Nothing brings people together over the holidays like TV. No matter how tense things get when your aunt's boyfriend talks politics or your college roommate tells you she "liked your hair better before," it all fades away when the Twilight Zone marathon comes on on SyFy. Not only that, but TV-related items make great gifts for lots of different people. If it's a good friend you're buying for, you can hit it out of park with a clever TV-inspired DIY present. If you're getting a gift for someone you don't know well, a show on DVD or a TV-friendly snack is almost always a safe bet. Here are a few ideas to get you started!
A DVD Box Set
This is an obvious choice, but don't go clicking on the first sale item you see on Amazon—a box set should be chosen carefully. Now that so many shows are available to stream online, the most important criteria in TV-shows-on-DVD-owning to my mind are rewatchability and collectibility. Your picks will be different for every person, but ask yourself: What show will stand the test of time for your recipient? When s/he comes home from a party or is stressed out about work, what show will be the most entertaining or most welcome distraction? Is your recipient a geek who'd enjoy owning EVERY SINGLE EPISODE of something even if s/he has already seen it? Think about it.
Some suggestions (straight from my own collection/wish list, so there's some bias here): Arrested Development, Absolutely Fabulous, Mary Tyler Moore, Twin Peaks (be sure to get the gold box edition with the extended pilot), In Living Color, or Strangers With Candy.
Say what you will about snacks (and there's a lot to say about them), nothing beats a bowl of popcorn come TV time. Many snackers swear by microwavable or stovetop versions, but they're wrong. An air popper makes the best (and healthiest!) corn. I have this one by Presto—it's cheap and works great.
Once you've got your air popper locked down, you'll need to season your popcorn with something. There are lots of fancy varieties of seasoning blends out there (this one from Williams Sonoma also includes corn kernels) but, depending on who the gift is for, I'd recommend making your own and putting it in a cute shaker. Experiment with seasonings you like (one idea: sea salt, black pepper, crushed chiles, and nutritional yeast) and give it a snappy name on the label too. King of Pop(corn), anyone?
If the TV watchers on your list are sweets fans, try making a batch of Paula Deen's TV dinner cupcakes!
A TV-inspired T-shirt
Everyone loves a clever t-shirt, right? There is no shortage of television-inspired shirts available for just about any show you can think of. A few that I like: this Friday Night Lights Crucifictorious tee, this "Stay Golden" Golden Girls tee, or this Degrassi tee.
Another option for you craftsters out there is to make your own TV-inspired garment. Stitch an image or quote onto a blank t-shirt, or get some fabric paint and create your own tribute. Here's a photo of an Arrested Development-themed onesie I made for my friends' baby. Cuteness!
Books About TV
Reading and TV-watching: not mutually exclusive! At all! There are plenty of great books out there about specific TV shows and about television in general, and they make for great presents. Some ideas for general television books: Television Without Pity: 752 Things We Love to Hate (and Hate to Love) about TV, Inventory: by The A.V. Club, or, for the animal lover on your list, The Encyclopedia of TV Pets.
As far as TV-specific books go, there's The Wire: Urban Decay and American Television, and Smart Pop Books has lots of great titles to choose from about all varieties of television shows, like So Say We All: Collected Thoughts and Opinions on Battlestar Galactica or Coffee at Luke's: An Unauthorized Gilmore Girls Gabfest. For the super-meta book-within-a-show appreciator, I'd recommend Pawnee: The Greatest Town in America by Leslie Knope (well not really, since she's fictional). We got a review copy in the office (pictured at left) and it's pretty hilarious if you're a Parks and Recreation fan. (You are, aren't you?)
The possibilities are pretty much endless here (a Buffy throw pillow? a My So-Called Life collage?) but one place to start with TV crafts is basic letter embroidery. While complicated portraits might be a bit a a stretch for the average crafter (though you can do one if you put your mind to it, I promise) most of us with the patience for a needle and thread can stitch a quote onto something. Try it! Here's an X-Files example from gettingjiggy's Etsy shop:
Another idea is to make a sofa caddy to hold the remote control and other things your recipient might want TV-side. Here's a cute pattern from Sew 4 Home, or you could take Martha Stewart's advice and use a classy vase instead.
Nothing says "I know you're a TV fan" like some show memorabilia. A cursory ebay search turned up this signed 30 Rock pilot script, this Battlestar Galactica air lock controller, a M.A.S.H. six-pack of beer, and plenty more.
Actual TV-inspired Gifts
Sometimes you have a friend or family member on your list who loves TV so much that the most appropriate gift for him or her is something inspired by the TV set itself (or you could gift an actual TV, but who can afford that?). I got my TV-loving BFF this "pilot" necklace (get it?) last year, and there are lots more snazzy options out there, like this crocheted cell phone holder or these test pattern cufflinks.
If you're buying gifts for a TV lover this holiday season (and if you're buying gifts at all, you're probably buying them for at least one), you can't go wrong with a television-related present. Have any ideas that aren't on this list? Be sure to leave them in the comments. Happy TV Watching!