug your device of choice into either receptacle. Once connected, you can monitor and cut power to those devices using the modlet’s iOS and Android apps. It can even track usage, savings, and your schedule, so it can “recommend” ways to cut back on energy waste. Other features include built-in surge protection, schedule templates for common applications, an override function, and the option to download energy use data for further analysis.

Spire – $149.95
Spire is a little device that clips onto your belt and monitors your breathing. When it senses stress or tension, it sends a signal reminding you to take a deep breath or do a short exercise to relax. Give this one to Dad to help him keep his blood pressure in check and stay focused throughout the day.

HP Pavilion x360: A Holiday Gift To Myself

HP Pavlion x360 \ Image: Dakster Sullivan
HP Pavlion x360. Image: Dakster Sullivan.

Coming in at 13.12 inches wide, 9 inches in diameter, and 3.7 pounds, the HP Pavilion x360 was designed to be a tablet in disguise. The power button and volume buttons are on the side to make sure you have easy access to them, no matter if you have it in laptop, stand, or tablet mode. The specs are pretty basic for a laptop computer, but it gets high markings in the memory and processor departments.

The AMD A8-6410 APU with AMD Radeon R5 Graphics, 2.00GHz is a 64-bit processor and will run your normal everyday office/internet tasks without issue. I’ve read that it can handle a few older PC games, but not being a gamer myself, this isn’t something I can confirm. I can tell you that with the 8GB of memory, I can run my favorite programs like Manga Studio 5, Office, WordPress, and several others without issues. In terms of ports, the HP Pavilion x360 includes: (2) USB 3.0, (1) USB 2.0, (1) HDMI, Ethernet, and an SD card reader. There is no CD/DVD player in this model, but I’m not really missing it.

The WLED-backlit touchscreen display has a resolution of 1366 x 768 and is crispy clear. Even though it’s a touchscreen, I prefer not to use that feature when it’s in laptop mode. It just makes more sense for me to use my mouse.

Left side ports \ Image: Dakster Sullivan
Left side ports. Image: Dakster Sullivan.

One of the cool features of this laptop is the ability to flip the screen 360 degrees. That means you can use it in “stand mode,” most commonly preferred for watching movies, or in “tablet” mode. I haven’t used the stand mode and quite frankly, find it to be rather pointless. I have played with the tablet mode and found it to be a bit bulky in terms of use, but useful for when I need to carry it around my office at work.

Right side ports \ Image: Dakster Sullivan
Right side ports. Image: Dakster Sullivan.

This laptop has a major downside for me and that is in the physical design. In my experience, computer designers have this bad tendency to design something that even they wouldn’t want to work on if it breaks. For some reason, the designers of this model decided that it would be a good idea to put everything, including the hard drive, battery, and memory, under the keyboard. That means to get to any of those components, you have to pop off the keyboard to get to them.

The battery being on the inside is the biggest downside, in my opinion. For the average user, that means if you ever call someone for tech support and they ask you to pull the battery and let it sit for a minute, you can’t do it. For me, this is a real pain because if the battery dies, there is that much more work involved to replace it. For the everyday consumer who doesn’t have the skills I have, this will mean more money to pay out for someone to repair it. Something else I’ve realized about the battery is that it doesn’t stay charged as long as the HP Envy that I reviewed this year. I can leave that puppy on for days and it won’t die on me. This one, on the other hand, if you don’t use it or charge it, it won’t stay alive in hibernation for more than a day or so. The way to work around this is to take care of the laptop a little better. If you know your child has a football practice or dance class and you want to be able to work, charge it up a few hours ahead of time.

The memory is not upgradable, but since it already has 8GB to start, I’m okay with not being able to add more.

Look mom! No battery! \ Image: Dakster Sullivan
Look mom! No battery! Image: Dakster Sullivan.

The 500GB hard drive is nice, but for the most part, I don’t store any files on my laptop. Instead, I save them to one of my many cloud accounts and work from that. With me not saving any of my files to the hard drive, that space will get put to good use with installing my favorite programs like Manga Studio 5 and Office Professional (two programs I practically live in). I work wirelessly 99 percent of the time and have had no problems connecting to the internet at home or at work. In fact, I think this laptop works better than my previous ones, because it finds the wireless network quicker and without me having to turn Wi-Fi on and off to get it to see something.

Since the Pavilion x360 is so small in comparison to my other laptops, I like to use this one as my “go with me everywhere” laptop. I carry it to work, my mom’s house, and pretty much everywhere but the grocery store (and that’s only because I’m not allowed in there…something about buying too much junk food one time).

