When I became self-employed and hung out my shingle as a writer back in 2004, all I had was the kitchen table, a hard wooden chair, a cantankerous computer, and my dreams. You may know someone like that.
Someone who quit the corporate ladder to follow their dreams and become a didgeridoo player, and you are wondering what gift to give them. After all, there’s only so many times you can give them a pair of socks.
As usual, the MakeUseOf lifeboat comes steaming to the rescue with 10 perfect gift ideas for the home worker.
1. Book on Working from Home
Let’s start with something simple. A book never goes wrong, and if your home working friend is new to the whole self-employed routine, then it might be a good idea to get them a book on the subject. Something that tells them that clothes are optional, beer is obligatory, and that you arrange work around your breaks, not the other way around.
There are countless books on Amazon on the subject of home working. But may I humbly suggest the above title? I’ve read the Kindle preview and it looks to be quite a good book. And I should know, as I have read a lot of really bad books on the topic of self-employment. Donald Trump’s books instantly spring to mind.
Summary: There’s No Place Like Working From Home ($8.48 Kindle, $15.65 Paperback)
2. Working Music Collection
If you’re a cheapskate, or you like the idea of making a present, then why not make them a burned CD of music that they can listen to, while they build their business empire?
Music has been proven to make you better in performing mental tasks, in what has been termed as the Mozart Effect. Everyone has different tastes, but it would probably be best to give them something calming. Giving them heavy metal is not necessarily going to induce a state of calm that will boost productivity and creativity. Not unless you are Animal from the Muppets.
I would suggest classical music or electronic music, both of which you can find legally and free of charge in abundance online. One which I have only just started listening to is Marco PM, which puts out regular electronic music mixes. If you would rather go the classical music route, then Wikipedia has a huge number of downloadable music files in OGG format.
Buy some CD cases (yes, they still exist) and burn the music onto a disk (yes, they exist too – it’s those things you’re using as drinks coasters). Or alternatively put the music on a USB stick. If you go the CD route, you can easily get appropriate album artwork from Google Images, and with a good color printer, you’ll have a CD made up in no time.
3. Multi-Port USB Charging Station
OK, enough of the freebies. It’s time to show your home working friend how much you love them. And what speaks love more than a bamboo multi-USB charging station? $45.99 from Amazon in three easy payments. Well, not quite. I am just auditioning for the Home Shopping Channel.
Just place your device in the charging station (a posh name for a wooden rack), connect the USB cable, and marvel at how organized you have everything.
Summary: Bamboo USB Charging Station ($45.99)
4. Noise Cancelling Headphones
Working from home can be tough. Not only do you have the neighbors calling the police, when you walk in front of your office window sans clothes, but you also have your kids screaming their heads off when they come home from school. Or your significant other comes home from work, and proceeds to make a racket, forgetting that you still need to get that report in to your client. The solution? Noise cancelling headphones.
I am not going to recommend a specific pair here, as there are countless options depending on what you are willing to pay. Obviously, the more you pay, the better the quality. Just have a look on Amazon and choose a pair with good reviews, in your price range.
Summary: Noise Cancelling Headphones ($20 – 300)
5. Massage Set
One of the downsides of sitting in front of a computer monitor all day (apart from too much Facebook checking) are the body pains. Sitting in a chair will eventually make the back cramp up, and even if regular breaks are taken to stand up and move about, body pain of some degree is going to hit the home worker eventually. Enter the Mini Massager set.
Available from Amazon UK for 35 pounds ($53), the page describes this Beuer massage set as being for “the body, head, and face”. After switching it on, it vibrates gently, and it is splash-resistant, so you can use it in the bath!
Just picture the scene. Your home working friend is in the bath with their noise cancelling headphones on, applying the massager to their legs, while their devices are charging nearby. What else could we get them? I know…..!
6. Tea or Coffee Cup Holder
As anyone who likes to drink within a mile of their keyboard will confirm, strange forces seem to be at work when the keyboard senses fluids nearby.
It doesn’t matter how careful you are not to spill anything over the keyboard or over that important contract. The cup seems to mysteriously connect with your hand or arm and go flying all over the desk. We home workers know of this syndrome as “Cuppius Spillius”. It’s a very common menace.
The Spink Cup Holder aims to counteract these strange forces by applying a suction cup to your desk, making it extremely difficult to knock it over (unless you the Hulk, in which case you’re pretty much screwed). Place the cup holder where you want it to go, and put your nice steaming hot cup of coffee or tea in it.
Currently, Amazon only sells the black or white one, and it retails for $17.95. Cheaper than a new keyboard, I would say.
Summary: Dreamfarm Spink Cup Holder ($17.95)
7. Cable Management System
Despite my best efforts to become cable-free, I seem to collect USB cables all the time. It’s got to the point where I have USB cables growing out of my ears. This means that my desk can get into a tangled mess if I don’t keep everything meticulously organized.
I have been using Blu-Tack to keep things looking neat, but if you would like a more sophisticated option, could I interest Sir and Madam in the iGotTech Cable Clips & Cord Management System? Just in today.
What’s that you say? It’s just a lump of plastic with a dent in it for the cord? Oh, no, no, no, Sir & Madam. You underestimate this hidden little gem. This is a good looking, high quality lump of plastic with a dent in it for the cord. It will look good on any desk, and will keep your cords in strict order (so good for our OCD readers). No more finding the cables on the floor.
The set from Amazon gets you six pieces for a total of 12 cables.
8. Bubble Wrap Calendar
If there is one thing designed to incapacitate a normal healthy rational person, it is bubble wrap. The stuff is insidious. You tell yourself you are only going to pop one. After all, what harm could that do? Pop one, then get back to work checking Facebook. But an hour later, you are still popping bubble wrap like a drug addict would snort cocaine.
If this sounds like anybody you know, then make them a happy camper and get them the 2016 Bubble Wrap calendar. They only get to pop one bubble a day, so look upon it as the nicotine patch of Bubble Wrap addicts. Just don’t show them the digital version!
Summary: Bubble Wrap Calendar ($25.99)
9. Relaxing Desk Lamp
If your home-working friend is a Star Wars fan who likes to procrastinate, then they are in luck. Now they can stare into space, looking at the Star Wars lava lamp sitting on their desk (although these ones are called “motion lamps”).
The lamp, shaped like a lightsaber, has a very calming effect that will help your home worker unwind after a lengthy and difficult epic galactic battle. If Darth Vader had sat and looked at a motion lamp, he wouldn’t have lost his temper and called the Rebels “scum”. He would have also picked up the phone and called his kids.
Alternatively, if Star Wars is not part of your giftee’s galaxy, you could get them a more practical desk lamp. For example, flicker- and ghost-free lamps can reduce eye strain, LED bulbs will safe energy, or you could gift a stylish lamp with integrated USB charging ports.
10. Gift Cards
We finally end with something which is normally considered to be a bit of a boring and unimaginative present. But in the hands of the home worker, this could be something extremely useful. Which home worker do you know that doesn’t need office supplies? Or that app for their tablet to help them do their job?
You can get vouchers for Amazon, iTunes, and Google Play to name just three, and with those, the home worker can get whatever they need. That way, they get what they actually want, and not be stuck with some ugly expensive present that they don’t want (such as the combined coat hanger and cigarette lighter).
What Would YOU Buy the Home Worker?
The above are just ten examples of what you could get someone who works from home. Or perhaps they have inspired another idea? After all, Amazon seems to sell everything you could ever want. But I did have trouble searching for “a date with Uma Thurman”.
What are you planning to buy for the home work commuter?