Gifts for a Language Geek!

We’re in the midst of the holiday season and what language geek wouldn’t want language related gifts? If someone has a trait as specific as being a lover of X, it’s always nice to give a gift that fuels that love and equally just a lovely to receive a present that has to do with X.

Though this post is being written in the holiday season, these would also work for birthdays and other special occasions, and can be altered to fit your language lover’s specific wants and needs. These are just some fun examples for everyone, whether the language geek you know is just an acquaintance or your best friend.

1. Magnets

I don’t use magnets and I don’t even have my own refrigerator, but I saw these in the flesh, in a store, and I thought they were the funnest language thing ever. They’re the Magnetic Poetry kits that come with words on each magnet, and you can put them together to create phrases. The best part is, I haven’t seen them only in English, but I’ve seen them in languages like Spanish, French, German, Italian, YIDDISH, NORSK, SVENSKA, DUTCH, SIGN LANGUAGE.

Obviously I am freaking out, but for good reason, because they have some really cool languages. I’m just sad that they don’t have Portuguese.


2. Books

Books?! That’s probably a common item on any list of presents… but let me just say that some books in certain languages are hard to find, depending on where you live. Where I live, having a Spanish Language section at a bookstore is not uncommon, but I would find a Portuguese language book once in a very very very blue moon, and not even at the bookstore, but somewhere really random. If you stumble across a certain language book online or in a store, it might be something that your language geek friend might appreciate (but to be honest, any language lover would probably love any language book even if we can’t read it, haha!).

That being said, when I was in Brazil, I bought two books but literally wanted to buy the whole bookstore because of how uncommon they are in the United States. It’s even hard to find things online sometimes!

Depending on the genre of the book, it may be easier or harder to search for. If you’re looking for foreign language textbooks or phrasebooks, it might be easier, whereas if you’re looking for a translated novel of specifically title X, it might be…slightly to very hard to find.

If you want to gift some kind of literature to your friend, check out; I highly recommend this for people, especially for those who are learning Spanish, French, Italian, Russian, or German (they have a section of books for each language). If you do a search of a specific language, you might also find results (which I did for Portuguese, but with limited results). So if your friend enjoys books or audiobooks, it’s possible to gift membership of this site.

Dracula in Russian and Harry Potter in German can be found on I’m giving away a copy of Dirty Portuguese along with a different book on my Tumblr blog, check it out here!

3. DIY Artwork / Artwork

Artwork is always nice to have because it makes your home space, work space, or study space a more pleasant place to be. There are tons of artists that somehow incorporate language into their artwork, but the tricky thing is finding them. Etsy is a good starting point, but you could also do a Google search for other things.

I have maps and an artistic flag hanging in my room, but shockingly nothing language-related. However, I always like having motivational quotes in other languages and write them down on post-it notes or in a notebook. If you’re short on funds, one thing you could do for your friend is paint a picture with a motivational quote in another language, a drawing of a place they would like to travel to, a card that says “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Birthday” in various languages (but do lots of research to ensure that it’s the correct phrase), or just artwork in general. There are lots of DIY crafts, and many ways in which you could incorporate language into it–be creative!

Artwork on the left comes from here.

4. Random Things like Mugs and Socks…

In the United States, some of the most random things like mugs and socks have language phrases or drawings of foreign places on them. The most popular language in the past few years on these kinds of products has been French sayings and phrases on T-shirts, socks, pencil cases, mugs, napkins, you name it (can we just please talk about the ‘elite’ status that French has in the world view as opposed to other languages? A thought-provoking post for another time).

Usually these types of small items are something that you tend to stumble across on a store or while browsing aimlessly online, and sometimes it’s a pleasant surprise! One of my favorite shirts I found in a “mainstream” (and on the more expensive side) clothing store has rows of cats saying “meow” in different languages. Totally caught me off guard.

Just know that these things exist out there so you can keep your eyes peeled for it next time you go shopping 🙂

cat meow tee
My favorite nerd shirt ever.

5. Study Materials

Some of you may think…who wants study materials? A good many. I’m not sure about that, but I do know that many of my readers are still in school, whether that be in middle school, high school, university, or pursuing post-graduate studies. Even if your receiver is not in school but still likes to write things down or self-study, study materials would be a great gift (mainly so they don’t have to buy it themselves). Consider a pack of colorful highlighters, colored pencils, cute (but good) erasers, markers, pens, a nice pencil, a pencil case/holder, a pretty notebook–you name it. You can probably find it at the office store.

I gave one of my best friends a nice mechanical pencil from Japan and she told me how excited she was because she loves school supplies. That’s why we’re best friends.

Screen Shot 2015-12-11 at 1.25.21 PM

6. Travel Souvenirs

Talking about travel souvenirs…if you travel a lot, a really cool idea (if you don’t do this already) is to buy something in the country you’re in, to gift it to a friend or family member. When I go abroad, I like to buy things that aren’t available where I live–it makes it even more special for the recipient because they know you thought about them while you were so many miles away. And it’s also cool because they have this thing from X country, and what’s not cool about that!?

I’d leave some suggestions, but each country varies so differently in what kind of specialty items they carry. But as an example: my best friend loves Hello Kitty, so Japan is a Hello Kitty heaven and I instantly thought of her every time I saw a Sanrio store. Totoro/Ghibli also has a lot of stores in Japan, so that was fun buying souvenirs for people who were familiar with Ghibli.

BUT, some generic ideas: shot glasses with a country or region’s name (I was asked to bring one home, so don’t grill me for being so generic and touristy), candy…you can also do some research before or during your stay so you know what kind of unique things there are to buy. I bought some beer in Brazil (though I don’t drink) that was made in the city I was staying at and is (I think) distributed only within that region or state. I like to have unique things like that; I’ll have someone else drink the beer and I’ll keep the bottle!! Haha pretty cool!

7. Travel-Related Items

This is getting away from language items, but sometimes travel and language go hand-in-hand, so if your gift recipient likes travel as well, you’re in luck (if you haven’t thought of this already). I personally love maps. Nowadays on places like Etsy, they have a variety of really cool maps: scratch-off maps to show where you’ve been or decals that you can put on your wall.

If your friend travels a lot, consider things like really cute luggage tags, travel-sized toiletries or makeup, an airplane pillow…the possibilities are endless, but the most important is that you have the person and their wants/needs in mind.

Travel AND language related, if you know your friend is going to travel soon or study abroad (and doesn’t speak the language already), things like books with travel phrases could be really useful.

Some goodies from my last trip to Brazil.

*Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by The rest of the items are not sponsored, no one has paid me to write any of these and I genuinely think all these things are cool and would be awesome to give to people who love languages 🙂 

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