Shopping for That One Nerdy Friend

gifts in the background with title of shopping for that one nerdy friend

Shopping for That One Nerdy Friend

It’s that time of year where many people find themselves shopping outside their comfort zones in order to get the perfect (or at least acceptable) gift for that one nerdy friend. Whether it’s a coworker you got assigned for Secret Santa, a grandchild who won’t stop talking about… something (you’re not sure what), or one of your best friends that’s just really into a different fandom, nerds are everywhere. And now you have to figure out exactly what they want.

Don’t worry. It’s not as scary as it seems. Let’s talk about the different types of fandoms, and the DOs and DON’Ts of each.

Fandom: TV SHOWS/MOVIES

You know what? It’s hard. There are WAY too many different shows and movies out there for everyone to be able to watch all of them. So, chances are you have at least one friend who LOVES watching something that you’ve simply never seen. Do you have enough time to watch the entire thing to get a feel for what would make a great gift? I don’t know. I don’t know you. But I’m guessing not. So what do you do?

DON’T

  • Buy them the first season, the complete box set, or the movie that they love so much.
    • Because honestly. If they’re really a fan, they already have that. And they probably shelled out the money for the extended exclusive director’s cut with the main actor’s eyelashes glued to the front cover or something. Whatever version you find of this favorite thing, will be just as good or worse than what they already have, so don’t waste your time.
  • Buy them the movie cover/main character as a poster
    • Because that’s the first thing someone goes for after they realize they already have the actual movie/show itself. So, unless you are ABSOLUTELY POSITIVE this particular nerd does not already have that exact poster hanging on their wall, then assume you are not the first person who had to get them something and went for the easy route and just made the thing they like really big and obvious.

DO

  • Look for More Unique Decorations
    • Fans like showing off the things they love and will often be proud to hang a poster of it up. As long as you find something different than the go-to cover image that everyone has already seen a dozen times, it’s probably unique enough to be perfect. If you know their favorite character, look for a poster featuring him/her (unless it’s the main character. Then they probably already have that.) So go for a bobblehead. Or an action figure. Or one of those giant cardboard cutouts. Not sure who they like or even what the show/movie is about? Look for ‘minimalist posters’ and you’re almost guaranteed to find a unique piece of art that still obviously shows you did your research.
  • Consider Coffee Mugs
    • Hey. Nerds tend to drink coffee. If they don’t drink coffee, they drink tea. If they don’t drink either, they probably like hot cocoa. Either way, everyone needs a mug sometimes. So look for a mug that has something to do with that thing they like and BAM! you have an instant gift with no real downside. Even if they do somehow have the exact same mug already, now they can use yours while they wash the old one. One for work and one for home. One for each hand. Even your worst-case scenario is pretty good.

Via ThinkGeek

On a Budget?

  • Handwritten Quotes!
    • If you have the extra bit of time, find a quote from the TV show or movie (Google it if you have no idea. The first thing that pops up will almost always work perfectly for this gift). Use a calligraphy pen or stencils and a piece of cardstock and decorate it however you’d like. Your nerdy friend will know where the quote is from immediately, and you can guarantee that they’ve never gotten anything like that before. It’s personal enough to be loved and nice enough to be displayed!

Fandom: VIDEO GAMES

Video game fandoms are a hard thing to shop for because, ideally, everything that someone needs for the game is wrapped up in the game itself. And, unless you know the person really well, it’s hard to tell what they have or don’t have hardware-wise. But, if that’s all they talk about then you need to do something, right?

DON’T

  • Buy them another copy/subscription of the game
    • They already have that. And it’s not usually something that can stack.
  • Buy them a gaming guide for the game
    • This used to be really common, especially for difficult or strategic titles. However, gaming guides come free with the internet now. And your friend has probably already memorized all the forums, anyway.

DO

  • Consider gaming accessories
    • The basics are probably covered– the game, the computer/console, the controller. But what about the accessories? Do they have a comfortable chair to sit in while they play? A worthwhile headset? Even something small like a mousepad can make a huge difference in comfort levels when you’re playing for 9 hours straight. Do they stream? How’s their lighting or their backdrop? Don’t know? Consider a decoration or a T-shirt. Anything that shows you at least know what they’re playing.
  • Get an MMO gift card
    • With anything else in the world, I would say that gift cards are the lazy way out. But not here. If your nerdy friend is into a game enough that they won’t stop talking about it for more than a month or so, then chances are they’re playing an MMO… and MMOs have in-game purchases. So a gift card is the best way to give them something that they want in-game without actually having to go into the game and look around. Just make sure the gift card has the title of the game on the front of it, and you’ve shown that you’re paying attention to their likes with minimal effort.

On a Budget?

  • 8-bit cross stitch and Perler bead crafts!
    • Not many games are still 8-bit. But most gamers know their roots. Using simple 8-bit patterns to create cute, nostalgic mementos of where we’ve come in the video game world is a fun and easy way to remind a gamer that even if the games themselves have evolved — the love for gaming hasn’t changed.

Via Hardcore Perler

Fandom: TABLETOP GAMES

Ah. The old-school nerd that’s still talking about D&D and dice rolling. What do you get for the nerd that has been nerdy for so long now that they’ve probably received every conceivable gift you can come up with?

DON’T

  • Buy dice
    • They have enough dice. They have thousands of pounds worth of dice. I am not even kidding. Eventually, someone is going to give them more dice and they’re just going to beat that person to death with a sock filled with dice.
      • Unless they’re REALLY cool dice.
  • Buy the handbook/expansion/DM’s Guide
    • They wouldn’t have been able to get this far without it. If a new edition is coming out, or an expansion on the game they’re already playing, chances are they’ve already pre-ordered it and participated in the playtest. It is unlikely that they need another copy.

DO

  • Get them a custom mini (or a way to customize their current minis)
    • Most tabletop gamers have a lot of miniatures–but never one that’s EXACTLY like the character they’re playing. Luckily, there are lots of sites out there that 3D-print customized miniatures, so your nerdy friend can have the EXACT character they want to play. Not sure exactly what your nerdy friend would want to make? Don’t worry! Almost all of them offer gift cards.
      • Pretty sure they definitely have enough minis? Consider getting them miniature paints and brushes so they can customize the ones they already have!
  • Help them store/transport their stuff a bit easier
    • There are a lot of little things that come with tabletop games. And a lot of gamers have to carry those things back and forth without losing any of the pieces. Whether it’s just out of the kitchen and to the office, or across town — there’s a lot of ways to lose important bits and pieces. Look for things like storage clipboards. Padded cases for miniatures. Boxes for dice or pencils. Find any of that with a picture of a dice, dragon, or alien on it and you’ve found an incredibly helpful and sufficiently nerdy gift!

On a Budget?

  • Homemade Dice bags!
    • Like I said: Every tabletop gamer has dice. Some of those dice are still being carried around in plastic baggies or old medication bottles. About 40% of them are in old Crown Royale bags. Tabletop gamers have seen dice bags made out of literally everything — so you really can’t go wrong with a homemade version. As long as it can hold something, it can be used as a dice bag. I promise.

Via Shutterstock

Honestly, Though. Don’t Stress.

No matter who you are shopping for or what their relationship to you is, people are going to be glad you thought of them. You don’t have to know every fandom or recognize every character — you just have to be there for people. The fact that you knew enough about the person you’re thinking of to even read this article already shows that you’re probably a pretty good nerdy gift in and of yourself. Be present. You’ll do fine.

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