Gift guide for your favourite nerd: academic gift guide

Every year, I look forward to The Cup of Jo’s Gift Guide. She curates lists for different people like “Your best friend who reads her horoscope every day and gives the best pep talks” or “Your little brother who makes amazing tomato sauce and laughs at his own jokes.” She has published these since 2007, but I have not yet seen a gift guide for

“Your wonderfully nerdy friend who is fluent in statistical programming languages and is deeply dedicated to coffee”

So with a few days to go before Xmas, I thought I would whip one up!

1. A party game about charts!

Is there anything better? An absolute Christmas essential for any epidemiologist who has a houseful of people and only wants to think about charts. Image result for charty party

2. A wearable manuscript 

An important book (ahem thesis?) printed on a lovely scarf / t-shirt/ pillow / tote bag? You can add a custom text to and have their brilliant words made even more useful and lovely.

3. Data postcards to feel closer to your long-distance nerd

This is such a charming idea! Two friends started sending each other regular postcards featuring hand-drawn visualisations of the data of their lives (e.g. places visited, and times they have laughed).  You can get this cute set from Present Indicative.


4. Pretty pens and splashy ink

Your favourite academic / nerd may want to up their pretentiousness in order to pen the next great American novel  ambitious to-do list! I have been using the Lamy AL Star for years, and have added charming Kaweco Sport, a sassy little travel number, to the pen family. Throw in a refillable cartridge and a few bottles of Herbin ink for the complete package.

5. Something to snazz up their desk

Many of my favourite nerds spend long days at the office, so a thoughtful gift is something that adds whimsy, delight, or cleaner air to a sometimes dreary, florescent-lit office space. This phrenology bust has a great little place to stash treasures (candy/post-it notes/inspiration) in the top of the head. Or you could get this thermometer, based on Galileo’s discovery that fluids changed volume related to temperature, so these bulbs rise and fall to indicate the temperature (hopefully your office is somewhere in the range of 16-34°C).

6. A hint of life

Related to #5, a plant can bring life to any office. An added bonus is that a plant, like the charming English Ivy, can improve air quality in what can be a stuffy office. For extra points, you could grab a chemistry-themed terrarium or these plant pot bookends!

7. Help for getting help – a fiverr credit

The academics in my life a really good at working hard, but sometimes a task that might waste hours could be easily sorted if you get a little help.  As I was in the home stretch of my PhD, I was struggling to develop a word template for my thesis, I spend £4 for a formatted template from Fiverr, a freelance site, that saved me hours of struggle! For a few bucks, you can get help with your website, document, or graphics. You can get 20% off your first purchase with this referral link (, but more than that, it would be good for all of us nerds to remember that we don’t need to be experts in everything and that it is OK to get a little help.

Other great subscriptions would be to Headspace, Evernote, or Dropbox – who doesn’t need a little more space in their life – space to breathe and space to backup your files.

  8. Something silly

From a wine glass that could help a maestro orchestrate their next party, some sassy pencils, or a cheeky bottle of alcohol (to be applied liberally to the throat after a paper has been accepted/rejected) could do the trick.

For even more gift ideas, check out this post on great gifts for grad students! Have a wonderful holiday season! Hope you celebrate with eggnog, Hallmark Christmas movies, and not checking the status of submitted papers (for 24 hours at least).





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