18 Epic psychology and brain gifts and gift ideas

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If you are wondering what to buy a psychology student or professional for Christmas, New-years, or their birthdays, you are at the right spot.

If you don’t want to buy something generic or bland, go for these – they will resonate with a psychologist’s identity and bring them joy! And you get to gift something really cool! Whether you are thinking of something quirky or just useful, I’ve got you covered. Here are 18 fun and useful gift ideas for your brain-obsessed friends, family, and colleagues. These will work great for your boss, students, juniors, and romantic partners too. Or for yourself, why not show some extra self-love 🙂

1. A homunculus model

A homunculus (Latin for “little man”) is one of the most fascinating depictions of the human brain and body – it shows the amount of brain processing dedicated to each of our body parts. The homunculus is a sensory map where the size of the body parts is proportional to their corresponding sensory regions in the brain. There are 2 types of homunculi, and either one should work as a gift. You can choose whichever one is feasible. The sensory homunculus shows body parts proportional to how much we sense from those body parts. The motor homunculus shows body parts proportional to how much movement processing the brain does for each part.

By Dr. Joe Kiff (http://psychology.wikia.com/wiki/User:Lifeartist / http://psychology.wikia.com/wiki/User:Dr_Joe_Kiff) – http://psychology.wikia.com/wiki/File:Sensory_and_motor_homunculi.jpg (as seen, e.g., on http://psychology.wikia.com/wiki/Sensory_integration)., CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=60730027

Sharon Price-James, an independent artist, makes beautiful hand-crafted homunculi. But if that’s not shipping-wise feasible, you can buy a homunculus print teeshirt – a classic, safe gift item.

2. Brain lamp

A brain lamp or a fancy decoration light for your bedroom side table can liven up a room unlike any other light. There is something very beautiful about our brain looking at our own brain with lights!

You can buy this beautiful Christmas brain lamp from amazon.

3. Brain model

You can buy an anatomically correct toy brain or medical brain model for your therapist friend/partner. It can be a great way for them to explain how the brain works to their clients in the clinic.

You can buy this well-labeled brain model.

4. Neuron model/painting/jewelry

In a way, the neuron is the most intimate part of the body. It’s the most fundamental unit that enables all our feelings. So a detailed neuron model or painting would be a thoughtful gift for your loved one. Even Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory got one for his partner Amy!

Etsy has amazing gifts with a neuron theme.

For intimate partners, you can buy neuron jewelry or cups, and clothing accessories.

5. Brain paperweight

A brain paperweight would be an excellent gift for a therapist or researcher who is constantly at a desk or meets a lot of people at their desk. It reinforces their identity and has no maintenance.

This embedded LED-based brain paperweight would look classy on a table. You can buy it from amazon here.

6. Galton Board, Galton Box, Bean machine

A Galton board is one of my favorite instruments. It shows how you can see a pattern emerge just by randomly dropping beans or balls through a slit. It shows how a normal distribution occurs – something psychologists are regularly thinking about. To be specific, it shows how you can keep dropping tiny balls through a slit and eventually get a normal distribution. It works as an explainer, a fun toy to play with, and a cool thing to have at home or in a lab/clinic. It’s also perfect for data and statistics nerds.

You can pair the Galton board with the chaos pendulum (described below) because they demonstrate opposing ideas. The Galton board shows how randomness creates a pattern, and the chaos pendulum shows how simple conditions create chaos.

Galton board demonstration (source)

You can go for this one.

7. Psychology-themed cups and teeshirts

If your budget is restricted, coffee mugs and teeshirts are perfect. There are many sellers who have witty psychology quotes. Some psychology creators also have merchandise, so check if you know who they follow on youtube to find the merchandise. You can support their favorite content creator and give them a daily utility item!

This tee works great for college, gym, and dates!

8. A metronome

The metronome is a classic component of the traditional therapy room. It would be a perfect addition to a therapist’s clinic. Equipment like the metronome (and other items in this list – Euler’s disc, illusions, Galton boards, etc.) are great conversation starters, and they can help with making a therapist’s client feel more comfortable.

A metronome like this would be ideal.

There are cheaper alternatives that look just as great in a modern clinical setting.

This one, for example.

9. A set of optical illusions

Optical illusions are fun to play with. A psychologist or a student will find it fun to show and explain them or just wonder how they know what’s happening but still fall for the illusion. You can buy them as a deck of illusion cards or go for a DIY kit. The set of cards is particularly exciting because you can do it as a group activity. And DIY kits are great for someone who loves to build, but you can’t have too many optical illusions in one single kit.

