The holiday season is here. The festive bells that were once softly jingling from far away are now ringing at top volume around every corner. We know what this means for it could only say one thing… gifts! If you’re like me, one of those last-minute shoppers always frantically searching for the perfect gift that is both beautiful and useful, remember to keep calm and avoid impulsive buying.
We dedicate this post to those among us who are seeking the perfect holiday gift for designers of all sorts. It’s important to also remember that designers, like all of us, are not just defined by their occupation. Just as an engineer would hate to receive 10 Raspberry Pis as gifts, a designer doesn’t necessarily desire design-related items.
For those that do, here are 20 ideas for useful (mostly tech) gifts for designers who just can’t get enough of design.
Designers, especially UI designers, often test their designs on their mobile phones. And just like most of us, they also use their mobile phones regularly while at work. What would make a really neat and swanky gift for designers is the Bobine Flexible iPhone cable that charges your iPhone via USB and props it up in any way you desire. It’s small and handy for traveling yet strong enough to support your phone.
2. Cordies Desktop Cord Manager
A designer’s workstation can become a very entangled one with the number of devices that they have to have connected. Unless they’re pure fans of Bluetooth products, it’s likely that they are surrounded by cables plugged into their mobile phones, tablets, e-readers, speakers, laptop and so forth. Cordies desktop cord managers make a useful gift for designers. They’ll thank you when they finally have their desks as clean as the designs they create.
What about if we just tuck away the wild cables and gift this beautiful dock collection? These docks make the perfect gift for designers who swear by Apple. The collection consists of beautiful weighted charging docks for your beloved Apple devices. The dock’s sleek and minimal design would add a stylish touch to any designer’s workstation. A great gift for designers and also for any fans of Apple products.
Designers prefer MacBooks when it comes to tech for their work. No doubt, everything just looks way better on a Mac thanks to retina display. Not to mention, many design apps run only on the Mac OS X, making it tough for other devices to compete. As MacBooks are becoming slimmer and sleeker, their USB ports are becoming less existent. But fret not, there’s Satechi’s 4 Port USB Hub. Simple design, lightweight and ready for all your USB needs, it’s a pragmatic gift for designers.
Any designer would tell you that sketching, doodling and scribbling on a notebook is an important part of their work. Ok, perhaps those activities aren’t exactly listed under their job responsibilities. But sketching and doodling help boost their creativity and their ability to think visually. SketchyNotebook would be a perfect gift for designers due to its flexibility. Easily create UI sketches and wireframes or jot down notes from user research studies. With SketchyNotebook, there’s a template for every use case.
Here is another notebook that would make a fantastic gift for designers who work mainly on user interface design. Straight to the point, gorgeously designed, and focused solely on designers, Gridbooks feature a grid set for versatile web and mobile sketching. As shown in the Mobile Book below, it also provides a notes page opposite the grid for action items and relevant notes. A very useful gift for designers who work mainly on UI design.
Freelance designers would love to receive the NUboard Notebook as a gift this holiday season. If meetings on the go, co-working spaces, startups, and freelance communities are part of a designer’s life, then this whiteboard notebook would make the ideal gift. You can use it for brainstorming, sketching, or presenting ideas, wireframes or user flows to clients, whether you’re in an office or in a hip downtown cafe. A great gift for designers who need to show their thought processes rather than simply tell it.
8. UI Magnets Giant iPhone Whiteboards
Designing mobile app UI is all the rage these days. The app market is huge and mobile app UI design has undoubtedly transformed the way we design user interfaces today. The UI magnet is a great gift for designers who want a better way to brainstorm app design ideas and to better express their ideas to clients. It’s also really fun to stick a giant iPhone whiteboard on the wall, who can deny that!
9. Sensu Artist Brush and Stylus
What about gifts for designers who lean towards the areas of art and illustration? The Sensu 2-in-one brush and stylus would make a fantastic gift for the artist-designers in your life. It works with devices like the iPad, iPhone, Nexus, Surface and Galaxy, which pretty much covers a wide range of devices that a designer is likely to have. It’s great for both simple sketching and also for creating quality digital artwork.
When it comes to styluses, I don’t suppose anyone could forget to mention industry veteran Wacom. The Intuos stylus makes a beautiful and practical gift for designers who are always sketching, drawing and creating while on the go. Ergonomically designed for creative professionals, the Intuos comes with a thin pressure-sensitive tip that simulates the natural feel of using a pen or a brush. This is one of those failsafe gifts for designers that could never go wrong.
