Picking the perfect present isn’t easy.
Search the internet for ‘best gifts for freelancers’ and you’ll find loads of articles, bursting with present ideas for people who work for themselves.
I grab a cuppa and sit down to read those articles, excited to see what brilliant ideas they’ll give me. Buying something my hard-working freelance friends will really use is important to me (waste of money otherwise!). And inspiration for what to tell my mum when she asks what I want for the next Christmas or birthday is always handy too.
When I click on those articles, though, I find myself pondering who actually wants some of this stuff. Note that I say “some”. There are good ideas on those lists too.
But I don’t want an electric coaster to keep my tea warm. Encouraging me to keep a drink right by my computer is a bad idea (found that out the expensive way). No, I want to drink my tea in peace and to and save my precious electricity for something else.
Amazing as I am (and much as I’d love one), it’s unlikely most people would fork out for a standing desk for me. Or, let’s be realistic, an iPad Pro.
And a pen that’s shaped like a flamingo? Nice for two minutes but I couldn’t actually write anything with it.
So I set out to write a list of things I myself would actually want to receive. Practical things. Things that don’t cost the earth (although I have included a few pricier gifts, just in case anyone really does want to spend standing-desk-kind-of-money on me). And then I asked around a few freelance buddies, to get their ideas too.
I started out thinking I’d have maybe 25 ideas for the list. Now I have 101. The freelance community really is astounding.
So ladies and gentlemen, please allow me to present… The Great Freelancers’ Gift List
Here you’ll find all manner of present ideas to delight and entertain the freelancers in your life. You won’t find links to specific gifts. This list is all about ideas, not sponsored advertising, and I’m hoping that even if you don’t find the perfect present on the list, you’ll find suggestions which spark other ideas.
To help, the list is split into stocking fillers, slightly more expensive, and very expensive presents. There’s also a section on vouchers if you want some flexibility, and on gifts which won’t cost you a penny (so no excuses).
I hope you’re reading, Mum…
Small gifts for freelancers – perfect for birthdays, stocking fillers or secret Santa presents…
Food and drink
- Biscuits. Obviously.
- Chocolate. Duh.
- Healthy snacks, I guess. I’m not sure what these are. Tell me if you find out.
- Nice tea bags, for a proper cuppa.
- Posh herbal tea.
- A bag of nice coffee.
- Fancy hot chocolate (with mini marshmallows?).
Keeping warm (heating isn’t cheap, you know)
- Fingerless gloves.
- Thick warm socks.
- Slippers (can be worn with the socks if really cold).
- A really nice mug. We use these all day every day, so it’s a great investment.
- A travel mug, because very occasionally, we do leave the house.
- A mug with an infuser, for those who drink fancy tea.
- A ceramic lidded mug, to keep your drink warm when it’s chilly at your desk.
- A good water bottle. We need to drink something other than caffeine, sometimes. It’s good for us, apparently. A good water bottle is big, made of something sustainable, easy to clean (they get icky inside otherwise) and it has a good lid, for when we knock it over next to our laptop.
- Fancy notebooks. I only buy the cheapest, functional ones for myself (I go through loads of notebooks). I get VERY excited when someone gives me a posh or pretty notebook – a big luxury.
- Nice folders, for keeping projects separate and stylish.
- Storage boxes. Big ones for all the old notebooks. Small ones for receipts.
- Pen pot to keep the desk tidy(ish).
- Sticky notes.
- Novelty paperclips (they come in all shapes and sizes).
- A business card holder. One that holds plenty. Loads of them only seem to have room for about 4…
- For a handmade business, fancy craft tools or supplies
- Pens – but ONLY if you know what kind they use. I’m fussy (I can only write properly with the cheapest of freebie biros), and talking to other freelancers for this post, I realise I’m far from being alone in this.
- Highlighter pens. For highlighting stuff.
- A nice stapler. You take these things for granted when you work in an office.
- A hole punch. As above.
- A diary or planner, if you know what they want (another one that comes with definite personal preferences!).
Other small gifts
- A mini desk fan, in case of another heatwave.
- Headphones, for listening to our music/podcasts/video calls when we’re out and about.
- A headphone tidy thing, to keep the cables from turning into a knotted nest in transit.
- A cable tidy, to keep the cables from turning into a knotted nest in our home.
- Lego! Because I love it, and because it’s good to take a break sometimes.
- Small purse (wallet if you want to be all manly), for keeping business receipts aside when you’re out and about.