My bag of choice to carry my Pavilion in is my ThinkGeek Flash diaper bag that I received from a friend for Christmas. I use the changing pad as a makeshift laptop sleeve, the terrycloth burp cloth (AKA “cape”) for a screen cleaner, the insulated bottle holder to keep my cables organized, and the zipper pouch to keep my pens and small change. Even with all that, there is still room for diapers, a change of clothes, and snacks.

Image: Daxster Sullivan.
I’ve let my son hold this laptop a few times and he didn’t seem to have an opinion on it. He prefers larger screens for playing Minecraft and watching videos. In his mind, once you go big, you don’t go back. For me though, the smaller size works because it’s easier to transport than a 15-inch brick. Even if he doesn’t like the size of the screen to compared to other laptops I’ve let him play with, this one sits nicely in his lap without too much overage on his legs and isn’t too heavy for him to carry by himself (of course, I’m right behind him with a pillow in case he trips…to catch the laptop).

Image: Daxster Sullivan.
In summary, the HP Pavlion x360 is a great laptop for parents on the go. The size is perfect for anyone who doesn’t want a brick to lug around and weighs enough to know it’s in your bag—but not enough to make you need a back brace when carrying it around. Of the three modes—stand, laptop, and tablet—I find myself using it in laptop mode the most, but appreciate the ability to switch it around, if I ever want to. I didn’t notice any special software on this laptop and that’s okay, because it means there is less for me to uninstall before I get my feet wet with using it.

The HP x360 line is available at select retailers and starts at around $549.

GeekMom received this item for review purposes.

ThinkGeek Backpack of Holding Giveaway!

The stuff inside my bag. \ Image: Dakster Sullivan
The stuff inside my bag. \ Image: Dakster Sullivan

When I first saw the Backpack of Holding on ThinkGeek’s site, I was more attracted to the name and reputation of the other Bags of Holding than its looks. I have the conventional Bag of Holding and I’m very happy with it. I expected that despite the unfortunate appearance of the Backpack of Holding, that this would be just as awesome as its cousin.

And when it arrived and I pulled it out of its box, I had to remind myself not to judge a book by its cover.

Here’s a list of items I have since carried around in what some are calling my “Mary Poppins bag”:

A small bag of crochet tools with three things of yarn and five needles
Pride and Prejudice (both Manga and Jane Austen original versions)
Bluetooth headphones
Apple headphones
A Disney folder stuffed with vacation plans
iPod mini with keyboard attachment
Rainbow Dash Wig and Tail set
LEGO Neighborhood book
Two pads of paper (and yet, no pens…go figure)
My lunch box
Rainbow Dash wings (folded)

Image: Dakster Sullivan
Image: Dakster Sullivan

And 90% of that was all in the bag at one time.

Despite having all of that in the bag, it wasn’t nearly as heavy as what you would expect it to be. It felt evenly balanced on my back and the padded straps added to the comfort.

I’ve been using the Backpack of Holding for three weeks now and I’ve seen two downsides to it so far.

The first is the lack of lighting inside the bag. That’s right. Lighting. It’s so big inside you need a small lantern to see what you have inside. And don’t get me started on how hard it is to find your keys without a light in there to guide you.

Speaking of keys, this brings me to my second issue with the Backpack of Holding: the lack of clips for keys to hang from. With a bag this big, I would have expected something that would keep you from digging for 20 minutes looking for your house keys. Granted there are the three outside pockets, but that’s where I keep my Tylenol, headphones, and books.

Come to think of it, there’s actually three problems with this bag. The lack of zipper pockets inside. It would have been nice to have at least one for spare change.

Even with the three minor issues I’ve found with the Backpack of Holding, it’s still an awesome bag and well worth the $50.00 price tag (not including shipping or tax).

Now, who’s ready for a giveaway!!

To kick the holiday season off right, ThinkGeek has given us one Backpack of Holding to giveaway to our readers.

If you or someone in your household would like to get your hands on your own Backpack of Holding, leave us a comment telling us what must-have-items you will carry inside it, and then log in to the Rafflecopter widget below with your Facebook account or email address (use a valid email so we can let you know if you win).

You can then like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for up to two entries! If you already like/follow us it will still enter you in the giveaway.

A winner will be chosen at random at the end of the contest and their name will be posted right in the Rafflecopter widget so you can check back to see who won.

This contest is only open to our readers in the USA and Canada.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Story of How the Creeper Backpack Joined Our Family

One day, while taking a trip through the woods, I heard a hissing sound. (All images by: Post Family)
I stopped and listened. “What could that be?” I pondered.
When I turned around, I saw a little green creature staring at me.
“Hiss?” it asked.
As I looked at the little creature I wondered what all he could do. He seemed like such a talented little guy!


