By November 23, 2020

2020 Gifts for Programmers Guide

Welcome to our 2020 Gifts for Programmers Guide! Unlike our other articles, this one is not just for our Simple Programmers. 

It is for their friends, family, and loved ones who have a hard time choosing the perfect present for the tech enthusiasts in their life.

Have a programmer who you have to find the perfect gift for? Worry not, as this is your holiday gift guide!

We have scoured the tech lists, our own favorites from the year, and 2020's must-have holiday gifts, and put together a bunch of options to can fit in your budget and present-buying needs, whatever those might be. This should help to minimize the stress of the last-minute holiday shopping rush.

Because, let's face it. In this topsy-turvy year of 2020, we'll likely be buying a lot of gifts online, and that means stock availability and shipping times - so get your programming gifts scooped up and wrapped before others have even begun to think about it!

Books for Programmers


Soft Skills: The Software Developer's Life Manual  is the first book John Sonmez published, perfect choice for any programmer in your life that wants to learn how to communicate better with, be more considerate of, and live a more fulfilling life in the world around them.

The Complete Software Developer's Career Guide is for programmers who are looking to expand their careers in the upcoming year. Whether they are looking at a big change, new job, or just trying to improve at their current position, this book has the real-world advice to help them do that.

The Head First books are known for their visually rich format, created to be understood in the way that your brain works. In this 2nd edition update for Head First Design Patterns, your programmer will learn the patterns that matter when it comes to designing software.

With more of us working-from-home, we need to be honest about the space we've invaded. This is especially important if your programmer is working-from-home with a lovable but calculating kitty maniac. Get this humorous read from comic writer The Oatmeal if someone in your life could really use a guidebook to stay alive.

Programming often isn't just about the code that goes into a project. Users need a way to interact with the code, and while visuals are important, so is the writing. In Strategic Writing for UXyour programmer will learn from a UX content strategist precisely how to write in a way that drives engagement, conversion, and retention.

Does your programmer have plans to change jobs (or is your aspiring programmer looking to get a job in 2021?) In Cracking the Coding Interview, they'll get 150 programming questions and solutions to work through, to help them land their dream gig. 

Did you know that the rule of thumb is that programmers should learn a new language, or seriously deep-dive into the niche of a language they are familiar with, every singly year? If the programmer in your life is someone who loves learning, but struggles to choose what to learn, then Seven Languages in Seven Weeks might give them the taste for a few different ones in Q1, so they can focus the rest of the year on that deep dive.

Just before we all began socially distancing and never leaving our house, we published this one, Remote Work: Get a Job or Make a Career Working From HomeWe wish we hadn't foreshadowed this one, but the guide is relevant for anyone who wants to work remotely, regardless of whether a pandemic is dictating whether they should or not.

Ok, so this isn't technically a programming book. But the programmer in your life will love it, as they are a person of patterns and connections (that's what code is, really!) An Eternal Golden Braid looks at the surprising points of contact between the music of Bach, the artwork of Escher, and the mathematics of Gödel.

Getting Into It (Under $25)


Home & Office Timer with Clock ($19.99) - Broken into (mostly) 15 minute intervals, this is a great timer for any programmer who loves pomodoros, but sometimes needs a little longer to work on their projects.

Chop Sabers ($17.97) - Did you read that right? Yes, yes you did. Chop sticks … that glow like light sabers. And they actually work for your favorite sushi-loving programmer's nerdy needs. 

Adulting Stickers ($4.99) - Is your programmer having a rough year? (Who isn't, really?) Give them a chance to reward themselves, and hopefully laugh a little bit) each time they break a new "accomplishment."

Viking Stainless Steel Skull Mug ($18.99) - This probably will only appeal to specific subset of programmer, who would like drinking their coffee, tea, or grog from a Viking skull. Though I'm a rosé-all-day kinda girl, and I wouldn't mind swigging from this badass beverage vessel!

Banksy "Rest Don't Quit" - Unframed Dictionary Art Print ($12.95) - Do you know someone who not only burns the candle at both ends, but tends to burn it right down until they are burned out themselves? This lovely print is a nice reminder to pace themselves, when work and home are often the same.

