Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday have all come and gone, which means we can finally move on to the main event of the shopping season: the Uni Watch Holiday Gift Guide, our annual compendium of uniform- and logo-related items for that special uni-obsessed someone on your shopping list (or just for yourself -- don't worry, we won't tell).
Ready to stuff those stockings? Here's this year's top 10 picks, along with some honorable mentions and holdovers from previous years:
1. Iowa State throwback stadium blanket from Kagavi: Remember when the Iowa State football team wore that awesome 1923 throwback uni for the game against Iowa on Sept. 14? Now you can get a gorgeous stadium blanket based on that uniform design. Man, one look at that thing and you can almost taste the hot chocolate!
2. Sneaker poster from Pop Chart Lab: Got a sneakerhead on your shopping list? This poster showcasing "the 134 greatest sneakers in human history" should be just the thing.
3. NFL shower curtain hooks from the Northwest Company: Sure, you could have a shower curtain featuring your favorite team's logo -- maybe you already have that, in fact. But is that curtain held in place by hooks featuring your favorite team's helmet? Right, didn't think so. A great stocking stuffer, and the hooks can double as tree ornaments!
4. "Willard Mullin's Golden Age of Baseball Drawings" from Fantagraphics Books: Back in the 1940s, '50s and '60s, Willard Mullin was the best sports cartoonist around, bar none. Now the comics publisher Fantagraphics has published a first-rate anthology of Mullin's best baseball-related work. You can see a bunch of the drawings from the book here.
5. Design-your-own varsity jackets from Stewart & Strauss: Varsity jackets have a timeless sense of cool. But what's that you say -- you're no longer in school, and you were never athletic enough to make the varsity team anyway? No worries -- thanks to longtime jacket purveyor Stewart & Strauss, you can now design your own varsity jacket (and so can your lucky gift recipient) for only $99.
6. WFL football cards from Bill Jones and friends: Remember the WFL, which briefly challenged the NFL in the mid-1970s and featured some of the loudest uniforms in football history? Relive those days with this new set of WFL cards. Here are some sample cards to whet your appetite.
7. 1980 "Miracle on Ice" shorts from Streaker Sports: With the Winter Olympics right around the corner, there will no doubt be lots of talk about the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team and its "Miracle on Ice" gold medal. Now you can get a pair of shorts patterned after that team's hockey pants. Ideal for sitting down and watching the 2014 Sochi Winter Games.
8. Minimalist ballpark prints from J. Preston: Whatever your favorite MLB ballpark is, there's a good chance that artist S. Preston has captured its essence in one of his clever minimalist illustrations, each of which serves as a good litmus test to sort out who gets it and who doesn't. (And if you prefer a more conventional bird's-eye view of your favorite stadium, these posters should do the trick.)
9. Striped baseball bats from the Mitchell Bat Company: Remember when baseball players wore striped stirrups? You rarely see those stripes now that players wear their pants like footie pajamas, but those stripe patterns have found a new home on these beautifully painted bats. Simple but gorgeous. (And if you like striped socks that have nothing to do with sports, check out these guys.)
10. Upcycled F1 furnishings from Memento Exclusives: If you're an F1 fan, or have one on your shopping list, you'll want to take a look at this unusual selection of items made from F1 car parts. Check out, for example, this gear ratio clock. Or, if you have a slightly bigger budget, consider this table made from a Red Bull exhaust pipe. Vroom-vroom!
Honorable mentions and past favorites: Every Uni Watch reader should have a T-shirt that says, "I Watch Sports for the Uniforms." ... Summer cookout season is months away, but it's never too soon to think about firing up the grill, especially when you can use a fork, spatula and tongs whose handles are made from genuine Bauer hockey sticks. Perfect for tailgating! ... With the World Cup fast approaching, the soccer-centric design house Wong Wong has reinterpreted the flags of all 32 participating nations. ... Target is selling a line of T-shirts supposedly co-designed by NFL players, and they're not bad. ... For the curling fan who has everything, the island where the granite for the Olympic curling stones was quarried is up for sale, although you might have trouble fitting it under the tree. ... Supercool baseball cards, designed by woodcut artist extraordinaire Amelie Mancini, are available from Left Field Cards. ... What's better than cufflinks shaped like football helmets? Helmet-shaped cufflinks made from game-used football helmets. ... If you want an inexpensive stocking stuffer, you could do a lot worse than these baseball stitching bracelets. ... Simmer those baked beans (or chili, or whatever) in an NFL team-branded Crock-Pot. Look, Daniel Snyder has one, but don't let that stop you. ... If you're looking for a one-of-a-kind keepsake, you can't beat artist Sean Kane's amazing custom-painted baseball gloves. ... The go-to source for authentic reproductions of old college football helmets is still Gridiron Memories, your best bet for throwback college basketball shorts is still Retro College Cuts, and the place for football helmet-shaped beer koozies is still FanMug. ... Movember is over, but there's never a bad time for team logo temporary mustache tattoos. ... Do you want a popcorn maker shaped like the Stanley Cup? Sure you do!
Paul Lukas knows who's been naughty and nice, but he's not telling. If you liked this column, you'll probably like his Uni Watch Blog, plus you can follow him on Twitter and Facebook. Want to learn about his Uni Watch Membership Program, be added to his mailing list so you'll always know when a new column has been posted or just ask him a question? Contact him here.