My daydreaming was cut short when a black creature I hadn’t seen at first made eye contact with me and started hitting me.
“Ouch!” I said, and quickly grabbed my new green friend and hurried home.
Once I got home, I realized that my new green friend wasn’t alive, but was in fact, a backpack named Creeper. “Silly me,” I said as I tried to figure out what uses the little guy could have.
The backpack seemed to be sturdy. It would take a spontaneous combustion to damage the bag.
The seams are sturdy and reinforced with additional fabric over the top.
Creeper is also very well padded. The back has multiple layers of padding (I’m guessing around a half inch), and the layer in between the back and middle portions is padded, too. Plus, the “feet” add some cushion on the bottom (at first I thought all of those animals in the forest were feeding him too much, but no).
As it turns out, all of that padding does a pretty darn good job of protecting school books. Also, with more schools assigning tablet devices to students, this backpack does a great job of protecting the devices from breaking quite so easily if the bag is dropped instead of being set down. Though my 17″ laptop didn’t fit in the bag, a 10″ device and a 7″ device both fit as seen in the image.
It has three zipper compartments.
Foam Feet
The middle one holds a covered foam-ish block that holds the form of the Creeper’s feet.
Full backpack
The bag holds a lot. As you can see, several games could fit in the backpack. I was able to fit: Get Bit, Dixit Jinx, Happy Birthday, 2 Story Cubes sets, 2 Munchkin sets, Zombie Dice, Family Flux, and my favorite Geek Mom and Geek Dad project books all in this bag. There was still room for more!
The kids were going to fight over him.
But eventually, my son ended up earning his companionship.
If you want to adopt a Creeper backpack for the coming school year, visit ThinkGeek.

(Adoption cost through ThinkGeek is $39.99)

GeekMom received a review sample for the purpose of this review.

May the Party Be With You—How to Throw an Epic Star Wars Party!

As a Star Wars geek and 501st Legion costumer, I know how to throw a Star Wars party. You could say the Force is strong in me. This summer, with a little help from ThinkGeek, I’m going to throw my son’s friends a party to remember.

My Star Wars party consists of three elements:

  • Entertainment
  • Food
  • Games

First things first, we need to pick out the entertainment.

There are six Star Wars movies and six season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars to choose from. It would take over 44 hours to watch all of the animated series, seven hours to watch the prequels, and just over six hours to watch the original trilogy. If you’re planning your party on a weekend and to make sure you don’t behave like a Sith on Monday, I would stick to just watching either the prequels or the original trilogy.

Once that has been decided, on to the second most important part of any party… the food!

The menu for this shindig consists of:

Yoda Soda (this can be a bit strong for some people, so a Tatooine Sunset is a nice alternative)
TIE Fighter Ties
Lightsaber Ice Pops
Clone Trooper Cakes
Death Star Popcorn
R2-D2 Treats

Yoda soda has a bit of a kick to it, so if you feel yourself fading into the force during the movie, a sip of Yoda soda will wake you back up. Pick up the R2-D2 measuring cups to make sure you add just the right amount of force to your dishes. If you have adults at your party, be extra careful when making your TIE Fighter Ties to avoid any dark side jokes. For the lightsaber ice pops, I prefer red or green colored juices (red and green Powerade works great).

Lightsaber Popsicle duel \ Image: Dakster Sullivan
Lightsaber ice pop duel \ Image: Dakster Sullivan

Now that the kitchen has been taken over by the Rebels, it’s time to decide on the games!

No party would be complete without some lightsabers. You can pick up the cheap ones at Target or the nicer ones on ThinkGeek. When the sun goes down, host a lightsaber battle outside. If you want your fight to have fewer bruises, grab some pool noodles and make your own lightsabers.

Once everyone calms down from dueling, hang up your hilts and get to work on your own 3D metal model of the Millennium Falcon or R2-D2. Due its complexity, this activity is more for adults than kids. My husband was challenged when putting his R2 together and I heard a few “beeps” that weren’t PG-13 while he was building it.

Other fun games you can play are “Vader Says,” a variation on Simon Says, but instead, the lead player wears a Darth Vader helmet and commands his clones.

If you want your guests to have a good laugh, take out a copy of William Shakespeare’s Star Wars and let everyone pick a character to read. I had several adult friends in stitches when reading my copy at home one day.

Once everyone has exhausted their energy with games and filled their tummies with Star Wars treats, it’s time to get them nestled in for the movie.

