The 2015 Gift Guide: What To Get Creatives (And Those Who Want To Be More Creative)

Some very specific gifts to get for people with very specific creative needs.


The holiday season is upon us, and with it so are the plethora of gifting options. While everybody appreciates a thoughtful (or, let’s be real, even a hastily assembled) yuletide present, folks who work in the creative industries–or who are looking for more opportunities to be creative–tend to have a fair number of specific challenges they could use the right tool to overcome. With that in mind, this year’s Fast Co.Create gift guide addresses some of the things that you might hear someone talk about–and presents them with a solution.


For Those Without A Good Distraction: Fallout 4
The year’s most anticipated video game was released in November, which means that anybody who hasn’t made exploring the Wasteland that was once the Boston metropolitan area something of a full-time avocation over the past six weeks can still get in on the action when it’s timely. Fallout is a fine distraction, but it’s hardly a time-waster–with a rich, beautifully-conceived world to traverse, it’s immersive, creative storytelling that should provide sufficient inspiration for when it’s time to put the controller down.

For Those Who Need to Show Their Love Of Star Wars At A Gala: High-fashion Star Wars heels
There’s an entire trash compactor’s worth of brand-new Star Wars officially-licensed crap out there, but very little of it combines the lowbrow and the high-fashion world as cleverly as the heels and flats from U.K. footwear retailer Irregular Choice. If you know someone who’s got galas to get to, but who can rock a pair of lightsaber heels or wookie boots, you have the chance to make their day.

For Those Prone To Forgetting Their Notebook At Home: Livescribe+ 3
While there are plenty of beautiful notebooks on the market that can make a person feel like a combination of Picasso and Hemingway when they bust ’em out, if you’re the forgetful type, leaving the book with all your notes at home when you need to look at them makes the archaic tendency to write things down on paper with a pen seem pretty foolish. The Livescribe 3+ is a pen and notebook combination (available as a Moleskine, naturally) that automatically syncs what you write to cloud services like Evernote, allowing you to revisit your notes from wherever you are–and the built-in recorder tracks those notes to whatever was being said at the time, making it an exceptional tool for transcribing interviews, conversations, or more.


For Those Who Want To Put It All In Historical Context: Step Aside, Pops by Kate Beaton
Kate Beaton is maybe the funniest cartoonist working today, and her second collection of history-themed gag strips, Step Aside, Pops, is full of some of her best work–smart, hilarious, educational jokes about historical figures you know, and historical figures you wish you knew more about, that never stop being funny.

For Those Who Like To Get Away From It All, But Not Like All All: goTenna
Anybody who works in a tech-obsessed field or who spends a fair amount of time staring at a screen each day probably has fantasies about getting away from it all and going back to nature. And that’s great–but while you’re out there in nature, actually being disconnected can be scary. The goTenna balances those two urges by allowing phones and devices that normally can’t get a signal out in the middle of nowhere to connect, but without allowing them to dominate your time off.

Ryan AdamsPhoto: Flickr user Andy

For Those Who Wish Bruce Springsteen Were A 20-Something Pop Star Today: 1989 by Ryan Adams
There’s no shortage of great music that came out in 2015–from To Pimp A Butterfly to 25 to the Hamilton soundtrack. But there’s only one album that recontextualizes the biggest pop album of the previous year so that it sounds like a gem of a lost album from Born in the USA-era Bruce Springsteen, and that’s Ryan Adams’ spin through Taylor Swift’s 1989.


For Those Who Need A More Convenient Laptop Charger: Zolt
Depending on the kind of laptop you use–a heavy-duty PC with a brick of a charger, or a sleek Macbook with a charger whose cable keeps getting frayed–powering up your laptop can be kind of a hassle. The Zolt laptop charger, though, is snazzy in its convenience. It’s a little bigger than the size of a roll of quarters (maybe a roll of fifty cent pieces?), it comes with a slew of adapters for a variety of devices, and has a trio of USB ports built in so you can charge your laptop, your phone, and your tablet all at once.

For Those Who Need Inspiration From One Of The Most Fertile Creative Minds Of The 20th Century: Amazing Fantastic Incredible: A Marvelous Memoir[/i] by Stan Lee
America’s best-loved nonagenarian is responsible for so much of our mass entertainment today–all of the marquee Avengers (plus Ant-Man!) are his, as are Spider-Man, the X-Men, the Fantastic Four, and a whole lot more. Lee’s a hell of a character himself, though, and his autobiography–penned with acolytes Peter David and Colleen Doran–is an intimate look at the guy who created so much.

For Those Who Could Use A Doll To Remind Them Of What’s Possible: the Ava Duvernay Barbie
Ava Duvernay was a film publicist who became a filmmaker who became the first black woman to ever be shockingly, egregiously snubbed for an Oscar for last year’s Selma. But don’t weep for her–she parlayed that into the chance to consider (and ultimately decline) directing Marvel’s forthcoming Black Panther, and then her very own Barbie doll (which sold out almost immediately, but there’s a healthy eBay trade).


