Gift Idea Blogs from CheckedTwice

This summer, we had three Rice University students as interns. One of their major projects was putting together some gift idea blogs to help people when they’re trying to find a great gift. They focused on a few different gift-giving scenarios:

gift blog page

DIY Gifts: sometimes a handmade gift is the best type of gift

Charity Gifts: for someone who has everything, why not make a donation in their honor?

Last Minute and Web Services Gifts: by the time Facebook reminds you of a birthday, it may already be too late!

Long Distance Relationship Gifts: gifts to bring long distance couples together

Experiential Gifts: get out there and do something exciting- memories are amazing gifts!

Board Game Gifts: sometimes a good board game is all you need

Cocktail Gifts: 21 and up, of course!

Gifts for College Freshman: send them to school with some great new gear

And gifts are broken down within each blog for different relationships, for example, DIY gifts for crafty moms. They scoured the web for the best gifts and there are certainly some unique ideas posted. Thanks to Yize, Ife, and Karen for all of your hard work!

We’re also sharing gift ideas on Pinterest – see our boards here!

And of course – the easiest way to find the perfect gift is to use CheckedTwice!

Nerdblock: Subscription Boxes for Nerds!

We just heard about Nerdblock, a subscription box service for nerds, and it looks pretty great. Basically, you subscribe, give them your t-shirt size, and then each month you’ll receive a box with a new t-shirt and some cool toys. They’re involved with brands like Marvel, Disney, Nintendo, and Star Wars – so you know there’s going to be great stuff in those boxes! It’s only $19.99 per month.. but if you’re interested, subscribe today, because there are a limited number of boxes that go out each month.

These boxes would make a great gift.. but we won’t blame you if you sign up for yourself!

For more information, or to sign up, visit

nerdblock logo

DIY Gifts for Your Amazing Girlfriend

Maybe you’ve been dating an amazing girl for a little while and there is a gift-giving occasion on the horizon. You haven’t been dating so long that its appropriate to buy a nice fancy gift.. but you know that you’ve got to get her something and you want her to love it. Here’s your answer: girls like thoughtful gifts and DIY gifts get the job done. We’re not all painters or poets – so let’s explore some manly DIY gift ideas! Click the links in each post for more information from their sources.

Grown-Up Fort

diy gifts for girlfriendIn our Experience Gift Blog, we introduced building a fort for a playful child. Let’s take it up a notch and build one for you and your girlfriend! You and your sweetheart can snuggle underneath and enjoy a world of your own. Your fort can be indoors, outdoors, by a pool, or even in a tree! The possibilities are endless. Checkout Pinterest for some creative ideas that will fit your surroundings. Who doesn’t love a great fort?!

Instagram Coasters

diy gifts for girlfriendWe know most girls love Instagram and cute coasters are a great way to enhance a room’s decor. The idea of combining them is simply genius! FoamMagazine has some simple instructions on how to make it happen.

Wooden Bottle Opener

diy gifts for girlfriendDoes your girlfriend love beer? Although you can make a bottle opener out of just about anything, this rugged-looking bottle opener from ArtOfManliness gives you an opportunity to show off your woodworking skills (if you have any..) and manliness. You’ll need these tools:

  • Jigsaw (or a coping saw)
  • Dremel with sanding drum (or just regular sandpaper)
  • Drill/driver
  • 5/16″ and 5/32″ drill bits
  • Glue gun

Book Clutch

diy gifts for girlfriendThis may seem to contradict the “manly” comment at the beginning of the blog, but trust me, it’s worth it. In case you didn’t now, clutches are super popular these day and girls love them. Also, if the beer bottle opener project exceeds your woodworking skills, this clutch project from CaughtOnAWhim is perfect for you. Beware, although the clutch only requires a few materials, you will need to handle a needle and some thread. Maybe you can make it into a joint gift from you and your sister? Either way – it’s a great DIY gift that your girlfriend is sure to love!

DIY Gifts for Your Dorky Boyfriend

Boyfriends can be hard to shop for. Are you thinking of making something yourself but not sure how he’ll react? Don’t worry, guys are a lot more sentimental than you think (or they’d like to think). And we have just the selection for your nerdy but otherwise perfect boyfriend.

Beer Cake

diy gifts for boyfriend

You’ll be hard pressed to find a man on earth that doesn’t like beer so this gift is a very safe bet. It’s also super easy to make and you can throw it together at the very last minute if you need to. All you need is a case of  his favorite beer, some cardboard cut to separate the cake layers and some ribbon. You can even use a hot glue gun if you want to write something on the ribbon. Detailed instructions can be found at Big K Little G and eightsixeleven. And here some different designs on Pinterest for inspiration.

Nebula Pillow

diy gifts for boyfriend

If you are a bit on the artsy side, and your boyfriend is into space, then this is just for you. Whimseybox has a tutorial on how to make a nebula pillow using Ink Effects from DecoArt. Throw pillows look great just about anywhere and this one has a sweet design for your dorky man. Alas, if it seems too complicated, there’s another artsy gift below.

