Thursday, 10 December 2015

PhD Gift List

I’ve been overtaken by Christmas spirit this year. The tree went up on Sunday- the cards are written and ready to be posted. All the presents are bought, and the Christmas meal is planned out.

In fact, I'm so filled with goodwill, I've put together a Christmas list, in case you’re struggling to think of what to buy for the PhD student in your life.
The gifts vary in price,  but they do follow a few rules I like to stick to when buying. Gifts should be thoughtful – they should supply a need or feed an interest. They should feel luxurious: even if they don’t cost much, it’s nice to get people something they wouldn’t buy themselves. Finally, they should act as a reminder for the person of how much you like them, so they should make them smile!

Upmarket Caffeine
I don’t know many PhD students who aren’t fueled by caffeine: I certainly am. So it makes sense to  ensure that your PhD student is at least drinking something good. 

If they’re a tea lover, Char tea is a real treat: this Winchester-based company produces delicate, varied teas in useful easy-to-seal pouches. They’re ideal for having at the desk. (Their lapsang souchong is my favourite.)

Coffee lovers are covered too. I've personally been dropping hints about a subscription service. But until I'm having coffee delivered by the month, a lot of my friends recommend Pact Coffee.

Something Nice to Drink Your Caffeine Out Of
There’s no sense having good caffeine if you’ve no means of brewing it.

A good travel mug is always useful. I've been using this Bodum one has three days a week for 11 months and stills keep my coffee hot and (more importantly) sealed inside! 

For the loose-leaf lover – this Sabichi pot is great in communal areas. The leaves stay in the cage so you don’t have to have a strainer, or spend ages over the kitchen sink cleaning it out.

Am I the only person who can’t work with cold hands? Am I the only person who works in a REALLY cold workroom? I hope not, because I think handwarmers would make a great present for a PhD students. Working handwarmers have to be warm (duh) and thin enough to allow you to write/type.

I’m currently crocheting my own, but you can buy handmade versions via Etsy, or more easily available versions at Accesorize.

This is always top of my list. Gigs, exhibitions, theatre tickets. These are often subject to student discounts, and can often be booked quite far in advance. If it’s practical for them to get there, the RSC are particularly good for this: their vouchers are valid for a year.

A Means to Stay Organised
Moleskine planners are a classic option, and very hard-wearing. (I say this based on a five-year old notebook that has survived moves, boyfriends and travel and is still going strong). I’ve got my eye on (read: have added to my amazon wishlist) this Kate Spade planner. A Beautiful Mess are also offering spiral-bound planners, although they ship from America.

A Means to Exercise
I think it’s fair to say that many people would love to do more exercise, but find it hard to prioritise their time (and their money) to make it happen. This is why paying for a workshop/trial membership is a fantastic idea. Many universities have well-equipped sports facilities, and will often run one-day-workshops, and offer a reduced rate to students.

Good Food
There’s nothing that makes people feel healthy, happy, and loved like good food. If your loved one is coming up to a stressful time – writing up, big conference paper – you could help take some of the pressure of them by signing them up to a meal delivery service for the next month or so. Services like Hello Fresh and Gusto offer flexibility (and their meals are normally two portions, so they’ll go twice as far for one person: bonus!)

If you’re feeling less flush – or buying for someone less likely to cook – Graze boxes are a good way to ensure they have something tasty (and reasonably healthy) to look forward to. The service is customisable and flexible. And a good reminder of you each time the box comes through the letter box.

What's on your PhD-wish list this Christmas?

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