For Those Who Need A Great Rom-Com: Amira and Sam on DVD
With all the spaceships, dinosaurs, and explosions that topped the box office this year, traditional romantic comedies tended to get lost in the fray (even the combined powers of Judd Apatow and Amy Schumer couldn’t so much as crack the top 20 for the year). But one of the sweetest of those movies was the indie Amira and Sam, which paired an Iraq war vet and an Iraqi refugee in a movie that only got more timely as the year went on.

For Those Who Worry About Home Security, Or Just Want To See What Their Dog Does When They’re Not Home: Canary
The world is scary now that so many of us have phones, tablets, laptops, and more devices that are worth hundreds or thousands of dollars lying around to be picked up by anybody who can lift 2.96 pounds and sneak it into a bag. Canary is one of the smarter home security devices on the market, though, if you need peace of mind–it records all activity in the room its set up with a wide-angle lens, and texts you if anything is moving around. Great for identifying burglars–or for watching your puppy be all cute when you’re not around.

For Those Who Want To Take Better Photos Of Their Dog: Pooch Selfie
Whether your pup is the next Marnie the Dog and the key to weird Internet fame, or just a photogenic lil’ guy you want to do a better job of capturing on camera, the Pooch Selfie smartphone attachment tricks your dog into thinking that there’s something in it for him if he poses for a photo–it’s an accessory that looks like a tennis ball, allowing you to become the photographer that cried “fetch” at your dog.


For Those Whose Wallets Aren’t Virtually Indestructible: Machine Era Wallet
Here’s a true thing about people who work in creative fields: For the most part, it involves a lot of sitting. Sitting on a trifold wallet in your back pocket is not great for your back or your overall comfort level. Switching to a card case in the front pocket, though, can feel somewhat insecure, at least at first. The Machine Era Wallet, which combines a money clip with a single piece of aluminum (or solid brass), holds a fella’s cards and cash in a slim profile while providing enough heft to feel stable.

For Those Who Are Trying To Be A Little Less Expressive: Emotionless Greeting Cards
It’s actually a nice thing to give someone a card for whatever reason–nobody is disappointed to receive one, at any rate–but it’s not exactly cool. The letter-pressed Emotionless Greeting Cards (made in San Francisco) give your hipster friends the chance to offer thoughtful notes while also maintaining a fine veneer of ironic detachment.

For Those Who Are Still Wearing The Old Chucks: New Converse Chuck Taylors
Messing with a classic is always a risky proposition, and few footwear designs are more iconic than Converse’s Chuck Taylors. But when the brand redesigned the Chucks for the first time ever earlier this year, they scored a hit–mostly by retaining the important elements, and offering a facelift. If you know someone who–in true Chuck Taylor fashion–is wearing their Chucks till they fall apart, now’s the time to kick ’em a new pair.


For Those Who Need A Sweet Treat: Haagan Dazs Crafted
There are plenty of small-batched creameries making delicious ice cream, but if you’re not in Brooklyn or Austin or a city with a famous local artisan ice cream maker, you might not know how to get ’em. Haagan Dazs entered the artisan ice cream world with its “Crafted” line, tapping enthusiasts like Morgan Spurlock and Henry Rollins to testify to the quality–which would be a cool thing to wrap and hide in the freezer.

For Those Whose Feet Are Cold: Happy Socks
“Socks and underwear” are basically shorthand for “boring Christmas presents,” but Happy Socks–which makes both socks and underwear–are a pretty fun twist on the exceedingly practical idea. The quirky brand taps creative partners like Pharrell, Snoop Dogg, and Robert Rodriguez (who also directed a short film for the company this year) to keep their sock lineup fresh, so opening a pair of these is at least shows some effort on the part of the giver.

For Those Whose Waffles Aren’t Shaped Like Keyboards: The Keyboard Waffle Iron
They probably don’t fit well on most plates, but if you know somebody who really can’t step away from the keyboard for more than a few minutes at a time, this is a pretty solid joke.


For Those Who Are Too Easily Distracted When They’re Supposed To Be Writing: The Freewrite
There are benefits to writing on a connected laptop–you can sync to cloud services and have the document available to share, edit, and rewrite at will–but there are drawbacks, too. Namely, there are a lot of distractions (just think how far along the A Song of Ice and Fire series would be right now if George R.R. Martin weren’t updating his LiveJournal!). The Freewrite keeps the good bits–it’s a cloud-connected smart typewriter–while dropping the bad ones (there is no way to look at Facebook or Twitter from it).

For Those Who Ride A Bike At Night: Zackees
Depending on where your gift recipient lives, cycling can be a refreshing workout, a convenient way to commute, or a harrowing experience among deadly motorists who’d run ’em over as soon as look at ’em. Whichever it is, having smarter ways to signal their intentions while cycling–and to light themselves up at night–is a good idea. Zackees are not-unstylish cycling gloves that also come with LED lights on the back that they can use to effectively signal their turn.

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About the author

Dan Solomon lives in Austin with his wife and his dog. He's written about music for MTV and Spin, sports for Sports Illustrated, and pop culture for Vulture and the AV Club