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The Complete Guide to Gift-Giving this UXmas

Ah, the holidays. A time to reflect, connect with friends and family, and agonise over the awkwardness of exchanging gifts with colleagues and clients.

Just like UX job descriptions, holiday gift-giving practices vary from country to country, region to region, and even office to office. Individual beliefs, cultural practices, and potential conflicts of interest aside, I usually find that a carefully chosen holiday gift helps the people you work with feel appreciated. I’ll always err on the side of buying a little something even if I’m not sure of the protocol.

Looking for gift ideas for fellow UXers, clients or colleagues? Read on…

For the fellow UXer in your life

Whiteboard sticky notes. Yah, you read that correctly. Two UX nerd tools in one. These little guys can stick anywhere with static cling and you can write and erase as many times as necessary. Er. Mah. Gerd!


Website Decks let you hold your website architecture in your hands (Source: UX Kits)

Know a colleague in the midst of a big website redesign, or tackling information architecture challenges? A Website Deck is just what they need.


A browser sketch pad, a precision-cut steel stencil and a pencil. Gift sorted. (Source: UI Stencils)

Ever hear a fellow UXer complain that they wish they could draw better? Or that they’d like to sketch, but really, they can’t even draw straight lines? Problem solved with these UI stencils.


The Pantone Artist and Writer's Notebook has a different colour chip on each page. Fancy! (Source: Amazon)

How about a little sketching inspiration? This Pantone notebook has unlined pages and colour chips to add excitement. These sketchpads have browser outlines and grids for sketching and paper prototyping, and this Moleskin converts hand-drawn sketches into digital files. No. Excuses.

Y’all. The future is now - we even have 3D printing pens. Maybe this should be a gift for yourself. Or, ya know, your favourite UXmas contributor (hint, hint).

For the consultant or constant traveller, consider this foldable silicone keyboard. Bonus: it’s waterproof, so it’s immune to coffee spills.

Know an aspiring UX Unicorn? Or maybe need to transform your team into a set of magical generalists. You can’t teach them research and design and coding and everything else UX-related instantly, but they can get a taste of the unicorn life with a handy headband.


The Build-On Brick Mug. It's a coffee mug and construction set all in one! (Source: Thinkgeek)

Perhaps you know someone who is a proud specialist (a narwhal, if you're familiar) and wants to show off their pride? In that case, I recommend this awesome Narwhal laptop sticker, pin, or cute mug.

For clients or colleagues who don’t realise how much they need UX


Move design conversations into the realm of facts and evidence with a set of UX Myths posters. (Source: Behance)

If there’s someone who you’d like to appreciate the full spectrum of user experience specialties/understand of the importance of research/could use a beautiful reminder that in fact, you are not your user; check out these posters of popular UX myths. You need to download and get them printed, so leave a little extra time - not for the last minute shopper.


The Brand Deck is a tool that helps you figure out who you are. (Source: branding.cards)

Have a client who has a hard time describing their business goals in terms other than, “Make it pop?” Suggest the brand card exercise and give them these brand cards to get started. Order the NSFW deck at your own peril.

For a more general creative exercise, how about the oblique strategy cards? These cryptic cards were originally designed as a way to break musicians out of creative block. There are no real rules, other than that you are asked to view whatever you’re currently working on through the lens of the cards. It’s not for everyone, but can be a fun exercise with the right crowd.


Harness the power of checkboxes for effective communication with Knock Knock WTF Nifty Notes (Source: Amazon)

And if, after all those fun gifts, you still have clients who argue that research is a waste of time, maybe just write a note to your office pal on these WTF notes.

For the product team you need to convince to work with you or other random colleagues, clients, and associates


Handcrafted, 3D printed cookie cutters let you read your food before eating it. (Source: Etsy)

Don’t know what to get? There’s always snacks and booze. Fruitcake and prepackaged snack boxes are cliched gifts for a reason, but make sure you personalise food and drinks so they don’t seem quite so cookie cutter. (Although, these font cookie cutters would be pretty rad if you know of someone who likes to bake)

Coffee lover? A coffee subscription or a coffee mug that doubles as a desk toy should do the trick.

If you’re really unsure, pick out a regional treat. I live in North Carolina, so my go-to gift is usually barbeque sauce. And if you’re looking at snacks, I’m a big fan of this small-batch popcorn, available in dozens of sweet and savoury flavours. Bonus: they’re from my tiny hometown.

In a pinch, you could always buy a bottle of quality wine or spirits. There are some exceptions, but most people appreciate a drink or two around the holidays, and if not they can easily regift.

I hope that helps ease the office holiday pain. Happy shopping!
 

Amanda Stockwell

Amanda Stockwell

Amanda Stockwell is President of Stockwell Strategy, a UX research practice focused on lean research methods and integrating user knowledge with business goals to create holistic product strategies for businesses large and small. She has focused most of the last decade focused on finding innovative ways to understand end users and embed that knowledge into overall process. She's lead teams that provide research, design, and UX strategy services and frequently writes and speaks about her experience.

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