With the holidays arriving, even some of the most career-minded among us look forward to some time off (or at least more fun between workdays.) With a little thought, it's possible to send the worker bees in your life back to the office after the holiday with a thoughtful gift or two. And while it's nice to snag the shiniest new digital tablet, it's also possible to think beyond the iPad. (Although please Santa bring me one? Thanks.)
1. Fancy and/or fun desk accessories. On Twitter, Jonna said that she'd like a "giant pack of editing pens" or some "super fancy erasers." As an office supply addict myself, I totally relate, and it's the rare office that couldn't use some sprucing up. In fact, my mom usually includes fun sticky notes or erasers in our stockings even at our advanced ages. The Container Store is a fun place to shop for office supplies, as is See Jane Work and the completely off-the-wall Office Playground. For the truly techie, ThinkGeek never runs out of fun options for cubes and home offices.
2. Lunch on you. I don't know about you, but one of my biggest work-related expenses is lunch. I'm a terrible packer, I just am, and the truth is that a lot of times I'm so ready for a break or a talk with a long-lost colleague that I'd much rather duck out for a salad than eat lukewarm turkey at my desk. I'd love it if someone gave me a gift card to one of my regular lunch places (even Potbelly isn't too expensive, or a small local joint that does gift certificates.) That way, I not only get an easy and free lunch a time or three in the January/February doldrums, but I remember how much I love you at the same time. We both win over and over!
3. Digital overhaul. Do you know and love someone who needs a website redesign? Even just a new logo? Maybe hosting fees for a year would help them make a platform jump, or a new and pretty digital resume.
There are people out there -- like Schmutzie and Palinode at Ninjamatics and Janet at Izzy Design -- who can help your favorite writer, photographer and/or entrepreneur design, or redesign, the 2012 blog of your dreams. If I could pick a great big gift right now? This would be mine.
The key to gifts via Shutterstock
4. Massage or a trial yoga class. If you work online, you probably sit too much, and if you sit too much, you probably hunch and click too much. My yoga studio offers workshops for people who suffer from workplace stress, and teaches relatively inexpensive classes for the same, giving those of us who suffer from laptop-itis and email mania tips for calming down at the end of (or even during) the day. Sometimes people need a jumpstart for that kind of thing, especially something they may consider an extra. Yoga Journal and the Yoga Alliance have directories for classes of all levels all over the place.
5.Professional membership or conference access. It's not only essential to stay engaged with professional organizations and events -- it's expensive. I know one person whose parents buy her a South by Southwest Interactive badge for Christmas every year, and others who receive BlogHer conference registrations. I'd love to join more photography groups, but one person on a budget can only do so much. Membership might not seem like the most exciting gift, but if it meets a need, facilitates professional development, and removes a barrier to joining, what could be better? If anyone who loves me is reading, I'd really like to go to the Lyric Epiphanie bag for Christmas, or my just-after-Christmas birthday. The way I roll, it'll hold my camera, lenses and the iPad someone is going to get me after reading this post.
7. Camera gear. Cameras are expensive, and lenses are (often) more so. Pitch in a new lens of your favorite photographer's choice, or a gift card to a place like B&H Photo, and you'll be her best friend (again.)
8. Classes. Does your person need to brush up on a skill? Folks like Adria Richards offer online classes (I want to take her WordPress class.) Local community colleges also offer in-person and online classes in things like basic graphic design, digital and darkroom photography, and computer programs like PhotoShop for relatively low rates. Lynda.com is also a cost-effective resource.
9. New Homes for phones and tablets. On Case-Mate, you can upload a photo directly to a Blackberry or iPhone cover. SkinIt offers options for covering just about any gadget under the sun, including laptops, netbooks, gaming devices, MP3 players, musical instruments, routers, and printers. So, you know, go skin and case crazy over there. I(And if your photos are printed through Snapfish, you can upload right to SkinIt.)
Also, on Etsy and the like, you can find fun handmade versions of iPad and iPhone covers -- or, if you're feeling especially ambitious and have any skill with a needle, you can make it yourself.
10. Apps. I like apps, and the truth is that even .99 cent apps add up. Some of the cooler ones are even more, and those are harder to justify unless I think I'll use them all of the time. Since I think one of the key points of gift-giving is to buy something that a person would be hesitant to buy for him or herself because of cost or utility, this is where are I still think iTunes gift cards are the perfect smaller gift or stocking stuffer, or big gift for the true digital music and app fan.
Gifts are nice and lovely, but I think I speak for many of us who work on- and offline when I say, that if you can find us an extra hour of the day to read and write, code or upload, and bring us a cup of coffee in a mug like this? (Courtesy of Allie Brosh at Hyperbole and a Half) We'll be extra grateful.
Credit Image: Ken's Oven on Flickr
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