A Gift Guide for the Goth in Your Life

The holidays are coming up, and it’s time to start thinking about what gifts to get for your friends and family. I’m guessing that most of my readers have at least one person in their circle who might be described as a goth. If you don’t share their dark and spooky proclivities, it can be hard to know what to get for your black-clad friend. Of course, each goth is an individual and I can’t claim to speak for the whole subculture. But I’ve put together a list of a few things that are fairly universally appreciated among the morbidly-inclined.

Candles

pyropet candleMaybe it’s our nostalgia for centuries gone by, but most goths love hanging out by candlelight. Candles make good presents for everyone, but you know a goth is going to make good use out of it, and not just stick it in the bathroom for decoration. Your loved one may already have plenty of candles of their own, but in my opinion there is no such thing as ever having too many candles! You have tons of options here—get creative with colors, shapes, and scents. For goths living the height of their aesthetic, tall, tapered black or red candles are perfect for candelabra or ornate candlesticks. Yankee Candle has tons of fun colors and scents, from the dark-hued Midsummer’s Night to the vibrant Summer Storm. Or you can get something truly unique like these animal-shaped candles that melt down to reveal a metal skeleton inside! With so many options, you can never go wrong with candles.

Books

Edgar Allan Poe CollectionGoth is a particularly literary subculture, and many of us are avid readers. I know I’m always a big fan of books as presents. Why not give your favorite goth the gift of a good horror novel, or some morbid nonfiction? (I particularly recommend From Here to Eternity by Caitlin Doughty.) If you don’t know specifically what kind of books your goth friend likes to read, it’s always a safe bet to stick to the classics. Does Barnes & Noble have a pretty, new gilded-edged collection of Poe? One can never have too many collections of Poe. Or how about some nice, illustrated Edward Gorey? The possibilities are endless.

Jewelry

Raven pendant
Raven pendant by one of my favorite Etsy sellers, TorchandArrow (a.k.a. the author, Leanna Renee Hieber)

One thing common to most goths is a passion for their aesthetic. We’re decorative folk, and we usually like to adorn our homes, our belongings, and our bodies with the things we find beautiful—which sometimes can differ a lot from other people’s ideas of beauty. One of the best ways to do this for goths of all genders is through jewelry. The more piercings your goth friend has, the more opportunities for presents! If you don’t know your way around industrial bars and spiral gauges, you can always just stick to rings and necklaces. Does your friend like skulls? Bats? Occult imagery? You can find these kinds of things and more at your local Hot Topic, or check out Etsy for something more unique. You can also never go wrong with black or red gems, even from more mainstream jewelry suppliers. We may love the dark, but we’re not opposed to some shine and sparkle!

Makeup

Continuing the decorative theme, makeup is another thing that is often appreciated by goths of all genders. If you’re looking for a practical gift, we tend to burn through those black eyeliner pencils pretty quickly.… Many of us also enjoy experimenting with bold, dark lip colors, if you want to get something more personal. The brand ColourPop has some great (and inexpensive!) liquid lipsticks in all sorts of colors, from dark purples and black or silver. If you’re not sure what your friend’s style is, a gift card to Sephora will never go unappreciated.

Music

HeadphonesMusic is what’s really at the heart of the gothic subculture. Not all goths listen to the same bands these days, but odds are music in general is still an important part of their lives. If you know what they listen to, go ahead and get them that latest album from the band they like. If you really love them, maybe even get them some concert tickets—there are so many great bands that are touring right now! (I’ll take two tickets to Nightwish, please.…) Even just an iTunes gift card will warm a spooky heart.

But most importantly of all this holiday season, don’t forget to give the gift of love and acceptance. You don’t have to get the whole goth thing, but you can still appreciate your gothic loved ones for who they are.

What are you getting for your goth friends this holiday season? If you’re a goth, what else would you add to this list? Share your thoughts in the comments!

See More of My Writing at VampireFreaks

Do you like my writing and wish you could see it more than once a week? Well you’re in luck, because I just became the main content writer for VampireFreaks! VampireFreaks is a social networking site for goths, created by NYC goth DJ, Jet (whom I interviewed back in March). The site uses a nostalgic forum-board format to connect goths around the world, allowing them to make friends, join “cults” based on their interests, and share photos and journals.


I’ll be posting content twice a week from the main VampireFreaks account, so make sure to follow @VampireFreaks if you’re on the site. Also feel free to friend my personal profile @TheGothicLibrarian.