Of course, no Star Wars movie night would be complete without proper sleeping accommodations. The Tauntaun sleeping bag is so popular in our house, my husband and son have to fight for the right to sleep in it.

Makes you want to cuddle up with a Taun Taun doesn't it? \ Image: Dakster Sulliva
Makes you want to cuddle up with a Tauntaun doesn’t it? \ Image: Dakster Sullivan

For your guests who need something special to cuddle, pick up one of the Star Wars cuddle critters in either Tauntaun, Bantha, Rancor, or Wampa.

With that, the movie begins and the house goes quiet with only the sounds of star destroyers, machine-like breath, and an R2-D2, the most offensive droid in the galaxy (they beep out every word he says for crying out loud…ba dum dum!).

I hope I have encouraged you to pick a side in the battle of the Empire and Rebellion and have a Star Wars party of your own. May the Force be with you.

Disclaimer: GeekMom received review samples. 

Our DIY Adventure Time Birthday Party

My most-awesome birthday boy as Finn. He asked for an Adventure Time birthday party and I did my best to offer a practical, affordable party experience. Photo: Patricia Vollmer.
My most-awesome birthday boy as Finn. He asked for an Adventure Time birthday party and I did my best to offer a practical, affordable party experience. Photo: Patricia Vollmer.

Just like last year, my youngest son came to me with a somewhat-obscure birthday party idea. Now, if you’re a loyal GeekMom reader, you’re probably thinking, “Wait a second, who hasn’t heard of Adventure Time?” We’re definitely fans here, and we’ve been privileged to review some of the DVD collections for GeekMom.

But to mainstream America, apparently it’s obscure.

Last year my son requested a Nyan-cat themed birthday party, which (with the help of the GeekMoms) I was able to put together with lots of DIY ideas. I had used Pinterest to collect and share the party tips.

This year I did the same thing. I set up a Pinterest board and began collecting ideas. Allow me to share with you three of the things I did.


In years past I would simply print half-sheets of paper into invitations by pulling clip art of the boys’ favorite characters. But this around I opted for something a little more elegant. I found Novel Concept Designs, who markets custom party invitations and thank you note cards. For $7.00 (I had a coupon) I received a custom-designed JPG image of the party invitation, which I was able to print on photo paper. Amanda turned around the cards quickly—in one morning I had placed the order, provided the party details, and had something ready to print. The company also features other party themes.

Party Favors

After GeekMom Kelly expressed disdain for party favors a couple years back, I’ve been trying to be more conscious about “goodie bags.” I attempt to keep it to consumables, crafts, or toys that are more useful than dollar- and dime-store trinkets. This year I like to think I came up with a great idea: Homemade Finn hats!

My youngest son got a ThinkGeek/Cartoon Network Finn hat for Christmas (see the photo at the top). He wears it all the time, even to bed on particularly cold nights. He has recruited many of his friends to be Adventure Time fans with him, and I was pondering how much it would cost to get all the party guests Finn hats. Considering the ThinkGeek version is $16.99 (as of this writing), I decided to think outside the box.

I began to browse for hat patterns. I could make the hats! I found a few patterns (on my Pinterest board) but the Instructable.com one seemed the most reasonable. This pattern allowed me to make the equivalent of two hats, then sew them both together such that there are no exposed outward seams. Here in Colorado, this was a perfect party favor for a wintertime birthday party. This week I even saw a couple of the party guests wearing their hats on the school yard. Practical Party Favor Success!

This is the Fionna hat I ad-libbed from the original Finn hat pattern from Instructables.com. You simply print the multiple-page patterns and then cut/tape together the parts for the side of the hat. Photo: Patricia Vollmer.

I picked up about 5 yards of white fleece for about $20. I only needed 2 1/2 yards of the fabric, and I made 7 hats. Wow—that’s less than $2 per hat, which is less than I’d ever spent on goody bags in the past.

Six Finn and one Fionna hat for my youngest son's party guests. They are sized for adult heads, but seemed to fit the kids just fine.
Six Finn hats and one Fionna hat for my youngest son’s party guests. They are sized for adult heads, but seemed to fit the kids just fine. Photo: Patricia Vollmer.
We had the party at a family fun center in Colorado Springs. The kids wearing the hats made them easy to spot in the crowded game area. Photo: Patricia Vollmer
We had the party at a family fun center in Colorado Springs. The kids wearing the hats made them easy to spot in the crowded game area. My son had enough tickets earned to win a stuffed Finn doll, how cute is that? Photo: Patricia Vollmer

The Cake

Finally, let’s talk about the cake. After last September’s incredible Minecraft Creeper cake disaster, I was extremely nervous about how to do the cake. I decreed early on that the cake would be left in the pan (for stability) so I would only decorate the top surface.

