Some of my favorite pop culture-related possessions were actually gag gifts. One year, during a “white elephant” exchange at the office, I wound up with an XXL t-shirt emblazoned with the Friends logo that somebody picked up at the NBC store. Every time I put it on, I felt like a tourist from Indiana. I loved it.
Lucky for us all, there are a whole wealth of entertainment-inspired gifts out there that are far classier than my Friends tee. And all of these picks are sold by small businesses or artists themselves.
Tina's Room Scented Soy Candle
I find it endlessly charming that the folks behind ReelLife Candle Co. in Saratoga Springs, NY, spent days, perhaps weeks, imagining what it would smell like in Tina’s bedroom in the fictional, animated world of Bob’s Burgers. The product description says “sweet berries and cotton candy with a powdery undertone” and, we imagine, just a hint of burger grease. ReelLife has a bevy of other pop culture-inflected candles on offer, too, from Rick and Morty to Harry Potter-inspired scents.
Winona Forever Patch
Back in the ‘90s, when Winona Ryder was dating Johnny Depp, he infamously got “Winona Forever” tattooed on his bicep. When they split, Depp had her name partially removed, so his tattoo reads “wino forever” instead. I mean… at least it’s accurate. Commemorate this iconic moment in pop culture history with Strange Ways’ ingenious iron-on “Winona Forever” patch.
Trip Down Memory Lane Embroidered Tee
Thelma and Louise is nearly 30 years old, but in the #MeToo era, this fable of female friendship feels more relevant than ever. This tee by Johny be good features a minimalist embroidered illustration of Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis by Belgian artist Axelle Rose Zwartjes.
George Costanza Earrings
I didn’t know I needed to wear George Costanza’s mug on my lobes until I found this pair on Etsy and promptly melted into a puddle. IdolLeisure, based in Long Beach, CA, also sells pins and jewelry featuring other idiosyncratic icons like Guy Fieri and Larry David. They’re hysterical.
Pop Culture Prayer Candles
I spotted similar pop culture prayer candles at a cafe in Seattle I visited recently and haven’t been able to stop thinking about them. I think they’re great stocking stuffers and fun small gifts for friends and officemates. The offerings range from Saint Lizzo and Saint Cardi to Saint Antoni and Saint JVN.
Hot Priest Greeting Cards
You haven’t sent out holiday cards to all your friends, family, and acquaintances already?! Kneel and repent, you naughty elf. Then buy a dozen of these Hot Priest greeting cards and send them to your best girlfriends throughout the next year, holiday season be damned.
Moonlight Screenplay Book
Earlier this fall, A24 released a trio of books commemorating three of the studio’s most celebrated releases — Ex Machina, The Witch, and Moonlight, Barry Jenkins’ 2016 Academy Award Winner for Best Picture. The Moonlight edition contains an essay by Pulitzer Prize-winning critic Hilton Als, plus a gorgeous stream-of-consciousness foreward by Frank Ocean. The book is a must-have for film buffs enamored with the masterpiece.
Crochet Baby Yoda
This one’s a no-brainer. The official Baby Yoda merch won’t ship till May 2020. Now’s the time to learn to crochet and get to work on this plushy lookalike. May the force be with you.