Stuff Your Stockings like Ol’ St. Nick

Could you imagine if your entire Christmas bounty fit into a wooden shoe? Americans tend to view stockings as a fun appetizer to the feast of Christmas presents that follow. But in some countries, the Christmas stocking or clog itself is the main event, staying true to the tradition’s origin.

This ritual is believed to trace back to the German legend of a rich man named Nicholas and a poor widower who couldn’t afford dowries for his three unwed daughters. Wanting to help, Nicholas tossed three bags of gold through an open window at night, which landed in the stockings drying on the fireplace. As the story spread, children began putting out their own stockings or clogs, filled with carrots and hay for Nicholas’ reindeer, waiting for him to replace their bribes with small gifts. Today in America, stockings have become bigger and the contents vary by family tradition — some stuffing them with whimsical toys, while others prefer practical gifts like tube socks.

This year my family will celebrate the season with our first-ever fireplace. And our new mantel is just begging for a row of cheerfully-knit stockings. So naturally, I’m on the prowl for excellent stocking stuffer gift ideas. If you’re on the hunt like me, you’ll appreciate this round up of pocket-sized gift ideas, perfectly suited for stockings for all ages. Best of all, you can find them all at Half Price Books and it won’t break the bank since there are countless gifts under $10. From always-in-style traditional gifts like journals, planners and stationery, to pop-culture hits like comic book figures, keychains, magnets and collectibles.

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What will you fill your stockings with this year?

10 Holiday Gifts for the Geek in Your Life

As an unofficial spokesperson for the geek community, let me be the first to apologize to anyone who doesn’t share in our particular hobbies or passions. Why? Because I know we can be hard to shop for around the holidays.

We usually know exactly what we want and when everything comes out. We pre-order things months in advance or wait in midnight lines on release day. Sometimes – but not always! – we can be a bit picky. It’s often hard to surprise us.

And who doesn’t want to surprise their nearest and dearest during the holidays with the perfect gift? If you’re still looking for one last present to go under the tree, and if you don’t know what a 20-sided dice is or why it’s important that Han shot first (and trust me, it’s important), then here are ten gift ideas for the special geek(s) in your life that you might find at your neighborhood Half Price Books.

Since The Force Awakens is finally here this week, we’ll start with some Star Wars picks.

1.  X-Wing Miniatures Game – Core Set (The Force Awakens Edition)
X-Wing is not only a great gift for Star Wars fans, it’s a perfect entry point for anyone interested in trying tabletop strategy games. The rules are easy to learn, and this set includes everything players need to recreate the exciting dogfights from the Star Wars movies.

It’s also a great gift for someone who already plays X-Wing, because this set includes new figures and rules inspired by The Force Awakens.

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2. Star Wars Crochet
To my knowledge, Jabba the Hutt has never been cuter.
Like the previous entry, this is an excellent starter set for your crafty geek. The kit provides patterns for 12 Star Wars characters and the materials to make Yoda and a Stormtrooper. If you crochet yourself, these figures would make wonderful stocking stuffers or ornaments for next year’s Christmas tree.

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3. Star Wars Fabrikations
These plush action figures would make an adorable addition to your Star Wars fan’s collection. Figures that may be available at your local store include Darth Vader, Boba Fett and Chewbacca. If you’re having trouble deciding which one to get for your Star Wars fan, here’s my advice: let the Wookiee win.

4. Star Trek Paper Model Kit
Don’t worry, we also have Star Trek fans covered. We have a variety of Star Trek items in our stores this year, but this model kit is my personal recommendation. It includes everything you need to recreate the voyages of the original U.S.S. Enterprise (*). It even includes LED lights and plays the Star Trek theme!

(*) Bad William Shatner impression not included.

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5. Munchkin: Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas
The original Munchkin is a wildly popular, fantasy-themed competitive card game. Munchkin is perfect for the whole family and has its tongue planted firmly in its cheek.

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Over the years, the makers of Munchkin have released individually-themed sets based on popular movies and characters. This stand-alone boxset, based on the wildly-beloved holiday film, is an ideal choice for both card game and Disney fans alike. It only takes minutes to learn the game’s rules and would make for an excellent family activity during the holidays.

6. Dungeons & Dragons, Fifth Edition Starter Set
It’s hard to imagine that Dungeons and Dragons is over forty years-old now. This classic role-playing game – for many, a geek rite of passage – is as popular as ever. Last year, the entire game was completely overhauled with the aim to appeal to modern audiences.

