The Mindthis Magazine Young Professional Gift Guide

Shaaz Nasir

Your all inclusive last minute gift guide for the Young Professional

December 23 of every year marks the most frantic shopping day in most of the world. Everyone comes together in a frantic panic to buy last minute presents. We know we’re not an easy bunch to buy for, from our strange love affairs with brunch to the seemly “rise” of a new cohort every second day, Hipsters to Yuppies to Yuccies. That’s why Mindthis Magazine has enlisted a selection of our columnists from around the world to give some gift ideas for the young professional in your life.

From breathalyzers to must-read books to some philosophical messages, we got it all sorted out for you.

Merry Christmas from the Mindthis Magazine team!

Who’s idea: Avinash, Policy, and Lifestyle Columnist, based in Mumbai

What: BACtrack Vio


The holidays are upon us. That means a young professional guy or lady is going to a lot of parties during the Christmas break. A SHIT load of parties. And when that said young gentleman or lady is out and about and has had a few cocktails, you require something rather unique, special, and practical to make sure you’re OK to drive and just generally make the right decisions. And that thing happens to be The BACtrack Vio, a fast and simple way to monitor your blood alcohol content at any given moment. The whole idea of “I’m okay to drive” is not a concept that would hold up in court. The difference between a .06 and a .08 makes all the difference in the world. If a device exists which can accurately and consistently remove any and all doubt from the equation, why wouldn’t you use it? Even if you blow a .06, this will give you a clear indication that you may want to wait a few minutes before you put your hand on that steering wheel.

Even if you’re not driving, use the BACtrack Vio to think twice about that  admittedly delightful Merlot at the next office bash. No dynamic office bon vivant wants to be the subject of irritating water-cooler gossip the next morning. It’s compatible with your iOS or Android smartphone and is easy to conceal on your keys. It also has a sanitary flip-up mouthpiece to keep out those nasty germs. You won’t regret forking out the  $49.99 for it.

Full specs below:

  •    Dimensions: 0.95 x 2.85 x 0.65 inches
  •    Weight: 2.0 oz (57g) (Super light!)
  •    Battery: AAA
  •    Warm-up time: 10 seconds
  •    Blowing time: 5 seconds
  •    BAC range: 0.000-0.400%

Who’s idea: Kylie, Lifestyle Columnist, based in New York City

What: Donation to Planned Parenthood


Since I’m the resident feminist here at Mindthis Magazine, I thought I’d suggest a gift for the most badass feminist in your life. Unless you’ve been living under a rock this year, you know that Planned Parenthood has been under attack, both literally and financially, but women and allies across the country have come together to shower the organization with support. If you know a feminist who has everything they need this year, why not join the movement and make a donation in their name? Or you could donate a large sum in a misogynist friend or family member’s name. Just don’t say I told you to do it.

Who’s idea: Alex, Lifestyle Editor, based in London

What: A Christmas tradition



Create your own Christmas tradition. Fifty years ago every family knew what this season meant to them – whether that was the food, the religious celebrations, the caroling … Today, we’ve lost a lot of that – everything is about the shopping and the presents. So make the holiday season special to you and your own (your partner, your friends, your family). Make the season meaningful to you. In my family, we like to borrow from the Jewish tradition and make latkes, go to midnight mass, and must watch It’s a Wonderful Life. Nothing says Christmas for me like watching Jimmy Stewart realize how important he was in his family and friends’ lives. If that’s too sappy for you, feel free to do your own thing – I’ve also watched Jaws many a Christmas, some American television channel never fails to play it, making it also oddly reminiscent, for me, of the holiday season.

Who’s idea: Shruti Shekar, Mindthis Voice Editor, based in Ottawa and Toronto

What: Basket of help


A great gift to give a young professional would be a small hamper of some of my favourite things. Life’s tough and it only gets tougher, here’s what a small cute ideal gift hamper would include: a peacock bottle opener (super convenient because they open beer bottles AND wine), gas-x (trust me, it helps when you’re not feeling your best during the holidays after eating so much or not eating the right thing!), The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho (because it is the most life changing novel on the planet and when you’re a young adult you’re lost AF and really need help figuring your life out), chapstick (trust me no one wants to make out with crackly lips) and lastly a gift card to your local grocery store (I swear there isn’t a day that goes by, now that I’m an adult, that all I wish is for 3 wheel walkers to take home my food or for my parents to buy my groceries for me again!)

Who’s idea: Nicole, Policy Columnist, based in Namibia

What: a time out


I’ve noticed a trend amongst ambitious, young professionals, which includes rushing through their education, squeezing in tons of internships, and hustling from conference to conference. I have done all of that myself, but I also included time for reflection. So, what I want to give to a young professional is the courage to take a step aside from their direct career path and use that time to have fun, to travel without purpose, and to stop optimizing their CV for a while. In the long run, doing that for a few months will hardly make a difference for recruiters, but it will definitely benefit a young professional greatly. Taking some time for reflection and to get clear on what they really want in life will serve them more than ticking off yet another box.

