2013 Holiday Gift Ideas from Our Designers

December 16, 2013

Every year, the holidays seem to elicit the full spectrum of human emotions. We get excited about time off work; anxious about picking gifts; embarrassed at being caught singing along to Mariah Carey Christmas songs. The combination of seasonal joys and stressors certainly make for a topsy-turvy month, but the important thing to remember is that we’re all in this together! That’s why our Design Team has come up with a handy holiday gift guide to help ease your consumer anxiety and make you considerably less likely to have a panic attack in the middle of Target. Whether you’re shopping for your artsy aunt, your tech guru cousin, or your coffee-snob brother who corrects the way you say “espresso,” we’ve got you covered for all the unique characters in your life. We hope these items serve you well—and hey, if you’re still feeling a bit on edge, remember that this is the one time of year where you can add eggnog to every conceivable beverage and not feel guilty! That’s bound to make things more manageable.


Onto the shiny stuff!



Ryan’s Picks:

It seems like every year, it gets more and more difficult to go holiday shopping for friends and family. Okay, I admit that there are those on my list that make my journey to the local mall pleasant and most importantly, brief. However, there’s always that one (or two or three) person(s) that leave me scratching my head in between stores. That’s where these gifts come in! The following gems are not only lovely in their design, but are also bound to put a smile on anyone’s face.


Ryans_Picks1. FOR THE SURVIVALIST: Max Brook’s The Zombie Survival Guide

Really, the most impressive thing about this book is the attention to detail. After reading just a few pages you’ll actually believe you have what it takes to survive a zombie apocalypse–that is, if one were to ever occur. The Walking Dead fans will love this.


2. FOR THE MAN’S MAN: TRVR’s The Gentleman’s Apron

Let’s face it: The negative connotations of a man wearing an apron are a thing of the past. Especially if that man happens to be wearing this apron. Sorry, did we say apron? That’s not the correct moniker, because this leather and canvas wardrobe protector is more like a utility belt that would make Batman jealous. It has pockets and holsters of various sizes that will fit everything from a spatula to a hammer, so whether you’re whipping up a batch of raspberry macarons or fixing a leaky sink, you can do it all–and do it in style!


3. FOR THE INNER NINJA: Ninja Umbrella

I know this is a little nerdy, but who hasn’t wondered what it would be like to be a ninja at least once? I bet we can all think of at least one person who would smile from ear to ear when they receive this rain-fighting legend.


4. FOR THE PRAGMATIC: Impress Coffee Brewer

French Press, you’ve met your match. This nifty gadget acts not only as a classic French press, but an insulated travel mug, as well. The only question is: who wouldn’t want this?



Angie’s Picks:


Gifting is something that is really tough for me. I love the act of giving—it’s just the deciding what to get that makes me anxious. I always want to pick out the perfect gift that is thoughtful, useful, and of course, creative and fun. So, these are my gift picks. I’m all about objects and items that are designed well and will be well utilized, that tell a story, and that are surprising and playful.


angies picks-5x7


1. Rainbow Puzzle Blocks

These aren’t just for the kiddos (but they are nice to have around when kiddos appear!). They’re great to have hanging out around the office or at home and can be used for playful decoration or as a creative tool. It’s amazing what kind of ideas are generated or what problems get solved when blocks are pushed around, stacked, and knocked over.


2. Sight Glass Coffee Subscription

Sight Glass is my favorite coffee roaster based in San Francisco, and I think they may make magic. They are very serious about their coffee and one small cup will have me checking off everything on my to-do lists and finding new endeavors to explore. Yay for gifting creative productivity!


3. Pebble Tape Measure

It’s always nice to have a tape measure close by! Camouflaged as a sleek-looking stone, this is a fun and surprising item that would be a great functional and attractive desk accessory.


4. Health Ceramics Mug Set

Health Ceramics is a great company, making objects that are simple, classic, and long-lasting. I love the idea of gifting items that last more than a season or fad, that are based less on trend and more on quality and craftsmanship. This would be a gift that would pair well with Sight Glass coffee!


5. Bagu Duck Bag (blue)

This is a simple heavy-duty tote that is fun and useful. It’s a great gift for just about anyone—a girl, dude, student, or professional. This bag is super versatile, whether you’re taking it to school, the library, work, or gym. It can hold books, a laptop, groceries, or a yoga mat. It’s the perfect anything-and-everything bag. I love the electric blue!


6. Mast Brothers Chocolate: Origin Collection

Chocolate is a great go-to holiday gift, but Mast Brothers chocolate is a step beyond your run-of-the-mill confection. The Mast Brothers are Brooklyn chocolatiers that make the most amazing hand-crafted chocolate. Even their packaging is eye candy—pun intended—and almost as amazing as their sweets!


Nate’s Picks:


Nate_gift guide-web



1) Little Bits

This is the gift I get my daughters but end up playing with myself. I wish I had these electronic modules as a kid and am glad I can fiddle with them now under the guise of being a parent! Get crazy and hack them together with Legos for some epic weekend fun.

2) Kern and Burn

 Great book for designers looking to start their own thing. I enjoyed the read!

3) Home Is Where You Park It

The journeys of living in a vehicle–something I can relate to and long for often. Author Foster Huntington ditched his home, set up shop in a VW Vanagon, and traveled the country taking photos of others doing the same. This whimsical coffee table book documents his experience with sweeping landscape photos and anecdotes from the road–in other words, the perfect gift for the wandering wanderlust in your life.


4) Joey Roth’s Ceramic Speakers

This is just pure crazy town–like win-the-lottery-style. I don’t imagine I’ll ever own these, but as someone who loves to make thing things, I enjoy virtual window shopping these beautifully crafted speakers that would make any audiophile’s heart flutter. Watch the videos at the bottom of the page for a little design appreciation. Buy them if you’re rich and tell me about it.

Monique’s Picks:



1. Casual and Gothic Alphabet Guide by New Bohemia Signs

Last year I suggested a book about traditional sign painting as part of my gift guide, and voiced a hope to take a class and start learning—and I actually did! I ended up taking a weekend workshop at New Bohemia Signs which I loved (that’s me in the front with the letterpress sign). So this year, I thought I would have one of my suggested gifts be the great resource they created for anyone to learn the Casual Alphabet style of sign painting. This is a beautiful screen-printed poster that you can place tracing paper over and paint away to practice the cool Alphabet style of letting.


2. Pantone Chip Flash Drive

Every year, Pantone deems one color as their color of the year. Emerald was the choice for 2013, and one of my personal favorites! Snag this Pantone flash drive for your Pantone enthusiast.


3. Little Book of Letterpress by Chronicle Books:

Ok, I admit it, I’m a Chronicle Books fangirl. I love everything they put out and I really have to try hard not to go overboard when they have new releases. Their Little Book Of series is super cool, but of course, being the Letterpress printer that I am, my favorite is The Little Book of Letterpress which highlights some really great studios around the country.


4. Copperplate Kit: Basic with Book

I also took a calligraphy workshop with Molly Jacques this summer and I had a blast learning from her! For my fourth pick, I’m suggesting the kit she had us get (that comes with an oblique pen, nibs, paper & book) AND her Skillshare class ‘The Art of Modern Calligraphy‘ to dive into the awesome technique of calligraphy.



Happy Holidays!


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