Wall Art

diy gifts for boyfriend

While real art might be too much for most guys, silhouettes are perfect. Think of three of his favorite things and make a nice set of wall art for him. Here’s a tutorial at DesignSponge. This is an easy, thoughtful project that will look great on any wall!

Beef Jerky!

diy gifts for boyfriend

All men love to eat.. and what’s always near the top of their list? Meat.  And if you have any experience in the kitchen, making DIY beef jerky from Art of Manliness will likely be a piece cake for you. I shared the idea with one of my buddies and got the response, “I’ll marry whoever makes me beef jerky”. Yeah, that’s how much we love beef jerky. Thoughtful and delicious!

And if you want to take it up a notch, check out this Brief Jerky from Instructables.

Naughty Gifts & Your Hot Self

Hands down my personal favorite. Sky is the limit. Go wild!


Gifts for the Geek III: Revenge of the Fun Geeky Gifts

Not everything a geek does has a practical reason behind it. Geeks like to have fun too – in their own way. So in this post I will be presenting some fun geeky gifts that are a little silly but a lot of fun. Click on the link in each description to get more info!

Star Trek Electronic Door Chime

Lets start off with the Star Trek Electronic Door Chime. This gadget would make a great gift for the Trekkie in your life and  non-Trekkies will enjoy it too. Anyone who has their own room, really! This door chime can be set to respond with a door opening sound or a Red Alert sound from Star Trek which will add some character to your geek’s room at warp speed.


Schrödinger’s Cat Executive Decision Maker

As your geek journeys through his/her college career there will certainly be many decisions that he/she will have to make. Some of these decisions will be ones that need time and effort, while others will be much less crucial (“should I eat tacos today?” falls into the less crucial category). For these less important decisions get your geek the Schrödinger’s Cat Executive Decision Maker. Ask a “yes” or “no” question, open the door of this gadget, and let Schrödinger’s cat make that decision for you. Your physics fans will absolutely appreciate this gift.


Mason Jar Speaker Amplifier

College is usually a place where your musical tastes will probably go through a major revamping for better or worse. A great gift for a freshman geek is a way to play all their music in the  geekiest way possible. Enter the Mason Jar Speaker Amplifier!  This completely self contained speaker/amplifier will allow your geek to take their music anywhere with them and look pretty cool while doing so.

geeky speaker/amplifer

Floppy Disk Drink Coasters

Looking for a cheap gift that is both a fun and useful gift? Check out these Floppy Disk Drink Coasters. Not only will this soft cushion prevent your drink from leaving residue on tables but it also a really cool geeky accessory.


Featured image from HJ Media Studios.

Gifts for Music Lovers (Speakers)

Nothing says more about your personality in college than the music you listen to,whether it’s AC/DC or the Jonas Brothers.  The ideal speakers for college student are active/powered speakers, which means they have built-in amplifiers and don’t require a bulky and expensive receiver. You can also connect these speakers to iPods or laptops directly. Here are some ideas:

Hands Down Best Value – Cyber Acoustics

speakers for dorm room









This three-piece speaker system comes with two satellite speakers and a subwoofer. It also has desktop control pod which controls power, volume, and bass, with headphone jack and auxiliary input. It simply doesn’t get better than this for a system under $50.

Cute Look Leading Edge Water Dancing Speakers

speakers for dorm room











These speakers might not have the most robust build or sound quality, but they are sooooo cool! Your melody will be perfectly matched with dancing water and multicolor LED lights. Perfect for the freshman that loves to entertain in their dorm room.

Best Quality –  Bose Companion 5 Multimedia

speakers for dorm room











A virtual 5.1 sound system with only 3 speakers, these Bose speakers produce so much bass that they’re almost as powerful as PA speakers. It uses simple USB connectivity, so no sound card upgrade, no extra software, adapters or wiring needed.  With these speakers, your freshman can easily turn his dorm room into a club. The only downside is that these may lead to noise complaints…

Best Quality for a Lot Less – Harman Kardon Soundsticks III

speakers for dorm room










These Harman Kardon speakers offer pretty much everything that the Bose set does, except for the surround sound effects, for less than half the price. If not for the sound quality, the space age jelly fish look will certainly put a smile on your favorite freshman’s face.

Gifts for Music Lovers (Headphones)

“Do you like music?”

“Do you like breathing?” was Emma Roberts’ (or any other typical teenagers’) response in movie It’s Kind of a Funny Story. Very few things are more important to young adults than enjoying music on-the-go. Why not help them do so in style?

Headphones have become more of a fashion accessory these days. Not only do they need to deliver superb sound, they also need to look good too. If your freshman listens mainly rock and hip-pop, these headphones will make great gifts.

