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A 2023 Holiday Gift Guide for the Scientist in Your Life

From lab glassware chess sets to periodic table coasters, there are plenty of great gift options for the scientist in your life

by Lab Manager
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Continuing with our annual tradition of sharing STEM-themed gifts, this year the Lab Manager team put together a list of gifts ranging from glassware-themed chess sets to a bestselling book about absurd science hypotheticals. Note: Every price in this guide is in USD.

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Electromagnetic Spectrum Drinking Glass

Selected by Swathi Kodaikal, MSc, science editor and writer

Electromagnetic chart drinking glass
Credit: Cognitive Surplus

From gamma to radio, this minimalist drinking glass shows the entire electromagnetic spectrum, complete with interesting data about each type of wave and an illustration of all seven waveforms. These cups come in black and transparent varieties, as well as single cups or a pack of four. Available on Cognitive Surplus; a single cup is $18.95 and a pack of four is $75.80.

Lab Glassware Chess Set

Selected by Matt McKeown, sales representative

Lab glassware chess set
Credit: HazelBasilBoutique on Etsy

If chess wasn’t already scholarly enough, now you can amp it up with this unique chess set that has swapped rooks and knights for beakers and flasks. What better way to communicate to your opponent that they’re throwing down with an intellectual tour-de-force than showing them that you have serious science chops on top of your chess skills? Available on Etsy for $52.31.

The Beaker Candle

Selected by Swathi Kodaikal, MSc, science editor and writer

Beaker candle
Credit: Cognitive Surplus

Poured by hand with a natural blend of beeswax, soy, and coconut, complete with a wooden whisper wick, this candle set inside a 250ml beaker smells great, looks classy, and is a unique reference to your vocation. As the product description says, “There’s nothing quite like basking in the soft glow of candlelight emanating from your favorite kind of laboratory glassware.” Available at Cognitive Surplus; the 250mL candle is $29.95 and the 400mL candle is $35.95.

Schrodinger’s Cat in a Box Enamel Pin

Selected by Holden Galusha, associate editor

Schrodinger's cat enamel pin
Credit: DayDreamingMouse on Etsy

Treat yourself and your labmates this holiday season with a Schrodinger’s Cat in a Box enamel pin—a stylish, quirky pin that will look great on your lab coat’s lapel. You won’t know whether you got a living Schrodinger’s cat pin or a dead Schrodinger’s cat pin until you open the box. Available on Etsy for $12.56.

What If? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions

Selected by Sarah Kirsh, MSc, creative services writer

Cover of "What If?" book
Credit: Randall Munroe on Amazon

From the creator of megahit webcomic xkcd comes What If? This book offers 320 pages of absurd hypotheticals answered with scientific rigor and historical research. Designed for the endlessly curious reader, What If? would be a hit with any scientist. Available on Amazon as a Kindle e-book, hardcover, paperback, or audiobook.

Silver & Gold Periodic Table Metal Coaster Set

Selected by Holden Galusha, associate editor

Silver and gold coasters
Credit: The Calculated Chemist

Ideal for the chemist in your life, this set of silver or gold coasters depicting the element symbols for silver and gold—Ag and Au—as well as their atomic numbers, element names, and atomic weights will look great in a researcher’s office. Made of metal, these coasters are durable and come with soft padding on the underside so they won’t scratch any desks or coffee tables. Available at The Calculated Chemist for $16.99.

Chemistry Lab Canvas Shoulder Tote

Selected by MaryBeth DiDonna, managing editor

Tote bag with chemistry imagery on it
Credit: Cognitive Surplus

This canvas tote bag, emblazoned with beakers, rotary evaporators, and other chemistry-related imagery, is perfect for carrying your sandals, towels, and Rosalind Franklin biography for a day at the beach. It measures 18” wide and 14.5” tall with a 5” gusset. Additionally, the bag is made from 100 percent recycled canvas. Available at Cognitive Surplus for $24.95.

Funny Chemistry Socks

Selected by Kayla Van Volkenburg, sales and operations administrator

Socks with a science pun
Credit: MBMSO on Amazon

Step into the world of science with these novelty chemistry socks. Featuring the phrase “Never Trust An Atom, They Make Up Everything,” these socks are a great gift for science lovers, chemistry enthusiasts, or anyone who appreciates a good science pun. Each package includes two pairs of socks. What’s more: the words and graphics are stitched into the socks rather than printed on, so you’ll never need to worry about letters peeling off. Available on Amazon for $19.99.

T4 Bacteriophage Virus Planter

Selected by Sarah Kirsh, MSc, creative services writer

Bacteriophage-shaped planter
Credit: DapperBuilds on Etsy

This phage-shaped, 3D-printed planter is a great way to add a spark of personality to a lab or office. These planters come in three sizes:

  • Tiny: 2.2” tall and 1.5” diameter. Suited for air plants
  • Small: 6.2” tall and 4.25” diameter
  • Medium: 8.2” tall and 5.5” diameter

You can also select from the default colors of white, black, terracotta, or olive, with custom colors available as well. These planters are made from plant-based plastic, which is environmentally friendly and durable. Available on Etsy for $15.68.

2024 Lab Manager Leadership Summit

Lab Manger Leadership Summit banner
Credit: Lab Manager

With its hands-on workshops, expert speakers, and networking opportunities, the 2024 Lab Manager Leadership Summit would make a suitable investment for any scientist seeking to bolster their leadership and management skills. The #1 event dedicated to lab professionals, the 2024 Leadership Summit will be taking place from April 29 to May 1, 2024 in Denver, CO. Learn more at