Panther gift guide

The holidays may look a little different this year, but there are still plenty of ways to spread both holiday cheer and Panther pride this season. From essentials for incoming students, to exciting on-campus experiences, to souvenirs for proud alumni and parents, here are a few fun gift ideas for all the Panthers on your list.

Just the ticket

Whether you’re shopping for a theatre buff, music fan or sports nut, help them prep for post-COVID fun with a UNITix gift certificate. Gift certificates can be redeemed for access to events, including concerts, theater productions and athletic events, at a number of campus venues. Gift certificates can be purchased on the UNITix website.

Surf rock is undead

Cedar Rapids-based Surf Zombies will bring their unique blend of retro surf, bubblegum punk and garage rock to the GBPAC via livestream on Thursday, Dec. 14. Playing a mix of original tunes and fresh takes on holiday favorites, the show is the perfect way to spend a night in with your favorite music fan. The show will be free to stream on YouTube and Facebook, but consider putting the cost of tickets towards a donation to the GBPAC, which helps bring world-class performers to UNI’s campus. Or join Friends of the Gallagher Bluedorn and get members-only benefits, like early access to tickets when in-person shows resume. 

Panther swag

What do UNI students, alumni and panther parents have in common? We all love rocking Panther swag! The UNI Bookstore has countless options — from sweaters to t-shirts, backpacks to ball caps, even glassware and home decor — so you’re sure to find something for every Panther fan on your list. Students love using their Panther water bottles ($6.99-$24.99) to stay hydrated during their daily treks across campus, and snuggling up with UNI hoodies ($25-$96) during Zoom classes and late-night study sessions. There’s also a wide variety of Panther parent apparel, general UNI swag (check out these cute TC socks, $19.99) and an entire collection just for alumni (these keepsake diploma frames, $79.99-$175, are an especially thoughtful gift for recent grads). The book store also offers a wide array of popular and giftable books for the bibliophiles on your list.

For the superfans

For the sports fanatics on your list, consider gifting them a season pass. Passes are already on sale for the 2021 season for wrestling ($59). Season ticket holders get access to every game of the season, and access to exclusive perks, like reserved seating. Also consider a donation to the Panther Scholarship Club, which supports the academic experiences of student athletes, in honor of your favorite Panther fan.

Peak performance

Performance testing in UNI’s Department of Kinesiology can help the health-conscious stay on track with their health goals. Offering a number of strength and endurance tests, this is a thoughtful gift for the weekend warriors and student athletes on your list. Full physiological assessments start at $20 for UNI students and $30 for the public, and additional tests are available for 25-50% off through January and February. For more information or to schedule an appointment, contact UNI Assistant Professor of Kinesiology and Physical Education Terence Moriarty at

A North American tradition

UNI’s North American Review is the oldest literary journal in the country, making it the perfect stocking stuffer for the literary enthusiasts on your gift list. Annual subscriptions are available starting at $40, and back issues are available for $12-$16.96. The NAR press also offers a number of books exploring subjects like the poetry of Walt Whitman and the craft of fiction, great gifts for poetry lovers and aspiring writers. For fans of fiction, page-turning noir mystery novel Black Fin, written by a former UNI faculty member, makes a great stocking stuffer.

A touch of Glee (Club)

The UNI Varsity Men’s Glee Club values tradition and one of their most-loved traditions is their annual Christmas Variety Show. For those missing the magic of the in-person show this year, the club has a new holiday CD ($12) available for purchase on their website. The album is the perfect gift for former Glee Club members, or anyone who enjoys Holiday music. The best part? Proceeds benefit the Northeast Iowa Foodbank. Orders placed before Monday, Dec. 21, will ship out ahead of the Christmas holiday, but the album is also available as a digital download for instant access to these recordings of Holiday classics. Additional recordings and even more merch, including t-shirts, hoodies and face masks, are available on the UNI Glee Club website.

For the readers

Regular readers of InsideUNI might recognize these books by UNI faculty that we highlighted this year. These all make great gifts for the bookworms and lifelong learners on your list. UNI Professor Chris Martin’s award-winning “No Longer Newsworthy: How the Mainstream Media Abandoned the Working Class” is sure to please politicos and the news-obsessed. History buffs will love UNI Professor of Languages and Literatures Jeffrey Copeland’s literary nonfiction book about the 1924 outbreak of the Black Plague in Los Angeles, “Plague in Paradise.” Educators can get a fresh perspective on grading with UNI Educational Leadership Assistant Professor Matt Townsley’s “Making Grades Matter.” Even better — when you order these books through Amazon Smile, a portion of your purchase can be donated to the UNI Foundation.

The reason for the season

Celebrate the generous spirit of the holiday season with a donation in someone’s honor in support of the Panther Pantry, which provides free food to food insecure students. Make your donation on the UNI Foundation’s website. Be sure to specify you want your gift to go to the Panther Pantry — and you can even note who your donation is in honor of. Or, help support scholarships, programs and research opportunities for students by donating to one of the Dean’s Funds for Excellence, which can be done by viewing the list of giving opportunities on the UNI Foundation donation form. Donations to the UNI Alumni Association support programs that keep alumni connected to campus. You can also help support UNI through your regular holiday shopping by shopping on Amazon Smile, which allows you to select an organization (search for “University of Northern Iowa Foundation” when signing in) to support while you shop. A portion of your purchase will be donated to the UNI Foundation at no additional cost.