In 2016, we started doing a gift guide for designers and creative types — something that was certainly fun, but we had no idea how much fun it would be. When 2017 rolled around, we did it again, and couldn’t resist when the end of 2018 was upon us.
Every year, we find new and exciting gift ideas for you and the designers in your life (and perhaps a few things we’d like to add to our own lists). This year, we’ve got sustainable gift ideas, stocking stuffers, and some that are just plain fun. Here are the 10 best gifts for your favorite creative people in 2019.
Sustainable Gift Ideas
Hydroponic Farmstands from Lettuce Grow
Lettuce Grow was founded by Jacob Pechenik and Zooey Deschanel with the mission of bringing some much-needed change to our food system. They want to help people use fewer resources to grow healthier food at home — no matter what “home” means to them.
Their self-watering, self-fertilizing hydroponic Farmstands are vertical vegetable gardens made from ocean-bound plastic recovered from coastal communities. They come in five sizes — from Teeny, which holds 12 plants, to Large, holding 36 plants, making it easy and fun for everyone to grow fresh food, no matter their gardening knowledge or background.
There’s a lot to unpack around this company concept, but here are our favorite parts:
- This method of growing food uses less water than traditional methods.
- Many of the plants can grow inside or out.
- You don’t have to be blessed with a green thumb.
- It helps keep plastic out of the ocean.
- They donate one farmstand for every ten sold through their Lettuce Give program.
This is such an awesome gift for creatives who are into sustainability, fresh produce, organically grown food, or simply have the desire to source ingredients closer to home.
Bite Toothpaste Bits
As a society, we’re trying to become more environmentally responsible, which is opening the doors for technology and design innovation. Bite has taken it upon themselves to focus on dental care — an area of personal hygiene that uses a lot of plastic. Think about your brushing routine: you’re probably using a plastic toothbrush and toothpaste that comes out of a plastic tube — none of that is recyclable.
Bite makes bamboo toothbrushes with bristles made from bamboo and charcoal-infused polyester. Bamboo is a much more sustainable resource because it’s renewable and uses far less energy in manufacturing. But perhaps the most exciting product Bite makes is their toothpaste bits.
Each glass bottle comes with 62 little bits (about one month’s supply). Every time you brush your teeth, you pop a bit in your mouth and bite down, then use a wet toothbrush to brush your teeth. You can get activated charcoal, berry (great for kids!), mint, or even seasonal flavors. You can buy individual bottles, or sign up for a subscription to save money on each bottle.
We love this sustainable gift idea for literally anyone in your life, but we’re willing to bet the designers will have extra appreciation for the toothbrush design.
Another company working to upcycle plastic is an eyewear company called Genusee. Based and operated in Flint, Michigan, Genusee was founded by Parsons School of Design graduate Ali Rose VanOverbeke with one simple goal: “do good for people and the planet using design and collaboration to be the change we want to see.”
Every pair of glasses Genusee makes upcycles 15 single-use plastic water bottles and creates work for local Flint residents. They make prescription and non-prescription glasses, sunglasses, and readers. Additionally, they will actually buy them back from you when you want or need a new pair. By taking the product back, they can make sure it’s re-used, refurbished and sold as a discount, or donated to someone in need.
It’s impossible for us to pick a favorite on this gift guide, but Genusee might very well be it. We love their mission of focusing on a circular economy and trying to be as sustainable as possible. They even donate 1% of their profits to the Community Fund of Greater Flint — just one of the ways they’re working to help rebuild a city ripped apart by multiple factors over the past couple decades.
And no, as of December 2019 the water crisis in Flint is not over.
Fun Gifts for Creatives
Puzzles from JIGGY
In 2014, Kaylin Marcotte was working constantly as the very first employee at a startup. She desperately needed some time to unwind at night, so she started doing jigsaw puzzles. She called it a kind of meditation before bed. However, she didn’t like the visuals — “the designs were so outdated (and frankly lame!).”
So she started dreaming about what a newer, better, more socially responsible puzzle might look like. That’s how she landed on the concept for JIGGY — puzzles with more sustainable packaging featuring art from female artists around the world. Marcotte says that each artist she chooses actually gets a cut from every sale of a puzzle featuring their artwork.
Every puzzle from JIGGY comes with special puzzle glue and a scraper so you can preserve your puzzle into a work of art once completed. They look gorgeous framed and displayed on the wall or a mantle.
We love that this company is focused on female-identifying artists and paying them for their work. The initial collection has six different puzzles to choose from, but the company is brand new — and with attention from companies like O! The Oprah Magazine, they’re bound to come out with a larger selection very soon.
Two Chicks Cocktails
Perhaps not everyone is a fan of the canned cocktail idea, but we’re into it. For people who don’t want to keep an entire bottle of liquor around, or don’t drink it enough to justify the expense, individually canned cocktails are the perfect answer.
