12 weird-cool gifts you can give the researcher or academic in your life (including you)

 
 

Do you already know what gifts you'll be giving for the grad students through PhDs in your life this year (or what you'll be telling others when they ask you what you want)?

If the answer is no, then fret not: I’ve put together a list of ideas that might help,

I put together some gift ideas for you (to treat yourself) and a holiday gift giving guide to share with you (to tell others what to get you when they ask or to treat others). I wanted to put together a list of items that are unique and something you might not have found simply by googling "gifts for scientists" or "gift ideas for academic women."

Warning! This is not just a list of bullet journals, pens, and research methods books. 

Those are all wonderful things, don't get me wrong. But, there are approximately 47 other blog posts about that.

All items on this list are -- in my opinion -- unique, weird, or fun things made by (or for) STEM/social scientists. I wanted to showcase these brilliant and creative works by scientists and researchers because, well, that’s what we’re all about here at Creative Research Communications LLC.

I have a not-so-secret mission to bring more creativity to our research, academic, and science fields, so part of me hopes that you’ll be inspired by these so much that you’ll start to consider how you could be more creative in your own work (and, hey, even better if you want to work with us to make that happen).

If you’re interested in learning how to make better slides, visual reports, and other creative works for your academic, research, evaluation, or professional work…

… then sign up for the Communication Café! You’ll get information and resources to help you communicate in more effective, engaging, and creative ways.

Oh, and 11/12 of these were made by women (I think…based on available info about the artists…).

Ok. Let’s get to it. These are presented in no particular order, and I’m not getting any commission on these. I just think they’d make cool gifts.


1. The cutest & coolest little goodies in the world by roocharms

 
  Screenshot of the etsy page

Screenshot of the etsy page

  Screenshot of the etsy page

Screenshot of the etsy page

 

In this fantastic etsy shop, roocharms, you can get adorable goodies for all your friends who are into microbiology, viruses, human anatomy, DNA, cells, atoms, chemistry, and maternity.

I mean, who doesn’t want a sticker of an adorable little mitochondria cheering you on?

😍 This store has buttons, badge holders, magnets, stickers, enamel pins, stationary, and keychains. Everything is reasonably priced so it will be easy to fit in your budget. It’s truly a must-see, and you can visit the etsy shop by clicking right here.


2. Super Cool Scientists Story & Coloring Book

 
  Book cover image provided by Sara MacSorley

Book cover image provided by Sara MacSorley

 

So we have a coloring book that showcases women in science — what’s not to love about this? This was made by Sara MacSorley and illustrated by Yvonne Page. There are actually 2 versions you can buy online, too.

FYI - The Super Cool Scientists books are available in bulk for school districts, outreach programs, research conferences, etc. For orders of 100 or more books (or to add a speaking engagement), contact Sara directly through the website. 

By the way, there are more than just books at her store. She also creates t-shirts, a tote bag, and a button! Check out the store right now.


3. Science-themed jewelry by MolecularMotifs

 
  Screenshot of the etsy page

Screenshot of the etsy page

  Screenshot of the etsy page

Screenshot of the etsy page

 

Classy, pretty, unique, and sciencey — that’s the type of jewelry you get at this etsy shop by MolecularMotifs. They have necklaces and earrings, and most seem to give you options for the metal type and size.

Many of their necklaces are the molecular structure of things like serotonin, dopamine, and estrogen. But, they also have ones for catnip, coffee, and wine, and even Fibonacci Golden Triangle.

There are a lot of cool things in here, and I highly recommend you check these out. Check out this etsy store by clicking this link. Hint: Many of the items are a bit pricey, but there is an “on sale” category where items are 10% off.

I may or may not be asking for the coffee one as my gift (I definitely am).


4. The Computer Science Activity Book

 
  Screenshot of the preview images on Amazon.com for the book

Screenshot of the preview images on Amazon.com for the book

 

Oooohhhhh emmmm geeeee when I saw this I fell in love. Made by Christine Liu and Tera Johnson, this includes 24 projects to help you learn coding. It’s all done in the workbook, so you don’t even need a computer to get started. It’s for kids and adults, by the way.

I highly recommend that you at least check it out because you might just fall in love with this like I did. You can learn more and order the book from no starch press. Or, you know…that other online place you probably buy books from…


5. Cross Stitch Patterns of Brains by MariBoriEmbroidery

 
  Screenshot of the etsy page

Screenshot of the etsy page

 

Do you have a friend who cross stitches? Maybe they’d be interested in a brain pattern offered in this etsy shop. At the time of writing this, it’s $3.99 which makes it one of the most affordable items on this list!

