Inside the Pack: 2020 Holiday Gift Guide for Sports Card Collectors

If you have a sports card lover in your family, or if you’re just looking to treat yourself, you’re in the right place! Here are some great ideas for this holiday season.



This is an obvious choice for a sports card collector, of course! But with so many cards out there, how can you know what to buy?

One option for single cards is to sneak onto an eBay account and look at the cards on your collector’s “Watch List.” But if you don’t feel that kind of rogue mission is for you, there are still other options.

If you’re lucky enough to have a local card shop, make a call or take a trip there and talk with them. If the person you’re buying for is a regular customer, it’s a good bet they’ll have an idea of what they like. Even if not, they can point you in the right direction. Most shops will also offer gift certificates.

A factory set is a classic gift. Factory sets are complete sets in a decorative box and often come with some bonuses. You can get different varieties of these sets, and they range in price from $49.99 to $59.99. You can find them at a local shop or at Target or Walmart.

Collectors may also appreciate complete sets with some significance, like their year of birth. These are available in factory form from most of the 1980s on, or in hand-collated form. Your best bet for these is eBay.

If the collector in your life has a favorite player, a great gift idea is a graded card of the player. Stick with one of the big 3 grading companies — PSA, BGS, or SGC. Non-vintage graded base cards of even the biggest stars are pretty affordable in high grade; vintage cards in lower grades won’t break the budget either.

If opening packs is something your collector may be interested in, determine a budget and look at Blowout Cards or Dave and Adam’s Card World to find boxes in your price range. A more flexible solution would be a gift card to either site.


Every collector needs supplies, and no collector likes buying supplies for themselves. 2020 has seen shortages of some key supplies, causing prices to increase over their normal cost. For those who like to protect their cards individually, BCW magnetic card holders ($14.48 for a 5 pack, $24.48 for a 10 pack) are a great purchase for 35-point cards, which are standard thickness cards. For thicker cards like patches or high-end autographs, they offer similar packages of 180-point holders ($13.98 for a 5 pack, $25.46 for a 12 pack), suitable for thick cards like patches or high-end autographs.

Those who like to display their cards will enjoy BCW’s card stands ($10.48 for a box of 20), which come in two easy-to-assemble pieces that allow for varying depths and angles. You can read a piece I wrote about these nifty pieces here.

Collectors who store cards in boxes may prefer toploaders, which come in a variety of sizes and are sold in different pack sizes. A nice deal is available on Ultra Pro’s regular toploaders ($48.74 for 200, plus 200 free soft sleeves), which are used on cards with a standard thickness.

If the card collector in your life submits cards to PSA, Beckett, or SGC for grading, they would appreciate semi-rigid “card savers” ($43.87 for 200). Card savers are probably the supply that saw the single greatest cost increase this year, and were sold out and back ordered for quite some time.


There are a number of really cool gift ideas you can buy a sports card collector other than cards themselves. For the collector who has nearly everything, you may wish to go this route. Many of these spring forth from artisans who sell primarily through Twitter or Instagram. A few of my favorites this year are:

CarolinaCardExchange’s shadow boxes. This work is really cool — he makes custom shadow boxes using baseball cards and your favorite team’s logo, a name, jersey numbers, or whatever you’d like. You can find him on Twitter at @CarolinaCardEx1 or view his tweet here for more info.

Vinny at Shabby Shore Signs (@SignsShore) has been one of my favorites ever since I first saw his work on Facebook a few years ago. He makes all kinds of full-color wooden signs, but his signs focusing on tobacco-era cards and vintage Topps items are definitely the coolest and would look great in a “card cave.” He takes custom requests, or you can peruse his standard offerings on his website at http://www.shabbyshoresigns.com/.

Matt Kammerer (@MattMadeAThing) makes sports-related art centered around city maps. While much of his pre-made artwork on his Etsy https://www.etsy.com/shop/PermanentPaintings is centered around the Chicago Cubs, you can send him direct message requests to create custom pieces.

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