- A calculator. I’m much less likely to hit the wrong buttons when I’m using a proper calculator rather than the one on my phone.
- A few favourite pampering bits and bobs, which we might not invest in so much now we work for ourselves.
- A motivational quote print (please approach with caution – these are a bit like marmite, loved or hated).
- A kitchen timer, to help with productivity when procrastination kicks in (Google the Pomodoro technique if you don’t already know it).
- A cookbook for quick, healthy, affordable food. Personally, I find student cookbooks quite good for this.
- A laptop case.
- A mini tripod (for those who do lots of social media).
- A wind-up desk toy! I have a little wind-up jumping man who makes me smile when I’m drowning in work.
- A plant, so we have something to talk to.
- A fake plant, for those unable to keep a plant alive.
Bigger but affordable gifts for people who work from home
Slightly more expensive ways to keep warm
- A snuggly onesie.
- WARM jumpers.
- Fleece sweatpants. Not the most stylish choice, but I live in mine when it’s cold.
- A blanket/slanket/poncho.
- A fancy hot water bottle
- A little heater, so you can just heat the office during the day rather than paying to heat the whole house.
- A cat to sit on your lap 😺 (please note: pets are for life, not just for freelancer gifts).
- A power-bank for charging up your phone or laptop when you’re out and about (not all coffee shops are great for plug sockets).
- A WiFi dongle (not all coffee shops are great for WiFi).
- A USB stick.
Health and safety
- A decent laptop bag, for those who carry their laptop around a lot.
- A good keyboard and mouse, to prevent repetitive strain injuries.
- A footrest, to make sure you’re sitting properly.
- A laptop stand, to save your neck, back and shoulders.
- A decent table lamp. Your eyesight is important.
- Books about being self-employed.
- Books about confidence, wellbeing and self-development.
- Specialist books on our particular industry.
- Biographies of successful business people – a bit of inspiration never goes amiss.
- Dictionary or thesaurus.
Hey big spender – close family and very rich friends only!
- A really good desk chair.
- A lovely desk.
- A new tablet.
- A new computer or laptop.
- A phone (a separate work phone can make a huge difference).
- A printer.
- A scanner.
- A shredder.
- An external hard drive.
- Noise cancelling headphones.
- A dog. They make you actually leave the house, or so I’m told (again, please note: pets are for life, not just for freelancer gifts).
If all else fails – vouchers
- For virtual assistant services.
- For graphic design services.
- For copywriting services!
- For printing (e.g. to get business cards printed).
- A subscription to Spotify.
- Book vouchers (if you’re not sure what business books to buy).
- E-book vouchers (if they prefer an e-reader).
- Tickets to a conference they want to go to.
- A place on a training course they need (or want).
- A subscription to their favourite industry magazine.
- Vouchers towards something expensive you know they’re already saving for – like a photoshoot, new brand design, new website …).
- Membership to a networking group.
- Private business coaching sessions.
- Subscription to an online course provider.
- Coffee shop vouchers – because we spend a lot of time in coffee shops!
- Clothes vouchers, because when your business is new, you spend less on yourself.
- A subscription to Headspace.
- A subscription to a veg box (to keep us healthy and encourage us not to eat rubbish all day).
- A subscription to receive flowers regularly, because life’s little luxuries are important when you’re saving.
- A day booked to do an activity, a spa, a night away – anything that means that freelancer is guaranteed to have to stop work and take some time for themselves.
Things which won’t cost you a penny
- Your skills (e.g. DIY to finish new office space, photography, filing, design).
- A promise to cook dinner once a week, if you live together. Often the person who works from home gets left with all the chores, even though they’re working too.
- A promise to meet each and every month for coffee, because having that booked in the diary will help prevent us feeling isolated, make sure we take a break every now and then, and make us smile.
If you’ve read this far, why not have a quick look at what I do when I’m not writing gift wishlists? It’ll only take a mo.
With big thanks to this collection of self-employed heroes!
Craig Wright, Elise Dopson, André Spiteri, Amanda Appiagyei, Dave Smyth, Emma Lander, Gareth Hancock, Kelly Dunning, Jessica Sizeland, Claire Stagg, Katie Tysome, Katie Randall, Betty Grove, Pippa Akram, Sally Peerless, Emma Waring, Eleanor Denton, Dawn Andrews, Laura Blacklaws, Emma Morgan, Laura Zitver, Gim at Koala Courses, Sian Shrimpton and Kasia Burke.