With the saintly austerity that January’s resolutions bring, it’s understandable that we like to go a little wild during the holidays. The nights are long, temperatures plummet, and some days it feels like the sun barely rises; there’s a good reason that for millennia, people all around the world have relied on ritual celebrations to get them through the darkest days of winter.
We usually shrug off the excesses of the holidays with minimal guilt—the season is short and in the words of Mae West, the queen of a life lived fully, “Too much of a good thing can be wonderful.” This year however, there’s more in the air than visions of sugar plums—a growing sense of responsibility has hit the mainstream.
“Single-use,” a phrase we associate with disposable plastic goods, was crowned as Collins Dictionary word of the year in 2018. While it’s increasingly social death to be seen sipping from plastic straws or takeaway coffee cups, how many of us will gladly give “single-use” gag gifts to our friends, family, and colleagues this year? The sort of token present very kindly meant and received with a genuine (if fleeting) grin, but which probably ends up in a sock drawer before New Year’s Eve rolls around?
This season should of course be a time of fun, giving, and generosity, but this year let’s challenge ourselves to give gifts with real staying power. Here’s a list of ten thoughtful and lasting unisex presents that will delight the designers and developers in your life every day, as they use and appreciate them again and again.
1. The Baron Fig Squire pen
The gift: There are few things that make you feel like you’re smashing this adulting thing harder than being able to lay your hand to a quality pen on the fly. The weighty kind, with an unchewed end, which doesn’t require five minutes of frantic scribbling to get the ink flowing. The kind you actually would like back when you lend it to a friend. This is that pen.
The price: $55 USD
Where to buy it: Baron Fig
2. Pixel ruler
The gift:A heavy-duty gauge stainless steel ruler with neat pixel increments, this smart tool is the perfect gift for the designer looking to get some responsive screen size sketching down on paper. The ruler is marked with various break points and screen sizes, making designing for everything from mobile to widescreen laptop a breeze.
The price: $37 USD
Where to buy it: UI Stencils
3. Circuit board keyring
The gift: Knocking it out of the park on all counts with this selection; recycled, practical, plastic free, and your passport to an open bottle of festive cheer! Falling on the right side of the occasionally dubious “geek chic” gifting category that tech workers are often subjected to, this understated keyring should get the nod of approval from even the most partial of your designer friends.
The price: $23 USD
Where to buy it: Etsy
4. Tisserand Find Focus pulse point roller ball
The gift: Channel your inner Hogwarts student this holiday season, and give the gift of bottled concentration. Perfect for assisting the workflow of any stretched developer and designer, this pure essential oil blend of rosemary, energizing grapefruit, and uplifting orange leaf is designed to give a deadline-smashing focus boost when applied to the pulse points. A little goes a long way, meaning the (recyclable) bottle should last all year.
The price: $8 USD
Where to buy it: Tisserand
You might also like: 12 Holiday Gifts For Designers and Developers (2017).
5. Toothbrush subscription
The gift: These bamboo toothbrushes are highly sustainable and feel great to use, but let’s face it—most importantly, they look fantastic on your bathroom shelf. The handle is fully biodegradable and the bristles are BPA-free nylon. In addition to these laudable credentials, a tree is planted for every toothbrush purchased, meaning your gift of a year’s supply will see six new trees growing—easy atonement for the one covered in lights in your lounge.
The price: $25.50 USD
Where to buy it: Bamwoo
6. Weird Things That Humans Search For board game
The gift: There’s nothing like spending extended time cooped up with your family over the holidays to remind you how wonderfully weird humans can be. This fun new board game confirms and celebrates the bizarre inner workings of our brains. Board games are an absolutely non-negotiable necessity at this time of the year, and this one should have real longevity, especially for your friends and colleagues who spend most of their day online.
The price: $15.99 USD
Where to buy it: Target
7. Muhle steamed ash safety razor
The gift: Although plenty of folk prefer to rock a full beard (or leg!) during the winter months, this beautifully balanced piece of German engineering is bound to be well received. The handle is sustainably sourced steam-treated ash, and the business end calls for classic open safety blades. While these demand a little respect at first, the pay off is an incredibly close and lasting shave. A gorgeous gift for anyone looking to go fuzz free in 2019.
The price: $47 USD
Where to buy it: Muhle
8. Smashing Book 6: New Frontiers In Web Design
The gift: Another utterly gorgeous piece of publishing from the Smashing stable; these books grace the coffee tables and bookshelves of top designers and developers the world over. This latest offering (with perhaps their most beautiful cover to date) adheres to the brand’s trademark attitude of focusing on practical challenges and front end solutions, from accessibility in apps to responsive art direction. Expect case studies galore, as well as tangible takeaways that will help the reader in their every day work right from the get go.
The price: $39 USD
Where to buy it: Smashing Magazine
9. Bamboo cutlery set
The gift: Another bamboo-based homerun; this neat wrap bundle contains everything the busy designer or developer needs to chow down their lunch “al desko” as they race to ship that new feature. These are also a great gift for any friends or colleagues who travel for work, as they pass through airport security and make eating dubious plane food feel just a little bit more civilised.
The price: $12.50 USD
Where to buy it: AndKeep
You may also like: 12 Holiday Gifts for the Designers and Developers in Your Life (2016).
10. Breakfast buffet chocolate bar set
Where to buy it: Okay, so maybe this gift won’t hang around for as long as the others in this list —but chocolate for breakfast is an absolutely necessity at this time of the year, and this artisan set certainly ticks all of the boxes in that respect! Bonus points for cute graphic design!
The price: $15.30 USD
Where to buy it: Firebox
Did we miss any gifts perfect for the designers and developers in your life? Tell us in the comments section below!