Good Godzilla, it’s that time of the year again. You’ve digested your Thanksgiving dinner, throat-punched a bunch of old ladies at Best Buy to get the best deal on a hideously large plasma screen TV and now you’re settling down at your desktop trying to find the perfect gift for all the weirdos in your life. As always, I’m here to help. For five years now I’ve been bringing you the awesomest, stupidest, and most wonderful things the Internet has to offer. Just check out my gift guide legacy if you don’t believe me!
This year I wanted to give you something really different, so I’ve enlisted a bunch of my friends to come up with top 5 lists for their respective fields of expertise. And as always, I have some great stuff to give away – those are sprinkled throughout the guide and listed again at the bottom. Everything I’m giving away would make an amazing gift – or, of course you can keep it for yourself, you selfish bastard.
Let’s kick things off with my longtime friend Thaddeus Mountain. Not only does Thad have the coolest real name in the world, but he also sat behind me in almost every class in high school, which resulted in us getting sent out into the hallway quite a bit. We bonded in high school over our love of pro-wrestling, so I couldn’t think of anyone better to bring you the…
For the Rasslin’ Fan:
“Wrestling fans are a notoriously fickle lot, especially in the age of the Interwebz. These rad gifts will satisfy both the smarmiest of smart marks, and the rubiest rube that ever rubed, who wouldn’t know kayfabe if it locked them in a Figure-Four, knife-edge chopping them all the livelong day.” – Thad
- Luchador necklace by Finest Imaginary – Moustaches, necklaces, and Lucha Libre. The best triple team since the Fabulous Freebirds.
- The Many Faces of Muto DVD Set – A gift for the die-hard fan. You’ll be hitting your foes with green mist and power drive elbows in no time thanks to Muta.
- Luchador Stainless Steel Flask – El Santo says that you’re thirsty. Listen to him.
- CM Punk Lawn Gnome – This isn’t your ordinary gnome. This gnome is a multiple-time World Champion. He’s also straight edge, which means he’s BETTER THAN YOU.
- Andre the Giant Art Print – Perfect for any fan, this is probably the greatest piece of art you can hang in your house. (You could win this! See the end of this post for details.)
For the Chicagoan (or the Wanna-be Chicagoan):
I’m writing this list myself because I have an ear of corn tattooed on my knuckle and a Chicago hot dog tattooed on my back. I also coined the phrase “cornfed as fuck,” therefore, this top 5 is mine.
- Genuine Chicago Hot Dog Print by Betty Turbo – The first thing you need to know about real-deal Chicagoans is how we like our hot dogs. Mustard, relish, diced onions, celery salt, sport peppers, pickle spears and fresh tomato on a poppy seed bun. No ketchup or we will for real kill you. This print will help you remember, and possibly save your life. (Betty Turbo is giving a print away to one of my readers, so check out the end of this post for details!)
- Chicago Flag Ceramics by Circa Ceramics – Know something else we Chicagoans are mega proud of? Our flag. We fly it from our fire escapes, tattoo it all over ourselves and print it on everything we can get our hands on. I took it so far as to eat my dinner off Chicago flag plates from Circa Ceramics and so should you.
- Chicago-made Cosmetics by Ethically Engineered – A lot of people are shocked to find out that Chicago is one of the country’s greenest cities, but we have a long, proud history of bike-friendliness and green engineering in this city. You can support Chicago’s ever-growing green movement by purchasing eco-friendly, vegan soaps, bottleless shampoos, lip blams and more from Ethically Engineered.
- Lou Malnati’s Deep Dish Pizza – You’ve probably noticed that we of the Big Shoulders are fierce about our local foods. I’ve seen fist fights break out over New York style vs Chicago deep dish pizza. Say what you want about either one, but nothing says “home” to me so much as a slice of Lou Malnati’s famous, buttery-crust deep dish. Check out all their options online, from DIY kits to frozen pies.
- Chicago L Waterbottle – This is actually a teaser suggestions from a little side project I’m working on with my friend Katya. You can follow us on Twitter to find out when this awesome, 100% made in the USA water bottle will be available!
For the Book Nerd
- A subscription to the McSweeney’s Book Release Club – McSweeney’s books publishes everything from forgotten classics to new work by writers like Nick Hornby, Dave Eggers, and William T. Vollman. A gift subscription to the BRC gets the lucky recipient the next eight books McSweeney’s puts out, roughly one per month. And who doesn’t like getting presents in the mail?
