Gift Guide for Programmers – What Should I Buy?

Programmers can be difficult to buy for, especially if you’re not one.  So to help you on your way, we’ve written this gift guide for programmers.

We’ve written this gift guide from the perspective of a programmer with non-programmers in mind, to try to help you understand what your options are in the gifts department. You could be a spouse, a family member, relative or friend. 

You might be thinking they’re the type that has everything, and what do you buy for someone who’s got everything? Us programmers are notoriously hard to buy for because we can be quite particular. 

Before we get started, we want this to be fair and transparent. We have listed a few products here that we sell, but our aim with this post is to be helpful, so we’ve mixed in other product ideas. Some of these product ideas will offer us a commission. If you’re not comfortable with this, you’re more than welcome to simply remove the affiliate code from the URL when you land on the page.  

Let’s start by explaining the types of ideas that might not go down so well. 

Examples of bad developer gift ideas – what not to buy:

Gadgets or other hardware

We’re picky. We like to solve problems using technology and being tech oriented we surround ourselves with all sorts of things that help improve our lives. So why not add to that? The problem is that if we know we need something, we’ll find a solution. So any remaining problems in our lives that can be solved with technology will likely be a fairly niche area. Unless it’s something that your coder friend has expressed interest in, I’d miss out on trying to find this gift. 

Keyboards or other computer peripherals

You’d be amazed at the various keyboard options available. They come in all shapes and sizes, colours, profiles, key types, etc. And believe me when I say we are really picky about this sort of thing. My preferred key requires you to apply exactly 45 grams / 1.5 ounce of force before actuating. Can I tell the difference between this and others? Yes I can and I don’t like the other choices on the market. For the same reason as gadgets and other hardware, I’d avoid trying to buy this unless they’ve told you specifically what they are after. 

Gifts that are okay, but proceed with caution

Books or other learning materials:

I’ve read a lot of other gift guides to help write this and a lot of them recommend courses and all sorts of things like this. The problem is, how can you be sure to get what they need. You could buy a specific course in a specific subject, but it would be better to buy from somewhere that offers a gift card or voucher so that your coder friend can choose what they want. Make sure that it has a good selection on offer. Options like Udemy, Skillshare or Coursera are all good options.

Novelty items:

Yes we’re aware of some irony here because this is what we sell. I’ve seen a lot of merch out there with bad code written on it, resulting in finding threads of people ragging on the code on it. Make sure that you understand the joke yourself. If the idea goes over your head, probably just avoid it – there are plenty of options for this sort of thing. 

Good coder gift ideas – Go for these

Hoodie – No Speaking While Wearing Headphones

https://mellowrubberduck.com/product/no-speaking-while-wearing-headphones-unisex-drummer-hoodie

It’s a common practice for developers to “get in the zone” while working. We want to block out any extraneous noise and focus purely on the task at hand. Have you ever seen that Facebook movie The Social Network? There is a scene where Sean Parker is trying to introduce himself to a busy coder but is waved away because he’s “wired in”. This sort of thing is perfect for someone who works with other developers. They will have a shared culture and experience. In this environment, this is a shared joke. I wouldn’t recommend this for someone working as the only programmer in the team among non-programmers as this could offend.

Espresso Martini Kit

Most developers love Alcohol and/or Coffee. How about both together? Sign me up!
Alcohol and Caffeine put together? Sign me up!

https://newydistillery.com.au/collections/cocktail-kits/products/caramel-espresso-martini-cocktail-kit-newy-distillery

We love Alcohol and we love Coffee. So how about both?

Poster – In Case of Fire: Git Commit, Git Push and Exit Building

https://mellowrubberduck.com/product/programmer-poster-in-case-of-fire-git-commit-git-push-and-exit-building-git-poster

You’ve all seen office buildings with countless warning signs. The joke here is that management loves to place unrealistic demands on their developers. And they’d expect the latest code even in there was a fire.

DIY synth kit

Some developers like hands on work. So how about this Mini synth kit - the gift of a hands on project.
Mini synth kit – the gift of a hands on project

https://www.thonk.co.uk/shop/elmyra/

What is this thing? In short it’s a piece of electronic equipment that you can use to make music. It might sound like it breaks the rule of solving problems that we talked about above. But the gift idea isn’t the finish product, it’s the process of putting it together. Tweaking it and making it your own.

I would only recommend this if your programmer friend also likes electronics and/or electronic music, this could be a great kit for them. It’s something they can build on a weekend and it’s something they can actually use. 

We hope this gift guide for programmers has been useful to you. If you have any other questions, I’d love to hear from you. Feel free to reach me at shop@mellowrubberduck.com

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