I wanted to keep it simple, similar to last year’s Nyan Cat cake. I had looked at fancier cake ideas at Cake Central, but instead decided to simply put Finn and Jake’s faces on it. I found a simple image that I could replicate on Deviant Art, and went from there.

The cake. I realized I could have made the faces much bigger. Photo: Patricia Vollmer.
The cake. Definitely amateur hour, but my son doesn’t mind. All butter buttercream FTW! I realized I could have made the faces much bigger. Photo: Patricia Vollmer.

Feel free to visit my Pinterest board if your child is interested in an Adventure Time birthday party of his/her very own! It’s a good time and it can certainly be done easily and cost-effectively.

ThinkGeek’s Soft Kitty Hoodie Is Perfect For You And Your Kids

ThinkGeek Soft Kitty Hoodie, Image: ThinkGeek

Who would have thought that the ThinkGeek Soft Kitty Hoodie would be the absolute most loved thing my daughter found under the Christmas tree this year?

We occasionally watch The Big Bang Theory with the kids and when my youngest first became aware of Soft Kitty she fell in love. I’d hear her humming it from time to time, sometimes singing the words, and I have even sung it to her to cheer her up. It works every time.

When I saw the Soft Kitty hoodie on ThinkGeek, my first thought was that I wanted it for myself because it’s so darn cute. It’s actually a costume hoodie that turns you into Soft Kitty with a little tail, paw covers for you hands, and a hood with ears. It’s adorable.

It was about this time that the Mom part of my brain kicked in and I knew it would be the perfect thing for my daughter. In fact, there was no way that I alone could have one because it would make her cry. And then I would end up giving it to her anyway, so, losing scenario.

ThinkGeek Soft Kitty Hoodie, Image: ThinkGeek

It runs in adult sizes, but she’s ten so a ladies small fit her with some room to grow. There is a unisex version too that’s cut a little wider and has a grey-lined hood instead of pink. If you’re looking for a looser fit, go with the unisex. Either way, it does run a little on the small side so I’d go up a size if you’re in doubt.

The hoodie is just as cute as it looked online and was of a better quality than expected. It’s a 60/40 polyester/cotton blend which can sometimes feel a little cheesy but not this time. It’s very soft and I’d swear that it’s got more cotton than anything. Soft hoodie, warm hoodie, indeed.

The little paws button back so you can warm your cold fingers and then fold them back out of the way when you need to send your next text message. The tail doesn’t come off, so you’ll have that all of the time, although it’s short enough that it doesn’t really get in the way. Yes, I did test this before I gave it to my daughter because it was too cute to not try on when it arrived.

The Soft Kitty Hoodie ($49.99) is now available at ThinkGeek.

GeekMom received this product for review purposes.

ThinkGeek Handbag of Holding Giveaway And Review!

Handbag of Holding, Image: ThinkGeek
Handbag of Holding, Image: ThinkGeek

This ThinkGeek exclusive is the follow-up to their Bag of Holding messenger bag which is a bit larger and bulkier than this one. Don’t go thinking this is a little handbag, though, because it’s still pretty large and might be better described as a tote. It’s got 15 pockets, and yes I counted to make sure there really were that many. Here’s how it all breaks down.

  • 1 Padded tablet sleeve with zipper closure: 13″ wide x 9.5″ tall
  • 2 Large compartments: 14: wide x 9.5″ tall x 2″ deep
  • 2 Outer front pockets with magnetic flap closures: 4″ wide x 5″ tall x 1.5″ deep
  • 2 Document pockets, front and back,, with magnetic snap closures: 14″ wide x 8″ high
  • 2 Zippered compartments,1 inside each document pocket:: 5″ square
  • 2 Water bottle pockets: 4″ wide x 6″ high x 2″ deep
  • 3 Slip pockets, front inside lining: 5″ wide x 6″ tall, 3.5″ wide x 6″ tall, 2″ wide x 6″ tall
  • 1 Zippered compartment, back inside lining: 6″ wide x 6″ tall

I was impressed not just with the utility of the Handbag of Holding, but with the quality of its components. It’s made of sturdy, 12 gauge grey canvas that feels like it’ll take a beating without coming apart at the seams. There’s a baseboard set into the bottom to help it stay square and four little metal feet so you don’t have to worry about setting it down and ruining the bottom.

