Buying gifts for lawyers is tough. Buying gifts for anyone is tough, really, but with lawyers, there is always the temptation to give people something with a gavel or the dreaded scales of justice.
Don’t do that.
Here is our 2016 gift guide with gift ideas ranging from $3 to much, much more, and many are perfectly suitable for gifting to yourself because you’re worth it.
A Mechanical Keyboard ($140 and up)
Anybody who types all the time—and that most definitely includes lawyers—should consider using a mechanical keyboard. The WASD Keyboard lets you choose what types of keyboard switches you’d like, from extremely loud and clicky to stealthy and silent, and you can customize the all the colors of the keyboard itself. Skip the key customization—and the wait times—and get it direct from Amazon starting at $140.
A Streaming Video Stick ($40 and up)
Many people already have some sort of streaming device at home, be it AppleTV, Roku, or a gaming console. A streaming stick, however, gives you on-the-go and on-demand video and music, which is perfect for road warrior lawyers. They are the size of a USB stick, with an equally tiny remote to match, and can be stashed in a travel bag. Roku’s streaming stick and Amazon’s Fire Stick are perfect ways to access Netflix, Hulu, Spotify, and more when you are away from home, and both come in under $50.
Free Up Time with Fancy Hands ($30 and up)
There are plenty of tasks that are nothing but tedium. Nobody, even the most organized person, wants to call the cable company or play email tag to find a time that works for a conference call. Fancy Hands will do those things for you. You can gift someone anywhere from 5 to 50 tasks per month (which translates to $30 to $200/month) and be the hero who saved the holidays when the recipient realizes that they don’t have to deal with contacting all their vendors when their office address changes after the first of the year.
Donate on Someone Else’s Behalf (Any Amount You Want)
You have enough stuff. I have enough stuff. Everyone has enough stuff. Consider not giving someone more stuff, and give a charitable donation in their name instead. Charity Navigator is a great place to start, allowing you to search by type of charity and reputability.
Monthly Subscription Box (Cost Varies)
Getting a subscription box is like getting a new present every month, and there are options for pretty much everything you can imagine. Cosmetics? Check. Wine? Check. Coffee? Check. For the truly hardcore person on your list, try the Apocabox, which comes chock full of survival tools like axes and tallow and includes a “survival skills challenge” with each box.
Magazine or Newspaper Subscription (Cost Varies)
The holiday season is an excellent time to give a periodical subscription, as it is often when you will see big discounts. (It goes without saying that it is a good time to just subscribe for yourself as well). Give someone a weekly like The New Yorker for $70/year or a daily like The Wall Street Journal ($105/year) or The New York Times (a dizzying array of pricing options depending on whether you expect your recipient wants the Times daily, weekly, on a tablet, on a smartphone, etc.)
Decent Candy ($19 and up)
Candy is a much-maligned gift, in large part, because it has an “I forgot to buy you anything, so I picked up this box of waxy awfulness at CVS on my way home” vibe. But it doesn’t have to. Good candy is delicious, aesthetically pleasing, and can be sent almost anywhere. Try the absurdly good-looking candies from Christopher Elbow (pictured above and starting at $36 for 16 pieces) or the smoked salt caramels from Fran’s Chocolates, famous for being a favorite snack of President Obama. If your recipient is terrified by unique flavors, go old-school and give them a box of See’s Lollypops, which take an almost comically long time to consume and are only $19 for 30 pops.
A Fountain Pen ($3 and up. Way up.)
We are big fans of fountain pens, so much so that we have guides both for the absolute beginner and for the obsessed. The nice thing about a fountain pen is that it inherently smacks of anachronistic fanciness, but they can actually be pretty affordable. If you’re buying for someone who has never used them before or will misplace the pen within minutes, the Platinum Preppy is the price of a cup of coffee and comes in two nib sizes and several colors. With a narrow nib, it’s perfect for proofreading. Buying for someone you need to impress? The Visconti Manhattan (pictured above) is pushing $500, has a 23kt palladium nib, is exclusive to Goulet Pens, and is impossibly gorgeous.
A Pocket Projector ($145 and up)
Look, these little tiny projectors aren’t what you want to use to watch Star Wars: The Force Awakens at home or anything like that, but as something to stash in a bag and have available for business presentations, they are an excellent choice. A projector like the AAXA Pico will run you $360 and is brighter, bigger, and better, but you can probably get by with something like the Magnasonic Pico for $145 if you don’t need it to display anything too fancy.
A Better Way to Wake Up ($70)
The Philips Wake-Up Light is one of those things that seems gimmicky but isn’t. Rather than terrifying you out of slumber with a grating alarm, the light gradually increases over 30 minutes to simulate the sun rising. If you manage to sleep through that, you can set it to annoy you with an alarm after the 30 minutes has passed. Give it to someone who you know hates mornings.
Bitters Making Kit ($10 and up)
Everyone has probably already tried brewing beer or wine, likely with mixed results. In the alternative, your friends are already craft brew ninjas and would scoff at your “brew beer in a Home Depot bucket” gift. This year, try giving someone a kit that allows them to make their own bitters. Kits come with a blend of herbs and spices to allow you to create custom flavors to add to any cocktail, and will probably turn out better than the apricot wine your friend made last year.
Make Skype Sound Better ($69 and up)
If you are spending any amount of time communicating via Skype, Slack Voice, or FaceTime, you could probably do with a better microphone, so it doesn’t sound like you are speaking through a mouthful of marbles while walking in a wind tunnel. Both the Blue Snowball ($69)and the Blue Yeti ($129) are excellent and relatively low-cost choices. Should you, like Lawyerist, decide to get into podcasting, both are also great starter microphones for that.
A Nice Cord Wrap ($27)
These days, everyone carries around a plethora of charging cables and earbuds. Having those in a tangled mess in the bottom of your bag is a nightmare and looks ridiculously unprofessional. You can solve that problem with a nice leather cord wrap, which looks great and is functional as well.
A Decent Notebook ($5 and up)
A small notebook is a great way to help you organize your most important tasks of the day or keeping a bullet journal. Moleskine notebooks come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes and page layouts, including calendars if you still kick it old school with your scheduling. Field Notes are also excellent, with quirky notebooks that have options like waterproof paper.
Bluetooth Headphones ($36 and up)
If you purchased an iPhone 7, you have already felt the pain of losing your headphone jack. According to Apple, the future will be wireless, and if you don’t want to hold out for their weird fancy AirPods or struggle with an adapter, it is time to buy a pair of wireless headphones. If you want a pair of earbuds to stash in your bag, the TaoTronics earphones ($36) click together magnetically to reduce tangles. If you want to move up to over-ear headphones and don’t mind the cost, the Sennheiser Momentum Wireless ($400) will allow you to block out the world and free you of cords.
A Good Business Strategy Book
As part of TBD Law, we brought several books that we thought attendees should read. Here they are.
- Deep Work, Cal Newport’s book on focusing without distraction
- Rick Hanson’s Buddha’s Brain, to learn how to strengthen positive brain states
- Lessons in creativity from Tom Kelley’s The Art of Innovation
- Jason Fried’s Rework, to learn how to stop talking and start working
- William Gibson’s science-fiction classic Pattern Recognition, all about the possibilities of brands
- Traction, from Gino Wickman, a practical method for achieving business success
- Michael Gerber’s The E-Myth Revisited, to learn to grow your business in a predictable and productive way
- The Anxious Lawyer, a guide to mindfulness and meditation for lawyers, from Jeena Cho.