How about creating a playlist of videos on YouTube for someone who might not know how to set it up? You could then give them the link and they could access it when they want. How about creating a webpage using Google Sites with a family member's favorite links? You could create a page for a parent or a child so that everything they like to access is one click away. You can show someone how to set up a Pandora station.
Record a family member sharing a favorite memory or Christmas tradition and then save it to a DVD as a gift. There are many ways we could create a special gift with free tools and geek awesomeness. Our family has my grandfather singing "O Tannenbaum" recorded and it is a family treasure years later.
If you want to buy your favorite geek teacher a gift, or buy something for yourself with a gift card after Christmas, here are some ideas.
Makey Makey Kit
This has been one of my favorite items of 2013. I use them in my technology class as well as my 8th grade history class. It is little hard to describe, easier to understand if you watch this video. Each kit is around $50 but can be used over and over to help students create inventions and controllers for games. Works well if you are working with Scratch and can create your own games to be controlled by the MakeyMakey. Check out the MakeyMakey gallery for a ton of ideas. You can also check out this MakeyMakey TED video.
Google Stuff from the Google Online Store
If you like Google there are a ton of gift ideas at the online Google Store. You can select shirts, office supplies, drinkware, etc. I have personally purchased the Google Water Bottle which I use everyday ($2.85), an infuser water bottle ($15.75) , a felt Google iPad sleeve ($3.85) and some Google Maze pens (80 cents each). There are items for your kids, your dog and anyone who wants something with Google on it.
Ibex 17 Inch Notebook Backpack from SwissGear
I bought this backpack about 18 months ago and it is one of my favorite purchases of all time. I LOVE this bag. It is very durable and provides a ton of space. I use it as my everyday back and forth to school bag as well as the bag I use when I travel. I think it is probably indestructible and looks as great today as it did the day I bought it. Lots of cushioning for my laptop and other gadgets and comfortable for day long treks. It retails for around $90 but I have seen it online for around $65 from time to time on sale.
Another item relating to the maker movement - a digital camera you build yourself! The BigShot camera is a fully functional digital camera that you build. The image above shows the components that you are provided when purchase the kit. I recently purchased several of these cameras through a grant to build in my 8th grade technology class but have not yet built one myself. There are excellent tutorials online describing all of the science behind the different components of the camera. The camera costs around $99. I'm very excited about the potential of this camera and look forward to building one over the holiday break. Check out this TED talk describing the creation of the camera.
SparkFun Inventor's Kit
This fall I attended a workshop at Kansas City's Union Station / Science City as part of the SparkFun Education Tour. The day was focused on working through several exercises building circuits with the SparkFun Inventors Kit using an Arduino board. The kit allows you to work through and build 15 different circuits including motors, sensors and an LCD display. No soldering is required and the kit includes a well designed guide with illustrations and descriptions. I enjoyed the workshop and since have built several curcuits with my 10 year old daughter. It is a great way to learn more about Arduino boards. The kit costs around $99.
When I first saw Little Bits - via a Tweet - I instantly thought of our daughters. They are always building things out of legos, cardboard, etc. and I think this will be an excellent way to introduce children to circuits and electronics. You build circuits using components that snap together with magnets. The components have a variety of purposes - switches, lights, sensors, motors, etc. I think Little Bits have huge potential in this educational space and that is why one is sitting under our Christmas tree for our daughters. There are different types of sets available with different numbers of components ranging from $99, $149 and $199. You can check out a TED talk about LittleBits here.
Timber Raspberry Pi Case by Pibow
I recently purchased a Raspberry Pi kit with a grant. In working with a Raspberry Pi it is important to house it in some type of case to protect the components. There are many types of creative cases. I love tech but I also love the feel and looks of antiques. I found this Raspberry Pi kit made of wood from Pibow. This case runs about $20 and I think looks awesome. If you want a more modern case Pibow also makes cases made of neon plastic and other colors.