Bros, geeks, soccer moms, tree huggers, metrosexuals and military moms: Gift ideas for some stereotypes may be harder than you would first think. Sure, there's the easy present: A coffee mug, a tie, a T-shirt with a not-so-witty catchphrase. But wouldn't you rather come up with something more original this year? Better yet, how about I do the research and you take all the credit?
With much sweat of my brow and clicking of the old mouse, I've come up with five gift ideas each for six popular stereotypes. Enjoy.
MILITARY MOM GIFTS
1. Military Mom Charm Bracelet
Designs by Sandra Kay - $35
This unique sterling-silver bracelet features red, white and blue Swarovski crystals with "Military Mom" and "yellow ribbon" charms. Sandra Kay also offers a similar "Military Wife" charm bracelet.
2. Register Her With Brides Across America
BridesAcrossAmerica.com - Free
For the mom who settled for a quickie wedding before an overseas deployment, Brides Across America connects women and bridal salons to give them free wedding gowns to fulfill their dreams. Most of the dresses, worth approximately $500 to $3,000, are samples and overstocks. Gown designers include everyone from Vera Wang to Simone Carvalli.
3. Snacks in a Can
Figis - $15 to $50
Deployed troops say they love receiving junk-food snacks but packaging is important to make sure your gift survives the trip. Figis offers candy, nuts, snacks and meats (jerky is a particular troop favorite) in a variety of prices. They're also waiving their special $4.95 APO/FPO delivery charge for the holidays, but place your order no later than Dec. 9 to ensure delivery by Christmas.
4. Pregnancy Journal Suite
DigiTimeCapsule - $39.95 to $51.50
This digital pregnancy journal is a great way to share those vital early months with a deployed partner. The entire journal loads onto a heart-shaped crystal USB drive moms-to-be can wear as a pendant. The suite also includes a media center to upload photos, videos, audio messages and music; a time capsule filled with hundreds of memory savers; a family tree form; month-by-month guided questions; and much more. DigiTimeCapsule also offers a Sponsor a Military Mommy-to-be program, to help wives going through pregnancy on their own.
5. Ways to Stay Connected
Every military mom spends a lot of time trying to stay connected to her soldier, so give her the raw materials for keeping in touch. Pick up some pre-paid, flat-rate boxes from the post office. VOIP services -- a method of talking over computer lines instead of the telephone -- are relatively inexpensive and if you buy her a web camera, she can see her soldier as well as talk to him or her.
For additional ideas, read our post "11 Unique Gifts for Military Moms on Active Duty."
TREE HUGGER GIFTS
6. TOKYO Citizen Folding Bike
Citizen Bike - $164
True tree huggers don't drive when they can bike, and a foldable bike is the best solution for commuting part-way then peddling the rest. The TOKYO Citizen Bike is a 16-inch, 6-speed green machine with an ultra-portable frame that folds and unfolds in seconds. Add a carrying bag for $28.
7. DITTO Ecological Paper Clothes Hangers
Bed, Bath and Beyond - $13 per 10 pack
Forget plastic or metal, these non-toxic, long-lasting hangers are made from 100-percent recycled paper and are chlorine, formaldehyde and heavy-metal free. Each hanger measures 9-inches high, 17-inches wide, can hold up to 20 pounds and, because they're ultra slim, can fit easily into tight spaces. Also available as infant-size hangers at $10 per 10 pack.
8. Recycled Glass Fish Napkin Rings
GreenSage Store - $20 set of 4
Napkin rings aren't just an affectation. They're a way to identify the owner of each napkin between washings. These fish napkin rings come in six jewel tones and symbolize faith and abundance.
9. Carbon Offset Credits
CarbonFund.org - $20 for 2 tons
The average American carbon footprint is 50,000 pounds per year. That includes emissions from your home, car, air travel and everything else you use. Help your favorite tree hugger reduce their imprint by making a tax-deductible donation to offset their footprint and support carbon-reduction projects. CarbonFund.org also provides the opportunity to help deforestation by donating $1 to plant a tree in needed areas.
