Have a Mathy Christmas

A mathematical Christmas? You bet! For instance, I just noticed that Raymond Smullyan’s The Lady or the Tiger is finally back in print. My family and my math club students have enjoyed many of the puzzles in this book over the years, and I can’t think of a better stocking stuffer for the mathophile in your family.

(I do hope that means the rest of Raymond Smullyan’s puzzle books will be coming back, too!)

In the holiday gift-giving spirit, I’ve started making a list. Check out the links below for more mathematical Christmas present ideas.

Bloggers’ Choice

I’ve already shared my favorite find of the season, so let’s take a look at what other math bloggers like:

  • Christmas Gifts for Math Geeks (Like Me!) #1
    “For the mathematician in your life you almost certainly cannot go wrong by buying them a book — just make sure that they haven’t already got it!” A nice, long list of suggestions. Many of these are on my wish list, too. [But what happened to post #2 in this series?]
  • The Nicest Math Book I Own
    “This Christmas, give yourself a great gift and get this book… Ladies, your geeky boyfriend will likely propose to you if you put a copy under the tree.”
  • Logicomix: An Epic Search for Truth
    “It defies categorization: is it a comic book? A biography? A book of philosophy? Of history? Of mathematics? Well, it’s all of these things, and manages to pull it off with grace and style.”

And a few non-books…

Updates: Sam posted his link in the comments, which led me to another list. If you have a list of favorite math books or other mathy gift ideas, I’d love to add yours, too…

Handmade Presents

Put your heart into the gift by making a mathematical craft:

  • Flexagon Fun for the Whole Family
    I love flexagons! Use them as a mathy Christmas card, stocking stuffer, or just a way to keep the kids busy on a snowy afternoon.

Logic Puzzles and Games

Have you heard this: New Research: $13 Christmas gifts = 13 point gain in kids’ IQ?

The games chosen were card games like SET, the traffic-jam puzzle Rush Hour, and Qwirkle… The kids’ IQ averaged a 90… The children’s parents, on average, were high-school dropouts. These were the kids every education policy hopes to target… Twice a week, the kids played the games for an hour and fifteen minutes… After just eight weeks — twenty total hours of game playing — Bunge’s team retested the children’s intelligence… The children’s reasoning scores, on average, leapt 32%. Translated to an IQ standard, that bumped them 13 points.

There are more logic puzzles and games available than I could possibly list — and many, like Qwirkle from the quote above, that I’ve never tried. (I’ll have to put it on my wish list.) The following have been our family favorites over many years:

  • Rush Hour
    One of the best puzzle gifts I ever got my daughter. She loved it so much that she asked for expansion card decks the next year.
  • Visual Brainstorms Deck 1 and Deck 2
    These are great Math Club supplements. Keep them available for kids who finish the day’s project quickly or to fill extra time at the end of a meeting.
  • Block by Block
    My personal favorite 3-D puzzle: the Soma Cube. (See Make a Soma Cube, above.) I was sitting in the kitchen playing with this one afternoon, and my son sat down to watch me and ended up stealing the puzzle for the rest of the day. Makes a momma proud.
  • Pente
    I’m not sure how this works as a 4-player game, but the 2-player version was a highlight of my childhood holidays. We didn’t have the game at home, but when the extended family gathered at my aunt’s house, we would unroll her Pente mat for hours of enjoyment.
  • Mastermind
    Either this game or Othello are my kids’ all-time favorites. At least, they are the games that come out of the cabinet most frequently. Mastermind can also be played with a piece of paper, guessing 4-digit numbers instead of colors. (Agree beforehand whether numbers that start with zero will count!)
  • Othello
    “A minute to learn, a lifetime to master.” And a whole lot of fun in the meantime!

Miscellaneous Gifts

Here are a few more items that I would love to find under my tree on Christmas morning:

  • Math Gifts at Cafe Press
    “14,100 Math designs available on 412,000 products.” T-shirts, mugs, clocks, and more. I love the baby shirt that says “Cutie \pi“. We may have to get that for the newest nephew.
  • ScienceTeecher.com
    Sidney Harris cartoons featured on these tees, and plenty of other options, too. This one is a best seller, of course.

  • The Mathematics Calendar
    I almost forgot this. I’ve enjoyed Theoni Pappas’s math calendars in the past, and I would certainly like to have one for the coming New Year.

What Will Santa Bring You?

Can you think of a wonderful, mathematical gift that I’ve missed? I would love to hear your suggestions! Please leave ideas or links in the comments section below.

And have a very Mathy Christmas!


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9 comments on “Have a Mathy Christmas

  1. Well, xmas has passed, but I see your games list is missing two of our favorites:

    Blink! is an inexpensive little card game that’s easier than Set, and just as fun. It’s one of my favorite presents to stock up on.

    Blokus is more expensive, so I discovered it more recently (after finding Travel Blokus at a second hand store). It’s great fun.

  2. Thanks for the recommendations, Sue! I haven’t played with either of those, but I’ll keep my eyes open for them. (Though how I would fit anything else into our game cabinet, I really don’t know.)

  3. Pingback: Review: The Mathematics of Free Books « Let's Play Math!

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