- 100 classic Penguin book covers, in postcard form – For any literature buff, the iconic Penguin cover design is unmistakeable. This box collects 100 Penguin covers, mostly from the 30’s and 40’s when the distinctive single-color horizontal stripes stood for quality fiction at a reasonable price. When Alan Lane founded the company in 1935, he famously declared “I have never been able to understand why cheap books should not also be well-designed, for good design is no more expensive than bad.” Nearly eighty years later, this set proves the wisdom of his radical idea.
- Sports Jerseys for Book Nerds – If the book nerd in your life can’t tell a touchdown from a hole-in-one, it doesn’t mean they lack team spirit–their heroes might just come from a different field. These team jerseys from Novel-T feature writers and characters from both classic and modern literature, so everyone’s loyalties are covered. Plus, $1 from each purchase goes towards 826nyc or Doctors Without Borders, meaning your gift will be appreciated twice over.
- The Word Made Flesh, Literary Tattoos from Bookworms Worldwide – Great writing inspires a different kind of ink in this collection of literary tattoos. Full color photography, plus personal stories from the featured models, make this celebration of the written word both beautiful and inspirational. It’s a perfect coffee table book for a well-read household.
- Upcycled vintage book journals – Moleskine is so over, right? Get your nerd one of these journals upcycled from vintage book covers, and they’ll be sure to get attention while scribbling notes for their next story. There are a ton of styles and subjects available–everything from science textbooks to Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys–but if none of them are quite right, the maker is happy to take custom orders.
For the Comic Book Gal
…and by “gal” we definitely mean ADULT gal. This list comes from one of my favorite wrestling-and-cake-obsessed artists, Agnes. You might know her as Betty Turbo (check out the end of this post to find out how you can win one of her prints!) Agnes admits that it was difficult not to make this list “a completely filthy list of smut,” and now you know why I love her.
- Chester 5000 XYV by Jess Fink – For the dame who likes her saucy stories sepia toned and chock full of robot love machines. You may already know creator Jess Fink from her Threadless t-shirt designs, now her erotic web comic is available in a handsome hardbound book from Top Shelf Productions. Explicit and graphic but still playful, sweet, clever, and beautifully painted.
- Comic Sound FX headbands from Janine Basil – Great for accessorizing a comic con outfit, or just when you’re having a totally rad hair day and want your head to say KAPOW! Brightly colored and attention getting to make you feel like a superhero! Janine’s in the UK, so hurry up if you’re in the U.S. shopping for Christmas!
- This Journal Belongs To… by Ming Doyle – A GORGEOUS professionally printed art journal featuring the amazing work of illustrator and comic book artist Ming Doyle. Peeking inside someone’s sketchbook has never been such a beautiful adventure. Every other art book on your coffee table will be jealous. Featuring tasty things book nerds love to adore, like a shiny pearlescent cover and a red ribbon bookmark. Check out the cute promo video Ming made!
- Girls With Slingshots by Danielle Corsetto – How generous are you feeling? The sixth printed volume of this looong running webcomic is now available for preorder, and it’s the first one in full color! Order all six for that extra special lady on your list and she’ll have hours and hours to spend engrossed in relationship trials & tribulations, sarcasm, a few cute kitties, and a talking cactus! This is a slice-of-life comic full of people you’d want to know… or at least talk shit about. Order the “artist editions” and get them personalized for you by Danielle herself.
- Reading Comics: 24 Postcards Depicting Americas 2nd Favorite Preoccupation by Denis Kitchen – What fan of printed matter doesn’t need a few more charming postcards to hoard, use as bookmarks, or send a handwritten note? That comic-loving babe you know appreciates special messages written on REAL PAPER with actual pens or pencils. Fun vintage photos featuring random folks and occasionally celebrities reading comics, with some smartass captions on the back.
Natalie’s Two Cents: Agnes and I may have bonded over our love of 80’s wrestling and Andrew W.K., but our love of wacky hair things has kept us together all these years. Some of my favorites come from Lucky Cupcake Hairclips – check out the comic book, wrestling and even Star Wars-inspired bows! You’ll find a coupon code for 10% off to our left over there, and head cupcake Joy has agreed to give away some limited-edition Bake and Destroy bows to one of you! Check out the end of this post for details. (And check out my post about why these bows are so awesome.)
For Mini Cool People
Kids are awesome. They have all the benefits of hanging out with your most mentally unstable, perpetually-drunken friends – with about 1/8th of the chance that they’ll end up getting you arrested. Embarrassingly honest, completely uninhibited and cute enough to get away with wearing some seriously questionable outfits, kids are some of my favorite people to shop for. Here are some ideas for the wee people in your life.
- Parry Gripp albums – This gift will be equally welcomed by kids and their parents. Cussing-free, mainly pop-punk songs about food, famous memes and other silly topics. Go listen to them free on Parry Gripp’s website and then download them on iTunes or Amazon.
