Regardless 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. We’ll be running a series of half a dozen or so posts, sorted by category or age group, with suggested gifts this holiday season. 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 almost everyone. Babies and very small children won’t get much out of most of the gifts listed here, but there is something for everyone else. And remember to visit our other gift guides that have already run: Week #1: Books, Week #2: Games, Week #3: Small Kids, and Week #4: Larger Kids.
Clock Without a Face
A fun book to read on the surface, Clock Without a Face has hidden mysteries and puzzles. It is a real life treasure hunt, with the solutions to the mysteries leading you to 12 real-life gems buried somewhere in the United States. As of this writing, eleven of the twelve gems have already been found, which means you still have a chance to find the final gem! Still, it’s a beautifully drawn book and is a great mystery to solve with your kids, whether or not you hunt for gems.
The Secret of Pirate Island
The Secret of Pirate Island is basically a kid movie, but it’s like Playmobil meets Choose Your Own Adventure. Geeky, Playmobil-loving grownups will enjoy watching this DVD as much as their kids will, so that’s why it is included in this particular guide. At several different crucial places in the story, decide which path that the two main characters will take, and see where their adventures take them. Then you can watch it again and try different choices.
Get An Action Hero Modeled After You
A hand crafted doll made to look like you or someone you love, dressed in clothes of your choice. Give an action figure to someone important in your life. Your dad. Your kid’s teacher. Your boss. Not just an ordinary action figure, a hand crafted replica based on photos or videos you send to Illinois artist Cyndi Safstrom.
Zometool – Crazy Bubbles
For a whole new angle on building kits, check out Zometool Crazy Bubbles. Construct shapes, then dip them into soap solution to create bubbles. This is an inspiring way for kids to discover principles of math and science while having fun.
The Greatest Dot to Dot Book in the World
If you need another gift idea for a big kid, consider The Greatest Dot to Dot Book in the World. Full of puzzles that go beyond the little kid version of dot to dot, it’s impossible to guess what these creations will be until every last dot is connected. A very addicting game book that will keep older kids and adults captivated (great for long car trips). Retails for $6.95 and has several sequels.
Strawz from NUOP designs
A big hit with kids and adults, a product called Strawz gives a lot of bang for the buck. It’s fun to see how many configurations you can make with the 44 heavy plastic straws and connector pieces that come in the kit. An afternoon of building, then sipping fun! Retails for $15.00.
Minifigure Multipacks/Grab Bags
Remember the thrill and mystery of grab bags? Lego offers that same element of surprise with their new Minifigures Collections. Each collection (so far, Series 1 and Series 2 have been released) includes 16 different minifigures, sold individually in an secret package. What’s inside is a mystery. Series 1 features a clown, a cheerleader, and a magician. In Series 2 you might get Dracula, a Spartan, or a weightlifter. Of course, there are no duds with these grab bags. At just $4.99 each, surely Santa’s snatching these up for stocking stuffers.
I worry about some of the chemicals in craft supplies for kids. Imagine how thrilled I was to discover glob paints. Available in six different colors, the paints are tinted with fruits, vegetables, flowers, and spices, giving kids the chance to go green in a rainbow of colors. These botanical paints can be used like tempera or watercolors, depending upon how much water is added.
Many Hands: Family Music for Haiti
Many Hands is one of those rare albums that a family really can enjoy together, featuring songs from kiddie music heavy hitters like They Might Be Giants, Recess Monkey, Secret Agent 23 Skidoo, and Gustafer Yellowgold. There’s even the hilarious song “The Princess Who Saved Herself” by geek musician Jonathan Coulton. As an added bonus, proceeds benefit the Haitian People’s Support Project.
Natural History Museum RC Rattlesnake
Who doesn’t want to send a rattlesnake slithering throughout the house? With super-simple controls, even preschoolers will be able to send this deadly viper on its way, and laugh (or get grossed out) as its tongue flicks in and out.
Backyard Safari Bug Vacuum
For budding entomologists that don’t necessarily like to touch their specimens, round up insects with the Backyard Safari Bug Vacuum. This vacuum has enough suction to pull bugs into the magnified chamber, but not enough suction to hurt the bugs. This is also a handy tool to have around to remove unwanted household visitors to the backyard.
The Global Puzzle
Many world puzzles are beautiful maps, but don’t teach you much about country shapes and locations. The Global Puzzle has 600 pieces, and most of the 193 countries and island groupings constitute their own piece. Even most of the U.S. states and Canadian provinces are individual pieces. The ocean areas are filled with more information about countries such as capital and population. This puzzle is a challenge, but is great for adults or mid-elementary or older kids. It is an especially great puzzle to do as a group. Previous knowledge of geography is helpful, but not required.
Stay tuned next week for our sixth and final gift guide!