Tis the season! And whether you're shopping for a loved one, a co-worker, or you need to provide your own Christmas wish list, these stocking fillers are sure to please the programmer, coder, or software engineer in your life.
In the ever-changing IT industry, the need to upskill is a constant guarantee. An online course allows the individual to polish or update their skills.
Just make sure the course is appropriate to the receiver. The available short coding courses online are seemingly endless and it can be overwhelming to pick one for someone else. It might be worth checking in with their colleagues, someone in the know, or even with the person themselves as to what kind, of course, they might be interested in! You don’t want to gift an intensive (or unrelated) course to a developer working 70 hours a week.
Electronic and Ergonomic Equipment
All things tech equipment are a safe bet! A new (or extra) computer monitor, a raspberry pi, or an ergonomic mouse are only a few options that make for great developer-themed gifts (in addition to a plethora of other ideas). Not only will this kind of equipment be used every day, but it can add to the physical health and comfort of the user. A properly designed mouse and adjustable monitor will help those who spend most of their waking hours in front of a computer. As a result of the long hours and twisted posture, many suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome and neck or back pain. An ergonomic chair would be another great option, particularly if your loved one hasn’t invested in one already. All these items allow for not only comfort but also better workflow and productivity.
To take it a step further, a new desk (like those which can be adjusted to a standing position) or even a full workspace set up is a great idea for a joint gift (and also suitable for a group birthday present). You really have creative licence here- within reason. Take stock of what the person you are buying for already owns, and whether they require upgrades, and check out these for inspiration.
Specialty/ Personalised Keyboard
For programmers, their hands are their livelihoods, so, having a quality keyboard is a necessity. If you want to take it a step further and add some glamour, you can go for the personalisation of a new keyboard, like those detailed by software engineer Sasha Solomon. She recommends starting with the body of the keyboard before purchasing switches, keycaps, microcontroller/s, wiring, and other tools.
A Break from Screens
Though not directly linked to coding, the creative brainstorming process and moving past ‘blocks’, which are common in coding, requires creative solutions.
So, I suggest encouraging the exercise of the mind outside of the digital world. Gifts like books, games, and fidgets are great for problem-solving, stress release, and encouraging healthy breaks from coding. It's important that whatever you choose takes the programmer away from the screen (smartphone included). Instead, encourage clearing and relaxing the mind with fun activities of our past. Heck, consider topping it off with a self-care kit, like a yoga class, massage, or meditation voucher. It may seem counter-productive, but this kind of work-life balance will actually contribute to your special someone's professional well-being.
Productivity software has recently become a game changer across all industries. Productivity software allows you to manage your workflow, set reminders, track progress, and allow the software to take care of pretty much any organisational or administrative aspect of your job -within reason. For a gift for a software developer, a professional subscription to productivity software (usually a couple hundred per year) doesn’t have to be coding-related. However, they are handy and save time, and you can find a list of the best in the market here.
A Backup Hard Drive
For the pragmatic programmer. Maybe not the most fun gift, but a necessary one which will be much appreciated by the receiver.
Save your, or your loved ones’ ears with comfortable, noise-cancelling headphones. Stay away from earbuds, they are fine when exercising or commuting, but aren’t designed to be worn all day (and can result in hearing problems). Some often unknown benefits of noise-cancelling headphones include: improving focus and concentration, reducing anxiety levels, and even improving sleep quality.
A High-End PC
If (and that's a big 'if') budget isn’t an issue, or you just want to make a big impression, investing in a new, high-tech computer (or buying the equipment needed to build their own) could be your loved ones’ dream Christmas gift.
Apple's large MacBook Pro 16-inch is known for being one of the best programming computers today, allowing the user to code from all available platforms. You can choose between Apple's M1 Pro or M1 Max chips, which make the compiling and running of even extremely complex code swift and easy (plus: the display is gorgeous).
Whichever computer you choose, ensure it has at least 16GB of RAM and add it in a multi-core processor to be able to collate and test your code more quickly.
Still not sold on which computer to buy? You could offer to take your loved one shopping and have them pick out their ideal pick (or maybe send you a link). Or, chat with an expert in-store.
Remember, working from the tips of your fingers as a programmer, is for many a job and a passion, not a personality trait.
What type of present are they? Do your loved ones prefer kitschy, or functional? Cute, or classy? What do they already own?
Make sure that you are buying for the person, not the career, and don't forget to have fun!