Welcome to TechCrunch’s 2021 Holiday Gift Guide! Need help with gift ideas? We’ve got lots of them. Looking for our other guides? Find them here!
2021 was largely defined by the great resignation, in which tens of millions of people left their jobs in pursuit of other opportunities. A sliver of those folks made their next career move into a personal one: betting on themselves by going solo. As a result, we have seen the rise of solopreneurs, either as a business owner, investor, or even a journalist choosing to start their own publication, traditional newsroom be damned!
Betting on yourself is an ambitious yet lonely process, so I surveyed a handful of solopreneurs to see what their gift wish lists look like this holiday season. We set no restrictions, so we weren't sure what to expect — but what we got was a fun, thoughtful, and eclectic list of ideas; some focusing on productivity, others on comfort, and others on self-care. If there's a running thread between them, it's this: if you're setting out to do things yourself, take care of yourself.
Casey Newton, founder of Platformer
Dell UltraSharp 34 Curved USB-C Hub Monitor
Image Credits: Dell
As the appeal of remote work goes from a question mark to a definitive statement, everyone is re-thinking their monitor game. Newton, who publishes a daily guide for understanding the social networks built by behemoths and challenged by startups, is eyeing a curved monitor. Why constantly switch from window to window when you can have one mega panoramic view of everything?
Price: $935 from Dell
Grovemade desk shelf
Image Credits: Grovemade
Continuing with the office setup theme, Newton said he is loving Grovemade's entire product line, especially its desk shelf system. I'm not entirely surprised, given that my ability to meet deadlines is directly correlated with how inspiring my desk space is. And, who couldn't use a refresh to improve their ergonomics?
Price: Starts at $240 from Grovemade
Alexis Gay, comedian and host of Non-technical podcast
Nalgene 32oz Narrow Mouth Tritan Water Bottle
Image Credits: Nalgene
Other than her impressive commitment to hydration, Gay said that this water bottle is her favorite because it's light, plastic and comes in a ton of colors. "Plus, if you’re a FREAK like me who uses an app to keep track of how many liters of water you drink per day, 1 bottle = 1 liter. You’re WELCOME!," she said.
Price: $12 from Nalgene
Purely Elizabeth Grain-Free Granola
Finally, our first snack wishlist item! Gay picked the Purely Elizabeth Grain-free Granola, which, she notes, is on the healthier end of sugar-packed options on the market right now. She says she looks forward to it everyday, which seems far more put together than my daily ice cream sandwich.
Price: $7 from Purely Elizabeth
Alo Yoga Warrior Mat
Image Credits: Alo
For balance - haha - we are ending her section with a yoga mat from Alo. The company claims that it's 100% formaldehyde-free, non-toxic and PVC-free, as well as dry-wicking and slip free. "This yoga mat is perfect (unless you have to take it places, and then it’s 'perfect but quite heavy')," she said. "It’s beautiful, most importantly, it’s thick enough for some at-home tabletop, and squishy enough for a lengthy savasana."
Price: $100 from Alo
Lolita Taub, GP of stealthy venture capital firm
Image Credits: Dame
If you listen to podcasts, you probably know of Dame, a sexual wellbeing company (with great marketing). The company sells vibrators for couples and individuals, as well as aloe-based lube and toy cleaners. Taub pointed out the Pom, one of the more popular vibrators and includes a three-year warranty. Full disclosure: the entrepreneur is an investor in the company.
Price: $95 from Dame
The KOHLER Stillness bathub
Image Credits: KOHLER
A key to avoiding burnout, as my friends like to remind me, is to indulge in relaxation so you can show up for yourself and your team with fresh energy. That's the vibe of this stillness bathtub, which sounds as zen as I imagine it feels. The bathtub combines water, steam, lighting, and aroma to promote "the luxury of pause." Sign me up, especially after a year like 2021.
Price: Not yet available for sale, but consumers can sign up to be notified when open for purchase.
Mac Conwell, founder of Rarebreed Ventures
Image Credits: Aviron
"What is better than a rower that works almost as a game system?" said Conwell. Well, I don't have a witty retort to that, but am definitely interested in rowing away from Zombies, and, as the VC says, mixing competition with low-impact workouts.
Image Credits: GoodMylk
Foamy lattes and plant-based milk may not seem like they go together too well, but GoodMylk is aiming to change that. Conwell is an investor in what he claims is the "healthiest alternative milk on the market." Shipped concentrated, GoodMylk helps people who like the taste of homemade hemp, almond and oat milk recreate the product without the hassle of a cheese cloth. Put differently, the founder Brooke Rewa discovered a proprietary flash-blast freezing technique that helps you make alternative milk, fast.
Ankur Nagpal, founder of Vibe Capital
Image Credits: Brian Heater
Other than the Apple Watch, Oura rings may be the most popular wearable among techies. Users receive three daily scores, one to measure how well they slept last night, one that tracks fitness activity, and finally one that tells you your readiness to take on the day. All three matter when it comes to balancing the demands of work, live and the growing overlap between the two, so if you're into numbers and tracking the Oura ring could be for you. It also offers at-home sizing so don't worry about losing it when you're washing the dishes. Or do, because I still would find a way.
Proof cocktail syrup
Image Credits: Proof
Proof sells old-fashioned, small-batch cocktail syrup in flavors such as pecan, citrus sour and maple bacon. While I'm not entirely sure about the last one, the syrups sound like a festive way to liven up your own bar cart or at least subtweet at your friends lack-thereof.
Price: $33 from Proof
Shila Nieves Burney, founder of Zane Venture Fund
A trip to an island for 6 months to work
Aerial view of Cousine island showing beach and villas. Cousine island. Seychelles.(Property released)
"There is something about being near water that is extremely soothing and motivating for me," Burney said. "I am originally from Florida and live in Atlanta where there are no beaches so I yearn to be near water as often as possible for self-care, and for rejuvenation." As people go to work from home to work from anywhere, I totally resonate with this type of wishlist item; it's harder to get Prime Delivery on it, but it seems like island time would fulfill us all in ways that a frother will not. The investor also added that she wants a spa subscription, which... might be a bit easier to gift.
Price: Please check with your local travel agent, as this could range depending on how much you plan to indulge.
Regular girlfriend meetups
Let's trade some meetings for meetups that have nothing to do with our day jobs as we enter 2022. "As a solo GP, I still yearn for the company of girlfriends to just BE, no agenda," Burney said. She makes a good point, considering that those are the easiest plans to not prioritize sometimes simply because you know your OGs will always be there for you. Well, here's a healthy reminder that your friends may be loyal, but they also need attention.