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The 2013 Gift Guide for Getting Things Done

Need some gift ideas that will give the recipient a kick to get things done? Presenting the 99U holiday gift guide: 22 must-have items for streamlining your life.

It’s that time of year again, and as Roman philosopher Seneca said, “A gift consists not in what is done or given, but in the intention of the giver or doer.” With that in mind, we present to you 2013’s Gift Guide, stocked full of the kind of gifts that (mostly) help the recipient get things done.

Calendar To-Do List Pad 2014 ($24.95)

This Ryan McGinnes original is the perfect resource to track everything from things to do, notes, or doodles. It’s big enough to have room for everything you might throw its way (11″ x 4.5″), a ribbon to keep you on track, and is easily shelved for future archival purposes. Plus, Helvetica.



Makers Gonna Make Notebook (3 for $12.99)

If you’re planning on making ideas happen, these hand-printed on high-quality minimalist Muji notebooks are the perfect motivator to start shipping.


Tattly ($5 – 15)

These temporary tattoos are not your run-of-the-mill vending machine kind, but imaginatively designed and quality made (plus they can last for days). Buy individually as stocking stuffers or get the sets for a fun, unique gift. They even have greeting cards too, for all of the design perks minus the tattoo.


Jumbo Flip Clock ($49.99)

This is no flimsy digital piece of plastic; this hefty, analog clock counts the minutes and hours in a classic rolodex-style. 


Philips Wake-up Light ($89.99)

If you know someone who’s trying to become a morning person, or at least make their wake up time a little less rough, we found this fake-dawn simulator light to be a godsend during our last #labrat.


Notification Memo ($9.95)

It’s hard enough to ignore these suckers on your phone, so can you imagine how well they’ll hold your own attention in real life?


Palomino Blackwing 602 Pencil (12 for $19.95)

Blackwing pencils have a long, iconic history as the favorite writing utensil of luminaries like John Steinback, Stephen Sondheim, and Chuck Jones. Though the fabled ($40 per pencil) Eberhard Faber is no longer in production, the Palomino Blackwing 602 is a close reproduction with a much lighter price tag.


The Best of McSweeney’s Signed Deluxe Box Set ($65)

If you’re a literary nerd or bookworm, you’ll already know the value that comes from getting the best of fifteen years worth of first-rate fiction and non-fiction (not to mention comics, postcards, baseball reportage, and a catalog). Forget your Kindle; this thoughtfully designed box set will restore your faith in print.


Maximize Your Potential ($6.93)

Okay, so we might be a little biased, but we found this book to be perfectly timed for the new year. Whether you’re stuck in a rut, unsure of where to begin, transitioning, or aiming higher, this book has the actionable steps and big ideas to get you there.


CLIC Wooden iPhone 5/5S Case ($49.99)

We’ve been looking for a decent wooden case for years, and this is the first one that merges real cherry wood with durable functionality and modern design.


iPhone Stencil Kit ($28.99)

For the UX designer in your life, the UI Stencils (and sketchpads, eraser boards, sticky notes — they’ve thought of everything) will make their life much, much easier. Available in Website, iPad, Android, Windows, and Google Chrome, too.


GoPro HERO3+ Silver Edition ($299.95)

The latest in GoPro’s line, HERO3+ is smaller, lighter, and more powerful than its predecessors. At double the megapixels for only $100 more than the HERO3+’s White Edition, we think the Silver Edition is your best bet. Use it to film your next adventure, whether big or small.


Sugru ($10 – 20)

If you love to build, tinker, or need quick fixes while on the go, Sugru is about to change your life. This amazing stuff is a self-setting rubber that can be molded by hand, and once cured overnight, becomes a flexible but durable silicone rubber. Don’t buy new stuff; improve what you’ve got.



Hard Graft iPad Air Tilt Case & Stand ($153)

There’s something extra luxurious about combining smooth metal with wool and leather; maybe it’s a texture thing. Either way, this iPad case not only looks amazing, but it’s fully functional with three different stand positions.


Unisex Navy Stripe Backpack ($95.70)

It’s hard to find a good workbag that doesn’t look like a workbag. This one, and many of the others by BagyBag, have multiple sizes, pockets, and ways of carrying it, with a uniform appeal.


Coin ($100 but 1/2 off while pre-orders last)

Coin is an exciting, new device that promises to combine all of your credit cards, debit cards, gift cards, loyalty cards, and membership cards into one. It’ll alert you if you’ve left it behind and even deactivate itself if you don’t retrieve it within a certain amount of time.


23andMe ($99)

If you’d ever wondered about your ancestry or what genetic health risks you might have, 23andMe gives a full, comprehensive look at your health and heritage. UPDATE: The FDA is asking for 23andme to provide proof of accuracy. Read what’s going down here first.


Nest Protect ($129)

The traditional smoke alarm is remade in the Nest Protect. It uses a human voice to tell you the danger it’s sensing and where, can be deactivated with a wave, and shows you the battery level visually instead of beeping confusingly for days. Of course, we happily back any company so dedicated to doing the work.


littleBits Kits (Start at $99)

The possibilities are endless with littleBits, which gives you the modules to build whatever kinds of circuits come to your mind in bright, fun colors. You can purchase individual pieces for cheap to add on or full kits to get a good starting point. People have made everything from electric toothbrushes to doorbells, synth spin tables, and a swimming shark mobile.


Cards Against Humanity ($25 or free for downloaded)

Over the past year this has become one of our go-to games, perfect for ice breakers or at parties. The beauty of it relies in its humor (crass yet charming), room for interpretation, and ability to become a whole different ballgame, if you will, depending on who’s playing.


Advice Mug ($16)

If you need a little motivation with your morning coffee, tea, or whatever, this mug is going to hand it right to you. We’re firm believers that good advice is best taken with even better design and, sometimes, a little profanity.


Bottle Opener ($14)

So simple it’s genius, this beautifully designed (and wonderfully cheap!) wooden bottle opener uses a strong magnets to catch bottle caps and to store it within reach on the fridge when not in use.

How about you?

What did we miss and what products are your must-haves this year? 


Sasha VanHoven

Sasha is the Associate Editor of 99U. You can watch her tweet here.

Comments (7)
  • Lucy Keile

    We have the Sugru and it is awesome!!!

  • abberdab

    This is a great list! I’ve bookmarked half of ’em. 🙂

  • mdusing

    Well done! Solid offering of useful gifts.

  • Carol Levy

    too bad shipping to Canada is outrageous, I would have bought a few of these items.
    We are on the same continent needn’t be that expensive to ship to Toronto.

  • Evan West

    I read about the Phillips Wake-Up Light on Timothy Ferriss’ blog a month ago and I’ve wanted one ever since! Anyone who wants to buy me one for Christmas is more than welcome to 🙂

  • EFerguson

    The FDA has ordered 23andMe to stop selling these kits because it’s being sold illegally to diagnose diseases. Might want to take this off your list.

    • Sasha

      The FDA ordered them to stop diagnosing medical information until they can finish reviewing and do an official approval. It is not illegal, and still handy for ancestry, as well as the raw data for medical genetics you do get — you just can’t access 23andMe’s analysis of the medical side for now. But they’ll be releasing that as well later, once the FDA has finished.

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