The holidays are coming, and isn’t that just stressful? Not only do we have to deal with crowds and oddly timed sales, but trying to find the perfect gift can be nearly impossible. Sometimes you just don’t have the budget to afford to get the nerd in your life a thoroughly nerdy gift. Sometimes the Daily Deals are sold out, and let’s be honest here, there are only so many fishing lures you can give your dad before you have to give him something else so he doesn’t realize that you have no idea what else to buy him.
Why not make something that says “I sorta know what you like, and I think you’re worth the effort to make this too”?
Here’s my top 5 Homemade Gifts for Nerds (That pretty much anyone can make).
We’re not talking about craft brewing an aggressive IPA, or agonizing over oak chips and yeast for winemaking. Booze can be much simpler, and most people will think you’re a wizard. The fact is that you can take pretty much any quality ingredient, soak it in alcohol for 3 – 12 months, and it will be tasty. The key is to balance fruits and spices. Want something that goes great in creamy drinks? Try blanched almonds and cherries in bourbon. If you need to economize or give numerous people gifts, a decent vodka or whisky is a great base for home made extracts. Lightly crush coffee beans, add them to vodka, and in about 6 months you’ll have a great coffee extract that is a “must” for any chocolate-based recipe. Coffee adds a depth of flavor and will be great with brownies, cakes, even homemade truffles… but that’s a recipe for a different list.
Does any of that sound like too much work for you? You can always sort a bag of skittles and add separate colors to different bottles. The same will work with Jolly Ranchers too.
Step up the geekiness and tie it in with your favorite books or movies. Adding cinnamon candies to a bottle of whisky? Dame Rosmerta may be mad that you’re stealing her deal, but go ahead and call it FireWhiskey. You’ll like it, I promise.
Making t-shirts can be surprisingly easy with freezer paper, an iron, ink and a brush. A freezer paper stencil can be ironed on to t-shirts, tote bags, aprons, and so on.
The most successful projects tend to have a clean and simple logo, and just one color. Cut out your stencil, iron it on to fabric, and dab your ink on. Ribbed fabric like tank tops don’t work well, but regular t-shirts will work great. Make sure to read the ink instructions, many fabric inks will need to be “heat set”, which can usually done by tossing the item in the dryer for a while once the fabric has dried.
Hats and Scarves
Probably the hardest craft on the list, knitting or crocheting items can vary wildly from taking an hour to taking days or weeks. Knitting can lead to some intricate wearable art, but can take a while.
Crocheting will make for satisfyingly quick gifts that can take a winter’s worth of abuse, and youtube tutorials are plentiful. You can easily make a variety of wearable cartoons, or replicate the head adornments of your favorite characters. Every nerd would love a hat like Jayne’s from Firefly, am I right?
Why cover your tree in boring old ornaments when you can make your own? Painting ornaments is pretty straightforward and simple. Clear, hinged ornaments exist that can be filled with anything you’d like, I like to use vending machine toys, but with some glue and some tinsel to use as filler, you have a lot of options. If you want to punch things up a notch, use geeky cookie cutters to make gingerbread men and use a straw as a hole punch to create an ornament hole. Not into baking? Ornaments are great because if you can drill a hole in it or glue something to it, you can probably hang it on a tree. Legos, board game tiles, action figures, the sky is the limit on this one, and you can make quite a few in a little time- a bonus for someone with lots of friends but not a huge budget.
(If you really want to hit Level 1000, check two items off the list and crochet some ornaments!)
Anything you can smack together with with glue and paper
If your geek is a book or comic book reader, you are in luck, for in this would exists a craft known as Decoupage. It’s probably french for “smacking things together with glue and paper”. There are numerous products on the market that will work, but Mod Podge is probably the best option for customizing items. Mod Podge has a variety of finishes like glossy, matte, or glittery, and even has system designed to transfer photos onto your craft items.
If you have a hard surface, you can decoupage. Cigar boxes, bookshelves, lampshades, coffee tables, turn ceramic tiles in to coasters… just have a blast and try not to get too much cat hair on your items. Paper choices can include books covers or pages, comic books, magazines, posters, scrapbook paper, even puzzle pieces. You don’t even need paper! There are plenty of licensed fabrics that you can buy at fabric stores that will work really well on glass or ceramic surfaces. (Protip: I do not recommend printing your own pages, particularly color pictures, it never seems to look right.)
So there you have it, some unique and customizable ways to celebrate the holidays with your favorite nerd. Homemade gifts are a great way to send a special message to someone, and often last much longer than your average Black Friday doorbuster. Get creative, and have fun!
Need some more inspiration? Check out our Pinterest Board of DIY Nerdy Gifts!
Barbie O’Havoc has been considered a nerd since the first time she pissed someone off for having a weird opinion. Since then, she’s been spending her time indulging in the surprisingly expensive habits of reading trashy vampire novels and hitting people while playing roller derby. Both of her main hobbies have led to a love of terrible puns, much to everyone’s dismay.
Barbie O’ also loves coffee and local restaurants, and occasionally rambles about both on the Johnstown Food Blog.