Or, maybe you could pair this with the materials needed to stitch this up for a complete gift. That would be super neat!

Either way, this seemed like a unique gift you could give to the crafter in your life. Check out the etsy page for this shop right here.


6. Observe, Collect, Draw: A Visual Journal

 
  Photo by Echo Rivera (me)

Photo by Echo Rivera (me)

 

Giorgia Lupi and Stefani Posavec are superstars in the data visualization world for their #DearData project.

Observe, Collect, Draw is a guided journal to help you with visual and creative thinking as applied to data visualization. If you’re anything like me, the idea of just starting #DearData was intimidating. I didn’t really know how to start translating my everyday life or experiences into beautiful data visualizations.

I’ve been working through my copy and so far (you can see some of my posts on insta) I’m really impressed and enjoying the activities. I highly recommend putting this in your holiday gift giving list.


7. Dear Data + Dear Data Postcard Kit

 
  Screenshot of the preview images on Amazon.com for the book

Screenshot of the preview images on Amazon.com for the book

  Screenshot of the preview images on Amazon.com for the book

Screenshot of the preview images on Amazon.com for the book

 

After you’re done with Observe, Collect, Draw … or if you feel ready to jump into #DearData right now, then be sure to check out both the Dear Data book and the Dear Data Postcard Kit. Technically it’s two items, but they go together so well that it’d be great to gift both of them!


8. TweeStitch buttons, puns, stickers, and more!

 
  Screenshot of TweeStitch’s etsy page

Screenshot of TweeStitch’s etsy page

 

Stickers and buttons/pins make fantastic gifts, that’s why I’m adding another etsy shop with these items to the list.

Look at the creations on TweeStitch’s etsy page. Who wouldn’t want these stickers plastered on their laptop or bullet journal? Who wouldn’t want to add these buttons to their backpack, purse, or lanyard? Weirdos, that’s who.

Here are some of my favorites — and keep in mind that many of them come in a pin or sticker: Happy water molecule, women in stem, and toxic masculinity ruins the party again.


9. Bubble Sorts — ALL THE ZINES!

 
  Screenshot from the Bubble Sort Zines product page

Screenshot from the Bubble Sort Zines product page

 

Just in case you didn’t know, zine isn’t a short form of magazine — zine means tiny book. They’re portable and meant to engage the reader in unique ways. Bubble Sort (@sailorhg) makes some of the coolest zines that I think academics, scientists, and tech folks will love.

There’s a zine on:

Seriously — go check out her catalog! Be sure to check out the other items in her shop for unique gift ideas, too. She has a sticker subscription, pins, other zines, and clothing!


10. Nebula Scarf with Secret Pocket by 4theloveofoils

 
 screenshot of the etsy page

screenshot of the etsy page

 

Admit it, you think secret compartments are cool.

I know I do.

What’s even cooler is that this scarf is so beautiful — what with all the cosmos floating around on it — that it provides an extra layer of protection to hide your important secret.

Clearly, this would make an excellent gift for the stylish & secretive person on your list. Check it out at this link right here.


11. Crochet Pattern for a Brain Hat

 
  screenshot of etsy page

screenshot of etsy page

 

I couldn’t leave crocheters off the list, so here’s another pattern for your crafty friend to make a brain hat. This one is super weird but also awesome. Like the creator says, this would be great to wear during the next March for Science…or for a zombie costumer. I love that it has multiple purposes.

Check out the etsy page by clicking here.


12. STEM: Epic Heroes (A card game)

 
  Screenshot of the http://www.stemthegame.com/ homepage

Screenshot of the http://www.stemthegame.com/ homepage

 

Are you bored of cranium or whatever other card game is popular (I actually don’t know much about card games so cut me some slack lol)? Then you should check out this card game that’s all about STEM scientist heroes.

It’s made for 2-4 players and seems to have great reviews. For all the details and to order this deck, you can check out their website. 


So, there you go. 12 gift ideas for the researchers or academics in your life.

Hey. If you end up buying something on this list, please let me know.

…because if this is helpful, then maybe I’ll do more curated lists like this. Drop a comment below or reach out to me on twitter, insta, or facebook.


If you enjoyed this list and want to learn how to add more creativity in your own work, then don’t leave before signing up for the Communication Café:

You’ll get information and resources about how to design better slides, visual reports, and other creative works for your academic, research, evaluation, or professional work.