Who’s idea: Chloe, Fashion Columnist based in London

What: 300 Writing Prompts


An entertaining path to reflection and mindfulness can be found in the book “300 writing prompts”. Over the past year, I have found immense pleasure using writing and reflection as a way to stay anchored and cope with a busy schedule and a lot of profound changes – but the hardest part of writing is often getting started. Being back in my childhood home for the holidays is always a fun opportunity to revisit old childhood writing, and when I saw this in the bookstore, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to write something I can revisit next Christmas season. Some are hilarious, some are trivial, but most lead you to some form of genuine reflection and soul searching. The New Year is the perfect time to reflect on your values, your ambitions, and everything you have to be thankful for – and I guarantee the busy young professional who receives this gift will enjoy taking the time to do so!

Who’s idea: Adam Moscoe, Policy and Lifestyle Columnist, based in Ottawa

What: Tickets to the Opera


Young professionals may have enough turtlenecks, but they can never have enough transporting and transformative experiences enjoying the performing arts…live. Music, theatre, dance, and mélanges thereof offer us a rare opportunity to ‘check in’ to new worlds and atmospheres. They are also collective experiences, shared with other audience members. And contrary to some opinions, one does not need to do thorough advance background research to enjoy a performance — but doing so can only add to the enrichment! And no, you don’t need to speak Russian to fall in love with a brilliant opera by Tchaikovsky. Be part of something exceptional. Thankfully, there remain many excellent programs allowing young people to access the performing arts — like the Canadian Opera Company’s superb “Opera Under 30” program, so now is the time to take advantage and allow yourself to be entertained, surprised, and perhaps moved by live performances.

Who’s idea: Flora, Lifestyle Columnist, Based in Hanoi

What: Three books to encourage purpose and fulfillment



The following trilogy of books will provide a complete roadmap to any young professional who is not feeling fulfilled by his or her job, but who is unsure how to go about following a more creative or purposeful career. Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly challenges everything we know about vulnerability. Based on the premise that vulnerability is an essential part of experiencing uncertainty, risks, and emotional exposure, Brown teaches how to embrace vulnerability in order to live more courageous lives. Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic is a reference on the elusive and sometimes confusing concepts of creativity and inspiration. Gilbert debunks the myths of creativity and discusses the attitudes and habits we must foster in order to express our individual voice and nurture our creativity in the long run. Cheryl Strayed’s Brave Enough provides a “mini instruction manual for the soul” in the form of a collection of thoughtful – and sometimes witty – quotes. Strayed will help anyone find the willpower and the endurance to realize their dreams.

Who’s idea: Kenia, Lifestyle Columnist, based in Barcelona

What: permission to unplug from technology


“Most of us, young professionals,  work and live plugged into the computer (or a smartphone, for that matter).  That is why I think a perfect gift for a young professional would be a couple of days in nature, could be a camping or a retreat, where Wi-Fi does NOT exist in at least 10km radius. Where there is no option but to sit comfortably and enjoy the view, forgetting the existence of Instagram. Where small daily anxieties and worries disappear because you cannot fix them, so what the hell, I will just go to the lake and swim for a bit. Where you can finally read that book that has been eyeing you from your bedside table for too long. Where you can relax because there is nothing else to do.”

Who’s idea: Anonymous

What: Spiritual literature


For the aggressive, self-starting, young professional in your life, consider buying a gift card to a publisher specializing in spiritual literature.  

Which tradition you may ask?

Well, at this point it doesn’t really matter.  As long as it doesn’t (1) reinforce the present notion that being your corrupted self is ‘okay’ and (2) that it doesn’t contain the bullsh*t conclusions contained in supposed spiritual literature encouraging us to love, pray and eat more.  

Just start the internal thought processes for now.

By making this purchase, you can potentially help your special someone avoid the inevitable emptiness that comes with a life of seeking wealth, lusting for power and having to maintain the appearance of a luxurious “Instagram” lifestyle.  You can also remind them that the real journey is on the inside, wanderlust: both in travels and sexuality can never be satisfied, and that happiness is a product of much effort and struggle in the mind.

This advice is, of course, without some personal motives.  You may awaken a desire for a deeper reality in the recipient meaning this may be the last Christmas present you may ever have to buy them.  Surely, that freedom alone is worth it.

Who’s idea: Chelsea, Policy Columnist, based in Ottawa

What: Meditation


Any young professional of 2015/2016 deserves the gift of meditation. The gift of a calm mind in this crazy world we call home. With this tool in your back pocket, you can overcome any stressful scenario,  from school, to work to romance. It’s also helpful to centering you in your every and allowing you to enjoy the moment without consideration of a past you cannot change and anticipation of a future you cannot control. Breathe in the moment and live your life. A helpful daily tool is the Headspace app on your phone. Try it out,  you won’t regret it. Happy holidays!

