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Executive Gift Giving
Out-of-this world gift ideas, the 2013 edition

The Transition from TerrafugiaBig retailers weren’t even waiting for Black Friday this year to try to get people flocking to the stores. Holiday shopping commercials took to the airwaves as soon as the political ads came off. If you’re all laughed out from those “Show Your Joe” Kmart ads, below are some out-of-this world ideas (for all budgets) for all the sci-fi, closet nerds and other geeks on your list.

Rumor has it the economy is getting better, so a hot gift this year will no doubt be a Virgin Galactic space flight. After Ashton Kutcher last spring signed up as passenger No. 500, the reservations went into waitlist mode. Lucky for you, Sir Richard Branson and his family are ready to take off on their first flight next August, which means that list will start moving along. And don’t wait until next year — the price went up to $250,000 in recent months from a more palatable $200K. You don’t even have to go far to book — Gig Harbor-based Specialty Cruise and Villas is an accredited space agent.

If you’d rather do something more practical, spend that money on a flying car. Designed by a group of MIT graduates, this street-legal automobile called Transition converts into an aircraft in seconds. Perfect for any Puget Sound commuter, the two-person plane can reach 100 mph (runway not included). Price is expected at $279,000 and you can reserve one for a mere $10K at www.terrafugia.com. True, it may be tough to decide between the flying car and the space flight, but really it’s a simple question: Do you give a one-time, two-hour vacation, or a convenient way to avoid the I-5 gridlock all year long?

In case the subject of your generous gifting doesn’t do well with heights, you could consider a personal submarine instead, but be prepared to liquidate some assets. The two-person submersible is $2 million (sold at hammacher.com). It’s certainly worth every penny: Think of the romantic date as you float cozily together 1,000 feet underwater, getting an exclusive tour of coral reefs and shipwrecks. And if you’re short of cash, for a bargain of $19,000 you can buy a Killer Whale Submarine instead.

The economy being what it is, thrifty, of course, is en vogue. But don’t confuse that with unhip. “Live long and prosper” neckties, TARDIS cookie jars and Yoda bobbleheads are all so 2011. The least you can do is choose official Star Fleet-issue pajamas ($54.99 at jumpinjammerz.com). What grown man wouldn’t enjoy the comfort of these footed PJs, especially if they come in such bold colors as command gold, science blue and engineering red — and make him look as dreamy as Chris Pine … er, Capt. Kirk (the new and improved version.)

For something a little more sophisticated, check out the Star Trek cuff links ($59.99) or the authentic Doctor Who replica pocket watch ($49.99), both from thinkgeek.com. While you’re at ThinkGeek, stock up on the $19.99 light saber pens for that teen who needs a little help from The Force to do homework, and on the $7.99 chocolate gaming dice sets for the gamers too busy to get up and fetch a sweet snack.

And don’t forget your buddies at the office. The thinkgeek.com TARDIS trash can is a bit of a splurge ($89.99 unless you stumble on sales), but think of the entertainment value you’ll get from co-workers moaning and cursing at the sound of an appearing or disappearing TARDIS every time they open the can to ditch trash. (Also, it’s an environmentally friendly gift: You’ll become a green office in no time as everyone enthusiastically begins to recycle.)

Despite all the hoopla around the latest electronic gizmos (another iPad? Yawn), what seems to be trendy this year is that timeless classic, the watch. While watchmakers are trying to convince the masses that watches are still cool to wear, they are outdoing each other for the coolest, most out-of-this world idea.

Some of the prices, of course, aren’t helping their cause. The supercool N7 Mass Effect Ambassador watch for the gamer in your life will set you back $800 on Amazon.com (almost double last year’s $475 price tag at biowarestore.com). This water-resistant watch includes Swiss movement and laser-etched N7/Mass Effect logos. Love the space idea but not ready to drop the $200K on it? There’s a watch for that: the Romain Jerome water-resistant “moon invader” chrono watch (www.thefinestwatches.com). At an economy-friendly price tag of only $11,180 (on sale), it includes moon dust, fibers from an International Space Station suit and Apollo 11 spare parts.

If you want to go along with the timeless angle without leaving a hole the size of a moon crater in your bank account, there’s a watch (or two) for that, too. The Higgs Boson watch has a down-to-earth price of $39.95 at gadgetsandgear.com but is sure to be “the” gift for the science geeks. Just read the impressive description: “The mind-blowing design of the Higgs Boson Watch displays what is believed to be evidence of the Higgs boson decaying into other bosons during a collision.” OK, so it’s just a beautiful representation of “the God particle” but doesn’t it make you feel smart just reading that and clicking on “add to cart”? And if that much physics makes your head hurt, go for the “Relativity” watch (under $30 from amazon.com retailers). It’s a clever take on Einstein’s theory that everything is relative — the hand stays put while the numbers circle around it.

A few other promising ideas for those on your list who may be a little “out there”: a glowing chess set ($52 at Amazon), an RC Spy Video TRAKR (programmable) that can stealthily (allegedly) record video (under $110 at Amazon), and a very stylish yet practical Swarovski bracelet (steel with jet hematite) that “hides” a 16GB USB key ($175 at swarovski.com).

Even better, go for something cheap. Like the iPhone cover that looks like the “Hello! My name is ____” nametag. It’s a practical gift for First Contact and with the reasonable price of $9.89 (www.funslurp.com), it means you can start saving for some of this year’s prototypes that are going to be next year’s “must-have” gifts.

Google Glass is just one of the many promising products that have geeks drooling all over their keyboards. You can sign up for the Explorer invite-only program (www.google.com/glass/start/how-to-get-one/) that has given some lucky people an early opportunity to test the device — the developer edition is said to cost around $1,500. Google’s been mum on rollout dates for the mass market but there’s been speculation that the Glass is coming soon. So worry not: If you have to stick with more earthly gifts this time around, there’s always next year. The truth will still be out there.

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