Looking for holiday gift ideas? Let’s face it, there are only so many cleverly concealed flash drives and digital photo frames you can give out before your gift recipients start complaining about your lack of imagination. Here are some suggestions with MIT connections. If you want to do a good deed while you shop and you’ll be on Amazon.com, consider linking to the retailer via the OpenCourseWare Web site. Your purchases will cost the same, but OCW will receive up to 10 percent of the price of what you buy during that visit.


Khet laser game

Khet laser game

Khet laser game—developed by Michael Larson PhD ’92, this Egyptian-themed board game combines classic strategy with the physics of lasers and optics. Players position mirrored pieces to bounce laser beams onto an opponent’s pharaoh.

Rock Band Unplugged or The Beatles: Rock Band—created by Harmonix Music Systems, which was founded by Alex Rigopulos ’92, SM ’94 and Eran Egozy ’95, MNG ’95.

No Limit Hold ’em: Theory and Practice—Learn from poker expert Ed Miller ’00 in this definitive text on the game covering topics such as manipulating the pot size, adjusting correctly to stack sizes, winning the battle of mistakes, reading hands, and manipulating opponents into playing badly. Check out his other books too.

Fashion and design

Nervous System jewelry. Left: large algal bloom pendant. Right: two-layer center ring inspired by the complex forms of radiolarians. Rosenkrantz and Rosenberg created interactive software to morph, twist, and subdivide each design, transforming a simple mesh to a complex patterned structure.

Nervous System jewelry. Right: large algal bloom pendant. Left: two-layer center ring inspired by the complex forms of radiolarians. Rosenkrantz and Rosenberg created interactive software to morph, twist, and subdivide each design, transforming a simple mesh into a complex patterned structure.

JuliannaRae.com lingerie, pajamas, and leisurewearJuli Lee ’89, MBA ’95 is founder, designer, and chief merchandising officer of this line, which targets women 35 to 55.

Nervous System jewelry—Inspired by complex patterns generated by computation and nature, Jessica Rosenkrantz ’05 and Jesse Louis-Rosenberg, who studied math at MIT, design necklaces, bracelets, earrings, rings, and brooches that combine nontraditional materials like silicone rubber and stainless steel with rapid prototyping methods.

Essential or Pom Pom wall dimmers—Whimsical and funky fabric alternatives to traditional plastic dimmer switches designed by Maggie Orth SM ’93, PhD ’01.

Household items

Looj gutter cleaner or Verro pool cleaner—You’ve heard of the Roomba. These are other handy cleaning devices from the robotics firm iRobot, which was cofounded by Colin Angle ’89, SM ’91; Helen Greiner ’89, SM ’90; and their MIT professor, Rodney Brooks.

Clocky—The elusive alarm clock on wheels that forces you to chase it down to silence it. Designed by Gauri Nanda SM ’05.

The homemade touch

Prefer to make a gift? Check out these sites.

Tikatok children’s books—Write, illustrate, and publish original stories with your child into professional-quality hardcover and paperback books via this online platform. Orit Zuckerman SM ’06 cofounded the company, and Neal Grigsby SM ’07 is director of online community.

DIY electronicsAdafruit Industries, founded by Limor Fried ’03, MNG ’05, sells kits and parts for original, open-source hardware electronics projects. Check out Drawdio (shown below) a pencil that draws music and was created by Jay Silver SM ’08; the Ice Tube clock, a Russian vacuum fluorescent tube clock; and Tweet-a-Watt, a wireless home-power monitoring system. See all projects.

Instructables.com how-to community—Find instructions for all kinds of projects, such as turning a dead stuffed beaver into a computer and pimping a USB drive. The site spun out of engineering design firm Squid Labs, which was cofounded by Eric Wilhelm ’99, SM ’01, PhD ’04 and Saul Griffith SM ’00, PhD ’04. Wilhelm is CEO of Instructables and his wife, Christy Canida ’99, works there as a community manager. Check out Wilhelm’s traditional Polynesian ice canoe for when you really want to kitesurf but the lake is frozen over.

Howtoons—A kids’ project-building book in comic strip format. Howtoons shows children how to use common household items like soda bottles, duct tape, mop buckets, and more to build imaginative things. Activities range from simple (a flute made from a turkey baster) to more complex (a marshmallow shooter). Howtoons was cocreated by Saul Griffith SM ’00, PhD ’04 and Joost Bonsen ’90, SM ’06.


Psych—Written and coexecutive produced by Saladin K. Patterson ’94.

Time Warp—Hosted by Jeff Lieberman ’00, SM ’04, SM ’06.

Num3ers—Dylan Bruno ’94 plays FBI agent Colby Granger.

Science fiction and fantasy books

Mars Crossing—By Geoffrey Landis ’77. View other titles by Landis.

Elfquest—A fantasy adventure series told in various media (comics, graphic novels, short stories, children’s books, and more) written, edited, and published by Richard Pini ’72. Learn more about him.