Despite recent changes, the spirit of the classic game remains intact in this latest edition. This inexpensive beginner’s set is a great gift for anyone who wants to try role-playing games for the first time… or for parents who want to pass down this popular pastime to the next generation.

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7. 1001 Video Games to Play Before You Die
This reference book features a wealth of history and trivia about both classic and modern games. It’s a great gift for video game enthusiasts – especially if your particular enthusiast can’t always wait till the holidays for the latest game releases.

They will have a great time seeing how many of these games they played… and how many they have left to go. My total came to 300. I honestly thought that number was going to be higher. You win again, real life.

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8. Legend of Zelda Puzzles
No matter how much technology advances, there’s nothing quite like a good puzzle.
Most of our stores currently feature two 550-piece puzzles based on the perennial video game franchise, The Legend of Zelda. Like the previous recommendation, it’s a great outside-the-box choice to surprise your video game fan. It’s also a great family activity to share with them, especially if you don’t enjoy video games yourself.

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9. Minecraft Creeper
If your child plays video games at all, they probably play Minecraft. It’s an open-world, fantasy-themed construction game where players can build almost anything they can imagine. Young or old, few games have ever captured people’s imaginations quite like it.

Creepers are one of the most popular icons from this game. Minecraft fans will no doubt enjoy having this figure on their shelves or next to their computers as they work tirelessly on their latest epic creation.

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10. Goonies Coffee Mug
Goonies never say die! Many of them also enjoy warm beverages. Enough said.

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Jeremy is Customer Service Specialist at HPB Corporate

Stocking Stuffers Under $10

Stocking stuffers don’t have to break the bank. At Half Price Books this holiday season, we’ve stocked our shelves with a bundle of stocking stuffers under $10. From Marvel and DC Comics and My Little Pony, to tea infusers, retro games and toys, book lights, literary sticky notes and 2016 pocket-sized planners, there’s so much to discover at HPB. Plus, we have a sleigh load of new and used books, music, movies, games and more so you can give lots of holiday joy this year and stay on budget. Here are just a few ideas to get you started.

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Let us know what brilliant gift ideas you have and what JOY you discover in your local Half Price Books. Over the holidays, share your stocking stuffers with us by tagging @halfpricebooks or use the hashtag #HPBhaul.

Wishing you lots of holiday JOY!

– Half Price Books Blog Team

Nuts About Books, Music, Movies and…the Environment!

Christmas is right around the corner, and if your family is anything like mine, you have those certain people that are so hard to buy for. You know they are a sci-fi book nut, but you don’t know what books they’ve read. You know they go nuts for vinyl records, but what if you get the wrong one. You know they collect classic horror movies, but you’re going nuts trying to find one they don’t already have. We would like to help de-stress your holidays. Now through December 24, Half Price Books is offering a $5 bonus card with a purchase of a $25 gift card. That’s a total of $30 that you can give to your friend or family member, or you can give them the $25 gift card and keep the $5 for yourself. After all, with all this holiday shopping, you deserve it.

However, buying a Half Price Books Gift Card will not only provide you with the perfect gift for that hard-to-shop-for person, but also help preserve the environment. We are excited to introduce our new gift cards made with 40% post consumer waste recycled paper this holiday season! Half Price Books is one of the few retailers that have switched from traditional plastic gift cards to to a healthier paper alternative, without limiting our design options or gift card functionality for our customers. Plus, our new paper gift cards are recyclable through any paper recycling program.

 

So to sum up, here is a little holiday poem just for you.

 

Christmas Day is fast-approaching!  

Jack Frost nipping, chestnuts roasting!  

Shoppers shopping like crazed elves.  

Gifts are flying off the shelves, 

 

Looking for that perfect gift?

Something for everyone on your list.

Nuts about books, music, movies and more?

Find it all at your Half Price Books store.


What about something that shows you care

About this world which we all share?

The choice should not be too hard

How about a Half Price Books Gift Card?

 

Now with all your shopping done

Let’s go out and have some fun,

Drink some cocoa, and have a ball.

Happy Holidays, to one and all!

 

Happy holidays, and don’t forget to come on in for our Black Friday promotion!  Doors open at 7 a.m.!

Julie is Traffic Manager at Half Price Books Corporate.
You may follow her on Twitter @auntjewey.

