Gifts to Give a PhD Student

Are you trying to get a gift for the PhD student in your life this holiday season? Below are some ideas from Ayumi and Phuong, as well as some of their friends in PhD programs! Some are humorous, some are serious, but we would love getting any gift on this list.

Stock photo of some guy thinking hard

The Gift of Not Asking Us When We'll Graduate

Please. Just stop asking. We don't know and we don't want to think about it.


Giftcard for a Professional Massage

This one comes from Karen S. at UC Berkeley. Those long days spent bent over the bench pipetting or staring at a computer doing data analysis can create some achy muscles! Be sure it is one local to the grad student with good reviews. You don't want to get a gift certificate to Spa Envy if there is not one nearby.


Spa Day

If you know someone who likes the occasional manicure/pedicure/facial but rarely has time for it, a gift card to a spa/salon could be the perfect excuse they need to treat themselves. Again, make sure it is a reputable place that is local to your grad student.


Praise From The PI

Need we say more?


Coffee or Tea

This one was suggested by Brittany W. From University of Washington. Give them your favorite bag of coffee beans or loose leaf tea. If you don't know what kind they like, just ask!

Image From Sur La Table

Coffee or Tea Making Accoutrements

Does the grad student have a coffee machine to begin with? What about a coffee bean grinder? Ayumi was given this grinder for Christmas one year and she has used it at least once a week, every week, ever since. Consider an electric water heater for their office so they can make tea (or cup ramen) as they please. Perhaps they don't have a chasen for the matcha they love or they are in desperate need of a tea infuser that is shaped like a cat.


An Undergrad

This comes from Bonni L. from University of Washington. Undergrads are so helpful. They are EXCITED to do all of the stuff we've become bored with. They remind us that we do, in fact, know some things, and can pass that knowledge onto others.


Cute Stationary/Desk Accessories

Another great suggestion from Brittany W. at University of Washington. We have to spend so much time at our desk as is, why not make it a place that sparks joy with nice stationary and accessories? A hardy plant or strings of tiny fairy lights would brighten any desk. We are particularly fond of good pens, like those from Uniball. Your PhD student very well might have a favorite pen!


Giftcard to a Nearby Grocery Store

When in doubt, get them something you know they will definitely need! We all need groceries and it's not like we are swimming in cash with our grad student stipends.


Initial Subscription to a Food Delivery Service

Just like the previous idea, but taken a step further. getting groceries delivered, even for a week or two, would save us a lot of time and mental energy we may not have, especially after a busy semester/quarter. Ayumi has tried HelloFresh and enjoyed it, but there are tons of meal delivery services available.


Passing classes

This request is for you, professors. Grad school is hard.


Cozy office slippers

Working on your feet all day in lab can be tiring, so cozy office slippers are a great way for PhD students to pamper themselves in-between experiments! They can do wonders to add the 'coziness' factor to the workplace.

New multicolored sharpies

Sharpies are an everyday item that PhD students rely on to label their various test tubes and gazillion samples. It is a must if you want to claim ownership of your samples, keep them dated, and prevent them from being unceremoniously discarded by a fellow lab member. Phuong is always losing her sharpies, and her lab's sharpies are always dull or out of ink, so these would be great gifts that PhD students will use on the daily!


Funny science-themed lab attire

We all love a good science pun and wearing science puns. It can really brighten someone's day to have a good laugh at a well-designed shirt.


This brutally honest shirt is from marynguyenco on Etsy!

Insulated water bottle and/or thermos

PhD students need to hydrate themselves with water as much as they need their caffeine! This is especially true for experimental researchers who are on their feet all day in lab. Phuong admits that it can be hard for her to remember to drink water at work, and having a cute waterbottle/thermos helps motivate her to hydrate!


Experiments that ACTUALLY work

Okay, we know that this isn't something that someone can 'gift' us, but still, it can't hurt to put it out there into the universe! May the universe and Mother Nature grace us this upcoming new year with successful experiments!