12 Holiday Gifts For Designers and Developers

gifts for designers

Designers and developers; not the easiest of folk to buy for when it comes to picking out gifts. On the one hand, the discerning designer in your life is going to have incredibly specific aesthetic tastes, while your friendly neighborhood developer’s interests are likely to be niche, to say the least.

As someone staring down the barrel of the first festivities with their own kid, my internal dialogue fluctuates daily between “Buy everything! He only gets one first Christmas!” and “Spend absolutely nothing, all he wants is wrapping paper.”

Unwilling to go full Scrooge, and unable to go full Toys R Us, the advice I’ve been given is to follow this tried and tested rule for gift-giving, a failsafe method to achieve the perfect balance between indulgence and modesty:

“Something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read.”

“Something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read.”

Using the same principle, I’ve done some online window shopping for your nearest and dearest designers and developers. And restraint be damned, it’s the holiday season — so for the purposes of this article, I’ve extended the magic formula!

“Something to write, something to do, something to travel, something to chew. Something to drink, something to sleep, something to play, something to keep.”

Without further ado, here are 12 holiday gifts for the designers and developers in your life.

You might also like: Holiday Reading List: The Top 10 Stories of 2016.

1. Something they want: Teenage Engineering’s Pocket Operator

gifts for designers: pocket operatorThe gift: A little bit nerdy, a little bit cool. Looking like the bastard spawn of a scientific calculator and a vintage Gameboy, your designer or developer loved one might not know they want one of these pocket-sized micro synths yet, but they most definitely, absolutely do. For my money, this is the ultimate Christmas day toy; enough of a technical challenge to keep our nerdy brethren's interest, and perfect for messing around with all morning, then giving a virtuoso rendition of The Fairytale of New York over dinner.

The price: $49-$89 each

Where to buy it: Teenage Engineering

Speaking of nerdy brethren, check out our list of funny lorem ipsum generators.

2. Something they need: Native Union Charging Cable and Keychain

gifts for designers: charging keychainThe gift: The perfect combination of genuinely useful and understatedly chic, these practical keychain chargers are built to last, with lifetime guarantees. Made from hard-wearing braided nylon, they claim to be six times stronger than standard lightning charging cables. Attaching to your keys, this modern day essential should always be to hand, meaning you’re also giving the gift of being the person who saves friends from the misery of a dead phone. Let’s face it, nothing says “I’ve got my life together” like the nonchalant production of a phone charging cable.

The price: $20.99

Where to buy it: Native Union

3. Something to wear: Pakt One Travel Bag

gifts for designers: travel bagThe gift: Slightly stretching the definition of “wear” perhaps, but there are only so many festive jumpers and witty slogan tees a wardrobe can take. I have it on excellent authority (my jet-set coworker, always on the quest for the ultimate travel bag) that this is about as close to perfection as you’ll get. Geared towards the keen but minimalist traveller, the design underwent more than five years of rigorous testing and fine tuning, to create the ultimate hybrid carry on — the perfect traveling companion for all those design and development conferences and speaking engagements. If you’d like to gift this bag, which is currently fully funded on Indiegogo, they’ve created a perk specifically for this purpose.

The price: $225

Where to buy it: Indiegogo

4. Something to read: Design Systems By Alla Kholmatova

gifts for designers: bookThe gift: In this digital age, it’s a testament to Smashing Magazine’s awesome production values and editorial clout that these gorgeous hardback books still grace the coffee tables and desk spaces of so many of our industry’s workers. Their latest offering, from Alla Kholmatova, explores the crafting of streamlined, perfectly functioning design systems, and is sure to inspire the lucky recipient off to a flying start back in the office come the new year.

The price: $29

Where to buy it: Smashing Magazine

5. Something to write: Self Expression Card Kit

gifts for designers: cardsThe gift: A great little stocking stuffer from the creative crew at Ban.do — these blank grids come with letter and shape stickers, so that you can quickly whip up the perfect card for any occasion. Be the hero of your office pod as you deftly produce a sweet, handmade birthday note for the intern who kept it quiet, or an “I’m sorry you deleted that table in the production database” card for your desolate coworker.

The price: $12

Where to buy it: Bando

6. Something to do: Cube Portable Digital Colorizer

gifts for designers: cubeThe gift: Super fun, and potentially super helpful, this sleek little box enables you to capture and record any color, from any surface. It’ll then be stored and digitalized, ready for use in your latest design work or project. A suite of creative apps help you get to work with the hues you’ve scouted from the wild, importing precision color in Photoshop, and a whole lot more. The ideal present for the creative who can get struck by inspiration at any time.

The price: $139

Where to buy it: Palette

7. Something to travel: The Twist+ Travel Adaptor

gifts for designers: adaptorsThe gift: Another modern day essential, this brilliantly compact travel gadget is the world’s first global charger designed specifically for Macbook. Functional in over 150 countries, you can change between a US, UK, Australian, and European plug with one satisfyingly tactile twist. On top of that, it will charge four USB devices at once (time to bust out that key ring…).

The price: $44.99

Where to buy it: OneAdaptr

8. Something to chew: Mug Cakes: 40 Speedy Cakes to Make in a Microwave

gifts for designers: mug cakesThe gift: Because sometimes our hardworking designer and developer heroes have to work through their lunch break — and those days call for cake! As most offices come equipped with a microwave and mugs, this book provides the inspiration for a myriad of speedy mid-afternoon treats to help them power through the final sprint of their latest project, on the days that they just don’t have time to venture out for their sugar fix.

The price: $11.61

Where to buy it: Barnes & Noble

9. Something to drink: Deathwish Coffee

gifts for designers: coffeeThe gift: For the designer or developer who regularly pulls marathon all-nighters at their screen, this is the next best thing to a decent snooze (or eyelid matchsticks.) Death Wish Coffee promises the strongest cup of joe in the world, imbuing its consumer with mental clarity, heightened focus, and, I imagine, saucer-sized pupils. It also claims to deliver subtle notes of cherry and chocolate, but let’s face it, you’re not drinking this stuff for the taste (and are probably going to be too wired to notice them anyway!) Make no mistake: this stuff is rocket fuel.

The price: $19.99

Where to buy it: Death Wish Coffee

10. Something to sleep: The Original Ostrich Pillow

gifts for designers: pillowWhere to buy it: Dreamy in every sense of the word; sleep anywhere! Assuming they ever come down from the Deathwish caffeine high, give your creative coder or devoted designer the gift of the ultimate on-the-go nap, perfect for the days when they need to recharge before a big presentation, hide from a tricky client, or just stick their heads in the sand and pretend that disastrous usability testing session never happened.

The price: $99

Where to buy it: Ostrich Pillow

You might also like: Holiday Buyer Psychology — 5 Things You and Your Clients Need to Know.

11. Something to play: What Do You Meme Card Game

gifts for designers: card gameThe gift: Is it even a festive family gathering if your relatives come round and you don’t play a borderline inappropriate card game after a few sherries? As folk who probably spend more time online than most, have the developers and designers in your life got what it takes to out-meme their friends IRL?

The price: $18

Where to buy it: Zapals

12. Something to keep

gifts for designers: watchThe gift: Despite spending most of their working lives immersed in the digital realm, I often find my designer and developer friends have some of the greatest appreciation for classic analog products. This watch, ironically timeless, ticks all the boxes; minimal, precise, unisex — it’s a classic piece that they’ll want to keep and wear forever.

The price: $185

Where to buy it: Amazon

Did we miss any gifts perfect for the designers and developers in your life? Tell us in the comments section below!

Grow your business with the Shopify Partner Program

Learn more