Got an awesome tech-loving friend and no idea what to buy them for the holidays? This year, stop yourself from asking what new game they want from Steam yet again, and nab them something unexpected, something to play off their expectations. Unfortunately, some of the year's most exciting discoveries aren't yet widely available: the first 3D printer that allows you to print your own clothing, for example, is still at the Kickstarter stage. But there are plenty of amazing tech gifts that will make your best tech-worshipping friend scream and run around the room flailing happily. (Note: reaction not guaranteed.)
Women with technological passion, in particular, often get short-changed at Christmas. Too often, smart watches and random gadgets are put in the "Men" category, and women are expected to be satisfied with phone covers, pretty trinkets, and random bits of wearable tech that tell them about their heart rate. Which is all well and good, but what about the depths of tech nerdery? What about robots, circuitry, fashion, batteries, glow-in-the-dark lasers, and drones?! We've got you covered.
The best thing about this list? The nine gifts on here don't even have to be for dedicated tech geeks; with a few exceptions, Luddites will love them too.
Buy It For: The friend who spent their summers deconstructing computers on their kitchen table.
What It Is: The Raspberry Pi mini-computer is famous, and rightly so. It's got the capacity to be made into virtually anything small-scale using its tiny motherboard: everything from wirelessly controlling your household objects to creating games, phones, and radios. You may want to give the recipient a guide to a few of these, too.
Buy It For: The friend whose battery is always running out.
What It Is: The Xiaomi is one of the best-reviewed power banks around, and it'll help you out when your devices leave you in dire straits without a plug or a charger cord in sight. To be honest, we all need these, not just the unreliable friend who always manages to get stranded with one percent battery life. But still.
Buy It For: The elegant grown-up who's fitting their apartment with the latest in gadgets and smart home appliances.
What It Is: Smart lightbulbs are the new thing, and these versions are controlled via smartphone to fill a person's home with customised colored light. It comes with a range of preset categories for light spectrums, and you can either get LED lightbulbs, egg-shaped lights, or (if you live in Europe) spheres.
Buy It For: The eternal adventure geek.
What It Is: Oh, come on. Like you haven't dreamt of buzzing your nosy neighbor as they lean out the window. This is the up-to-date version of the helicopter you loved to death as a kid; drones are the future, but that doesn't also mean they can't be rigged to, say, deliver pie to somebody's boyfriend on the other side of the house.
Buy It For: The trendsetter who wants to be the first to nab every new innovation.
What It Is: This is the next phase of wearable tech: the smart ring that can receive text messages, lock your phone, interact with Facebook, and do basically everything you used your phone for. It's so new it's not out yet, but it's already been getting rave reviews; perfect for that friend who waited 10 hours in line for the new iPhone.
Buy It For: The programmer who loves cocktail parties.
What It Is: The intricacy and beauty of computing often isn't appreciated by people who don't do much work in the industry, so why not wear it on your sleeve? Or your thighs, more specifically. This pencil skirt manages to hide its geeky credentials until you're up close, when the circuitry pattern becomes clear. Must-have.
Buy It For: The friend who's been obsessed with gaming since forever and wants you to know it.
What It Is: OK, so it won't actually do anything, but this retro delight is a must for anybody who's ever had to have an argument about whether she's a "fake gamer girl". Having a subtle signal of your geeky passions is always a plus.
Buy It For: The friend who's extremely invested in having the best possible technology for every house party.
What It Is: Technology saves lives and is one of our greatest achievements, but sometimes it's just for making a pretty coordinated light display on a good-quality portable speaker. What, like everything needs to save the world?
Buy It For: The tech-head with a partying streak.
What It Is: This is just cool. It's not necessarily cutting-edge, but the idea of a t-shirt where you can draw glow-in-the-dark designs using a laser pointer is so delightful, and so awesomely attention-grabbing for your next clubbing expedition, that it has to be tried.
Images: Etsy, MOTA, Red5, Best Buy, Elgato, Xiaomi, Lazershirts, Raspberry Pi