Inside the Pack: 2021 Holiday Gift Guide

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.


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:


Cigar Box Cards has some of the coolest display cases I’ve ever seen. By contacting him on Twitter, a buyer can request a custom-made wood display case with graphics and different number of shelves. The smaller displays start at $125 plus shipping and go up depending on size and intricacy. Customization options include size/number of cards, team colors, or player theme. (@CardsCigarbox)

Top Shelf Collections puts the spotlight on your cards by building LED-embedded displays. Sizes vary from a single row of 5 cards ($50 plus shipping) to 5 rows of 7 cards each ($145 plus shipping). LED colors are customizable as well. To place an order, contact him on Twitter. (@T_S_Collections)

If lights are your thing, HitByPitchCards has devised single card stands with blue ($12 plus shipping), green ($12+), or red ($14+) LEDs that really make your cards in magnetic cases pop. They work with cases that are smaller than 130 points. Order by messaging him on Twitter. (@HitByPitchCards)


Clarke’s Cards sells 1/1 card art on their website, but they also take requests by messaging them through their Twitter account (@Clarkes1_1Cards). There are tons of options, ranging from modern cards and non-sport to cards that weave 80s and 90s nostalgia in, both through subject and design. Customs usually take about a week.

Zetaw makes some really cool card art, too, available for purchase on their website. He is based in France, so his cards may take a touch longer to arrive, but generally show up in a week or two. While he mostly makes MLB and NBA cards, he will do anything, saying he’ll even make a card for your dog if you want it. Custom requests can be sent through Twitter (@ZetawC).


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, Walmart, the MLB Shop, or Fanatics.

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 4 grading companies — PSA, BGS, SGC, or CSG. 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. The shortages of 2020 are starting to wane, but prices for supplies are still higher than normal. For those who like to protect their cards individually, BCW magnetic card holders ($14.98 for a 5 pack, $25.12 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 ($12.48 for a 5 pack, $29.66 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 ($11 for a box of 20), which come in two easy-to-assemble pieces that allow for varying depths and angles.

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 ($59.85 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.” Cardboard Gold’s version has actually dropped in price since last year ($29.98 for 200).