The 12 Gift Cards of Christmas

Gift cards are the most sought-after gift of the season, so if you’re still finishing up some last-minute shopping, you can’t go wrong. But what if you’re buying for a geek? Here are the twelve most-desired gift cards among we of the geeky persuasion. Some you can probably guess; others might surprise you.

1. iTunes

iTunes Gift Card

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iTunes has everything you want — music, movies, TV shows, games, apps, ebooks, and more. The smartphone is the most important gadget of all time, while the iPad is the most desired gift of the year (ever?). Do you really need me to explain why an iTunes Gift Card is at the top of this list? Plus, you can totally rub this card in the nose of your Android-loving friends. Bless ’em, they just don’t realize they’re using inferior products. But your card is all the proof you need; the Android Marketplace doesn’t offer gift cards!

2. Xbox Live

Xbox Live Gift Card

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If you’re serious about gaming, then you own an Xbox 360. Xbox Live is like Xbox’s very own iTunes, offering most of the same movies, music, and TV shows, along with the biggest video game selection of any download service — some of which are even Kinect-friendly. But the real reason most players want an Xbox Live Gift Card is to get a year’s subscription to Xbox Live Gold membership. So if you really want your gift card to be a hit, make sure it’s for at least $60 (or just buy an Xbox Live 12 Month Gold Membership card; some places, like Amazon, have them on sale for $49 at the time of this writing).

3. Amazon.com

Amazon.com Gift Card

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There’s nothing Amazon doesn’t have. Seriously, need a carburetor? They got that. Lava lamp? Well, duh. Dixie Cup? Mm-hmm. Fake handlebar mustache? Are you kidding — of course! They also have a killer selection of all the things we geeks love: games, movies, graphic novels, toys, electronics, ebooks, and on and on. An Amazon Gift Card is the next best thing to giving a blank check.

4. Best Buy

Best Buy Gift Card

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If you really need an explanation for why geeks love Best Buy, clearly you’ve never been in one. There’s something about walking into a Best Buy… it’s like the Chocolate Factory for geeks. They’ve got everything electronic: computers, smartphones, flat-screen TVs, game consoles, cameras, and loads more. They’ve also got a darn good selection of Blu-ray and DVD, video games, and music CDs. And if you’re not sure what you’re looking for, Best Buy’s sales staff is knowledgeable and helpful.

5. LEGO

LEGO Gift Card

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No other toy in the world has as many child and adult fans as LEGO. We geeks are particularly fond of the LEGO Star Wars sets, though there’s an enormous contingent of adult fans of LEGO (AFOLs, as they call themselves) that are true pioneers of the utterly jaw-dropping things you can do with those magical plastic bricks. 2012 promises to be a big year, too, with partnerships from major properties coming to LEGO that include The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, superhero franchises Marvel and DC, new dinosaur-themed sets, and tons more. LEGO Batman 2: DC Superheroes, the next big LEGO video game, is also expected sometime in 2012.

6. Regal Cinemas

Regal Cinemas Gift Card

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Some people will tell you that movie theaters are dying. The rising cost of movie tickets certainly doesn’t help matters. But I’d contend that people are just waiting for something worth going to the cinema for. And one look at the 2012 movie calendar shows that there are going to be tons of great reasons in the months to come: The Hunger Games, The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises, Brave, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, and plenty more. Regal is the nation’s biggest theater chain, but you’ll want to check your local area for a dominance of other chains like AMC, Cinemark, or Carmike.

7. ThinkGeek

ThinkGeek Gift Certificate

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As the biggest and best online retailer for the fun, the unexpected, and the just plain awesome, there really is nothing else like ThinkGeek (though we’re also fond of X-treme Geek). They carry thousands of products that you never knew you needed — until you see it on their website. ThinkGeek’s ace in the hole is that every product they sell is hand-picked by their own staff of hardcore geeks. So if you’re looking for geeky gifts, you can’t go wrong with anything in their catalog. Where else can you find plush bacon, Han Solo-in-carbonite ice cube trays, or caffeinated marshmallows?

8. GameStop

GameStop Gift Card

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For the gamer geek, there is no better gift card than a GameStop card. Not only do they have probably the most extensive collection of video games in any bricks-and-mortar retailer, every store also has a fantastic selection of used games. And they accept trade-ins. The only downside? Video games are all they sell, so don’t bother if your geek recipient isn’t into gaming (which seems impossible, but there are exceptions to every rule).

9. Threadless

Threadless Gift Certificate

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There are a ton of great online retailers out there for cool, original t-shirts. Teefury is another big favorite, and we love Splitreason, too. But the biggest and best has to be Threadless. They create new t-shirt designs every week, and most of them are extra geek-friendly, featuring mash-ups of popular franchises. Most of their shirts are just $12, so the price is right, too. Want to stand out at your next comic book convention or LAN party? You can’t go wrong with Threadless.

10. Openbucks

Openbucks Gift Card

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Openbucks is a new kind of gift card for a new kind of shopper. Created by the Gift Card Payment Network, you pick up one of these cards at Subway, Circle K, CVS, Citgo, Sports Authority, or Hess, and then redeem them inside some of your favorite online games. Titles that support Openbucks’ cards include Battlestar Galactica, Need For Speed World, Dark Orbit, Parallel Kingdom: Age of Thrones, Metin 2, Cross Fire, Adventure Quest, and more. Additional games are being added all the time.

11. Sideshow Collectibles

Sideshow Collectibles Gift Card

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Their products don’t come cheap, but for good reason — they’re incredibly well made. Whether you’re looking for a life-sized bust or a collectible figurine, they’ve got items from all of your favorite properties, including Star Wars, Harry Potter, Disney, Marvel, Lord of the Rings, Terminator, and many more. Don’t see your geeky friend’s favorite franchise? You should also try Gentle Giant and Weta.

12. Facebook Credits

Facebook Credits Gift Card

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Sneer all you want, but Facebook has become a major part of all of our lives. (Even John Romero made a Facebook game.) Millions of Facebook members play games there every day, so a Facebook Credits Gift Card might be just the ticket. Your recipient will be able to spend it on premium in-game items in Mafia Wars and the like. You can only buy these gift cards in the real world, but you’ll find them almost everywhere. Walmart, Target, Best Buy, GameStop, Radio Shack, and 7-Eleven all carry them.

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Robin Parrish
@robinparrish

Unathletic, uncoordinated tall man with endless creativity stampeding through his overactive brain. Comes with beard, wife, and two miniature humans. Novelist. General blogger and main Gaming Geek for ForeverGeek. Lead Blogger, Apple Gazette.

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