Best Baby Shower Book Gift Ideas

The most popular gifts at baby showers are undoubtably clothes, and as adorable as those cute little outfits are, the new baby will outgrow them before the mom has fastened the snaps. We have been thrilled to see books make their way as a hot baby shower theme and gift option. At Half Price Books, we believe that books are a gift that grows with the baby and most importantly, grows their imaginations. Here are a few of our favorite books to give to the next generation of adorable munchkins.

1:  Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak   2: Cowboy Small by Lois Lenski 

3: Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton  

4: Thomas the Tank Engine by Rev. W. Awdry  

5: Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you See? by Eric Carle  

6:  The Monster at the End of this Book by Jon Stone

 

1:  Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr.  2: Olivia by Ian Falconer

3: Little Miss Curious by Roger Hargreaves   4: The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle  

5: The Princess and the Pea by Hans Christian Andersens

6:  Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans

If you would like more children’s book recommendations and ideas, please see our 40 Books Every Child Should Read and 21 Books to Start a Baby’s Library blog post.

What is your favorite childhood literary treasure and do you still have it on your bookshelf?

Stephanie is Art Director at Half Price Books Corporate
You can follow her on Twitter at @saltpepperpress


Holiday Gift Guide: Gifts for Everyone Under $10

Happy Holidays, booklovers! Hopefully by now your halls are decked and your spirits are bright. As always, we at HPB are here to help you during this busy holiday season, even if it’s just to provide a safe haven where you can be yourself, alone with your favorite books — and maybe somewhere along the way, you’ll see an awesome vintage Dr. Seuss for your new nephew, or a stack of classics for your English-major sister, or a cookbook for your chef-of-a-husband, or any of these fun items below, which you’ll be able to find at your local HPB in the coming weeks. Even better: They’re all under $10, leaving a little cushion for those clearance hardbacks you found for yourself. Everyone wins!

Products, prices and availability vary by store.

For Coworkers: (1) Cranky wind-up toy: $7.99; (2) Owl corkscrew, $7.99; (3) Light wood fish corkscrew, $7.99; (4) 8″ record wall clock, $7.99;  (5) Robot pencil sharpener, $9.99

For Little Artists: (6) Cra-Z-Art Spiral Art, $5.99; (7) Cra-Z-Art 64 Crayons, $3.99; (8) Amazing Spiderman giant sticker activity book, $7.99; (9) Hello Kitty giant sticker activity book, $7.99

Family Fun & Games: (10) Glass Chess & Checkers, $9.99; (11) Double 6 Dominoes, $4.99; (12) Gallery Series wood puzzles, $5.99; (13) Dr. Seuss The Lorax giant puzzle, $7.99

Stocking Stuffers: (14) Snow in a Can, $1.99; (15) Leuchtturm 1917 assortment, $5.99; (16) T-Rex Wish Pet, from $3.99; (17) LED space gun keychain, camera keychain, $3.99; (18) Lenticular camera 4S iPhone case, $6.99

For Your Favorite Geek: (19) Vibe Sound Eco-Friendly Foldable Speakers, $5.99; (20) ; (21) Obsessed with Star Wars game, $9.99; (22) Earth night light, $3.99; (23) Jagget sticky notes, $2.99

For Your Gracious Host: (25) Roll-a-coaster Set of 4, $7.99 and drink markers (Space Invader, Paper Staches), $3.99; (26) Whiskey connoisseur collection, $9.99; (27) Mudlark Lola journal with magnetic closure, $5.99; (29) Hype retro handset, $9.99

For Teachers: (30) Honest Boy pencil sharpener, $7.99; (31) Apple memo pad, $2.99; (32) Hard-bound journals, from $4.99 (33) HPB Gift Card, from $25 (with a $5 coupon if you purchase before December 24!) Please note that HPB gift cards are good in-store only.

Happy holidays!

Kristen is Public Relations Specialist at Half Price Books Corporate. 
You can follow her on Twitter at @kristendickson.

20 Gifts for Dad this Father’s Day

Dads can be tough to shop for sometimes. But to get you inspired for the occasion of picking out a Father’s Day gift, we’ve rounded up some suggestions. Some are sincere. Some are tech-savvy, and others old-school. Some are sentimental, while a few are just plain silly. What will you get for your dad?