Beats by Dr Dre is famous for their powerful lows and stylish design, although they are pretty pricey.

headphones for college students











Bose headphones are known for their Noise Cancelling® features. If your freshman will travel a lot in college, such as athletes, then these Bose QuietComfort® 15 headphones are the right choice for you.

headphones for college students







If your freshman is more of a classical music lover and enjoys sound quality more than the looks, then consider these brands:

Sennheiser offers a wide range from consumer to high-fidelity (hifi) products. The German company was established short after WWII and is known for their accurate yet smooth delivery of all ranges. The PX 200 II is a classic model for portable on-ear headphones and they are also significantly cheaper than many other options.

headphones for college students











Audio-Technica, in my opinion, is the best option for classical and human voice listening experiences. If your freshman enjoys listening to Norah Jones in the sun, then check out these ATHESW9A wooden headphones. I particularly like the comment from Ethan. B., on Amazon, “I can now hear EVERYTHING in any given song. Kind of crazy how many noises and counter-melodies can be super quiet and sometimes unnoticeable in lower quality headphones than these”. Wooden housings made of African Padauk also gives these headphones a super classic look:

headphones for college students











Feature image from Nickolai Kashirin.

Gifts for the Geek II: Attack of the Practical Geeky Gifts

After all the fun I had finding the geeky gifts for the first post, I couldn’t resist creating an Episode II for it. With that said, here are some cool and practical gifts for your slightly geeky freshman.

Star Wars R2-D2 Folding Armchair

I definitely wish someone had told me to bring an extra chair to my dorm room my freshman year since it is always nice to be able to offer your guests somewhere to sit down. This geeky gift is one any geek, especially a Star Wars geek, will appreciate. With the Star Wars R2-D2 Folding Armchair, your freshman will not only have an easy to move chair in his room for guests but also a cool decoration that testifies to his/her geekiness.

R2-D2 folding chair - Gifts for the Geeky Freshman

Charging Tools

With the large role technology plays in our lives nowadays, chances are your freshman owns a phone and laptop and as a geek he/she probably owns many other gadgets that need will need to be charged.  Keeping all of our gadgets charged in the least bothersome way possible is a constant battle but it is one we can win… with the right gadgets. Sometimes more gadgets is the answer!

One of these tools is the Plug Hub. With this device, you can help to prevent the annoying occurrence of the mess of tangled up power cords under a desk.

plug hub - Gifts for the Geeky Freshman

To make your geek’s experience with charging his/her number of gadgets even better, check out the Tech Dock by Quirky. This device allows you to charge 4 of your your USB charged devices with only one power outlet. It also looks really slick, very much like an Apple device.

Quirky Docking Station - Gifts for the Geeky Freshman

Organ Transport Lunch Cooler

Finally for that geeky freshman who enjoys bringing his/her own food to lunch, especially if living off campus, I’ve got the perfect lunch cooler for you. With the Organ Transport Lunch Cooler, your freshman will definitely spark some conversations at the lunch table. Lets be honest – bringing a cool lunch bag to school used to be one of the coolest things you could do and still kind of is.

organ transport lunch bag - Gifts for the Geeky Freshman

Featured image by

Gifts for the Future Unemployed “Philosophers”

Do you have that nephew who always brings “big questions” to the family diner table? Does he also have a huge sketch of Nietzsche hanging from his ceiling like Paul Dano in Little Miss Sunshine?  Let’s put a smile on his face before college.

First of all, never get him a book. Philosophers tend to be pretty selective about “presentable” books, so whatever book you give him will probably end up on the bottom shelf and  be known as “the stupid book my aunt gave me once”.

Now, let take a look at some better options:

Little Thinkers

gifts for philosopher











Your freshman philosopher might get lonely on a “shallow” college campus, so get him a doll to play with! This Socrates doll stands a mighty 11 inches tall and appears full of wisdom with his white hair, beard, and toga. It’s also a great conversation starter when people visit his room.

Harmless T-shirts

gifts for philosopher











“Nietzsche loved kitties. Thus Meowed Zarathustra.” Funny philosophy T shirts can also be a great gift for your freshman. Since an average college student won’t do laundry until he runs out of underwear, one can never have too many T-shirts, especially the ones can get his personality across.

Philosophy Magazines (Not Journals)

gifts for philosopher











Aren’t magazines for people who can’t read a real book? Absolutely! Think of these as People Magazine for your favorite philosophers. After all, everyone needs some light reading, even the brainiacs. Philosophy Now  “aims to corrupt innocent citizens by convincing them that philosophy can be exciting, worthwhile and comprehensible, and also to provide some light and enjoyable reading matter for those already ensnared by the muse, such as philosophy students and academics.” It comes out every two months and has an annual subscription fee of only $32! The Philosophers Magazine is another great choice, which is an “independent quarterly, devoted to presenting great philosophical work in an accessible and entertaining format”.

Feature image from J.D. Falk.

The Art of a Dry Ice Cocktail

Here’s an interesting way to celebrate your next Halloween: make a spooky, dry ice cocktail for your loved ones (well, your age 21 and above loved ones).

Check the Yellow Pages for ice suppliers in your area and ask them if they have food-grade dry ice, which is basically frozen carbon dioxide. Be careful – It is extremely cold, so use some ice tongs! Add a big enough chunk to your bowl to keep it out of the straws, but a little will go a long way. It will sink to the bottom and start to transform directly from solid to gas. As this happens, it will create a smoke effect which can be just as fun as the flame in this drink. In this case, think of your entire bowl as the volcano crater! It’s just carbon dioxide, but it’s in your drink – which is why you should only use food grade dry ice.

dry ice cocktail

Now imagine all the other cool effects you can make with dry ice…