Add to that metal closures and connectors including the loops that hold the 1.5″ wide top handles to the bag. Those handles are even 10″ long so they’ll work as easily holding the bag with your hands as they will looped over your shoulder, even over a bulky coat. An adjustable detachable shoulder strap turns the handbag into a messenger style bag that you can sling across your body.

Handbag of Holding, Image: ThinKGeek
Handbag of Holding, Image: ThinkGeek

There are also some nice accents that make the bag fun and dare I say pretty. The interior is lined in light lavender and “Handbag of Holding” is embroidered on the front in silver thread right beneath a chrome d20 logo. And you know how expensive bags have a tag with their name dangling from one strap? This bag has one, too. It’s about the size of a business card with a leather back and a chrome front with an engraved logo.

The tag, which is removable, screams geek if you really look at it, but otherwise it’s going to fly under the radar of the less observant. It’s a good-looking, sturdy, and very utilitarian bag that will as easily hold all of the stuff you take with you every day as it will all of your gaming stuff on a Saturday night with your friends.

Now that you know how cool the Handbag of Holding is, I bet you want one of your own. You can pick a Handbag of Holding from ThinkGeek for $49.99 or head over to my Total Fan Girl blog to enter to win your very own Handbag of Holding so you can carry your stuff in geektastic style. Good luck!

The April Fool’s Roundup: Jokes Around The Web

April Fool's Day, Google prank
Google Nose!

There are a few you always know to expect, starting with Google and ThinkGeek. Here are those, along with a few others we’ve seen this morning. Happy Don’t Believe The Internet Day! (Except the GeekMoms–we really have moved to this new site. What do you think?)

Support Neurodiversity at ThinkGeek

Image Courtesy ThinkGeek

April is Autism Awareness Month, but if you’re like our house, autism awareness happens every month. That’s one of the reasons I love this shirt on ThinkGeek.

Neurodiversity is a movement centered around the philosophy that autism isn’t a disease. It’s a difference in development. Sure, it’s also a disability, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t celebrate the child we have instead of longing for the child who will never be. For more information on how this plays out for us parents, I recommend watching Loving Lampposts or reading Unstrange Minds.

If you buy a Neurodiversity shirt from ThinkGeek this month, all the proceeds will go toward neurodiversity advocates, ASAN.

ASAN, or the Autistic Self Advocacy Network, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization formed by autistic individuals for self advocacy and public outreach. Through my work organizing a regional autism conference in Kansas City, I’ve met both of the co-founders, Ari Ne’eman and Scott Michael Robertson. (Point of trivia: Ari Ne’eman is the first openly autistic White House appointee. ) I’m happy to support them in their advocacy efforts, and I’m proud to think that someday my son may join ASAN himself.

The shirt comes in adult and kid sizes, so you can find one to fit yourself or your loved one of any age. If you’re going to buy a shirt, there’s less than a week to do so. Buy it during Autism Awareness Month, or as ASAN better puts it, Autism Acceptance Month. 


Would Bacon By Any Other Name Smell As Sweet?

ThinkGeek Bacon-Palooza, Image: Nicole Wakelin

It’s sort of a universally accepted fact that bacon is one of the best foods known to mankind. No other food garners quite the same level of fanatic devotion and adoration. As a result, it’s been incorporated into all sorts of recipes in an effort to create the ultimate bacon experience. I am guilty of adding more bacon than required whenever it’s called for because, it’s bacon, why not? I thought I was really living on the edge when I bought a bacon chocolate bar. This was at a little specialty shop in Boston and I walked out clutching my treasure, ready to fend off the masses who would obviously kill to have this for themselves.

I sat down on a bench and unwrapped my treasure thinking of all those shows you see on TV with people savoring weird foods. I decided to follow their lead and started with the aroma. It smelled like chocolate, which, although a wonderful smell, did not hold the promise of bacon. Then I cracked a piece off and looked at what I was about to eat. I saw teeny tiny little bits of bacon. Teeny. Tiny. This did not make me happy but I popped a piece into my mouth anyway. The chocolate was as good as it smelled, but the bacon was barely noticeable. I had just paid nearly $10 for a chocolate bar that did not live up to my expecations. The bacon was a lie.

Months later, I purchased a Talking Bacon plush from ThinkGeek. You press his side and he says “I’m bacon.” It was what my daughter wanted for her birthday more than anything. Yes, I was equal parts thrilled and scared. Bacon plush has been a big hit with every child in our neighborhood. He went in for show and tell and I had half a dozen parents contact me to find out where they could get him. Talking Bacon is the man!