The Mandalorian: The Child, Stand for Amazon Echo Dot ($24.95) - Is someone you know obsessed with The Mandalorian series on Disney+? Maybe they just love the Baby Yoda wave that is sweeping the viewing world. Whatever their reason, this little Echo Dot stand will definitely make their room a little happier.

Catit Senses Self Groomer Cat Toy ($3.99) - Remember that cat I warned you might be plotting your favorite work-from-home's demise? Chances are, part of the reason they are angry is they don't understand why they aren't getting scritches whenever they want from The Human. Consider this placebo scritches.

Perytong Sleep Headphones ($19.99) - Made for sleep, but not just for sleep, these bluetooth wireless headphones are a great solution for anyone who wants a hands-free but secure way to listen to their favorite tunes, that doesn't hurt their ears.

ThinkFun Code Master Programming Logic Game ($23.94) - It's highly possible that anyone would like this game, if they like programming. But this is an especially fun gift if the programmer in your life has some little ones they want to share their passions with. 

FineInno Mini Vacuum Cleaner ($18.99) - In the working world these days, programmers might not have the ability to get up and go to the break-room for eating and other personal time. Which means their workspace is likely getting messy. Help them keep it a bit cleaner with this mini-sucker-upper.

iFixit Jimmy - The Electronics Opening Tool ($7.99) - Do you know a tinkerer? Someone who likes to take apart everything, to see how it works, and then attempt to (and sometimes even succeed when!) they are able to put it back together? Then they're gonna need this.

Fisher Space Pen ($22.10) - This might look like a regular old fancy brass pen, but it is a very special fancy brass pen. It writes at any angle (even Zero Gravity - seriously, it's been tested!), extreme temperatures, and many other impossible conditions.

A Little More … ($25-$50)


Everlasting Comfort Faux Fur Throw ($31.95) - Someone described this as "wrapping yourself in 100 teddy bears" and I honestly can't think of a better way to curl up with a book or programming project on a cold winter's night now. Please sign me up for 4.

Bonsai Tree Seed Starter Kit ($39.97) - Does the programmer in your life miss getting out and about in the beautiful greenery of nature and...well...the outdoors itself? Help them get back some moments of zen with this desktop bonsai kit.

Clearon 3D Glass Essential Oil Diffuser ($29.99) - Forget the plastic and stone essential oil diffusers: this color changing LED ball of smelly goodness will add a fancy light show to any boring office set-up; Slayer playlist optional.

3Doodler Start Essentials ($49.99) - Some gifts are listed for kids, but let's be real … adults are going to have just as much fun with them! Maybe your tech genius is a creative soul, who likes to draw as much as they like to code? This will sketch their itch.

Storm Glass Weather Station ($36.00) - Officially called "one of the coolest gifts I've ever gotten" from an analytically minded friend I sent this to, the Storm Glass weather station uses an ancient maritime trick to tell the weather on the horizon.

Honeywell UberHeat Ceramic Heater ($34.99) - Here's the secret to this personal space heater: it's energy efficient. Meaning that someone won't blow a circuit every time they have the audacity to heat their office and plug in their phone to charge.

JBL - Waterproof Portable Bluetooth Speaker ($39.95) - Did a programmer you love lose their daily podcast listening time when they ended up no longer commuting to an office? This won't necessarily get them back all that time, but does give them a little more time in the morning to catch up on their favorite shows in the shower.

Body Back Buddy Classic - Trigger Point Back Massager ($29.95) - I know my back and muscles are screaming a lot more these days, between stress and inaction and sitting hunched over a keyboard. This tool can help push out those kinks your programmer can't quite reach on their own.

BalanceFrom Adjustable Stepping Machine with Resistance Bands ($49.99) - Speaking of inaction, many desk warriors are looking for new ways to get moving from the confines of their home. This little step machine will help them get their exercise in, without taking up a ton of space.

mcSquares 3x3 Dry-Erase Sticky Notes ($34.99 for 24) - Ever heard your programmer speak cryptically about Kanban boards or SCRUM process? Chances are their workflows (and perhaps brain) works in a post-it note sort of ordering system, and these dry erase stickies might just help them to sort code work out.

