By Vesna Curlic |

I’m not sure if this is a universal feeling, but this year – probably in response to the many exhausting challenges 2020 has held – I am particularly keen to start the festive season! Though it will look very different this year, I’m still looking forward to the cosiness of the holidays, especially coming off the end of a very busy semester of online teaching and researching. To bring a little early festivity to Pubs & Publications, I thought I’d compile some gift inspiration for the PhD students or academics in your life this year.

Price point: £££

  • Noise cancelling headphones: the gift of peace and quiet
    • Before the pandemic, I found these super helpful to tune out the background noise in my communal office. Nowadays, I find it useful to help me concentrate in a household full of people working from home. I know a lot of PhD students are struggling with concentration these days and I find these really help for reading and writing. I’m no tech expert and recommend doing your own research about the specifics, but I received a lovely pair of Sony wireless headphones last year which I would recommend, because they’re comfortable and the battery lasts for ages.
  • E-reader: the gift of a screen time break
    • Obviously, books are a great gift all the PhD students in your life, especially when academic presses have their holiday sales. However, better than the gift of a single book is the gift of infinite books. With most of our reading and working these days taking place on blue-light-emitting screens, I think an e-reader with electronic paper display could be a really lovely gift. Many e-readers are compatible with EPUB and PDF file formats, so they can be a very useful tool for research.

Price point: ££

  • Planner or diary: the gift of an organised week
    • With the new year approaching, many people will be needing new planners. This might make me a bit old-fashioned, but I think there’s a lot of value in writing down your appointments and to-do list with pen and paper. Stationary in general is a great gift for the academics in your life, but I’m partial to a planner because of its functionality.
  • At-home workout gear: the gift of a mental health boost
    • As PhD students, many of us sit at a desk all day in the best of times, which has only been compounded by the pandemic. If you know someone in your life has picked up a new workout routine, this can be a very thoughtful gift! Personally, I think a yoga mat, or some resistance bands are a great choice for anyone with limited workout space at home.

Price point: £

  • Bookmarks or sticky notes: the gift of remembering what page that quotation was on
    • When I’m reading a physical book for my thesis, I’m liable to go through many dozens of sticky notes and paper flags. I always keep a little pad of sticky notes at hand and I think that they make an excellent gift for that exact reason. You can get all sorts of cute shapes and styles, so there will be some suited to all tastes.
  • Coffee or tea: the gift of energy
    • A nice bag of coffee, a fancy tea or lavish hot chocolate will always go over well. In the same vein, you can pair those things with some hot drink accoutrements: a nice mug, a loose-leaf tea strainer or a handheld milk frother to help your loved ones step up their at-home hot drink game.

Vesna Curlic is a PhD candidate in History at the University of Edinburgh, though she is originally from Toronto, Canada. Her current research examines immigration, medicine and ethnicity in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Britain. She can be found on Twitter at @vesnacurlic.