10. Speed cubes

The brain symbolizes intelligence, and a Rubik’s cube also symbolizes intelligence. Most cubes you get are regular cubes and not speed cubes. Once you learn how to solve the regular cube, there isn’t much excitement. However, speed cubes are different – you can flip the sides very quickly, and it’s immensely satisfying to do that. Plus, after knowing how to solve the cube reliably, you can practice to speed up and do it in under 30 seconds. At that level, the user has to learn many new algorithms, but since it all comes down to finger movements, it becomes a fun relaxation hobby.

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You can buy one of these, they are fairly pocket-friendly.

11. Euler’s disc

An Euler’s disc really is a physics demonstration. But, it’s a great fun item and works as an attention grabber. It’s a disc that, when spun, takes a long, long time to settle down. While it settles, the sound it makes increases in pitch. The disc carries a strong metaphor for many things relevant to therapy – your expectations will not match what happens, don’t give up too soon, and see things through.

You can buy one from amazon at a pretty low price.

12. Chaos pendulum (double rod pendulum or swinging sticks)

A chaos pendulum shows any small change at the start can lead to dramatically different outcomes, and a seemingly simple push of the pendulum sends it into chaos. This gift carries deep philosophical and spiritual ideas. It mimics life in many ways, we start out simple, but small disturbances lead to dramatic chaotic changes 10 years later. Changes we couldn’t have ever predicted. Watch the chaos pendulum in motion. The same principle is used for the swinging sticks device that Iron Man showcased, so that adds an extra cool factor!

How the chaos pendulum works

You can buy the swinging sticks on amazon or the original chaos motion double pendulum on etsy.

Double pendulum sold on Etsy

13. Tall informational poster

A tall poster with high-value information like brain anatomy or the history of psychology or just basic relaxation instructions would be budget-friendly and easy. All you have to do is find a quality resource and print it out. If you want to make this personal, you could make a collage of their work mixed with some fun moments depicting their personality. There are excellent ready-made posters, so perhaps that would be more budget-friendly.

Here’s a great one to gift.

14. Canva or Grammarly membership

If a psychologist isn’t consulting or counseling, chances are they are writing or designing. And even if they are counseling, chances are they are still writing and designing. Here are some things to gift with incredible utility:

  1. Canva membership (easy-to-use design tool)
  2. Grammarly (excellent text editing tool)

15. Emotion octopus: Can be an excellent, fun therapy tool

The emotion octopus has been trending on Instagram and TikTok for a while. It’s a cute octopus that can be turned inside out to either show a happy face or an angry face. It can be an excellent tool to help therapists connect with their clients. It can also be a sweet couple’s gift to use on each other. Why not add some play to the fights?

Who wouldn’t want this? Buy it here.

16. Group therapy and couples counseling ball (great for difficult family conversations too)

When in group therapy or couples counseling, you can toss a ball to each other with affirmations and therapeutic questions. Whoever has the ball gets to speak. There are many balls with different messages on them. This is an effective method to manage a chaotic group therapy session or couples counseling. It even helps resolve conflicts between children and those with impulse control problems. So you’ll effectively be gifting a therapy and motivational tool to someone. A family can use this ball and discuss major problems in a kind and systematic way with the ball. The user can also use all the prompts on the ball to start the difficult conversation – because, sometimes, you don’t know how to start.

Buy it here. There are many other variations, so you can pick the one with the right messages on it.

17. Books

There are tonnes of psychology must-read popular psychology books and textbooks. They are a good collection to have as a professional and a great pass-time read. You can select any of them as a gift. I’ve read all the ones I’ve recommended in the linked articles.

18. Subscription for Microsoft Student and SPSS

A psychology student in their bachelor’s and master’s program will almost certainly need Microsoft office student edition or SPSS. Sometimes, universities offer these, but that isn’t guaranteed. If you are feeling generous, particularly as a parent or mentor to an underprivileged student (with no conflict of interest), you can gift a utility tool like Office or SPSS. Microsoft office takes care of all document-building needs, and IBM’s SPSS (statistical package for social sciences) takes care of data analysis needs.

This list isn’t exhaustive, but it’s a start. I’ll keep updating this list every few months to add new, exciting items. Enjoy gifting these for Christmas, New Year, graduation, promotions, anniversaries, and birthdays! Or, you know, just because you want to 🙂

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