Holiday gifts for TV lovers don’t have to be something flat and fancy to hang on the wall.
If you know what the people you’re hoping to surprise like to watch, you’re more than halfway to finding something they’d like to wear, or read, or further explore. Here are a few suggestions to get you started (note: prices may vary, depending on promotions):
Stranger Things hooded sweatshirt, $32.95 youth/$36.95 adult
The Science Museum of Minnesota might not have been totally prepared for the demand for its vintage brontosaurus hoodie, a design brought out of retirement after Dustin Henderson (Gaten Matarazzo) wore it in the new season of Netflix’s ’80s-set sci-drama Stranger Things. But after buyers crashed the site in early November and the shirts quickly sold out, the museum restocked. So you can make a Dustin fan happy (and warm) while also supporting the museum’s educational outreach programs. I’d still recommend acting quickly if you want it in time for the holidays. Science Museum of Minnesota: smm-org.myshopify.com
Outlander for winter, $42.46
Fans of Starz’s time-traveling Scottish saga Outlander know it’s not just stars Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe heating up the small screen: It’s also the costumes, particularly the knitwear. We can’t visit 18th-century Scotland, but we can keep someone’s neck warm this winter with Claire’s cowl. Official Outlander store: outlanderstore.com
Streaming beyond Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu, $4.99/month and up
A subscription to one of the Big Three streaming services is always a great gift for streaming newbies (or out-of-the-house offspring still using your passwords), but if it’s the thought that counts, think niche services that demonstrate you know what they’d really love. (Many are available as add-ons to Amazon Prime Video accounts, and most come with free trial periods.) For those who can’t get enough of Britcoms and English-accented drama, there’s Acorn TV, the $4.99/month, $49.99/year home of Martin Clunes’ surly, addictive Doc Martin, as well as the $6.99/month BritBox, whose offerings range from the very earliest Doctor Who episodes from 1963 to the current season of Britain’s Strictly Come Dancing.
Lovers of theater and PBS’s Great Performances might appreciate Broadway HD, which for $8.99/month, $99.99/year offers a library of films of more than 200 plays and musicals, from The Phantom of the Opera and Falsettos to Antigone and The Iceman Cometh.
For horror fans, there’s the AMC-backed, $4.99/month, $47.88/year Shudder. I’m a wimp, so I’ll take Paste magazine’s word that when it comes to horror, this site beats Netflix, bloodied hands down.
I tend to goof off with Scandinavian TV, and there seems to be a lot of it — including the second season I’ve never seen of Annika Bengtzon Crime Reporter — on the $7.99/month international service MHz Choice, which also features subtitled shows from France, Italy, Germany, and elsewhere.
Is there someone on your list who’d be happy to watch the Hallmark Channel exclusively from New Year’s Day till next Christmas? Hook them up with $5.99/month, $59.99/a year Hallmark Movies Now. Launched last month, it includes movies and series from Hallmark’s cable channels, productions of the Hallmark Hall of Fame, and some content exclusive to the service.
Acorn TV: store.acorn.tv
MHz Choice: watch.mhzchoice.com
Hallmark Movies Now: hmnow.com
Downton Abbey Coloring Book, $16.99
The Crawleys may be gone, but PBS hasn’t forgotten them, or how much Downton Abbey did for the fortunes of Masterpiece. This one’s for adults who find coloring a calming activity — or kids with an interest in early-20th-century fashion. shop.pbs.org
Breaking Bad: The Complete Critical Companion, $27.50
Television critic and University of Pennsylvania grad Alan Sepinwall first watched (and reviewed) the acclaimed Breaking Bad episode “Ozymandias” from a hospital bed while recovering from a burst appendix. That’s the kind of devotion the Walter White fans on your list might appreciate as much as they do this deep dive into every single episode of one of television’s best shows ever. From Abrams Press, with a foreword by Lost cocreator Damon Lindelof, this is the kind of reading that’s likely to send you back to the set for a rewatching binge.
Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, $24.98
Just because I was a little disappointed in this Netflix mini-series that brought us up to date with the mother-daughter doings of Lorelai (Lauren Graham) and Rory Gilmore (Alexis Bledel) doesn’t mean everyone feels that way. If you know a longtime Gilmore Girls fan who hasn’t gotten to see A Year in the Life because she (or he) didn’t have Netflix, think about stuffing her or his stocking with the DVD from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, available starting Nov. 28.
Game of Thrones Dragon Egg Wine Stoppers (Set of 3), $39.99
“I drink and I know things.” Would Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) use dragon egg wine stoppers? Maybe not. He probably finishes every bottle he opens on the first day. The rest of us can just be glad these eggs don’t hatch. Because dragons, useful as they are in battle, appear to make inconvenient pets.
Winter might not be the season for it, but I’m also partial to the women’s slim-fit T-shirt ($24.99) that declares, “A GIRL IS ARYA STARK OF WINTERFELL AND I’M GOING HOME.” HBO store: store.hbo.com
Roku Ultra, $99.99
There are plenty of ways to bring streaming shows to your TV, but I’ve been happy with the simple setup, dependability, and large choice of channels Roku offers. Road warriors might appreciate the Roku streaming stick ($49.99), for plugging into hotel flat screens (or any HDMI-capable TV) and bringing content from their phones or tablets. But for home viewing on your main screen, I’d go with Roku Ultra, which includes a voice remote, a remote finder, and — my favorite — the ability to listen on headphones for those times when you can’t stop watching something but don’t want to keep the rest of the family awake. My older Roku doesn’t have it, but I’m intrigued by the night listening feature, which supposedly lowers the volume on loud things and boosts quieter ones “for just the right volume at night,” according to Roku. roku.com
The Vietnam War DVD and companion book, $114.90
Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s 18-hour history of the decades of conflict in Vietnam bears up under repeat viewing (and includes the stories of some Philadelphia-area veterans). The companion book, written by Burns and Geoffrey C. Ward, may also be bought separately. shop.pbs.org