• GradHacker

    A Blog from GradHacker and MATRIX: The Center for Humane Arts, Letters and Social Sciences Online


2015 GradHacker Holiday Gift Guide

Last-minute gift ideas for the grad student on your shopping list.

December 21, 2015



It’s that time of year again! The holiday season is in full swing. And with Christmas only three days away, you might have traded frantic last-minute grading or grant-writing for frantic last-minute shopping. If you’re on the hunt for a gift for a grad student in your life (or you’re a grad student looking to drop some hints to last-minute shoppers in your life), the GradHacker team is here to help.


Here are some of our writers’ top grad student gift picks:


A coloring book and a nice set of markers are the perfect grad student gift. Coloring is calming and gives a tired brain a chance to relax. And, if by some chance they don’t already have it, the soundtrack for the musical Hamilton is awesome for when a quick shot of inspiration is needed.

-- Wendy (@wendyrmonkey)


Business cards are an important staple for graduate students, but they can be expensive. Give your favorite grad student a gift card to buy their own business cards and a cool carrying case to hold them. Having nice cards in a case can be a great confidence booster at conferences! You can get them a fun case as well that fits their discipline, like a personalized leather case, one with science equations as decorations, or my personal choice, a metal case with a skeleton memento mori on it!

-- Katy (@bonesdonotlie)


A slow cooker is a kitchen essential for any busy person. Toss in some ingredients in the morning and plug it in, and come home to a healthy, ready-to-eat, hot meal. You can even prepare ingredients weeks in advance and store them in the freezer, to be dumped into the slow cooker as you hurry out the door. There are so many recipes to try! Some slow cookers are programmable. At least one has self-stirring capability. There are even crazy fancy slow cookers that you can control from your smart phone!

-- Hanna (@hannapeacock)


In addition to Hanna’s great suggestion, a blender is another great gift for a time-crunched grad student. I use the the Oster Blend-And-Go because the blending jar doubles as a bottle, which makes it easy to use and a breeze to clean. Smoothies are a great way to get a ton of nutrients, replace a meal, and/or get a quick energy jolt while on the run. I always put in a scoop of EAS protein powder in mine to beat my afternoon cravings. Ready in about two minutes, smoothies are the perfect thing to grab on your way out the door!

-- Shira (@shirby9)


I rarely feel like spending my hard-earned stipend on something I use as little as a briefcase. But, when I end up pulling a conference program out of my ratty old backpack, I certainly wish I had shelled out for something a little swankier. Helping your favourite grad student put their most professional foot forward when meeting with their colleagues could help boost their confidence and their network.

-- Michelle (@JMichelleLavery)


I don’t like taking the time to replace things; I’d rather find an item that lasts and use it forever. And, like Ron Swanson, I only believe in promoting products that I love and use exclusively. Luckily I found that in my double-jacketed indestructible coffee mug that’s shaped like a beer keg (and it floats!). I’ve actually left it on top of my car before driving in to campus, had it fall off into the street, and recovered it with minor dents. Plus, it is an excellent conversation starter at conferences, so I always make a point to take it with me.

-- Katie (@KDShives)


I haven’t gone all-in on a standing desk yet, but I do believe in being picky about office posture. If your graduate student is the type to log a lot of desk hours, then his back will appreciate an ergonomic chair. There’s plenty of options, but I’m a fan of the kneeling chair. The envious coworkers I catch sitting in mine seem to agree.

-- Pat (@patrickbigsby)


I am obsessed with podcasts and audiobooks. I listen to them at the gym and at my archival processing job on an old iPod, which continues to work like a champ. However, I also love listening to them while I clean my apartment. Sadly the speakers on my laptop are quite weak, so I splurged on a wireless, bluetooth speaker. Now I can carry the speaker around with me as I move from room to room, listening to my very smart podcasts (**cough**Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban**cough**).

-- Heather (@HVanMouwerik)


Dead phone or tablet?  This is a sure way to kill productivity.  Get your grad a portable charger.  There are plenty of portable chargers out on the market.  My colleague, Peter G. Frank, recommends purchasing chargers that can juice up a phone plus tablet.  Fam, I am currently eyeing the Anker PowerCore 15600… please and thank you.  Gift guide goers, as you search for the perfect portable charger, “may the force be with you.”

-- Regina Sierra Carter


I hate going to the gym, but I like the exercise bike. Last year, I asked for a indoor bike stand that I could attach my regular bike to for a good workout, and my mom got me the FDW Magnet Steel Bike Bicycle Indoor Exercise Trainer Stand. You attach the rear wheel of your bike to the stand and a magnet system provides resistance against your back tire. Now my cats can watch me workout instead of weirdos at the gym.

-- Lindsay (@screaminvegan)


Given our grad student budgets, I rarely go out to eat even though I enjoy it. Treating a grad student to a meal is a great way for us to catch up, unwind, and enjoy a good meal with good company.

-- Danielle (@danielleemarias)


Best of luck with your last-minute shopping, GradHackers!

[Image by Flickr User Xtina L and used under Creative Commons license]


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