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Need an Awesome Gift for the IT Guy or Gal?

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Picking the right gift for the IT guy or gal presents a challenge, because let’s face it, most so-called “geeky” gifts are kind of dumb. Any tech will tell you the best gifts come in the form of a bonus check direct deposited into his or her bank account, or just as good, a day or two of comp time added to the PTO reserves. There are other fun ideas for stocking stuffers, too. Here is what we found out.

Our ultra-scientific research methodology

We asked our friends at the popular Spiceworks IT community to weigh in on the best holiday gifts they have ever received at work. They responded with tons of excellent IT gift ideas. We also searched the dregs of the Reddit /r/sysadmin discussion boards. There were fantastic ideas hiding in here as well. If you’d like to see for yourself, this thread and this thread yielded a few good suggestions—just be warned, there is a lot of blathering to sift through.

A word about liquor

It must be mentioned that “nice bottle of liquor” did appear several times in the data collecting. If that jives with your office culture—great, you know your co-workers better than I do. Be aware that giving liquor is generally frowned upon by etiquette experts, but then again, general convention goes out the window with IT types.

Going the safe route—gift cards

Two words: de minimis. Did you know NeweggBusiness carries hundreds of gift cards from top department stores, airlines and travel, wellness facilities, and retailers of all stripes? One specific gift card that showed up in the data is the Xbox LIVE 12 Month Gold Membership ($59.99) which, for an IT pro who is into gaming, would make for a happy holiday. PlayStation Plus membership cards are also available ($49.99). If you’re drawing a blank on gift items, there is something for literally everyone in our Gift Card store—it’s worth a look.

Going the fun route—tech items

 

Maker Boards

 

Raspberry Pi 3 Model B 1.2GHz 64-bit quad-core ARMv8 CPU, 1GB RAM

Raspberry Pi 3 Model B (1.2 GHz 64-bit quad-core ARMv8 CPU w/1 GB RAM) – Under $35

The Raspberry Pi single-board computer probably is the most-mentioned holiday item for the IT community. The pocket-sized hardware can be used for countless home automation projects, and even some legitimate uses around the office. (Hello, print server!)  Worried that your tech already has the Pi? No problem—having two or several Raspberry Pi opens up cool new possibilities for tinkerers.

You’ll find righteous Adata package deals on Maker | Bright sales pages. See also: Eight Things to Buy With Your Raspberry Pi.

Now, if you plan on IT inventing things for the office, you might consider a micro MOBO or Intel Arduino embedded solutions, which are more attuned for big-kid tinkering.

 

External Power Banks (also called batteries)

 

 

Anker Astro E3 Ultra Compact 10000mAh Portable Charger

Anker Astro E3 – Under $30

External phone batteries won several mentions, and these Anker Batteries were even mentioned by name on one discussion board. Whereas many external charging sources only deliver one full charge (sometimes less) for smartphones, the Anker is capable of holding three to six phone charges once it is completely charged. This effectively eliminates dead phones on while on the road. Compatible with current and recent iPhones, Android phones, iPads and Galaxy tablets.

If the thought of giving someone an external battery invokes a boredom-cringe (a yawn), consider gifting this:

Sweet Little Drone

Syma X20

Syma X20 quadcopter – under $35

 

Syma makes some of the highest rated drones you can buy. The X20 quads are great fun for whipping around indoors or outside. If you want a more serious model, say, a drone for realty work, level up to something larger.

Google Chromecast Media Player

 

Google Chromecast HDMI Streaming Media Player

Google Chromecast HDMI $50 – $70

It’s hard to go wrong with Google’s Chromecast, a streaming media device that plugs into the HDMI port on a television set. It streams anything playing on your laptop, tablet or mobile phone over a wireless connection onto the TV screen. It has a slew of alternate uses as well—like regifting in a worst-case scenario. Or, it can power slide presentations, play music through the television, display photos as a background, and more.

LED Headlamp

gift - headlamp

 

An LED flashlight is an oft-overlooked item in the IT toolbox, and received mentions as a coveted gift for professionals. Handy for navigating a dark server room, a headband LED unit provides techs a hands-free approach to working in dimly-lit areas. They are great tools for the outdoors and auto repair. Also, they’re nice and cost-effective. We have a cornucopia of LED lights and lanterns that vary by battery life and lumens output.

Multi-Tool

leatherman 700

Price: from $25-$90

IT professionals love utility, so it’s no wonder why multi-tools are so popular in the holiday gift conversation. Whether it’s for unscrewing hard drives, or torquing open an IBM array, a good multi-tool will see a lot of use. Need some suggestions? A Leatherman Wingman packs a plethora of small hand tools into a pocket-sized form factor. The Gerber Crucial Tool ($25) features essentials like a Phillips-head screwdriver and a v-cut wire cutter.

iLaunch Thunder Missile Launcher

iLaunch Thunder Missile Launcher

iLaunch Thunder Missile Launcher – Under $25

You know IT is full of pranksters. Feed this tendency with a USB missile launcher. Unless you’re Baby Driver, you’re not using that old iPod from which you can launch iLaunch’s soft foam assault. This unit is controlled over Bluetooth with an iPhone or iPad, and fires foam darts around the office using air powered pistons. Arm the entire office for fun assured mutual destruction scenarios at work!

A copy (get it?) of Acronis True Image 2018

 

acronis 2018

For years, USB flash drives have been a go-to gift for IT.  Any security-minded IT professional will tell you this is a stale gift idea, and an ironic one at that, given the threat thumb drives potentially introduce to an IT environment. Acronis True Image is a backup solution with cloud features, which essentially does everything a thumb drive does in a safer manner, and much more. It also gives the giver of the gift some IT cred when bestowing in lieu of a thumb drive.

You tell us— what is an awesome gift for the IT guy or gal?

Summary
Need an Awesome Gift for the IT Guy or Gal?
Article Name
Need an Awesome Gift for the IT Guy or Gal?
Description
Picking the right gift for the IT guy or gal presents a challenge, because let’s face it, most so-called “geeky” gifts are kind of dumb.
Author
Adam Lovinus

Adam Lovinus

A tech writer and Raspberry Pi enthusiast from Orange County, California.

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