1. Father’s Day: A Journey into the Mind and Heart of My Extraordinary Son by Buzz Bissinger

2. Moneyball (2011) on DVD or Blu-Ray starring Brad Pitt

3. Darth Vader and Son by graphic novelist Jeffrey Brown

4. Killing Lincoln: The Shocking Assassination That Changed America Forever (Audiobook) read by Bill O’Reilly

5. Hype DJ-Style Stereo Headphones (available in-store only)

6. Guy Fieri Food: Cookin’ It, Livin’ It, Lovin’ It cookbook by Food Network star Guy Fieri

7. Soft-Touch Lined Blank Journal in various colors (available in-store only)

8. Half Price Books Gift Card — Buy it in-store or online! FREE standard shipping for online orders!

9. Lefty: An American Odyssey by Veronona Gomez and Lawrence Goldstone

10. Game of Thrones complete series by George R.R. Martin

11. Hype Swivel Folio Case for Kindle Fire™ e-reader (available in-store only); Kindle not included.

12. Screaming, Flying Monkey (available in-store only)

13. The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson by Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer Robert A. Caro

14. Seal Team Six: Memoirs of an Elite Navy Seal Sniper by Howard E. Wasdin and Stephen Templin

15. The Litigators by renowned novelist John Grisham

16. Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games for Nintendo Wii or Nintendo DS

17. A Hard Day’s Night (1964) LP by The Beatles

18. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey (Find this and other autographed books!)

19. Vietnam in HD (History Channel) on DVD or Blu-Ray directed by Sammy Jackson

20. Axis and Allies classic Milton Bradley board game (available in select stores only)

Father’s Day is Sunday, June 17. Check out these gift ideas or stop in your neighborhood HPB and ask our Bibliomaniacs for help finding a great gift for your dad.

Got a brilliant gift idea for dad? Don’t keep it to yourself. Share it in the comments below.

— Meredith

If you can read this, thank a teacher!

May 7 – 11 is Teacher Appreciation Week, and what better time to reflect on all that teachers mean to us than right before school lets out for the summer?

Beyond teaching the ABCs and 123s, educators inspire us to think creatively, solve problems, and ask questions about our surroundings so we can learn how to improve our lives.

Need a way to show your favorite teachers how much you appreciate them? Why not find them a novel from their favorite fiction genre, or how about a new blank journal to record their thoughts? Tip: You can inscribe the cover page with a short note, inspirational quote or poem thanking your teachers for all that they taught you and let them know how they’ve made a difference in your life.

Or, if you’re not quite sure what your teacher would enjoy, gift cards are always appreciated. Now through Sunday, May 13, when you purchase a $25 HPB Gift Card, you’ll receive a $5 HPB Card for yourself to use in-store during the month of June!

As our own special “thank you” to educators, teachers and librarians can save 10% year-round on all their purchases at HPB when they sign up for the HPB Educator Discount Program.

Did you have a particularly exceptional teacher that inspired you? Tell us about it in the comments!

— Kate & BW

Win a $25 HPB gift card for Mother’s Day

We recently posted some great suggestions for Mom’s Day, but if you are like me, you haven’t had time yet to order, shop or browse — and Sunday is fast approaching. Don’t panic; you still have time to get the perfect gift! It’s a gift filled with imagination, possibility and nearly unlimited choices–it’s a Half Price Books gift card, of course! And now through May 13, when you buy a $25 card for her (or anyone else you love…even if it’s yourself!) you can get a $5 HPB card to use in the future!

But you aren’t here for small talk, are you? I bet you’d love to win a $25 HPB gift card? It’s simple; in the comments section below, let us know the best suggestion for what Mom should buy with her HPB gift card.  We’ll draw a winner on Friday, May 11 at Noon CST.

I can’t wait to see what you suggest!

— Becky

29 Thought-full Gifts Your Mom Will Love

Mother’s Day is Sunday, May 13. And to help you find the perfect gift for your mom, our experts have rounded up some “thought-full” books. Year after year, a mother’s role changes. So you should choose the right gift that suits your mom and her interests.

There are titles below hand-picked for expecting mothers, newbie moms, working moms, sentimental mothers, moms who need a break, and let’s not forget… grandmothers, too.

Stop in to your local HPB and ask one of our Bibliomaniacs to help you find these books and more! Do you know what you’re getting for your mom yet? If you’re stumped – remember, you can always grab an HPB Gift Card. And right now, for each $25 you spend in gift cards, you’ll get a $5 HPB Card!*

A special shout out to my amazing mother for the wonderful woman that she is. And hats off to moms everywhere! — Meredith

UPDATE: Still in search of gift ideas for mom? Hop on over to the HPB YouTube channel and hear what some of our store managers suggest.

*Offer valid in-stores and online at hpb.com through Sunday, May 13, 2012.