Buying gifts for designers is hard – can’t deny that! Be it a visual designer, product designer, UX/UI designer – or that friend who is really into design. Designers (and design lovers) have specific tastes, know exactly what they like, and probably have it already – which makes them extremely difficult to buy gifts for.
Here are my ideas for the perfect presents for particular and peculiar designers like myself:
Donate to a charity or non-profit organization
There are so many organizations that continue their work through the donations and kind-heartedness of donors – and the past few years have been hard for many, especially marginalized communities. A donation in the name of the designer to a charity that is meaningful to them will mean so much – so take some time to find an organization and it will have so much more meaning.
Support other designers!
I love all the unique and niche artwork and designs that are available through small businesses and local artists. Designer enamel pins are one of my favourites, but the options are endless: notepads, pens, aprons, shirts. Adam JK has a unique fun design aesthetic, Michelle Rial has a great book (pictured), Slice gallery in Vancouver has many options – I’m sure you can find a memorable and meaningful gift for your designer.
Premium charge cables
Wherever I am relaxing at home there is a six-foot phone charge cable at arms reach, which means I am not constrained to being two feet from an outlet. (If you don’t own an extended-length phone charge cable, buy yourself one too!) Native Union has been my go-to brand for premium cables – and they have a beautiful six-foot cable in stylish colours! They also have great options for stylish Apple Watch and MacBook cables.
Bonus gift hack: Add some zip ties and a set of 3M Command Outdoor Light Clips and now you have a cable management kit (yes, they are outdoor clips; but they are by far the most superior cable management product I have found, and I’ve tried a lot – trust me!).
Studies have shown that 99.9% of designers drink too much coffee (this study was just conducted in the last 30 minutes by myself, with myself being the only participant). Based on this highly unscientific study I conclude that your designer friend also drinks coffee – get them a local unique coffee they wouldn’t usually treat themselves to.
My personal go-to is the local Vancouver Matchstick Coffee (it helps that there is a location just around the corner from me). Nice designer mugs or travel containers are also a great option for the over-caffeinated designer (KeepCup and the Australian FrankGreen are my personal favourites).
Smart water bottle
Chances are your designer friend doesn’t drink enough water (did you read the last section?). If they’re tech-inclined, a smart water bottle will both tickle their tech craving, as well as calm the tickle in their throat screaming for hydration.
There are a few options on the market, but I use a Hidrate Spark Steel water bottle. The base of the bottle glows at intervals as a reminder to drink water (the only drawback I’ve found is having to charge it every three to four days).
Do not skip over this one! Withings has a great range of design-forward watches that are fitness trackers – and they don’t need to be charged every day. I charge mine approximately every 10-14 days. The best thing about them is that they look like stylish watches (and not look like a fitness tracker!). I didn’t want to be in meetings presenting clients with a cheap plastic band on my wrist – and Apple Watch just doesn’t do it for me.
I switched from Fitbit to Withings for the design and aesthetics alone and haven’t looked back. If your designer friend loves data as much as I do, then this is the watch for them! One of the features I like best is the silent vibrating alarm with “SmartWake” which will wake you at the best time based on your sleep cycle.
Phillips Hue lighting kit
I no longer wake to the sound of my alarm – but the soft glow of the Hue light I have set up in my bedroom (synced with the “SmarWake” feature on my Withings watch). Okay, sometimes I still need that beeping iPhone alarm to finally get me out of bed, but, I’ve already woken thanks to the gentle glow of the Hue lightbulb in my bedside lamp. This is one of those tech products I won’t live without anymore. A Philips Hue starter kit will impress your designer friend – as well as being extremely functional!
No Bull Project shoes
This brand has the most design-forward fitness shoes out there. They’re so stylish that their Ivory Canvas Trainer (pictured) is my go-to casual shoe. Shoes are hard to buy for someone – but check them out and I’m sure you’ll be impressed (they also offer gift cards if you’re unsure)
Noise cancellation headphones
Even in the seeming peace and quiet of my work-from-home environment, they block out every possible audio distraction so I can focus hard. I love my Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700. Apple also launched their AirPods Max which might be perfect if your designer is an Apple fan.
We are limited in ways to connect now with remote working environments – so every detail matters, and that includes the quality of your voice. Coming across clear and crisp is simply more professional than a tinny standard microphone. Whether it is a presentation or just a casual Slack huddle, a good-quality microphone will set your designer up for success. I recently purchased a Blue Yeti microphone, which is a higher price-point item, but there are lots of options on the market for all budgets – the Razer brand of microphones appears to be a great option at a lower cost. Added a bonus, your designer will be ready to feature in their first podcast!
Plants and plant pots
If you were anything like me you got through the pandemic by purchasing plants, pots, and more plants. They are always a welcome gift!
The average person spends an astonishing $273 on subscriptions every month! (Source) Not only will a subscription be extremely appreciated – but also lighten their ongoing expenses. Below are a few subscriptions I use that would make great gifts for your designer:
A Spotify (or Apple Music) Subscription – Curate a special playlist of songs to go along with their subscription. Your designer will think of you every time they listen to a song (which is pretty much every day).
VPN Subscription – A VPN will protect their information (and their clients) while working from cafés and public wifi – perfect for freelance designers! I use TunnelBear, but there are lots of options out there.
Medium Subscription – If I want to read about why I shouldn’t use disabled buttons, increasing the usability of email newsletters, or designing better buttons, I can rely on Medium to provide articles on that topic.
Product Subscription – There is a subscription box or option for almost every product on the market, with a new one targeted at me every day it seems. Underwear, contact lenses, snacks, you name it! Giving peace of mind that they can take it off their mind will be appreciated year-long.
I’d love to hear if you use any of these suggestions for your designer friend (or if you have any other ideas). Have a wonderful (and safe) holiday season!
This article includes some affiliate links. If you make a purchase via the links in this article, I may earn a small commission. No brands have paid or sponsored this article – all items appear on this list purely based on my personal experiences and recommendation.