All I Want For Christmas (A Developer's Wishlist)


It's that time of year again, and there's a good chance you might be looking for gift ideas for your programmer friends. Or, maybe, you need a list to pass on to your friends and family, so they have some ideas for you! Either way, this list of geeky gifts should cover most developers.


Being developers and geeks, we all love gadgets, right? Here are a couple of great ones that your friends will definitely enjoy.


While there’s a pretty good chance that all the geeks in your life have a tablet of some flavor, if not, one of these will make for a great gift.


If your geek recipient is a big book reader, perhaps a dedicated reading device might be more appreciated. Of course, the Kindle may be the most popular, but it’s certainly not the only option.

Programmable Hardware

This one is for the hard-core programming geek in your life. As its website says, Arduino is an “open-source electronics prototyping platform.” There are all kinds of simple (and not so simple) programming projects you can do with one of these boards and a few add-ons, both practical and fun. You can find a distributor near you on the Arduino website.

If your geek audience is a bit younger, you might consider the Raspberry Pi: this is a super-inexpensive, credit-card-sized computer that plugs into a TV and a keyboard. It’s a great way to learn a lot about programming. The right sidebar on the Raspberry Pi homepage lists several places to buy one.


Every developer will appreciate a really good set of headphones: most of us wear ’em all day long! There are a dozens of good models out there, but here are a few of what we consider to be the best.


Developers (and, really, geeks in general) never stop learning, so pretty much any book will be a great choice. Here’s what I think your developer friends will enjoy.

  • Design for Hackers

    Most developers aren’t known for their design skills, but this book should, at the very least, keep them from burning any eyeballs.

  • Maintainable JavaScript

    Any JavaScript developer will appreciate Nicolas Zakas’s latest book on writing JavaScript that’s easy to maintain among a team of developers.

  • Scalable and Modular Architecture for CSS

    For the front-end developer in your life: Scalable and Modular Architecture for CSS is a great guide to using CSS and CSS frameworks.

    Alternatively, get this book as part of a Tuts+ Premium Membership.

  • Mobile First

    Anyone who develops or designs on the front end will appreciate this book, “the complete, strategic guide to mobile web design.” Of course, any A Book Apart volume would make a good choice for any front-ender.

  • Seven Languages in Seven Weeks

    Most programmers love learning new languages, and this book will help them do just that. But rather than learn a single language in-depth, they’ll learn the basics of seven in just over two months; talk about broadening your perspective!

  • Seven Databases in Seven Weeks

    Much like the last book, this one will take your recipient through seven extremely different databases, teaching them the core concepts of each one.

  • Programming PHP

    Have a friend who wants to get into building websites? PHP is a great place to start, and this recently-released (or, recently-updated) book would be a great book to start with.

  • Rails 4 in Action

    Sure, Rails 4 isn’t out yet, but it will be soon. Any Rails developer will appreciate this book to help him or her keep up to date.

  • Async JavaScript

    This is a really neat book: with JavaScript being so widely used, you'll find it incredibly helpful to know how to manage asynchronous tasks "without losing your sanity in a tangle of callbacks."

Other Fun Stuff

And that’s hardly the beginning of geeky gifts. Here are a few more ideas that the geek in your life would love to receive:

Big Jambox

Griffin PowerMate

Morphie Juice Pack Universal Powerstation Duo

Field Notes Colors Subscription

Saddleback Leather Classic Briefcase

iPod Touch / Nano / Shuffle

Olympus E-PL5

12South HoverBar


Digital Gifts

We geeks know better than anyone that not every gift needs to be tangible. While we're certainly (and obviously) partial to the wonderful Tuts+ Premium, the truth is that there are a variety of great subscription services for developers at any level, including:

Of course, not all your gifts have to be code-related. Nearly anyone—not just developers—would appreciate one of these gift cards:


That’s a wrap (pun totally intended)! Did I leave off anything that you're buying for your geeky friends? Or something that you're secretly hoping for? Let's hear it in the comments!

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