Holigay Gift Guide 2013: We Built This Gift Guide (On Rock & Roll)

by Cara and Stef


You can’t buy her a new album, because she has all the ones that are “worth having.” You can’t get her concert tickets because she stood in line for several hours at the presale. So what are you supposed to do? We’ve got you covered.

p.s. If you don’t have this problem, but you would like to, feel free to send any or all of these gifts to Cara and/or Stef, who drooled the whole time they were making this.

You Can Take It With You

urban adventurers gift guide
Sometimes you need music to be playing at all times no matter what — in the park, in the dark, on a train, in your brain, in a box, with a fox, etc. These gadgets will make it happen! Eco Speakers from Dormify give your tunes some extra heft, plus they’re collapsible so you can carry them around like it’s nothing.  For bike adventures and commutes that would benefit from a soundtrack, there’s this cool smartphone bike mount — if you’re more of an analog person, you can carry this portable transistor radio instead. And if you’d rather make or mix your own tunes on the go, grab this intuitive, neat-looking Pocket Piano, or apply your EQing and crossfading skills anywhere with a POKKETMIXER, “the first mobile mini DJ mixer.”

For Actual Musicians

It can be hard to find gifts for someone who actually PLAYS music — they’re almost sure to have their own gear preferences, and if that amazing personalized silver pick is a few millimeters too thick it might never come out of the box. But even the most stubborn gearhead won’t be able to resist Firestix, because they’re glow-in-the-dark drumsticks. Same goes for this Grip Studios Custom Guitar Grip, which will ensure no one uses their axe without asking again. Beginners and pros alike will enjoy this handy Guitar Chords Poster or this Music Moleskine (it’s filled with staff paper!), as well as this less-handy but still amazing Taylor Swift Ukelele Song Book. And absolutely everyone in the world can have fun with a Yamaha Tenori-On light-up sampler — especially since it’s 60% off right now.

Hardcore Decore

One time I had a long conversation with someone about how it would be cool if I could eat music, because then I would never space out on meals and flirt with malnourishment. These kitchen supplies are the next best thing, probably. When you use this Retro Record Cutting Board, all your veggies will suddenly acquire a new depth and crispness (vinyl 5ever). Whip out this Gama-Go Guitar Spatula and your potatoes shred themselves. Throwing a party? Turn it up to eleven with these puntastic Guitar Pick Wine Charms and a Volume Knob Wine Stopper, plus some 45 RPM Singles Coasters. Round it all out with this hilarious “No Loud Music” sign, which can double as a passive-aggressive gift to roommates, neighbors, or little brothers.

Words About Musics

Sometimes your ears are tired and you need to curl up with a good book (about music). Here’s a bunch that will warm the feminist and Fenderist parts of your heart. Patti Smith’s Just Kids and Cherie Currie’s Neon Angel are gripping autobiographical accounts of what it’s like to really make it, as well as evocative portraits of places and times many of us miss (whether we were there or not). If criticism is more your bag, crack open Out of the Vinyl Deeps, a new collection from the late Ellen Willis (a “groundbreaking radical leftist writer and thinker whose true loves were rock music, feminism, pleasure, and freedom”— I know, right?), or dive into Rock, She Wrote, a collection of over 60 music essays by women writers. And if your eyes are tired too, give them some candy: pop in the “insightful and compassionate” documentary Edgeplay: A Film About The Runaways, or grab a friend and break out Homoground’s amazing Feminist Playing Cards, which feature everyone from Ani DiFranco to Grace Jones to Yoko Ono.

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Cara is a former contributing editor for Autostraddle and a current staff writer at Atlas Obscura. She lives in Somerville with her girlfriend, their roommate, and a cat who can flush the toilet, and is generally thinking about gender, sustainable biodiversity, and/or rock & roll music. You can follow her on twitter @cjgiaimo if you want.

Cara has written 113 articles for us.


  1. this is amazing, love it so much! What is it about women who play music that is just so totally hot? Queer lady bait!

  2. Oh, excellent. The last presents that I needed to get were for a couple really into rock and roll dancing. How does Autostraddle always know?

  3. I’m honestly wondering if someone is just looking at the people I have to buy gifts for and making lists off of it. First sweaters, then cats, then cats on sweaters, and now music? My Christmas shopping is basically done. Next you’ll do a list for a foodie or something.

    • Ah! I know. I wonder if all queer ladies have the same five- six token queer lady friends maybe? Stoner, musician, crazy cat lady, feminist, urban explorer. Hahaha. Every single one.

  4. Another thing I want to add onto the list was the guitar pick maker which I found on thinkgeek (dot) com. You can punch anything credit cards, debit cards, coins into the shape of a guitar pick. Anthology gear wear also has some stuff for guitar addicts and drummers. They also use saddleback leather, the BEST leather around!!!!


  5. i just read the title of this post, and holigay is holiday to me now, point blank, no nonsense, it’s the only word that is the real word, inside of my brain, it’s just the holigays now, no discussion.

  6. For more words about music, I’d also recommend ‘Girls to the Front: The True Story of the Riot Grrrl Revolution’ by Sara Marcus. To go with the awesome Kathleen Hannah documentary y’all wrote about the other day!

  7. Highly recommend Out of the Vinyl Deeps. I got it for my self last year and my mom, dad, and brother have all borrowed it since.

  8. OMG this is amazing/perfect for my music loving girlfriend. I am a person who thinks Glee is appropriate car music and my girlfriend is a person who has concert posters framed so this is perfect for me!

  9. I think there was a suggestion last year on a music gift guide for a guitar pick punch which was the smartest idea and I keep forgetting to order one for my gf. She is definitely picky about picks (pun intended?) but I’m pretty sure could find a way to make ones she likes that way!

  10. I love Out of the Vinyl Depths! It’s one of my favorite books of music criticism. Though he’s not a woman (but he is gay), I would also highly recommend Alex Ross’s The Rest is Noise: Listening to the 20th Century as a good music book for a general audience. It’s a fantastic history of 20th-century music – classical and otherwise – that explains it well to people who might not understand the appeal yet. It also ties trends in music in the past century into larger political and cultural movements, which is kind of my favorite thing ever as a musicologist. Ross also has a collection of essays called Listen to This.

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