Holiday shopping sucks. There are crowded stores and websites with unreliable shipping. Besides, you're busy discovering a billion new stars and planning a Doctor Who Christmas Special party. Don't worry, because we've got your back with this awesome guide.
For even more gifty madness, check out io9's Ultra-Futuristic Gift Guide.
1) DIY Steampunk Kit
There's no way that you're going to score that awesome etsy steampuk thingamajig this late in the year. But steampunk has an awesome do-it-yourself ethos and craft stores rarely sell out of the stuff you'll need for this.
Hit the local craft/art supply store, hardware store and fabric store. Think metal: jewelry bits, drawer pulls, fancy bits of chain, copper sheeting. Think durable: leather laces, canvas fabrics. Think decorative: metallic paints that stick to fabric or plastic, Victorian looking beads and cameos, those tassel things for window treatments. Think tiny: if you can score a watchmaker's kit of those itsy bitsy tweezers and screwdrivers you are gold! Couple that with some broken watches and you are done!
But watchmaker's kits are hard to come by on short notice, so try a grommet punch.
The hardware store will definitely have a couple on some dusty back shelf. Don't forget to buy the grommets too, in brass preferably.
Toss it all in a box and wrap the whole thing in a couple yards of brown cotton fabric (to practice using the grommet punch on). Voila: steampunk in a box.
2) Magazine Subscription
Sick of hearing about the awesome magazines that have gone out of business? Buy someone a magazine subscription! People on our lists get New Scientist (subscribe), Discover (subscribe), Wired (subscribe), and Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine (subscribe). We also recommend scifi industry magazine Locus (subscribe), as well as SF magazines Asimov's (subscribe - also available for Kindle), Lightspeed (subscribe), Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet (subscribe) - and for the kids, Muse (subscribe).
These are especially great gifts (to give or get) for anyone who wants to be a writer. I was at a conference recently where an editor of one of the premier literary magazines said his magazine had a circulation of 3,800 (including universities) yet received 500 submissions a week. If only subscribers were writing these stories, they'd be doing so at the rate of seven a year. If you or the person getting the gift every wants to get published, make sure that publishing is still alive. By giving magazine subscriptions!
And here's a list to get you started.
3) DLC Gift Card
At one level, gift cards are awful, awful things that say I can't be bothered to look at your list of Facebook likes or Amazon wishlist. But when they're for downloadable content, it's okay. iTunes and App Store are the best known, but Sony has gift cards for their eReader, and Barnes and Noble gift cards can be used on Nook. And you can buy gift cards that can be exchanged for Microsoft or Wii points, or even Playstation dollars to get downloadable games and extras for the gamer in your life.
4) DIY Moleskine Gadget Cover
The Moleskine aesthetic is sort of diametrically opposed to Apple's. They're black, warm to the hand, are terribly European, and gain a fine patina of wear. Apple on the other hand is shiny new and plastic. But the simplicity of Moleskine seems to match the Apple operating system. So if your friends dig the Moleskine look but need modern technology, or they hang out in coffee bars reading Proust on their iPhones, help them lower their cognitive dissonance levels with this awesomefaux Moleskine cover from Modern Day Pirates.
The instructions are for an iPad, but I think with a couple of modifications you should be able to cover your friend's iPod touch, iPhone, Droid, Kindle, Nook etc.
5) Knitted Lightsaber
This one's for the knitters in the house! CarbonScoring's Etsy shop is chockablock with Star Wars amigurumi (cute knitted objects). And the pdf directions to make them yourself. And who wouldn't want a 12" knit copy of Luke's lightsaber?
6) Science Fiction Book a Month
It's like a magazine subscription, only more book-y! And like a magazine subscription, you've got some options.