10. Kitchen Scraps Compost Crock
Gaiam - $75
If you're like me, the biggest hassle of composting kitchen scraps is getting them out to the compost bin. You don't want to hike out there every time you peel a banana, but storing bits and pieces in a coffee can just doesn't do the trick. Gaiam offers attractive white-glazed or stainless steel countertop crocks that won't stain or absorb odor and hold up to one gallon of kitchen scraps. An activated carbon filter in the lid prevents funky smells. Replacement filters for the dishwasher-safe crock run $4 for a set of two.
For more Tree Hugger gift ideas, check out "Top 25 Environmental Gift Ideas" from Article City.
11. Metrosexual Guide to Style: A Handbook for the Modern Man
Amazon - $11
A clear alternative to sports-lovers, the metrosexual man has a flair for fashion, a crush on culture and loves to shop. If you'd like to buff your diamond-in-the-rough friend or relative, this is the gift for him. Like an extended episode of "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy," this handbook provides a crash course on music, film, art, home decorating, dating, fitness, grooming and excruciatingly polite manners. The tone is witty with a soupcon of wisdom: "Every man can benefit from a little self-improvement," author Michael Flocker writes in his introduction. "Just as you regularly upgrade your computer, your car and, hopefully, your underwear drawer, you can upgrade yourself to become a player in the new era of the metrosexual man."
12. Tiffany 1837 Money Clip
Tiffany & Co. - $125
Wallets create an unsightly butt bulge while money clips give a man that James Bond flair. This sleek, super-chic clip carries license, credit card and a stack of greenbacks in style. If you'd like to spend a wee bit less, JCPenny sells a handsome, silver-plated version with monogrammed center for $30.
13. Stemless Balloon Wine Glasses
Mikasa - $35 set of 4
Stemware without the stems show your metrosexual man knows his way around the homier version of Southern European wine imbibing. These fun and whimsical designs from Mikasa's Cheers collection are precision-etched with different yet coordinating designs. The dots, lines and swirls are so distinctive guests can easily identify their glasses without those tacky stem charms.
14. Armani Code Scent
GrandPerfumes.com - $53
No fashion-forward man worth his faux-hawk would be caught dead in Old Spice, although he'll no doubt have his own signature scent. Give him a taste of something special with Code. Introduced by Giorgio Armani in 2004, Code has an oriental, romantic fragrance with base notes of leather and tobacco.
15. Himalaya Trading Co. Houndstooth Cashmere Scarf
Overstock.com - $42
No metrosexual's wardrobe is complete without a cashmere scarf, but these oversized houndstooth prints add a splash of color and style that will make your man stand out. Available in four color combinations, each scarf is hand finished with a brush fringe and measures 12-inches wide by 72-inches long. Overstock also carries solid-color cashmere scarves for $48.
For more Metrosexual gift ideas, see "9 Gifts with Free Shipping for your Metrosexual Dad."
16. Pro Sports Clothing
Champs - Prices Vary
Guys don't buy guys gifts...unless they've achieved bro-dom, also known these days as bromosexuals. That's when two men share a powerful friendship that goes beyond shoulder punches and watching Sunday football. Not that sports aren't a big part of a bro relationship, which brings us to this first gift. Bromosexuals ALWAYS wear jerseys emblazoned not only with the logo of their favorite team but the name of their favorite player. Champs has league-approved sportswear replicas for both professional and college sports.
17. The Bro Code
Amazon - $5.50
Barney Stinson (aka Neil Patrick Harris) from TV's "How I Met Your Mother" wrote the book on bromosexuals -- literally. To quote the author, "The official code of conduct for bros appears here in its published form for the first time ever. By upholding the tenets of this sacred and legendary document, any dude can learn to achieve Bro-dom."
18. Team Sports Equipment
Sports Authority - Prices Vary
From basketball to water polo, bros revel in team sports. Make sure your man has the equipment he needs, whether it be a new soccer ball or training equipment.
19. Personalized Pub Sign
GroomStand.com - $36
A personalized pub sign is the modern version of cave paintings for a man cave. These handcrafted signs measure 18 inches by 14 inches to clearly identify this is your man's hang.
