Movie Theater Gift Card
It goes without saying that a trip to the movie theater can be friggin’ expensive these days. Sure, there are plenty of reasons to stay in and watch a movie on any number of on-demand content providers, but when cabin fever inevitably sets in, sometimes a theatrical experience is just the ticket! Chain theaters might be the most prevalent, but if there’s a local indie theater in your neighborhood, I’d bet dollars to donuts they could use your support even more. Call them up and see if they offer gift certificates, and do it fast before they all close their doors for good!
Online Content-Streaming Subscription
Hey, remember that time I said you should support your local theater before digital content providers run them out of business? Yeah, well you should still do that, but that doesn’t mean online streaming providers like Netflix/Hulu/Amazon Prime/etc. aren’t worthwhile. For those friends and family members who are still on the fence about cutting the cable, drop an inexpensive one-month subscription in their stockings to give them a taste! Watch(, they’ll be hooked) instantly!
Jayne’s Hat from Joss Whedon’s Firefly
Years after Firefly completed its ill-fated television run, it continues to go strong on streaming channels. The fan following is so strong, in fact, that indie crafters the world over continue to churn out these infamous hats, sported by Adam Baldwin’s Jayne Cobb. I found this officially licensed one over at Think Geek, which should keep you out of the crosshairs of any ensuing legal battles over the merchandise rights. Tis the season!
Under the Tree
For those of you who don’t already own a device that allows streaming content to play on your TV (seeing a theme here?), this little plug-and-play device allows you to stream video and music from your smartphone, tablet or laptop to your television set. At $35, the Chromecast is a cheaper option than other streaming devices, like Sony’s PS3 and PS4, Microsoft’s XBox series, the Roku players, TiVo or Apple TV. (Price isn’t the only item of import, however, so check out CNet’s review of streaming devices here.)
Ray Harryhausen Collection + BD Live (20 Million Miles to Earth, Earth vs. Flying Saucers, It Came from Beneath the Sea, 7th Voyage of Sinbad) Blu-ray
If you’re not familiar with the incredible work of the late Ray Harryhausen, may I first suggest you check out the documentary, Ray Harryhausen: Special Effects Titan (which is available on Netflix). Then, once you’re inevitably blown away by his body of work, pick up four of his classic films in Ray Harryhausen Collection on Blu-ray, featuring 20 Million Miles to Earth, Earth vs. Flying Saucers, It Came from Beneath the Sea, and 7th Voyage of Sinbad.
While the “Jelly of the Month Club” might be the original gift that keeps on giving the whole year, an Amazon Prime Membership comes in at a close second. Not only do you get access to the content provider’s streaming library (which is complementary to a Netflix and Hulu Plus subscription), but you’ll enjoy a year’s worth of free eligible shipping and the ability to borrow books from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library. Give the gift that pays for itself over and over by buying a gift card that will cover the cost of a Prime membership.
Speaking of Amazon Kindles, how about gifting one for the holidays? There’s plenty of options available at Amazon’s Kindle store, from the Kindle Fire tablets to a variety of Kindle e-readers. We’ve got more ways than ever to consume movie and television content, but it’s been tough to improve on the good old-fashion book, until now. Not only can you store hundreds of books and take them with you wherever you go, but Prime members can also enjoy books borrowed through Amazon’s library. I know I sound like a shill, but I’ve got a third-gen that I absolutely love and take with me during all of my cross-country travels. Definitely worth the price!
Hand-Made Items from the Offerman Wood Shop
Folks certainly know about Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but did you know that the Saturday after Thanksgiving has been known as Small Businesses Saturday for the last few years? Well, now you do! And to bridge the divide between Hollywood and small business, we present the Offerman Wood Shop, home to the multi-talented Nick Offerman (Parks and Recreation). You might initially balk at the prices of their wares, but keep in mind that the wood they use is sustainable and locally sourced, and that each unique item is hand-carved. You’re paying for craftsmanship, a one-of-a-kind heirloom quality item, and the modest wage of the woodworker.
Trip to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Remember when NFL players who won the Super Bowl would go to Disney World? Well now they’re just as likely to go to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort. Sure, reading J.K. Rowling’s series of novels allows the reader to imagine Harry’s world, and watching the eight film adaptations bring that world to life on screen, but to actually walk through a life-size recreation of Hogwarts and Hogsmeade is worth the price of admission!
Better to Give
The holidays are a great time to divert some of that gift-buying cash to some worthwhile charities. By all means, throw your spare change into the Salvation Army’s kettles, cut your annual check to United Way and volunteer your time and money at the local soup kitchen. For a lesser-known charity, you might want to check out Canine Companions for Independence. The non-profit organization aims to “enhance the lives of people with disabilities by providing highly trained assistance dogs and ongoing support to ensure quality partnerships.” I raised three puppies as part of my high school service project back in the day, one of which went on to become a successful therapy dog. Since then, the charity has done well, but can always use help from generous donors like yourselves. Head over to the main site for much more information – including their Wounded Veterans Initiative – and find out how you can donate here.