What to get a geeky male for his 21st birthday?
April 9, 2008 9:46 PM   Subscribe

What to get a geeky male for his 21st birthday?

Asking this for a friend.
"So, the boyfriend of 6 months is turning 21, and I am a bit stumped as to what I should get him for his birthday. He doesn't read novels and our taste in music does not line up at all, so those two old standbys are out, and I can't get him good booze because I'm underage. He's obsessed with neuroscience and computers, is a Linux aficionado, speaks fluent German, likes to cook and clean, and doesn't own any French cuff shirts, so cufflinks are out. Sexy!Gifts aren't out of the question, but I'd rather get him something unselfish, something that is simultaneously awesome and meaningful."
posted by Carillon to Human Relations (20 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Likes to clean? I'd say get him whatever the hell he wants, forever.

I'll jump on the "likes to cook" part, because there are all sorts of things you can get a cook.

First off, knives. Not good knives, awesome knives. A quality set of knives will last your whole life, so it's kind of meaningful, too. I like the Wüsthof Classic line, but a little research will reveal other options.

If you don't have a food processor, that's a life-changing kitchen gift. Not necessarily meaningful, but it will be much appreciated.

I don't know how I lived without my ThermaPen. If you don't eat meat, you probably won't use it as much, but I even use mine for vegetarian dishes sometimes.

Oh, and a subscription to Cook's Illustrated might be nice, as well. Both inspiring and informative, if a little fussy sometimes.

Jeez, I could go on for days. If in doubt, go for the knives. They're more personal. Cook's knife, boning knife, paring knife, tomato/bread knife, and kitchen shears would be a good starting line-up.
posted by lore at 10:12 PM on April 9, 2008

If you're in the states, 21 means booze. If he isn't opposed, some fancy German booze or a good Scotch could be good.
posted by Nelsormensch at 10:12 PM on April 9, 2008

A skeletal automatic watch?
posted by nulledge at 10:14 PM on April 9, 2008

Lucid Absinthe might be a good call. I heard an interview with the guy on this week in science a few weeks ago that made me really geek out about it, apparently it's as close as possible to the original stuff. Get a friend to buy it, or go up to some guy in bevmo.

Although I personally can't recommend it, a friend of mine digs neuroscience big and recommends Phantoms in the Brain.

I'd 2nd cooks illustrated- it's amazing. As for knives, german knives are pretty nice, but the real snobs seem to go for japanese knives (don't ever get them started about them either because they love to talk about them)
posted by Large Marge at 10:34 PM on April 9, 2008

Something from ThinkGeek?
posted by autojack at 10:35 PM on April 9, 2008

I'm around his age, speak dutch/german, use Linux.

XKCD, ThinkGeek, and Jinx all have t-shirts for various geek persuasions. If don't speak german fluenty but I love german music... if he likes Kraftwerk this album would be good (just because there is a good chance he doesn't have it yet, and it's doubly nerdy with the inclusion of chiptunes)... Rammstein recently put out Voelkerball.

Subscription to some magazine? IEEE Spectrum, MIT Tech Review, Skeptic, and Scientific American are my preferences for science/tech stuff. Perhaps a subscription (if only online...) to a German magazine/paper?

It's a cliche but in all these threads it's worth mentioning that sex is good!
posted by phrontist at 10:39 PM on April 9, 2008

XKCD's *posters* are awesome and not as personal as a t-shirt. ThinkGeek is almost too easy.

But a skeletal automatic watch... damn, that's classy, if he's the watchwearing type.
posted by disillusioned at 10:55 PM on April 9, 2008

a big ass slotcar racing set
posted by H. Roark at 11:02 PM on April 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

Khet? A Leatherman? (I love the micras - small enough for keychains, where they're carried about everywhere and are infinitely useful)

Also, X-treme Geek is sort of like ThinkGeek, only less t-shirts and more gadgets. Something might be found there.
posted by po at 11:12 PM on April 9, 2008

If you're going for watches (which are quality gifts, for the record), I can't argue strongly enough for something from Tokyo Flash. If you can afford it, I vote for the Eleeno Orbit Elite - I have that one + another Eleeno, and they both fill me with glee.

Alternatively, my work picked up a couple of good remote control helicopters, and they're awesome. Get two and dogfight.
posted by Lemurrhea at 11:12 PM on April 9, 2008

Instead of buying him something, maybe she could plan an "awesome and meaningful" thing for them to do - dinner out at a nice place, a short road trip or something special they can enjoy together.
posted by easy_being_green at 1:29 AM on April 10, 2008

Seconding the cooking stuff. If there's any way you can get a hold of some family cast-iron - granny's old skillet - go for that. If not, buy him some new cast-iron, the cookware which says "forever."
posted by jbickers at 4:28 AM on April 10, 2008

I like Uncrate for gift ideas. Lots of good stuff on there.
posted by purephase at 5:11 AM on April 10, 2008 [1 favorite]

How about home brewing equipment? It's appropriately science-y, and fits the 21 theme well. I'm not sure if you can buy supplies without being 21 yourself, it may depend on the state, but maybe you have some older friends/relatives?
posted by fermezporte at 5:16 AM on April 10, 2008

Thirding Japanese knives. Cooking geeks see Wusthof or Henckels and go, "Well, you were restricted to big-box stores, so I forgive you." The real snobs go for MAC knives or Kyocera. The best part is that if you go through somewhere like premiumknives.com, MAC knives are no more expensive than Henckels, but are regarded by Cook's Illustrated as being basically the best damn knives in the world.

That said, I'm extremely pleased with my Kyoceras. I got a 7" chef's knife and 3" paring knife on eBay for about $110 shipped total, and they cover 99% of tasks with flying colors. I still have my Henckels santoku around for when I just absolutely need a metal knife (smashing garlic cloves, for example), and once in a while you do need a nice long bread knife (although the Kyocera is so god damn sharp that I can actually use it to slice crusty bread, and easily at that), but most decent chefs will tell you that you can go a LONG way with just a good-sized chef's or santoku knife (I'd argue in favor of the latter, honestly, but I don't regret my choice of a chef's knife) and a short paring knife.

Boy, I sure do like parentheses.
posted by DoctorFedora at 5:35 AM on April 10, 2008 [1 favorite]

- Programmable Roomba
- 2nding the Leatherman Micra.
- EON Ice card light
- Lots of things from Thinkgeek (mentioned above)
- And gee, if you're blessed with money a Sony Vaio UX would be awesome (though maybe a tad overboard)
posted by samsara at 5:57 AM on April 10, 2008

A tee-shirt featuring his favorite linux distribution shouldn't be underestimated. I've gotten my propers while wearing an ubuntu shirt, and the ego-boost is very satisfying.
posted by cowbellemoo at 6:36 AM on April 10, 2008

I'm a geek (girl though) and when I turned 21, the best two gifts I got were a massive external hard drive and booze. Maybe not particularly original, but they made me happy.
posted by version control at 9:48 AM on April 10, 2008

How about a Chumby? Every Linux geek who has seen my chumby likes it.

That sounds dirty.
posted by bxg at 12:09 PM on April 10, 2008

Unique stuff here... geekdom meets gourmand

Charles & Marie
posted by swiffa at 11:02 PM on April 10, 2008 [1 favorite]

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