15 Great DIY Gifts for Geeks
What is a geek?
Well, I think it's safe to say most of us have a little bit of geek in us these days. I know I'm a complete geek when it comes to things like "Star Wars," "Breaking Bad," "Sherlock," and a whole bunch of movies and TV shows too numerous to mention.
In fact, the term geek has become something to be celebrated, equating to an extreme love of many aspects of our society. Stores like Urban Outfitters and ThinkGeek.com also celebrate this, and whether you're a geek about something yourself, or know someone who is, there are so many ways to entertain that "inner geek."
But it can also be expensive. From collectible action figures to costumes and steampunk, there's a lot for the average geek these days. A replica Ghostbusters trap (I want one) costs $500. I wonder if the real one cost that much to make? Props from TV shows and movies run into many thousands of dollars. Even t-shirts can empty your piggy bank. (See also: 10 Romantic Geek Gifts Under $25)
So, if you have a "geek" in your life, and want to make them happy without slashing your savings, here are some DIY gift ideas that will work.
1. Get Your Legos Out
Not the new Lego sets that let you build a pirate ship or fire truck. You need the classic Legos. You can pick them up cheap online. You probably have some lying around at home. With a little imagination and some super glue, you can make some permanent fashion accessories that are unique and fun. Try a Lego bowtie or necktie. Maybe a Lego pair of eyeglass frames. You could also make Lego pins, hair ties, and penholders. The best part…it's fun for you, too.
2. Decorate With Old Comic Books
With a little glue, a pair of scissors, and some patience, you can create a comic themed gift that no one else owns. From a pair of high-heeled shoes to photo frames and coffee tables, the only limit is your imagination. Just cut small pieces of the comic up, glue the back, and stick them down until the item is covered. Then, to protect them from the weather or other elements, use a waterproof coating. This can be painted or sprayed on and can be found in most hobby stores. (See also: Save Money by Shopping at the Craft Store)
3. Custom Tees
You don't need to be a designer to make a cool t-shirt. You have several options. The easiest is to buy some t-shirt transfer paper for your inkjet printer and a blank t-shirt. Find a hi-resolution image of something the geek in your life loves, print it out, iron it on, and bingo! Instant awesomeness.
If that's too much, grab some fabric paints or markers and do something inspired. It doesn't have to be realistic. Maybe it's just one word from something they love. Or use glow in the dark paints for something different, like Space Invaders or a secret geeky fan word. Heisenberg anyone?
4. Typewriter and Keyboard Keys
Pop to your local Goodwill, and you'll find plenty of cheap computer keyboards. If you're lucky, you'll find a cheap old typewriter, too. If not, Craigslist is a great resource for them. The keys can be used for anything from rings and necklaces to toys and even car number plates. I saw a great Rubik's cube that used old computer keyboard keys on each square. It looked awesome, and is really, really difficult to solve. (See also: 18 Practically Free Upcycled Craft Projects)
5. Zombify Something
Anything that has a face can be zombified. From an old porcelain doll to a painting, action figure, even a photo of the person the gift is for. You can do it with paints, on the computer, however you want. It will be original and unforgettable.
6. Office Supply X-Wing Fighter
You can see the full instructions here, but all you need to create this mini-masterpiece is: one big Sharpie, four pen lids, a pencil sharpener, butterfly clips, medium and large binder clips, an old SD memory card, and some glue to keep it all together. You can leave it as is, or if you want to take it to the next level, spray it in primer and a color.
7. Custom LED Shirts
Now, if you fancy getting into a little bit of electronic experimentation (and really, it's very basic) you can create some unique t-shirts that light the way! LED shirts can be expensive, but you can make your own for yourself or a friend using just a few basic tools and your unlimited imagination. From a glowing Iron Man chest plate to something a little more bizarre, it's one way to guarantee a fun and unique gift. If you're feeling really adventurous, try glasses.
8. Circuit Board Jewelry
One of the few advantages of technology getting old so quickly is that you get a lot of cheap, old parts. Some are just dumped in the trash. And that's good news for people willing to spend a little time turning old circuit boards into new accessories. Just go to Pinterest and check out some of these stunning, cheap designs.
9. Give Old Art a Makeover
Pop down to your local charity store, or look in your own basement or attic, for an old painting that is long past its prime. Now, what would make a great addition to that tired old farmyard scene, or boring seascape? How about an AT-AT from Star Wars, or Godzilla? You can paint it in yourself, or if you don't have the skills, simply find a picture online, cut it out carefully, and stick it on. These are not just funny and original gifts, they are great talking points. And they're really, really cheap to make! (See also: DIY Ideas for Creating Inexpensive Art)
10. Make a Clock Out of…Anything
Basic clock parts are super cheap and easy to come by. All you really need to do is think of something cool to drill a hole through. From old metal lunchboxes and hard drives to gift boxes and photographs, the world is your oyster. And sometimes, you don't even need to drill the hole -- an LP or vinyl single is ready to go.
11. Steampunk Something
From Comic Con to the high street retailer, Steampunk's following is growing and growing. And it's really cool. Steampunk, if you don't know it yet (and you will) is the point at which science-fiction meets the steam-powered machinery of the 19th century. Of course, it's become a lot greater than that, and a lot more broad. Some of the greatest examples are elaborate computer keyboards that look like they came from an H.G Wells novel. Now, with the right pieces of equipment and a little glue, you can turn anything into something that looks "steampunk." From flashlights and jewelry to masks and goggles, once you have the basic look down, anything goes.
12. Old Bottles, New Tricks
I first saw the milk jug Stormtrooper a few years ago, and was blown away by it. But although it's possibly the most creative use of a few empty jugs or bottles, it's not the only use. For instance, you can create a an R2D2 drinks dispenser, or make some booming speakers for your iPhone (of course, feel free to jazz them up a bit).
13. Sharpies Rule
Sharpies come in all different colors and thicknesses, and are permanent. Now, that doesn't mean you can expect to draw something on a mug and expect it to last forever, but if it's something collectible, you're in luck. You can decorate masks, bowls, shoes, even cars! And you don't need a ton of artistic skill. I recently saw someone wearing a pair of white converse shoes that he had doodled all over. And here's another awesome example. They look really cool.
14. Re-Use Old Floppy Discs
Back in the day, those 3.5-inch floppy discs held all of our vital information. These days, they couldn't hold a simple photograph. They stored just 1.44 Mb of information! However, although practically useless as storage devices, they can be used to create plant pots, wall art, or hold USB cables. They also make great coasters. And they're cheap and chic.
15. Old Books for New Tech
Almost everyone has a tablet, smartphone, or laptop these days. The protective cases for them can be expensive, costing up to $100 or more. But you can make someone a case from an old book, and it will cost a fraction of the price. You can also customize it to be a book that ties to something they really love. You can see the instructions here, and old books can be purchased at thrift stores for just a few dollars.
What's on your geek's wishlist? Will you be DIYing it this year?