My first post is on “5 Games for the Perfect Goth Game Night.” Not every night can be club night … sometimes you’ve just got to stay in, invite some friends over, and play board games. But just because you’re not at the club doesn’t mean you’ve got to turn in your goth card and play some Monopoly with the mundanes. Click the link to learn more!Goth the board game

Steampunk World’s Fair 2017: Where Goth and Steampunk Meet

Last weekend, I went to one of the largest steampunk events in the world, Jeff Mach’s Steampunk World’s Fair. For those who are unfamiliar, steampunk is an alternative fashion/music/literature scene, which can essentially be summed up as Victorian futurism—imagine a world where, on the cusp of the industrial revolution, technology advanced through steam power and gears instead of electricity and computers. The fashion blends corsets and top hats with brass and goggles, while the literature tends to feature dirigibles, automatons, and mad scientists. And the first weekend in May is when hundreds of steampunks from around the country take over two hotels in the middle of Piscataway, New Jersey. I’ve been attending Steampunk World’s Fair for many years, and two weeks ago I gave you a preview of what I was looking forward to at this year’s convention in particular. Read on to see how last weekend lived up to my expectations. Continue reading Steampunk World’s Fair 2017: Where Goth and Steampunk Meet

Dark Side of the Con 2017: A Rundown of America’s First Goth Convention

Last weekend I went over to the Dark Side, at Jeff Mach and VampireFreaks’s newest convention, a three-day event designed specifically for goths. Dark Side of the Con came right on the heels of another brand new convention, Glimmerdark, which I attended and posted a rundown of last month. In my overview, I noted that Glimmerdark hit a few snags trying to figure out what kind of convention it was and what audience it wanted to cater to. Dark Side of the Con, I felt, had no such problem. The convention was geared toward a very specific audience—goths—and with VampireFreaks helping to run the show, it was an audience that the organizers knew well. A few weeks ago, I posted a preview of which aspects of the con I was looking forward to most. Overall, my expectations fared pretty well against reality, despite the fact that a poorly timed sore throat and headache prevented me from getting as much out of the weekend as I wanted to. Read on for some highlights of the convention.

The spooky DJ stand for Dark Side’s Friday and Saturday night parties

Continue reading Dark Side of the Con 2017: A Rundown of America’s First Goth Convention

Preview of Dark Side of the Con: Finally a Local Goth Convention!

Want to spend a weekend just letting your goth flag fly in a hotel full of other creatures of the night? This St. Patrick’s Day weekend, you can dodge the garish green and seclude yourself among like-minded admirers of a monochrome wardrobe at Dark Side of the Con. Last month I gave you all a sneak peek and then overview of a brand new faerie festival called Glimmerdark. Now I’ve been invited back to attend another inaugural Jeff Mach Event and report back with my thoughts. Dark Side of the Con, happening in Piscataway, NJ, on March 17–19, is a new goth convention co-hosted by Jeff Mach and Vampire Freaks—the creators of a thriving online goth community and purveyors of excellent gothic goods. I’ll give you the low-down after the con, but in the meantime, here’s what’s got me excited, so far:

Continue reading Preview of Dark Side of the Con: Finally a Local Goth Convention!

World Goth Day 2016 and Some Reflections on Goth

This coming Sunday, May 22, is World Goth Day. Yes, you read that right—there’s a whole international holiday all about goths! World Goth Day was created to celebrate the gothic subculture and promote visibility and acceptance of goths—a group who are often feared, maligned, and misunderstood by the general public. The event originated in the UK in 2009, but quickly grew into an international affair. On Sunday, groups all around the world will host local goth events under the World Goth Day banner. You can look around online for events near you, start your own, or just take the day to indulge your inner goth in solitude or with friends. Here at The Gothic Library, I’m celebrating World Goth Day by sharing some of my thoughts on what the subculture means to me and how I got into it.

The official World Goth Day logo. Learn more at worldgothday.com
The official World Goth Day logo. Learn more at worldgothday.com

I know on this blog I tend to mostly talk about Gothic (with a capital G) literature, or gothic works of derivative genres, but not so much about goths, themselves. However, I feel that all of these are intimately related. To me, goth is a mindset. It’s a philosophy and a way of looking at the world that involves seeing beauty in darkness and being fascinated by the taboo (especially the taboo of death). This dark and morbid mindset has existed throughout history, but was especially indulged and brought into the limelight by the Gothic writers of eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Separate from, but related to, the gothic mindset is the gothic subculture. The gothic subculture is a music and fashion scene that arose out of punk in the late ’70s and ’80s. The defining feature of a subculture is that it is a community. You can have a gothic mindset all by yourself, but you’re not part of the gothic subculture until you engage with other goths in some way—whether that’s by consuming gothic media, wearing gothic clothing, going to goth clubs, or just sharing your spooky interests with some dark-minded friends. Though goth, in this sense, is expressed largely through music and fashion, even these elements have been heavily influenced by cinema and literature, including by the Gothic novels from which this subculture takes its name.

In my experience, one generally recognizes one’s own gothic mindset first, then discovers the gothic subculture when looking to find others with similar interests. For me, it started (as it always does) with books. I’d been reading horror and mystery for as long as I could read chapter books, but my life-changing moment came when I picked my first vampire romance novel up off the shelf in fifth grade. From that moment on, I was captivated by these creatures of the night and propelled along a path that led to me reading both Anne Rice and Stoker before graduating middle school. It was around the same time that I also began taking on a darker aesthetic (though I’m not sure the two are related). It took me a while to come around to the label of “goth,” but I’ve come to embrace it with open arms. So if you see me next Sunday, I’ll be flying my goth flag high!

What are you doing to celebrate World Goth day? Know of any good gothic events going on in New York City (I’ve actually been having trouble finding some)? What aspects of goth are you celebrating this week? Let me know in the comments!