Gifts to Thrive By: Presents Under $50 That Boost Creativity and Inspiration

Give a mind-expanding gift this year.

None of us are ever very far from our next big idea — but sometimes we need a little nudge in the right direction. Each of these selections will put you in the creative spirit, whether it’s in the kitchen, on the page, or in the workplace.


It’s All In Your Head — an impressively sourced yet addictively fun-to-read illustrated paperback that melds neuroscience and psychology with pop culture — is the interactive user's guide to the brain. It doesn’t require a linear read, so giftees can turn to any section and learn something cool, like some of the many brain questions we’ve all wondered: Is your smartphone wrecking your memory? Can you control your dreams? Who's smarter: your baby or your dog? And… Hwo is yuor biarn albe to raed tihs crzay quseotin? $18, Amazon.com

Image courtesy of Wicked Cow Studios


The color blue is shown to enhance your performance on creative tasks, found a study in the journal Science. Other research has suggested that green can boost concentration and orange livens up your mood. Help giftees put color psychology into action with the vibrant prints from Swissted, an ultra-cool series of posters that reimagines classic punk and indie rock gig flyers into sophisticated Swiss Modernist style (we adore this Blur one.) Perfect for music and design fans, these have the added bonus of inspiring your next playlist, too. From $50, swissted.com

Image: Swissted



Research shows that expressing yourself through art can help alleviate depression and anxiety. Channel your inner Picasso by taking a brush to a blank vase. The Paint Your Own Vase kit is so inexpensive that it’s not a huge deal if your first try isn’t a masterpiece. $8, store.moma.org

Image: MoMA



Even putting your own spin on a familiar recipe, like adding jalapeños to the cornbread, is a form of creativity, says a study printed in the Journal of Consumer Culture. Whip up your next great creation (or just fry up an egg on a restful Sunday morning) in this ceramic non-stick Small Fry skillet from new cookware brand Great Jones, launched by two childhood friends who went on to work as a food editor at New York Magazine and a consumer insights manager at Warby Parker. (Check out their gorgeous dutch ovens, too.) $45, greatjonesgoods.com

Image: Great Jones Goods


Fight a creative block with chocolate — no, really! A study out of the University of Nottingham found that eating dark chocolate, like a single-origin bar from cult-favorite brand Dandelion’s Wrapped Three-Bar Set, can give you a short term brain boost by dilating blood vessels, which brings more oxygen and blood to your noggin. $30, dandelionchocolate.com

Image: Mona Creative


There’s tons of research out there that says playing an instrument is good for your brain, but how many of us are actually going to learn the piano in adulthood? Instead, give a ukulele, which is easy to learn and portable — Kala’s durable Waterman variety comes in plenty of cool colors — so your giftees can bring the music wherever they go. $40 - $56, guitarcenter.com

Image: Guitar Center


The mental and physical health benefits of keeping a journal are plentiful — one study even says that putting your emotions on paper can help you better cope with a breakup. Rifle Paper Co.’s memoir notebook is a pretty place to jot down thoughts and feelings. $15, riflepaperco.com

Image: Rifle Paper Co.



Infinity cubes give your mind a mini-break, which experts say can boost your creativity in the long run. Step away from your computer and fiddle with the Original Infinity Cube, which doubles as a design-y desk objet. $49, originalinfinitycube.com

Plants aren’t just eye candy: A study from Texas A&M found that when indoor plants and flowers were present in a workspace, both men and women demonstrated more innovative thinking and problem-solving. Thankfully The Sill delivers their pretty offerings, like this sleek snake plant, in stylish vases right to your door. $40, thesill.com

Image: The Sill


For their next crafting or cooking adventure, your giftees can prop up their cookbook or iPad with the Hightide Book Rest so that their hands are free to stir, hammer, or draw. $12, store.moma.org

Image: MoMA



This deck of 56 Questions and Empathy cards allows giftees to reflect on the role empathy plays in their lives by asking questions they may not normally explore, whether on their own or in conversation with others. $25, questionsandempathy.com

Image: questionsandempathy.com

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Plus: Check out our other Gifts to Thrive By guides:

While all of these items were independently chosen by editors of Thrive Global, Thrive may earn a commission on purchases through these links.

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