Who’s idea: Nida, Technology Editor, based in New York City

What: A subscription to Evernote Premium


Any young professional today has to handle work, side projects, ongoing professional development, and hectic personal lives where they should be thinking about health, wellness, relationships, fitness, and more. One of the best things you can do for them is purchase Evernote Premium. With a cult following constantly publishing tips for optimizing your life, Evernote is the perfect storage solution for the one thing we’re flooded with: information. Evernote also has a line of office products, a specialized Moleskine notebook, and other swag for the soon-to-be diehard devotee. Evernote Premium is a distinct upgrade from the free version; with a work chat similar to Slack and a great browser extension, you’ll never lose track of any information again.

Who’s idea: Tiago, Foreign Affairs Columnist, based in Karachi

What: After Tamerlane: The Rise and Fall of Global Empires, 1400-2000

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Young professionals are always under pressure to be on top of the game and to look ahead before the others. Well there is no better way to predict the next step than to know the previous ones… So naturally the perfect gift is a good History book. My suggestion is “After Tamerlane: The Rise and Fall of Global Empires, 1400-2000” from the British historian John Darwin. This extraordinary account, the won the Wolfson History Prize, will help young professionals to have a clearer understanding of current events by tracking them to the early origins. After all you can only be ahead of the game, if you know where the game came from. Tip: reading of this book goes quite well with instrumental music and one glass of Portuguese red wine (maximum two, to keep you sharp), you could use Shruti’s two bottle openers!

Who’s idea: Katherine, Policy Columnist based in Toronto 

What: Gift Cards / Watch


The best Christmas gift is pure unadulterated cash, but such a gift is still considered socially unacceptable in most circles so if you’re looking more traditional for that special person/secret Santa partner I recommend looking towards gift cards. Gift cards are the perfect balance between thought and practicality, especially if it’s inside a well-thought card. Does this mean everyone is going to Starbucks on boxing day? Maybe, but gift cards can be much more unique than that. Almost every store you could have bought something from can load the equivalent amount without risking that they

1) have it, or 2) hate it.
A personal recommendation that is often overlooked, but should be a staple of everyone, is the watch – particularly for females. Male fashion has brought back the status of high end watches, watches that can go with ‘everything’, but coordinating watches to outfit is more difficult for us females. A single watch will leave most female wrists bare and reduce the useful device to an accent of a particular style instead of being the staple for time-management that it is.

I’ve lost count of how many brands I’ve tried, but over the past decade I’ve found one solid foundation for my wrist decorating and time-telling needs: Swatch. They’ve become like an apple product to me and the quality, variety, and relatively inexpensive watch designs allows for a collection to be developed and maintained easily, unlike an apple product. Their strength is with female watches, but they also have a kids line that I sometimes wish I could wear and a strong male line.

The best part is that they also have gift cards. So be a little unique this Christmas and surprise your person with an unexpected gift card from a watch manufacturer that has something for everyone.

Who’s idea: Conrad, Policy Columnist, based in Toronto 

What: Europe’s Orphan: The Future of the Euro and the Politics of Debt

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In a time when Europe has become the ‘sick-man’ of the world, much blame has been heaped at the feet of the monetary union. The North American economic consensus is that not only was the Euro a bad idea, it is now a failed one. In this climate, the contrarian position posited by this book is a stirring defence of the single currency. Sandbu begins with the history of the Euro and a refresher on its ultimate meaning before embarking on a three-pronged defence of the Euro’s continued existence. Martin Sandbu offers a much needed breath of life into the pro-euro side of the debate and presents a valuable analysis for euro-philes and sceptics alike. All young professionals should be able to derive valuable insights into the euro-crisis and its potential resolutions, or at least gain a few contrarian points for the Great Euro Debate.

Who’s idea: Umesh, Policy Columnist, based in Nantes 

What: The Life of Abraham Lincoln by Henry Ketcham


If I would have to give a gift to young professional I would rather give him a eBook of The Life of Abraham Lincoln by Henry Ketcham. As we say old is gold, I do believe that the best gift is the one which makes us reflect on how by reading about the lives of inspirational leaders we can inspire our present and guide our future actions. This book is a classic and exemplary rendition of Lincoln’s life which navigated to numerous odds and tested his character of truth and honesty, moreover it convinces us about the fact that virtues like honesty and patience along with a diplomatic knack is a must for a young professional to accomplish higher things in our professional and personal life. Finally, the book is quite reasonable to buy and is easily available in electronic version so that its handy to be read at any time.

Who’s idea: Ashleigh, Lifestyle Columnist, based in Nassau

What: Self Awareness


If I could give a young professional any gift, like a fairy godmother I would grant the gift of self awareness. I’ve been able to travel frequently and attend high level meetings and for every meeting I’ve been to I’ve encountered at least one young professional with an ego as high as Kilimanjaro and attitudes colder than Denali. Many young professionals care so much about creating a network that they forget they need to build actual relationships. In order to do that you need to be self aware. Talk less about you and ask more questions about the person you’re trying to engage with. Merry Christmas