One afternoon, my daughter’s friend, James, was marveling at the wonder of  Talking Bacon and asked where I’d gotten this amazing creation. I told him and then loaded up the site so he could see it for himself. It’s fair to say that his eyes bugged out of his head when he saw the assortment of geeky goods on the screen. Bacon popcorn! Bacon gumballs! Bacon jelly beans! I don’t think he could have been more excited if I’d told him school was cancelled for the rest of the year.

When his Mom came to pick him up, I told her that he might be asking for a bunch of bacon stuff, and then did the obligatory “Oops, sorry, I kinda set you up there. My bad.” apology.  She rolled her eyes, looked at her son, and told him she was not buying him a bunch of bacon stuff. He looked sullen. He gave her a masterful pout. He even made his lip quiver. No luck. So, James turned his charms on me. Me. Keeper of all things geeky. Writer of geeky stuff. Player of video games. I was his only hope.

I put this off for months, thinking he’d forget, but every single time I saw him, he asked if I’d gotten the goods. My answer was always “Not yet.” Then he showed up for a playdate with my daughters in an Angry Birds shirt which he proudly wore and, I thought, I just had to help this burgeoning little geek in the making. I contacted ThinkGeek.

And because ThinkGeek is so cool, they sent me a whole box full of bacon goodness. I was excited to try these bacony treats, but a little nervous. Unlike the bacon chocolate bar with barely discernible bacon, the whole box smelled like bacon when I opened it. Popcorn, gumballs, jelly beans, lollipop. Where to start?

I opened the tin of  Bacon Gumballs. They sure smelled like bacon. And they were a brick red color that looked like bacon. I decided it was best to have something to drink handy, like when my kids are forced to try something new, just in case the flavor killed me. I put it in my mouth and it was bacony. I chewed it and holy overwhelming bacon flavor! I didn’t think it was possible but it was actually too much bacon. I made it through maybe half a dozen chews before I had to spit it out and chug half a glass of milk.

My kids found this hysterical.

I moved on to the Bacon Beans. I’d learned from the gumballs and had a glass of milk actually in my hand as I popped a jelly bean in my mouth. I chewed, and chewed and, bacon explosion! Out with the jelly bean, down with the milk.  This left the lollipop and the popcorn. I wasn’t sure I could do it, but, I persevered and went for the Bacon Lollipop. Again, milk in hand, I gave the lollipop a few licks. It was tasty! It was sweet and had just a hint of bacon and, I liked it, I really liked it. My kids now wanted to try it but I told them they had to have a jelly bean and a gumball first. They declined.

Once the husband was home, I decided it was time to pop the popcorn. You know how, in an office, someone can pop popcorn on the other side of the building and you can smell it? Yeah, well I think my neighbors may have smelled the Bacon Pop right through the walls of my house. It smelled like the gumballs tasted and I was, um, terrified. I held my nose, grabbed a new glass of milk, and tried a few pieces. And then a few more. Another bacony success! If you can get past the overwhelming aroma, the darn stuff actually tastes really good.

So, in my quest for bacon I found two tasty treats in the lollipop and popcorn, and two that didn’t quite cut it in the gumballs and jelly beans. They are, however, the perfect thing to keep at your desk, luring in unsuspecting co-workers. Trust me, it’ll be good for a laugh. I even conned the kids over for a playdate yesterday into giving them a try and the looks on their faces, absolutely priceless. They did not like, except for one girl who liked the gumballs. She’s either exceptionally brave or crazy. I’ve yet to decide.

Ah, but what about the boy that started it all? What did James think? Well, oddly his Mom, who is a good friend, hasn’t responded to the texts I sent her about the bacon stuff. She must be really busy because she couldn’t possibly be ignoring me. I’m going to continue testing this on the neighborhood kids, but not to worry. Next time I see James I’ve saved a whole pile of bacon flavored tastiness for his geeky little heart.

Thanks to ThinkGeek for sending me (and James) all this bacon goodness!

GeekMom Holiday Gift Guide #6: Grown-Ups

HolidayLogoIIRegardless of what holidays you celebrate, the end-of-year festivities are right around the corner. If you choose to purchase gifts online, you need to order then in advance to allow for shipping time, backorders, and comparison shopping. We at GeekMom are here to help you with ideas for anyone on your gift list, from babies to grownups. This is the final post in our series of gift guides for 2010. Many of our writers have contributed to our series of gift guides, so the ideas run the gamut from popular bestsellers to more obscure, interesting gifts with which you may not be familiar. Chances are there will be something that appeals to you. Feel free to add your own recommendations in the comments below.

