Last Minute Holiday Gift Guide (for your creative friends)

I am usually not a fan of typical tech related gift lists. They tend to contain more novelty items and trinkets than anything useful. Useful gifts have less wow factor, but I can tell you from experience that they will be appreciated long after the usb key chain or phone charger that fits in your wallet have been tossed in a drawer or closet.

In the spirit promoting useful gift giving this year, I have written a gift guide containing items that I have owned and used regularity for the past 6 months or more.

The items here will not suit everyone, and certainly not hit every price point, but they are all pretty tip-top when it comes to usefulness. If there is something that you have found useful, but isn't on my list, feel free to make a note in the comments.


No. 1 Field Notes Notebooks. $9.99

Field Notes are made in the US, which gives them a leg up over Moleskin. They come in standard and limited edition colors, and in your choice of markings; ruled, graph, or plain. They are useful, cheap, and satisfyingly trendy at the same time.

No. 2 Harvest App $12.00/month

Simply the best time tracking and invoicing software that I have found. Create and schedule one-time and reoccurring invoices, retainers and estimates. Offer terms to clients. Get paid through Paypal or Stripe. Create reports. Integrate with BaseCamp, HighRise, QuickBooks and others.

No. 3 Showa Best Nighthawk accelerator-free gloves. ≈$14.00

I am allergic to the accelerators in most latex AND latex free gloves. It took a long time to find out exactly what was making my hands swell up because the reaction wouldn't happen for 48 hours. A surprising number of people are sensitive to these accelerators, but it is annoyingly underdiagnosed. These are the best gloves for sensitive skin, plus they come in black and lime green.

No. 4 Prolost Lightroom presets. $19.99

Before you get all grumpy about presets, these are not what you think. Watch the video, buy them, decide if they are right for you.  Here, I'll save you a trip to Google.

No. 5 Bodum Brazil 8 cup French Press. ≈$20.00

A french press will allow you to make better coffee without going full coffee dork. I like this one because it is easy to clean and you can buy it at any Target/Starbucks/BBB/department store you are likely to come across. Btw, they are serious when they tell you that stirring with a metal spoon will crack the glass, ask me how I know.

No. 6 Carbon Copy Cloner App $39.95

Easy and thorough backup for your Mac. Schedule backups, create custom backup tasks. Calculate checksums, archive versions, sleep better at night.

No. 7 BRNO Dehumidifier lens and body caps. ≈$46.00

 Little dehumidifiers for your lenses. They are sort of expensive, but they are beefy and cheap insurance against fungus. My gear gets damp all the time so I am pretty stoked on them. If you baby your camera you can probably skip them.

No. 8 Apple Magic Mouse ≈$65.00

The best mouse hands down. Turn off the gestures that you don't use or you will be frustrated very quickly. Eats batteries at an alarming rate, so you might want to spring for the capacitive charging kit as well.  

No. 9 Sodastream carbonator ≈$79.00

If you are the type of person who laments the number of extraneous appliances you already have, then read on to the next item. But if you are into the whole San Pelagrino/La Croix/fuzzy water thing, then this is your new best friend. Get the cheap one, it works just as well as the fancy electric one.

No. 10 Dakine 42L Overhead Roller ≈$80.00

This is my favorite bag. I own 2 of them and they carry clothes and camera gear with ease. Really good zippers, sturdy handles, and real skate wheels with bearings. One of the best rolling bags I have ever used. They come in a silly number of colors too.

No. 11 X-Rite i1 Display Pro ≈$225.00

If you are not in the creative space you won't have an idea what this is or why you need it. If you want to charge for your work, you need it.

No. 12 Sandisk Extreme SSD ≈$103.00-386.00

This may be the best upgrade you can make to your aging laptop. Shocking increase in perceived speed. The price comes down every week.

No. 13 Connected Data Transporter. $99.99-$399.99

It's like having a private Dropbox. Data is locally encrypted and there are no monthly fees. I funded this on Kickstarter and was disappointed by the original software interface. Version 2.0 is much better.

There you have it, 13 items that will be put to good use by your creative friends. I am not sure what the next week holds for writing another post, but I will try my hardest.

Happy Holidays!

More to come.