December 3, 2011

What to Buy a Geologist for Christmas: 2011 Edition

Posted by Evelyn Mervine

Do you have a geologist (or several) in your family, and you’re not sure what to buy them for Christmas? Good news! The Georneys “What to Buy a Geologist for Christmas” (or Chanukah, Newtonmas, etc.) 2011 gift guide is here.

Last year, I wrote two popular posts titled What to Buy a Geologist for Christmas and What to Buy a Geologist for Christmas- Part II. There are many good gift ideas on those two lists, so be sure to check them out in addition to this year’s list.

Update: Matt Hall over at the Agile* blog also has lists of good gifts for geologists, with a focus on geophysicists. Here’s the 2011 list and here’s the 2010 list.


Gift #1: Planet and Moon Ornaments:

Jupiter Christmas Tree Ornament. Image taken from the Planetary Society Cafe Press Shop:

I think these planet and moon ornaments from The Planetary Society are fantastic. My only complaint is that Saturn doesn’t have rings, which is sad.

Cost: $9 each


Gift #2: Plush Microbe Holiday Ornament Set:

Plush Microbe Holiday Ornament Set. Image from ThinkGeek:

For the geobiologist in your family, I recommend the Plush Microbe Holiday Ornament Set, which is going to adorn my own Christmas tree this year (thanks for the early Christmas present, mom!). Aren’t these little microbes extra cute when they’re all decked out for the holidays?

Cost: $20 / set


Gift #3: A Map from the USGS Store:

A New and Correct Map of the World, circa 1702. Image from USGS Map Store Website.

Did you know that the United States Geological Survey has an incredible online map store? When my geologist husband and I were furnishing our new apartment, we spent a few hours drooling over the gorgeous maps in this store. Geologists do love maps! I’m especially fond of the historical maps, such as the one above which is “A New and Correct Map of the World” from 1702. My husband and I decided to put this map in our living room, and it looks great!

Cost: Variable, generally $15 – $30


Gift #4: Knitted Dinosaurs:

A crocheted triceratops. Image taken from the Frugal Knitting Haus website.

Is your geologist also a knitter? Or are you a knitter? Then I recommend purchasing dinosaur knitting patterns and either giving the pattern to your geologist knitter or knitting one of the dinosaurs yourself.

There are actually several dinosuar knitting patterns on the market, but for a simple set of patterns I recommend ordering Jean Greenhowe’s book “Toy Collection,” which contains several dinosaur patterns. In the US this booklet can be ordered from Frugal Knitting Haus for about $10. If you crochet rather than knit, Frugal Knitting Haus also has a booklet containing dinosaur crochet patterns— on sale for only $5!

Cost: $5 – $10 (for the patterns)


Gift #5: Volcano Mug:

Volcano mug. Image taken from the Oogma Mooga website:

The volcano mug in the picture above with the knitted dinosaur was a gift from a friend a few years ago. Google informs me that this mug is the Hot Lava Java Volcano Mug. The mug has unfortunately been discontinued, but you can find the mug for sale on ebay.

Cost: About $20 – $30 on ebay


Gift #6: Paleontologist Barbie:

Palentologist Barbie thinks digging for fossils is fun!

Another ebay gem is Paleontologist Barbie. Every geologist should own a geologist Barbie! I purchased my very own Paleontologist Barbie on ebay for about $30.  If you’re on a budget or want to cater to a specific geology subdiscipline, find or buy an inexpensive Barbie and make your own geologist Barbie.

Cost: About $30 on ebay


Gift #7: Alvin Deep-Sea Subermsible Keychain:

Alvin Keychain. Image taken from WHOI store website.

The marine geologist in your family might enjoy a present from the online store of my home institution of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI). From this online store you can order all sorts of neat WHOI gear, including T-shirts, mugs, and toys. One of my favorite items in the store is a keychain of the deep-sea submersible Alvin.

Cost: $7.95 (for the Alvin keychain)


Gift #8: Geology Jewelry from Surly-Ramics:

Lucy Fossil Skeleton necklace from Surly-Ramics.

Trilobite necklace from Surly-Ramics.

I recommended my friend Amy’s trilobite jewelry in last year’s gift guide, and I’ll recommend it again this year. I’ll also recommend her dinosaur jewelry and her Lucy fossil skeleton jewelry. Amy also has a variety of other scientific themed jewelry– be sure to browse her Etsy shop. Amy can also take special orders if there’s something particular you have in mind. Just send her an email.

Cost: $20 – $30


Gift #9: Kindle Touch:

The Kindle Touch. Image taken from

Geologists generally travel fairly often. An ereader such as a Kindle is a great gift for the traveling geologist who wants some reading for the airplane or that field season. I just ordered myself a Kindle Touch as a Christmas gift to myself, and I’m extremely happy with it. I’ve never owned an ereader before, and I’m amazed at how many books I now have at my fingertips on the extremely lightweight Kindle Touch. Also, the battery seems to last a very long time– weeks, depending on use. I’m definitely going to take my Kindle with me on all my travels.

If you want to give a really great gift, load the Kindle Touch up with some geology-themed books. See some suggestions for books in my 2010 “What to Buy a Geologist for Christmas” lists.

Does your geologist already own an ereader? Then a perfect gift would be a waterproof cover that allows your geologist to take the ereader in the field even when weather conditions are less-than-ideal.

Cost: Kindle Touch– $99 – $149 ; Waterproof Case– $20 and up


Gift #10: Geologic Timescale Poster:

Geologic Timescale poster. Image taken from here:

What geologist doesn’t want a poster of a detailed geologic timescale? That timescale is sure to come in handy when trying to remember those pesky geologic ages. Geologic timescale posters can be ordered from a variety of places. For example, the Subcommission for Stratigraphic Information of the International Commission on Stratigraphy has a few timescale posters for sale here.

Cost: $10 and up