Getting Spendy ($50-$100)


GoWISE USA 8-in-1 Digital Air Fryer ($87.99) - We're all ordering take out a bit more these days. And microwaving leftovers just isn't quite the same, but we don't always have time to reheat in the oven. Enter an air fryer, and you can thank me later.

littleBits Star Wars Droid Inventor Kit ($99.95) - Another one of those "for kids" gifts for programmers that could really find some fans in the grown-up group of inventors and robot enthusiasts. Who doesn't want a little Droid to run (roll) about their home?

Oraolo Neckband Bluetooth Speaker ($69.99) - Another hand-free Bluetooth option, this one can rest on someone's shoulders to surround them with gentle dulcet tones as they work through a particularly challenging code block. 

Ring Fit Adventure - Nintendo Switch ($79.99) - Do you know one of the one-kajillion people that got a Nintendo Switch sometime this year, likely to build out their island on Animal Crossing? Well, that same video game system that sits them on their ass for hours on end could help them get some exercise in with this game and equipment.

In the Zone ($100-$350)


Fellow Stagg EKG+ Bluetooth Connected Electric Pour-Over Kettle ($199) - For the coffee enthusiast who is always trying to make the perfect pour-over, or the tea enthusiast who mainlines matcha like it's their job, this high-powered kettle heats to the exact temperature for anyone who takes their hot beverages seriously.

Bose Frames - Audio Sunglasses with Open Ear Headphones ($199) - These are just cool. No two ways about it. Stylish sunglasses, with speakers that are designed to play quietly just above your ears, so people around you aren't listening to you music and conversations - but you can hear them clear as day.

Turtlebox: Loud! Outdoor Rugged Bluetooth Speaker ($349) - Let me guess. You and your programmer have been spending a lot more time outside these days. But playing music to background your fresh air adventures off your smart phone isn't cutting it any longer. This speaker is made for outdoor conditions - no matter the weather and circumstances.

MoonRun Portable Cardio Trainer ($249) - Is the programmer in your life a hardcore fitness fiend? Don't believe the myth that programmers are all uncoordinated geeks, some are very athletic geeks! Any they miss running and especially the gym. This set-up can help them get some of that back, without a full gym space.

Luxury Gifts ($350+)


Breville BES870XL Barista Express Espresso Machine ($699.95) - Know someone who is currently sucking on coffee filters to get that sweet deep coffee flavor in their soul? (Err, I mean...I don't know anyone who would do that...) This top-of-the-line espresso machine will fill the cafe-sized hole in their heart, and might even save them some serious $4/day latte budget spends.

Meural Canvas II – The Smart Art Frame ($699.95) - One of the hard things with art is that you can only buy so much to hang on your wall. Especially if you don't want your house to look like a museum exhibition. But with this brilliant digital frame, you can download 30,000+ pieces of high-quality art. Every day could be a new painting in your living room, for the next 80 or so years!

And there you have it!

Our top picks for gifts for programmers in 2020. 

(Or, if you are a programmer who wants to drop hints, you can send this post along to folks in your life. Shhh, we won't tell anyone about your crafty shenaniganry!)

If nothing here grabs your fancy, take a spin through some of our older gift guides from recent years: 2019, 2018, 2016, 2015, 2014.

Hope you are able to find the perfect present to show the programmer in your life how much they mean to you!

About the author

Elisa Doucette

Elisa is the Managing Editor for Simple Programmer. She spends most of her time working with John, SP writers, and her editorial team to provide the best content out there for programmers who want to make the complex simple. When she's not shuffling cards on the Trello boards, she is in a cafe writing, curled up in a leather chair reading, or jumping on a plane to destinations unknown. You can find more of her editing and writing work at her agency, Craft Your Content, or sharing a ton of great articles on Twitter @elisadoucette.