We love these options from Two Chicks Cocktails because they’re different from most of the others. Aside from the usual vodka variety (which they make with pear and elderflower), Two Chicks also makes two cocktails with tequila: a citrus margarita and a paloma. (Is anybody else incredibly thirsty all of a sudden?)
Another thing we love about Two Chicks is that they’re female-owned and operated (hence, the name). This is a great idea for a host gift — something you can pick up on the way to the party to give to the hostess with the mostest. Just be sure to pick up some for yourself while you’re at the store.
Buttons from Auxilry
A super fun and fashionable gift that any creative would appreciate is customizable buttons from Auxilry. The team at Auxilry developed a sleek process for putting buttons on your shirt with easily changeable faces so you can switch up your look to match every mood, every meeting, every event.
Check out this video to see Auxilry in action.
What we love most about this is that it’s something simple creatives can do to show off their vibrant, unique personalities. The designers in our lives have a killer sense of style, but are sometimes forced to tone it down for the office, or work events. Auxilry lets them show their true colors when they have to sport the suit or the button-down.
Buttons from Auxilry are a great stocking stuffer, or moderately priced gift for your favorite designer. They have plenty of fastener and button bundles to get you started and lots of fun button facing options to customize their look later on.
A Clipa for Their Bag
If you or the designer in your life carries a purse (or some sort of bag), you know the struggle of where to put them when you’re in public. In bathroom stalls, there aren’t always hangers on the door for bags or coats. (And don’t even think about the sink, which is definitely coated in water.)
Some bars will have purse hooks installed, but at tables in the middle of the restaurant, the only place you can really put your bag is the floor. Putting them on the back of your chair makes you an easy target for a pickpocket — but how dirty is that floor?
Clipa comes in seven different finishes and can hold up to 33 pounds within a half-inch of space. You simply open it up and the non-slip pads keep the clip in place almost anywhere — counters, bathroom stall walls, tables, or chairs. The company boasts that the Clipa can last up to 10 years, allowing you to keep your bags off of dirty, wet floors and increasing its lifespan. And you can wear it like a bracelet when it’s not in use.
This is definitely one of the best gifts for creatives. You should probably also order one for yourself. And another friend. And maybe your neighbor.
There’s an adorable Etsy shop called Little Sloth Friend that makes mini personalized bunting — you know, those little flag banners you might see at parties. You can choose your color, customize your message, and dress up any space with whatever your designer needs in her eyesight. Maybe congratulations are in order for a promotion, or a personal goal achieved. Maybe the two of you have an inside joke that always cheers her up. Regardless of the reason, one of these little gifts is perfect.
They’re cute enough to be on display (yet tiny enough to be a secret message) and are great gifts for those with attention to detail and lovers of whimsy. Each flag measures 1.25 inches by 0.75 inches and the bunting is strung on 3 feet of thread, making them the ideal size for displaying at workspaces, desks, on doors, shelves, and basically anywhere else you can think of. Regardless, it always feels good to support a small business.
Practical Gifts for Creatives
iTunes or Google Play Gift Card
Creatives, entrepreneurs, and developers alike are all likely to love a gift card to the iTunes or Google Play store. Not everyone loves to give gift cards, but let’s face it: they’re versatile and will always be put to good use. Recipients could do whatever they want with them: use them for in-app purchases through their favorite mobile apps, music downloads (if anyone still buys music anymore), or movie rentals.
Speaking of, this could be a great way to pay for someone’s app subscription if they already have one. For example, one of our favorite photo editing apps is Enlight Photofox. There are tons of available features for the free download, but a subscription gets you unlimited access to various features, depending on the level you choose.
Thanks to presets and built-in effects, Photofox is incredibly easy to use — much easier than Photoshop — and is also super fun. You’ll never get bored with the exciting ways you can utilize this app. The only drawback at this point is that it’s only available for iOS devices.
We may be a tiny bit biased, but we think a Proto.io subscription is one of the best gifts for mobile app designers. Proto.io lets designers, students, entrepreneurs, or anyone with a great app idea create fully-interactive, high-fidelity mobile app prototypes that feel real — no coding or programming expertise required.
Mobile app prototypes make the transition between design and development completely seamless. The developers will have fewer questions because they can see exactly what you mean by transitions, color palettes, and any other little details you can imagine. Not only will this make the development phase go faster, but it will save you money.
If you didn’t see something you like on this list, we’re sure you’ll find something in one of our previous gift guides: perhaps indestructible phone cases from the 2016 edition, apparel with a good cause from the 2017 gift guide, a lamp that mimics natural daylight from the 2018 guide.
And of course — happy holidays from the team at Proto.io!
What’s your favorite gift for creatives in your life? Let us know by tweeting us @Protoio!