- Threadless t-shirts for kids – While there are scads of adorable clothing options for little girls, I think most parents of boy-type children such as myself will tell you, there isn’t crap. Luckily, Threadless makes really cute shirts and onsies for kids with a sense of humor.
- Ants on a Log soap – For me, ants on a log solved a major issue I had as a parent: getting my kid to flipping eat something. The healthy combo of peanut butter, celery sticks and raisins works every time, though. This look-alike vegan soap solves another parental issue: getting your kids into the tub. For under $10 it’s a smart stocking stuffer for the dirty little kid in your family.
- Mad Monster Party DVD – Got a niece whose totally obsessed with Monster High? So do I! And while the monster lover in me thinks they’re way cooler than Barbie, the auntie in me is all, “why are they dressed so slutty?” Encourage your little lady’s creepy ways with something a little more innocent. Plus, Mad Monster Party features the vocal talents of Boris Karloff and Phyllis Diller so it has both horror and comedy street cred to spare.
- CakeSpy cookbook – A few weeks ago I posted a simple-but-fun recipe from CakeSpy’s new, kid-friendly cookbook. With lots of adorable illustrations and creative recipes like Candy Salad, this book would make a cute gift for any kid who loves to play in the kitchen. The cover is pink as all get-out, but my son will vouch for the recipes’ unisex appeal.
For the Teacher
This list comes from my mom, who has been teaching for 20+ years: “The subject of teacher gifts comes up in one forum or another every year, and I always hesitate to give my opinion because I really don’t want to sound ungrateful. The thing parents need to remember is that we generally have between 22 and 30 students at one time. (Middle school teachers have more than elementary, but from what they tell me, they don’t get as many gifts at that level.) So the ornament or coffee mug you’ve chosen is probably very cute and unique to you, but chances are good it is one of ten we receive that year. Multiply that by then number of years the teacher has been in the classroom and she could very likely open a Mugs R Us franchise or single-handedly decorate the tree in Daley Plaza.I requested the input of several teacher friends and almost every one mentioned that it would be easier to list things we do NOT want/need more of. That brings us back to the ungrateful comment above.”
The number one most popular request is gift certificates of all kinds: Starbucks, local restaurants, Barnes and Noble, Amazon, mani/pedi spa certificates as well as Target and department store cards are always the right size, color and flavor. For those of us who love to shop, we not only get to shop, but we don’t have to worry about spending holiday shopping money on ourselves. Bonus!
- The half aprons from Foodphyte are quite popular with the K-2 teachers at my school. You can catch several of us in the hall wearing our cute little teacher aprons with our pockets filled with those things we use all day long. (In my case, it’s stickers, pens, my glasses and lipgloss.)
- Chocolate was also mentioned as a popular and appreciated gift. A box of candy is nice to have on hand when holiday visitors drop in, and if dietary restrictions prohibit the teacher from enjoying it herself, chances are good her family will appreciate the treat I cannot, of course, speak for all educators, but I know I’m not alone when I say I will not eat anything that someone baked at home unless I personally know the baker and have seen her kitchen. I can’t help it. I’ve always been squeamish that way. But I will always remember the day a parent showed up at my classroom door with a pie from Baker’s Square. My whole family reaped the benefits that evening!
- Most teachers are paper/office supply junkies. It seems to go with the territory. Cute note cards, notepads, cool pens (if you’ve ever seen me nerd out in Target over the Pilot V2 pens, you’d buy me a package). As many friends have mentioned, we do buy a great deal of our classroom supplies out of our own pockets, so cute/unique office supply items will probably be put to good use.
- I’ve been teaching for over twenty years and I still remember every sweet, heartfelt note I’ve received from a parent. I don’t care if the Dunkin Donuts gift certificate in the card is for the minimum amount, if the parent took the time to acknowledge that I knock myself out day after day trying to do the best I can, applauds me for being caring and patient and tells me how much their child loves me and loves school because of me, well, that is one hell of a meaningful gift.
- Nov. 29th – Four Dassant baking mixes of your choice. Congrats, Jenny!
- Nov. 30th – One Betty Turbo print of your choice. Congrats, Teri!
- Dec. 1st – Bret Hart necklace by Dotty the Demon + an Andre the Giant print from Boxing Bear. Congrats Crystal!
- Dec. 2nd – Three Gingerbread Village printable toy PDFs from Fantastic Toys. Congrats Mike!
- Dec. 3rd. – Four Dassant baking mixes of your choice. Congrats Sarah!
- Dec. 4th – Bake and Destroy hairclips prize package from Lucky Cupcake Hairclips Congrats Susan!
- Dec. 5th – Bake and Destroy stackable mugs from me Congrats Ashley!