Stocking Stuffers for the Data Team

Santa is making a list and checking it twice – and if anyone knows the value of double-checking the results while analyzing a large data set – it’s our company’s data team. 

So we asked them to share their expertise and let us know what they hoped to see under their trees this year.

Great Pens

We try to keep meetings to a minimum at Automattic. But when we do have meetings, great stationery for note-taking makes all the difference. The Zebra Mildliners are great double-ended highlighters that come in tons of colors.

“I like to take written notes for meetings. I love the Zebra Mildliner highlighters and I have them in every color.” – Shannon

Weekly Planner

We all have lots of things to keep track of. A paper planner can come in handy.

“Working in data usually means everything is digital – and that’s often great and really effective. But on a Monday morning, I really need a grounding moment where I can see what my week is expected to look like. Tangibly. Physically.”

“I found this weekly planner in Budapest, Hungary last year, and I love it: I live in a forest-adjacent Berlin suburb, so it really fits the mood.” – Anna

Another option is the Erin Condren LifePlanner. This is a customizable book with a variety of covers and bindings that includes spaces for pretty much everything you want to track.

Screenshot from the Erin Condren website.

“This one seems awesome. Wow!” – J.

Fun Coffee Mug

Coffee keeps us motivated, but so does some good goal-setting. Since we work in data, we like to keep our goals measurable by using key performance indicators (KPIs). This mug from Thot Leader Labs helps us with both.

Photo from the Thot Leader Labs website.

“For those who don’t like to take themselves too seriously.” – Dave

Lap Desk

Automattic is a distributed company and most people work from home. A lap desk makes working from home more comfortable. 

This lap desk is made from bamboo and comes with all the bells and whistles. 

Photo from the buerostuhl24 website.

“I like moving around the apartment during the day, for a change of scenery. My cat has some really nice fluffy armchairs. This makes it comfortable for me too – when I am allowed to use them.” – Anna

Portable External Monitor

The Strategist recently reviewed portable external monitors. These are lightweight, plug-and-play monitors that let you work from… anywhere! 

There are many models available, but for travel, some of my colleagues like the Xebec. This model is great for taking to meetups.

Screenshot from the Xebec website.

“The Looker UI does not fit well on a Macbook Air and I’m also usually spoiled by a huge, ultrawide screen. Having something light and easy to carry to expand screen real estate is a real blessing.” – Anna

Stream Deck

It’s always great when you can automate the most repetitive tasks. My Stream Deck from Elgato came a little early this year, and I’m so grateful. I save a ton of time and it’s really fun to use.

Screenshot from the Stream Deck website.

“This is basically a multi-function keyboard. It’s a great tool for folks doing podcasts and Twitch streaming, two things I do not do. It’s also great for automation.-Shannon

A Great Book On Data Visualization

We organize a monthly book club for folks at the company working in data. One of the best we’ve read this past year was Storytelling with Data: A Data Visualization Guide for Business Professionals by Cole Nussbaumer Knaflic. It’s excellent.

“It’s practical, actionable and useful for beginner and advanced data workers.” – Shannon

A Great Technical Book

There’s nothing like curling up on the sofa with a good book. We’re looking forward to the release of Functional Programming in Scala, Second Edition by Michael Pilquist, Paul Chiusano, and Rúnar Bjarnasson. 

“I’m waiting for March 2023 to get Functional Programming in Scala, Second Edition as a dead-tree book. The first edition was released in 2014.” – M. 

Noise-Canceling Headphones

Working from home can be noisy. It’s great to have a good way to stay focused and noise-cancelling headphones are key. I have an older version but the Sony WH-1000XM4 is rated one of the best out there.

Screenshot from the Sony website.


When you can work from anywhere, sooner or later you end up working from somewhere outdoors and sunny, even if it’s just your own deck. These sunglasses by Diff Eyewear were a gift from Automattic at one of our larger meetups. This model is the Kota.

“These are prescription sunglasses and they are amazing!” – Shannon

Portable Charger

A portable charger is a must-have, and we really like this one from Anker

Photo from the Anker website.

“I love this charger for portability and reduction in things to carry. It can power my MacBook Pro, phone, and a USB-A peripheral, all from a single block. It’s especially useful for travel, but even trips to coworking spaces and coffee shops are well-served by it.” – Dave

The Trtl Pillow

The Trtl pillow is an adjustable travel pillow that provides ergonomic support.

Photo from the Trtl website.

“It is not soft and it is not fluffy but it turns out, neck pillows do not need to be any of those things. They just need to support the neck and it turns out no pillow had ever supported my neck before, it is absolutely awe-inspiring the first time you try this thing out.” -D. 

Compression Socks

Compression socks are great for long flights. Icebreaker makes some good ones in merino, which helps with temperature and odour control. 

Photo from the Icebreaker website.

Silk Pillow Cases and Sleep Masks 

Silk is great for both home and travel. These pillowcases and this sleep mask are luxurious and pack small. 

“Waking up to beautiful non-frizzy hair and smooth skin is incredible!” – D.

Flip Flops

Flip flops are great because they are light, easy to pack, and go almost everywhere – if only they could be comfortable too! These REEF flip flops are just that. 

Photo from the Amazon.

“I googled “comfiest flip flops” and these REEF flip flops were the result of that deep research and, for once, the internet was not lying. It is like walking on fluffy clouds.” – D.

Ear Plugs

Loop makes earplugs that are lightweight and reusable. This is the Experience model which dampens the noise but still lets you hear the voices of people close by. They are great for people with noise sensitivity. Best of all, they look like jewelry! 

“These are great for noisy restaurants, rumbling plane engines, and just staying focussed.” – Shannon

These are some of our favorite gifts: past, present, and hopefully, future. What are you hoping to see under the tree this holiday season? Let us know in the comments!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s