20. Certified Wingman T-shirt
Zazzle.com - $23
A wingman is a true friend who has his bro's back during night-club pick-up situations. They'll back up his lies (yeah, he lived in Italy for three years), take care of the hot chick's girlfriend and basically make it easier for his buddy to zero in on his desired lady.
For more Bromosexual gift ideas, check out this list of the best "bromance" films to give as DVDs.
SOCCER MOM GIFTS
21. Personalized Carved Light
Light Affection - Starting at $45
Every mom on the block has one of those digital picture frames that shows a revolving series of the kids playing soccer. Give your soccer mom something truly unique. Light affection takes your photo, carves a 3-dimensional version onto plastic, assembles it into a complete lamp and voila, a one-of-a-kind piece you'll want to reach out and touch.
22. T3 Featherweight Golden Glow Hair Set
Sephora - $200
This pricey-but-worth-it blow-dryer set features the lightening-fast Featherweight dryer with patented Tourmaline SoftAire technology that dries and styles up to 60-percent faster than conventional dryers. Orlando Pita's Renew dry conditioner "uses an innovative skincare-inspired ingredient to absorb moisture from the air and condition your hair." It's the perfect combo for the mom who has little time for primping but would like her look to hold up to sideline winds.
23. Stadium Blanket
Cafe Press - $59.50
A generous 50 inches by 60 inches (it might even be big enough share -- wink wink), this fleece blanket has Soccer Mom written all over it -- literally. "I drive to practices, clean the wounds, wash the uniform, smell the fear and feel the price. I'm a SOCCER MOM." Don't like that slogan? There are plenty more from which to choose.
24. Soccer Print Keds Slip Ons
Zazzle - $60
Too cute for words, these slip-on Keds are printed with the standard black-and-white soccer-ball pattern and accented with field-green insole. Zazzle also offers the same style in high-tops, lace-ups and a pink color scheme.
25. Whimsical Gold Watch
Buy.com - $45
Soccer Mom's live and die by the clock, so give her a giggle each time she checks her wrist. This Whimsical Watch features a tiny cell phone, whistle, van on the go, soccer jersey and fully-loaded calendar background. Oh yeah, there's an analog quartz clock in there with leather band, as well.
For some less soccer-oriented gifts, check out The Washingtonian's post "Great Gift Ideas: Suburban Soccer Moms."
26. Video Game Bracelet
Etsy UseYourDigits - $35
Admit it: When I said geek you thought "male," But the geek kingdom now includes a fair number of females, which explains this video-game bracelet. The laser-cut acrylic links represent the most famous video game controllers and are available in several colors.
27. Etch-a-Sketch iPad Case
Headcase - $39
Genius! Pure genius. This gift makes me want to run out and buy an iPad just so I can get the case. Combining a low-tech drawing toy with a high-tech visual tool satisfies our retro and futuro cravings. The case is made of impact-resistant plastic and includes rubber feet, a felt backing and a retractable kick stand.
28. Portable Balloon Speaker
Uncommon Goods - $45
This whimsical and portable balloon-shaped speaker looks just like a clown's nose and is compatible with the headphone jack on any MP3 player or mobile phone. Plug it in and pump up the volume to play your favorite songs for your friends or set the mood with your hand-selected soundtrack. USB recharging takes about two hours and keeps the little balloon sounding off for about 4 hours at max volume.
29. SunMod Solar Modification Kit
ThinkGeek.com - $20
Add the SunMod Kit to any AA or AAA battery-powered device and you'll never need batteries again. One quick hack is all it takes, with all necessary tools included. The kit is particularly well suited to adapting TV and auxiliary remote controls. Plus, since you'll need to leave devices in the sun to power up, you'll always know where to find them.
30. Star Trek Enterprise Pizza Cutter
ThinkGeek.com - $25
Boldly cut pizza where no man (or woman) has cut pizza before. The laser-etched, stainless-steel blade is capable of slicing through any type pizza, plus it looks great on a geek's desk when not in use.
Because you can ever have too many fun techno treats, here's another "30 Gifts for Gadget Geeks."