November 24, 2014

Gift Ideas for Atheists in 2014

Giving a gift Portions of this post were written in 2008 and updated in 2012. With the 2014 update, I figured it made more sense to publish a new version rather than continue updating the original post.

Many atheists celebrate Christmas and/or other holidays this time of year that involve the exchange of gifts. So if you find yourself looking for a gift for that atheist on your list and want to get them something that has something to do with atheism, humanism, skepticism, or secularism to show that you support who they are, I have some suggestions. And since none of my suggestions are Christmas-specific in any way, they would be just as appropriate for birthdays and other occasions.

This probably goes without saying, but I'll say it anyway: We atheists are just like everyone else except that we do not believe in gods. If you are a religious person, you probably don't believe in most of the gods that have been worshiped throughout the course of history either, so you should be able to relate. We atheists only differ from you in that we place your god(s) in the same category as all those in which you do not believe either. I make this point to highlight the fact that most atheists are going to be interested in all sorts of things that have nothing to do with atheism, just like you have many interests that have nothing to do with religion. Thus, the atheists on your list will appreciate many of the same sort of gifts as the religious believers.

Having said that, I pulled together these suggestions in case you'd like to show your support for someone by getting them something related to atheism, humanism, skepticism, or secularism.

Books

Many atheists value the pursuit of knowledge, and a book focused on atheism, humanism, skepticism, or secularism is a great way to give an atheist something they'd like while demonstrating your tolerance of their belief system. Back in 2008, I compiled a list of books I recommended for people new to atheism, including those curious about it or who had not been atheists for very long. I followed that up in 2009 with recommendations for more experienced atheists. I reviewed both sets of recommendations and believe they are still relevant today. Fortunately, most books on atheism tend not to go out of date. You may also want to check out Amazon.com's list of bestsellers in atheism.

If you are looking for more book ideas, here are some of the titles on my list of books I plan to buy in the near future:
And for good measure, here are a few that are not focused on atheism, humanism, skepticism, or secularism but that also sound interesting enough to have made my reading list:
Video (DVDs or Blu-rays)

I know everybody is into streaming media these days, and I have been fairly happy with the Google Chromecast HDMI Streaming Media Player I bought a few months ago even though I've only used it to stream YouTube content to a TV. As long as I use my phone to control it and not my desktop computer, it has worked flawlessly.

Still, I think I am one of those people who is always going to prefer the sort of physical media I can hold in my hand. Unfortunately, I haven't found many good choices for atheist-oriented DVDs and Blu-ray discs. The Atheism Tapes is still a good choice for a wide variety of atheists, and The God Who Wasn't There is a good one, particularly for younger atheists or those who have not been atheists for very long. And of course, it would be tough to go wrong with Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey for the person who hasn't already picked it up. Another good choice along these lines would be Life (David Attenborough-Narrated Version).

Clothing, Magnets, Stickers, etc.

I think it is going to be difficult for most of us to pick out atheist-oriented clothing for someone else because the sort of message one might like to communicate is often rather personal. For clothing, magnets, stickers, and other items with an atheist, humanist, skeptical, or secular message, consider a gift certificate from EvolveFish.com. They carry a wide selection of t-shirts, hats, car emblems, magnets, bumper stickers, etc. I've ordered a few things from them over the years and have always been happy with what I received. They also have quite a bit of progressive politically-oriented stuff.

Posters and Wall Art

A great but often overlooked sort of gift involves something to put on one's wall. There are many places to find inexpensive posters, prints, and other wall art (e.g., Cafe Press, Zazzle, Imagekind). I've often thought that a good rational quote in a nice frame makes a great gift. It is the sort of thing from which one can draw inspiration every time one looks at it. Come to think of it, I may have to see if I can find a good Carl Sagan or Bertrand Russell quote to stick in a frame for myself.

Gift Memberships

A gift membership to a freethought organization like Americans United for Separation of Church and State, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, American Atheists, or the American Humanist Association is another great idea. For the atheist student on your list, also consider the Secular Student Alliance.
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