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The FiveThirtyEight 2014 Holiday Gift Guide

It’s Black Friday, and maybe you’ve already toughed out your annual shopping brawl or spent a restful and drama-free morning at home, perhaps purchasing gifts online from your cozy couch. But if you’re still pondering exactly what to get the data lover in your life, you’ve come to the right place.

Here’s a list of some of the best data-related gifts available this holiday season, organized by “Nerd Factor” (on a scale of 1 to 10). There are items at almost every Nerd Factor level and price, so you’re sure to find something for that special numbers geek.

Craft Coffee

CraftCoffee_650x474_MainNerd Factor: 1

What coffee lover wouldn’t love getting shipments of coffee chosen according to her taste? This service will use your giftees’ feedback to algorithmically determine the best coffee to send them every month (subscriptions range from one to 12 months).

Price: $29.99-$299.88

Where to get it:


OaQvwYHduYhpC-vp2BnRm_qJsaPUiz2vIvT86UKgy4cNerd Factor: 2

These devices aren’t necessarily the most accurate way to track fitness, but they did get the FiveThirtyEight stamp of approval nonetheless: “Though they produce imperfect data, some information is better than none at all,” my colleague Carl Bialik wrote in March. Fitbit offers a range of wristband devices, as well as a scale that tracks weight, body-fat percentage and body mass index. Any of its products would make a great gift for those looking to get fit (or those who are curious about their stats).

Price: $59.95-$129.95

Where to get it:


WhistleNerd Factor: 2

Whistle provides “a window into your dog’s day.” Pet owners attach the device to their furry friend’s collar, and it tracks the amount of time he spends playing, exercising and resting. Whistle sends updates via a smartphone app, which can be linked to social media accounts. Owners can add photos and notes, too.

Price: $99

Where to get it:


facet_diptychNerd Factor: 3

Meshus are custom-made jewelry pieces based on mapping geo-data. You can create a facet design based on travel locations (at right), or a radial design based on a home address. Options include necklaces, earrings, cufflinks, rings and coasters, and can be made with different materials, such as bamboo, acrylic or sterling silver.

Price: $30-$165

Where to get it:


HueNerd Factor: 3

Who doesn’t need more data in their lives? With Philips’ Hue, a personal wireless lighting system, gift recipients can program their home lighting to change, for example, when the stock market drops or when they’re mentioned in a tweet. For those who prefer to keep alerts limited to their smartphone’s push notifications, Hue allows users to schedule lighting adjustments and modify them to match any color palette or brightness.

Price: $181.98

Where to get it:

DNA 11 Portraits

DNA2Nerd Factor: 4

DNA 11 is committed to creating “art as unique as you are.” Purchasers have the option of three types of portraits: images made from DNA (at right), a fingerprint or lips. The portrait can be based off of your DNA (to give someone else), or you can order a kit for the recipient to create his or her own art. Gift cards are available, too.

Price: $175-$1,529

Where to get it:

Dataclysm: Who We Are (When We Think No One’s Looking)

Dataclysm - final coverNerd factor: 4

This book, written by OKCupid’s president and co-founder, Christian Rudder, takes a look at what data reveals about us and how we think about race, sex, relationships and other topics. It’s filled with interesting tidbits and beautiful charts.

Price: $16.80

Where to get it:

Anything From Nausicaa Distribution

Whole Lot of Mini PlushiesNerd Factor: 5

Whether you’re shopping for kids or a math aficionado with a sense of humor, this Etsy shop is worth checking out for statistics-centric stocking stuffers: There are “T-distribution” plushies (at right), box-plot snowflake ornaments and prime-number quilts; our favorite is the normal distribution coffee cozy (you can pair it with some Craft Coffee).

Price: $3.50-$220

Where to get them: Nausicaa Distribution

Ambient Devices

footballdeviceNerd Factor: 6

What kind of data does your gift recipient care about? Weather forecasting? Baseball stats? Market fluctuations? And is this person hesitant to download a bunch of apps? Ambient Devices has created a line of standalone products with constant updates about any kind of data you can imagine. At right, the Football ScoreCast.

Price: $59.99 – $179

Where to get them: Ambient Devices

Visual Storytelling With D3

KingNerd Factor: 6

Any FiveThirtyEight gift guide would be incomplete without including the work of our very own visual journalist Ritchie King. “Visual Storytelling with D3: An Introduction to Data Visualization in JavaScript” walks aspiring data-viz programmers through the JavaScript library D3 (that is, data-driven documents). D3 enables its users to create almost any kind of data-based visual, so it’s ideal to have on hand when making those first-ever graphics or interactives.

Price: $30.60

Where to get it:

Online subscriptions

Nerd Factor: 7

For some folks, information is the best gift there is — so get them an online subscription to a website of their choosing. WolframAlpha has the answers to more or less all the world’s answerable questions, while,’s Play Index and ProFootballFocus Premium provide insightful data and analysis for the sports geeks of the world.

Price: $19.95-$65.88

Where to get them: The links above

Raspberry Pi

raspberryNerd Factor: 8

Raspberry Pi creates an array of small computers for young, aspiring programmers. Types of projects associated with the Raspberry Pi include arcade machines and time-lapse cameras. For creative minds thinking about exploring the world of programming, this gift will send them down the rabbit hole.

Price: $29-$215

Where to get it: Allied Electronics

Klein Bottle

1-IMG_9374Nerd factor: 10

If you need to ask what a Klein bottle is, perhaps you should steer clear. But, for the persistent, it’s an example of the mathematical concept of a non-orientable surface. And now you, too, can own one of your very own! Or at least gift it to someone who will appreciate it for the anomaly that it is.

Price: $35-$18,000

Where to buy it:

Hayley Munguia is a former social media editor and a data reporter for FiveThirtyEight.