11. Apple Pencil
Although Steve Jobs might still be flipping in his grave over the Apple Pencil, there’s no doubt that this would classify as another one of those failsafe gifts for designers. Especially if they are known to exclusively use Apple products. The Apple Pencil is a beautiful product that works very well as a quality stylus. Pressure-sensitive, thin tip and capable of producing a wide range of artistic effects just like a conventional pencil, this is the right gift for designers who own an iPad Pro.
UX designers often talk about empathy and the need to understand users. What better way to stir up empathy within you than by reading the emotion-laden, heart wrenching yet often soul-soothing real life stories of people from New York and beyond? Each story is accompanied by a photograph of the individual framed by photographer, Brandon Stanton, who started the HONY project back in 2010. With over 16 million followers on Facebook, HONY has become a place where one goes to maintain one’s faith in humanity. The latest book would make a terrific gift for designers who strive to create human-centric products.
This is the must-have book collection for those who are serious about designing for the web and making it a better place to hang out in. From Jeremy Keith’s debut original HTML5 for Web Designers to Ethan Marcotte’s seminal Responsive Web Design to Luke Wroblewski’s Mobile First, this collection features some of the biggest names in web design. A good gift for designers who are all about the web.
Inspirational quotes, minimalist clean design, and stylish modern color palette? This 2016 calendar would make an awesome gift for designers who like to spruce up their office just a little. I mean, after all, how many of us actually use real physical calendars instead of iCal or Google Calendar? Nonetheless, designers are known to appreciate the finer things in life like a gorgeous inspirational calendar. In any case, the beauty and motivational purpose of this calendar is enough to have it on this list of great gifts for designers.
“Internet, Art, Relaxing.” Those are the three words that Founder and CEO of Electric Objects, Jake Levine, used to describe the product. Indeed, the digital art display is exactly that. If you have the budget to splurge on something fancy, this would be the premium gift for designers who can’t get enough of things that are about Internet, art and relaxing. The digital art display allows you to change the artwork via your mobile phone and it also plays video and animated GIFs. Choose from a selection of art as vast as the Internet… Now imagine that.
“Perfect gifts for your favorite designers”. Pantone already knows that its products are definitely a hit with designers of all kinds. No doubt, a big part of design work has to do with colors and the combination of colors. Even though designers would like you to know that design isn’t just about colors. Getting the Pantone formula guide as a gift for designers is definitely a good choice. It’s practical, useful and a good addition to a designer’s growing box of tools.
Ok, I know, this might be going a little over the top but hey, who’s to say? There are some among us with a lot of dough to blow. So why not blow it on a classic piece of furniture that embodies one of the greatest design philosophies of all time? The story and ideas of designer Charles Eames are well known to many in the design field. Owning an Eames chair is much rather like owning a true icon of modern design. For those with deep, very deep pockets, this would make an extremely desirable gift for designers who love all things classy.
I recently broke a mouse while gaming so this has gone straight to the top of my personal wish list. Some designers work with a stylus, others with trackpads and yet others with simple pen and paper. But we can’t deny that most of us work with a mouse. Having a well-functioning mouse is rather important for designers, just like it is for hardcore gamers. The Razer Orochi mouse has obviously targeted gamers but its specs are just incredible. It is both wired and wireless powered by Bluetooth technology. This would make the perfect gift for designers who also happen to be gamers or who just always seem to be complaining about broken mice at work.
19. Pocket Premium
Designers read a lot. In fact, judging from the high amount of Medium articles there are about design, it’s fair to say that designers also write a lot. These days, it seems like design trends change as fast as the speed of light. Designers have to keep themselves up to date and to constantly improve their skills and knowledge. Having an app like Pocket Premium that lets them easily save articles for later would be an absolute joy. A perfect gift for designers who love to read and who have way too many tabs open in their web browser.
Of course, it’s difficult these days to be a designer without a prototyping tool. Still mockups, however beautiful and pixel-perfect they might be, can never compare to the depth and utility of interactive prototypes. Proto.io is the best gift for designers whose lingo consists of mobile apps, interaction design and UI animations.
If you’re really out of ideas, you can opt for the safe (and often very practical) option of a great UI Kit from UI8 (there are plenty to choose from!), an Amazon Gift Card, an iTunes Gift Cards, or a Google Play Store Gift Cards.
It’s still not too late for gift shopping, so we hope that this list of great holiday gifts for designers will inspire you while you’re on the hunt for the perfect gift!