Let's be real: finding the perfect gift for the gamer(s) in your life can be a struggle and a half, especially when they've gone out and bought most of the games on their wishlist themselves. Even when this isn't the case, it isn't as if we have every gamer's library tucked away in our memory somewhere. The solution to this problem? Build off the gamer's favorites by adding merchandise to their collection.
I'm going to take this solution one step further. Mass produced video game merchandise tends to run on the shoddy side of things, not to mention the hit your wallet will take with big brand names standing behind every product. Purchasing custom-made products negates this, supports artists, guarantees hand-made quality with a bit of research, and adds a touch of original thoughtfulness to your gift giving venture. Luckily, as far as research goes, I've done that work for you.
Here's a gift guide to custom merchandise every gamer can enjoy, roughly arranged from least to most expensive.
Where to Buy: FandomCSN on Etsy
Store Rating: 5/5 stars (17 reviews)
Price: $5.99 for single patches, $8.99 to $19.99 for patch sets
Bonus: This shop also features gaming belt buckles for $10.99.
Patches and stickers make for great stocking stuffers or a little something extra to slip in with a gamer's Christmas card. They don't have to be hole-in-the-jeans exclusive either. These dress up a gamer's luggage, backpack, or purse, as well as their work or school lanyards and hats. The many uses for these small items make them a great and versatile gift for the gamer(s) in your life.
Micah Thomas, owner of the FandomCSN shop on Etsy, offers embroidered patches in two sections of his shop. Descriptions under each patch explain exactly how to apply the patches as well. His video game themes include:
Cost: $4 to $8 for patches, $3 to $12 for stickers
Jessica Pizarro, owner of the Animinis shop on Etsy, offers a wide selection of Monster Hunter patches in addition to two World of Warcraft patches and a bonus Five Nights at Freddy's "Let's Eat!!!" patch for the die-hard fan. These embroidered pieces come with sew-on or iron-on options to suit the individual gamer's needs.
Animinis ups the stocking-stuffer game with stickers celebrating some of gamers' favorite YouTubers. Pizarro sells handmade Game Grump and Markiplier sticker sets, as well as offering individual options.
Where to Buy: Kayadesign on Etsy
Store Rating: 5 out of 5 stars (98 reviews)
This item touches on a bit of home decor. Add a nice frame and you've got yourself a downright classy gift. I've collected a few options to start your hunt for the perfect print.
First in this category is Kayadesign on Etsy. This shop offers newspaper prints, setting beloved characters in front of vintage dictionary backdrops. The game section of her shop offers a large variety of themes including:
Where to Buy: Loft817 on Etsy
Cost: Ranges from $8.50 to $26
Bonus: Currently features a buy 2, get 1 free deal!
Using a similar dictionary theme and adding pop art to his gallery, Kris Keefer, owner of Etsy's Loft817 shop, adds some extra variety to the list. In addition to Final Fantasy, Mario, and Legend of Zelda, Keefer's shop also boasts Pokemon and Planet Terror prints. His own game section features some pop art pieces that can be purchased in different sizes and without the dictionary print background, though these options cost more ($20 to $26, depending.)
Where to Buy: Jessica Smith on Society6
Store Rating: N/A
Price: Ranges from $15 to $20 for prints, $32 to $37 for framed prints, and $85 to $150 for canvas prints
Jessica Smith sells gorgeous prints on Society6, featuring a Legend of Zelda theme for gamers. The theme draws from all different installments in the franchise with a wide array of color schemes and locations featured. Her pieces can be ordered with frames if you'd like your gift pre-prepared for hanging or as canvas prints for an extra touch of originality.
Store Rating: 5/5 stars (324 reviews)
Price: $13 for wallets, $17 for 3DS cases, and $45 to $50 for bags
Bonus: This same shop offers Legend of Zelda, Animal Crossing, and Pokemon pin and brooch sets that range from $5 to $18. You can dress up old bags if your gamer doesn't need a new one!
From messenger bags to duffels to lunchboxes to 3DS cases, Doug Berdu's BlueRobotto shop has everything your gamer needs, no matter their gender or age. Themes include:
Added Suggestion: Here you could combine the patch gift idea with a new bag to give a gamer something that plays off multiple interests while demonstrating your wonderfully thoughtful capabilities.
Honorable Mention: SpeakGeek on Etsy
This shop comes up again later, but I thought it was worth a mention in this category as well. SpeakGeek offers very console-specific bags or covers for the Nintendo fan. Themes include:
Store Rating: N/A
Price: Ranges from $20 to $39, depending on cover, case + pillow combo, size of the cover, and indoor or outdoor style
Bonus: If you see a design you like, there's a good chance the shop offers it printed on a large variety of other mediums, such as mugs and iPad cases.
This gift combines style and practicality. Everybody needs pillows. I've included four shops for this slide to offer a taste of the variety out there while making your gift shopping just a touch easier.
Where to Buy: NexusGlass on Etsy
Store Rating: 5/5 stars (937 reviews)
Price: Ranges from $22.50 to $32.50
Bonus: Items can be personalized with up to 20 characters at no additional cost. (Longer names cost extra.)
Bonus #2: Custom orders available.
Bonus #3: Multi-order discounts and combined shipping also available.
The NexusGlass shop on Etsy offers hand stenciled designs on restaurant-grade glasses. The glass is all freezer and dishwasher safe to boot, thanks to the shop's stenciling process. This negates all the disappointment of cheaply made glasses whose designs rub right off and face destruction in any dishwasher. In addition to glass mugs, the shop offers:
Video game themes include:
Store Rating: 5/5 stars (9 reviews)
Price: Base price is $35. (For commissions, price could rise depending on amount of detail and materials.)
Bonus: Custom orders available!
While Pizzaro sells embroidered patches and stickers in her Animinis shop, her real specialty lies in handmade felt dolls. No contorted faces, mismatched eyes, or oddly misshapen bodies here. Animinis takes all the horror of mass-produced dolls and gives customers a real treat to add to any fandom collection. The shop adds new themes all the time, but currently it's already featured:
Honorable Mention: SpeakGeek on Etsy
Store Rating: 5/5 stars (70 reviews)
Price: $39 - $89 (Add $5 if you'd like to personalize the item!)
Bonus: The store donates a percentage of all sales to Joyce Meyer's Hand of Hope.
Bonus #2: Custom orders are available!
The SpeakGeek shop on Etsy presents the hand-painted, three compartment solution to a gamer's organizational woes. Box shelves and jewelery hangers/wall organizers come in a wide range of colors and themes to compliment any room, making this gift practical, thoughtful, and downright awesome. Themes include:
Where to Buy: Darling Army from darling-army.goodsie.com
Price: $10 for bows; $70 and $80 for hooded caplets; Dresses, skirts, pinafores, and kimonos range from $65 to $165
Bonus: Custom orders available.
Bonus #2: Gift certificates available.
Our last entry admittedly appeals very strongly to one gender - sorry about that! Darling Army advertises itself as a cosplay pinafore and kimono hot spot, but the shop features plenty of dresses and skirts the gamer girl can wear any day. Accessories add on to to the extensive list with bows and adorable hooded caplets. Female renditions of male characters fill the store as an added bonus to the frustrated cosplayer.
The beauty of this gift transfers easily to Darling Army gift certificates, allowing your gift to cover some of the costs while letting your gamer fill in their order. You can even recommend a few of the shop's gamer items to show off your incredible gift giving expertise.
This shop's themes include:
Do you know of any handmade gifts or shops that didn't make this list? Let me know in the comments!