This week’s guide is targeted at the grownups out there. And remember to visit our other gift guides that have already run: Week #1: Books, Week #2: Games, Week #3: Small Kids, Week #4: Larger Kids, and Week #5: Toys For Most Any Age, Including Grown-Ups. Happy Holidays to all!

GeekParent Wear
Show off your parental geek pride by sporting a GeekMom Tshirt from ThinkGeek, or a GeekDad Tshirt for any geeky fathers you know. There is also a GeekDad mug and GeekDad ornament available!

Shades of Milk and Honey
Mix Jane Austen with a generous helping of magic and fantasy, and you get Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal. Ms. Kowal is an accomplished writer as well as amazing puppeteer, and was one of the puppeteers on the show LazyTown.

Damp Squid and How to Read a Word
If you’re interested in words, their history, and their usage, these two books will fascinate you. From the Oxford University Press, both of these books will take you on a journey of where our words come from, what constitutes a word, and how to learn more about words that fascinate you. (Photos: Oxford University Press)

This puzzle/game activity isn’t strictly for grownups, but it had to be included. Play by yourself, or in a group, and finding where all the pieces go can get as fun or as difficult as you let it.

Asus Eee PC
If you’re looking for a netbook to tote around, the Asus Eee PC is a very good option. With Windows 7, an excellent keyboard, and a very light weight, it is as useful as it is attractive. Read GeekMom’s reviews of the Asus Eee PC: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

Apple App Magnets
Know someone who’s crazy about iPad and iPhone aps? These clever fridge magnets are the perfect gift. They look just like the ones on your iPhone or iPod and are just as functional, holding up scrap notes and grocery lists in style. Order a set for every app lover on your list. Eighteen magnets retail for $12.99.

Fracture: Photos Printed on Glass
Custom framing can be a drag. Literally. You drag your family portrait to the frame shop, pick out mat and frame styles, then wait for weeks, hoping the frame shop doesn’t lose your photo in the back room. After you lug the finished product home, you need to indulge in some cleansing breaths just to forget about the cost before you can hang and enjoy your portrait. Couldn’t technology save us from this fate? As a matter of fact, it can. A startup company called Fracture has figured out how to print your precious portraits – up to 11 x 14 – right onto shatter-resistant glass. Upload your jpg image to Fractureme.com, choose any border design you like (including none), and they ship it to your home, fasteners included. Brilliant! Prints start at $8.

iPod Touch (4th generation)
The newest iPod Touch version has two built-in cameras allowing you to use FaceTime and record HD video. And it has a retina display. These are improvements over the 3rd generation version. If you can’t afford the monthly fee of an iPhone, and iPod Touch is an excellent option. Now you can have everything you can have on an iPhone, without the actual phone part (or the 3G connectivity, or the contract headaches).

iPod nano
The stylish, new iPod nanos are square instead of oblong, and they’ll clip right on to wherever you need them. Wear them on your wrist and they’ll double as a watch! But mostly, they’ll play your music for you, including FM radio. Sensitive to movement, you can shake them to shuffle to the next song.

An excellent gift idea for this year, the iPad is more than just a large iPhone or iPod Touch. Because of its generous size, it is much easier to use to play certain things, such as chess or checkers, or to do work, such as editing documents or writing email. Use it for play, for work, or for education.

Marian Call CDs
Marian Call, geek musician lady extraordinaire, is extremely talented with a beautiful voice. Her 49>50 Tour has taken her to 49 out of the 50 states so far, with just Hawaii left to conquer. If you love music about geeks, Firefly, Alaska, or Battlestar Galactica, give Marian a listen.

Ultimate Geek Pen
There’s really no such thing as “ultimate” to a geek, since the next best gadget is sure to be more appealing. But the Ultimate Geek Pen is pretty handy. It’s a ballpoint pen, a stylus tip, and a laser pointer. But wait, there’s more. It’s also a flexible flashlight and UV light.

Have a great holiday season!

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GeekMom T-shirts, Now Available at ThinkGeek!

me-GeekMom-shirt-475x509We here at GeekMom are proud and excited to announce that GeekMom T-shirts are now available for purchase at ThinkGeek! The shirts have our zippy space-age car logo, in slightly less varied colors (due to printing restrictions), and our URL on the back. The shirts come in black, cut for women but still generous in fit. (ThinkGeek notes on the website that the cut is the same as for their “Huge Tracts of Land” T-shirt, if that’s any indication.)

Demonstrate your geek pride and show your solidarity with other GeekMoms out there. Get your own GeekMom T-shirt! (And while you’re there, get the GeekDad in your life his own GeekDad T-shirt, which is currently on sale.)