Programmer Wishlist — 7 Unique Gift Ideas for the Nerd in Your Life

If you live or work with a computer programmer you’ll know they’re picky people. If your spouse/significant other is a software developer you’ll know how hard it can be to get them gifts they’ll not only pretend to enjoy—but actually will enjoy.

In this article I’m covering some unique gift ideas for software engineers and other tech junkies.

But we’re going to play it from a slightly different angle. This won’t be about purely “tech” products like hard drives and laptops (us geeks prefer to buy those ourselves anyway), but about unique and fun accessories that make the perfect gift for your software developer friend, husband, or wife.

Before I start just a quick word on why you should trust me. I’ve been working as a professional software developer for the last ten years, I hang out with other programmers, and as a co-founder of I’m generally also a huge nerd. So trust me with this gift list.

#1 – Robot Turtles Game

This board game seems ridiculous but it’s actually a great gift for a software developer dad or mom. Robot Turtles is a board game that teaches preschoolers basic programming concepts. If you’re looking for a gift idea for a developer with kids or young siblings this is just perfect. This game came from a Kickstarter campaign so it definitely has that geek street cred, it’s made in the USA and recommended by magazines like GeekDad and GeekMom.

#2 – NES Classic Edition


Any developer in their thirties will have fond memories of this old-school gaming console. Nintendo just released this NES Classic Edition retro console that comes pre-loaded with 30 games and you can just plug it into a standard HDMI port on your TV and play. No downloads or patches necessary. This is just an awesomely nostalgic gift for any programmer or coder with a knack for gaming. The games that run on the NES Classic are spot on adaptions of the original versions. You can even play together with multiple gamepads and share the fun.

#3 – An Awesome Coffee Mug

I’m not sure if you had noticed this but coffee mugs are hugely important as status symbols for any hacker or programmer. At any tech startup or software company that I worked at there was a competition for who had the most impressive coffee or tea mug. Many developers drink coffee or tea when they’re coding and by getting them an awesome mug you’ll show them that you understand them deeply. I’m not joking here :)

At Nerdlettering we weren’t happy with the quality of existing accessories like coffee mugs or mousepads. And because we’re a geek couple (programmer + graphic designer) we started our own brand of unique (and custom-made!) desk accessories for software developers and coders.

If you know what programming language or technology your developer friend or significant other works with the most you’ll be able to surprise them with a unique coffee mug that no-one else in their office has.

#4 – Raspberry Pi 3

I said the list wouldn’t get too tech-focused but here we are and it’s got a Raspberry Pi on it… The Pi is a small and affordable computer running Linux and it’s just great for hobbies or tinkering with computers. If you give this to a software developer they’ll find a way to use it, ideally one that might benefit you too (for example, home automation). At the very least it’s going to make them happy as a gift.

#5 – Cable Twist Ties

Small gift, big impact. These guys are an easy way to clean up a nerd cave or office by tying those pesky cords together and getting them out of plain sight. Getting these twist ties works better than just bunching power cords and cables together and they last longer than velcro straps, too. If you’re looking for a simple and not-so-tech-heavy gift this is a nice budget conscious solution. (Hint, hint: You can also use these to gently nudge your geek spouse towards cleaning up the cable mess under their desk.)

#6 – Kenu AirFrame Car Mount for Phones

This is an awesome little gadget. It uses a patented design with a rotary clip to easily mount the phone holder into any air vent. The whole thing is pocket-sized and very robust. I’ve gifted these to numerous people and everyone loved them. The AirFrame holds any phone securely and will make a great gift for any coder or tech geek. I use it all the time when I’m driving to get GPS directions on my phone.

#7 - Nanoblock Space Collection

Nanoblocks are amazing and every geek I know goes crazy for them. They’re like a smaller version of Legos and come in different collections with lots of geek appeal: there’s a “space collection” with lunar landers and rovers, or an “animal collection” with unicorns and dinosaurs. Nanoblocks are a great way for a geek to decorate their desk and they make a fantastic combo with a custom-made coffee mug from :-)

Anything else?

Well that’s my list with unique gift ideas for software developers and I hope it was helpful. Do you think I missed anything? Feel free to reach out if you think there’s anything else I should definitely include on this list.

Also, if you want to be notified if I update this list or post new gift suggestions for programmers, join the email list and we’ll let you know about new gift ideas and how to keep software developers happy.

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