We’re two weeks away from Christmas, a few days away from Chanukah, and a full week away from the next Carolina game. This is now the perfect time to buy those gifts for the Tar Heel fans in your life.
Only one problem; what to get them?
The good news is that you have a ton of options. From t-shirts, socks, hats, memorabilia, and tickets, all you need to do is decide what the fan in your life is missing...and maybe how much you can spend on them. Let’s take a dive into your options.
It seems like every year Carolina schedules a game between Christmas and New Year’s Day, while students are still at home, to allow fans to get tickets as presents. It’s a great gift, as it allows folks who don’t normally get a chance to see a game to watch the Heels in action.
This year, however, that option isn’t there. There’s one non-conference game in the Smith Center during the holiday break, and it’s the tilt against Wofford on December 20th. If you want to give your fan a gift before the holiday, this will be the one to give as there are still several upper level seats available. This date is good for those who are celebrating Chanukah, as the 20th is the last night.
That shouldn’t dissuade you from giving tickets, though. A check of the ticket page from UNC shows you tickets are still available for Boston College on January 9th (yours truly will be at that one), Clemson on January 16th, Pittsburgh on Saturday, February 3rd, Notre Dame on February 12th, and Miami on Senior Night, February 27th. That’s a pretty wide range of great options to choose from, especially as you can be there when the 2017 MOP says goodbye to the Smith Center in what is likely to be a crucial ACC match.
But, as all of you well know by now, you don’t just have the option of buying direct from UNC. A quick check at the folks over at StubHub tells you that if there is a game your fan wants to go to, you can buy tickets at any level, and get a parking pass too. Look at the weeknight games first for the best deals, but if you want to try to go to The Game against Duke on February 8th, be ready to pay at least $400 per ticket. For the Upper Level.
Another option could be to plan your trip for next year. This past week, the team made it official that they will be playing in the 2018 Las Vegas Invitational in the Orleans Arena. The tournament is probably going to be the best four-team holiday tournament in history, as Carolina will be joined by Michigan State, Texas, and UCLA. The dates? Thanksgiving Day November 22nd and Black Friday November 23rd.
Right now, you can buy tickets in books of all four games only, but tickets can be had for under $200 per, breaking down to $50 a game. Considering the caliber of opponent you’ll see and the size of the arena, it’s a spectacular deal, not to mention finding a hotel shouldn’t be that difficult. Depending on when the games start, you may even be able to fly out on Thanksgiving Day itself to avoid the headaches at the airport. The fan in your life not only gets to see the Heels play in Vegas, but they know they won’t have to deal with in-laws for one holiday. That’s a pretty nice gift.
Finally, if you want to surprise your fan with a trip to the game against Kentucky in 2018, keep an eye for that announcement around the time of the this year’s CBS Sports Classic. As of the writing of this article, the date and location hasn’t been determined, but each event has been held on the Saturday before Christmas, making the likely date December 22nd. As for the location, with a history of going to Chicago, New York, Las Vegas, and New Orleans, it’s fair to assume the location will be a fun one.
This is the place where you have a ton of options, so it’s up to you to know your fan. You can run the gamut from a few bucks to several hundred just to have that UNC logo.
First, the biggest selection of options is going to be from Fanatics. This site handles the official store for every league, plus they manage the official UNC athletic department apparel site. It has the benefit of having different deals every day, so all you have to do is figure out your price range, what sort of clothing you want to buy, and go crazy.
That said, maybe you aren’t just looking for clothing, but want something unique or want something from Chapel Hill. Well, you still have plenty of options.
To me, the best collection of high quality t-shirts at a good price that you won’t find in other places is Underground Printing. They have a couple of really popular designs, including the “Run UNC” and “Chapel Hill vs. All Y’all” in Carolina Blue, Heather Blue, Navy, White, and others. The tri-blend shirts are incredibly soft, and hold up really well to washing. If you’re looking for a gift for an alumnus or alumnae, you’re pretty much guaranteed to get a smile with this.
On a different part of Franklin Street, you have the staple of Johnny T-shirt. If you’re looking for a wider range of options with the Carolina Logo, Johnny is probably the place to go. They still have plenty of National Champions merchandise available, if for some weird reason your fan hadn’t already stuffed their wardrobes full. They will also have probably the best local selection of Carolina hats that you can buy on the web. Check out their 12 days of Christmas to see what holiday sale they have going.
Also on Franklin Street, you can go to Chapel Hill Sportswear, probably your best bet if you want to buy official Carolina Nike merchandise. The site is pretty easily organized for browsing, and they were the ones who handled the official merchandise for the athletic department until Fanatics took over. The most unique thing that they have, though, is this shirt honoring Woody Durham. Proceeds from the sale go to Aphasia research, the disease that is taking the woods away from the longtime voice of the Tar Heels. It’d be like giving two gifts for the price of one.
The Shrunken Head is a longtime provider of unique shirts, ties, and other merchandize for Carolina Fans. If you’ve ever seen the basic blue button that said “Beat...” on a fan’s chest, chances are they got it from the Shrunken Head. Chances are you’ll find something you never thought could be branded with Carolina from these guys.
Want to give someone something a little higher class than a basic t-shirt? You can also buy something from the man who gave Carolina the argyle. Julian’s on Franklin Street epitomizes Southern Style, and is where Roy Williams gets a lot of his suits you see him wear on the sidelines. You can even buy a tie like the one Roy wore when they cut down the nets in April. Julian’s has plenty of high-quality gifts the fan can wear when they dress up.
Tickets can be used once, clothing wears out over time, but memorabilia is the gift the fan can keep for the rest of their life.
Do they need something on their desk to remind everyone who comes in that Carolina won the title this year? Well look no further than this Waterford Crystal paperweight emblazoned with the National Champion logo. Yes, a crystal paperweight that costs $135, and only 5,000 have been made.
You can also help them fill out their office or game room with actual pieces from the court the Tar Heels won the title on. There are plenty of options with this route, from about $70, $80, $100, and $120. You can even go as far as buying a table made from the wood of the court, but you may want to talk to that fan in your life before you drop $3500 to $4500 on a table.
In general, the Fanatics site is a good one if you want to buy something for the fan to hang on a wall, or decorate a room. Each of the other sites on Franklin Street will have their own items as well.
The Rams Club
Finally, a gift that you may not have thought about would be a membership to the official booster club for UNC Athletics. A lot of people think that the only way to be a part of this group is to have donated thousands, if not more, of dollars to athletics, but you can become a member for as little as $100. The fan in your life will be an actual part of helping UNC Athletes get scholarships, as well as help maintain all of the facilities on campus.
There are benefits as well. The entry-level gets you access to football and basketball season tickets before the general public (note, you have to give a wee bit more if you want basketball season tickets that include the Duke game), the in for buying postseason basketball tickets, discounts, Born and Bred Magazine, and the ability to go to the Tar Heel Tour events held in the summer. Higher levels give you higher benefits. If the fan in your life doesn’t need another thing to hang up, or has more than enough clothing, this is a relatively inexpensive option to let them actually be a part of Carolina Athletics.
Hopefully, this will help narrow your focus for the Tar Heel fan in your life. There are plenty of options out there, so good luck, and Happy Holidays!