Gifts for software engineers
February 17, 2010 2:50 PM   Subscribe

What should our CEO give each member of our software development team, or all of us collectively? We have the standard niceties (laptops, external screens, chairs, etc) so we are looking for something more fun.

After some particularly hard work, our CEO has decided to gives us all a chance to get some gifts - but instead of giving us the usual (boring) spa memberships, he has let us choose.

We each have a budget of $200, or we can all collectively spend around $800-1000 to buy one large awesome gift. What should we get?

We already all have chairs, Ergotron arms, laptops, external screens, etc, so something a bit more non-functional would be ideal. Also, while an espresso machine would be nice, we might get that anyway too. :) So, something unusual or more impractical would be good.

Activities/events also might be fun, we are in San Francisco.

Some of our current ideas:

Amazon/Thinkgeek Certificates (boring)
Wii + TV + Controllers + Games
Tech conference tickets
Steak dinner + Concert tickets
1-year supply of Mtn Dew (unhealthy)
Skydiving (problematic, our CEO might be nervous about all his devs doing this)

More ideas appreciated!
posted by bkudria to Human Relations (16 answers total)
One division of our university's IT folks has a fantastic fishtank. They keep it up by selling cheap sodas on the honor system out of the communal fridge, but you could probably get a good start with this.
posted by Madamina at 2:55 PM on February 17, 2010

Very slightly out of your price range, but $1296 will buy you a pair of SF Giants season tickets in the cheap seats... which are the most fun anyway.

Everyone takes turns using them. (I love working in offices like that.)
posted by rokusan at 3:00 PM on February 17, 2010

Foos ball table!
posted by axiom at 3:01 PM on February 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

- note that software developers are often not very interested in football :) (at least nobody in my office is)

Some kind of travel voucher could be great, because it's so clearly a getting-out-of-the-office affair.
posted by tmcw at 3:04 PM on February 17, 2010

Oh and if you have the right group, heck yes a foosball table is totally awesome. We love ours.
posted by tmcw at 3:05 PM on February 17, 2010

note that software developers are often not very interested in football :)

The Giants are a baseball team. 81 games of beer and sunshine* by the Bay.

*may not include sunshine
posted by rokusan at 3:06 PM on February 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

A weekend trip to Reno or Tahoe for the group?
posted by MsKim at 3:27 PM on February 17, 2010

"Fun" is in the eye of the beholder. And dev teams sort of develop their own personality after a while. But many developer-types get excited by the opportunity to learn new things, so perhaps a subscription to a screencast service like or Oreilly's developer library would be a fun new thing?

You did say that Amazon + Thinkgeek certificates were boring, though. What about a trip to a hands-on workshop where people are doing cool things with technology? Many science center / exploratorium-type places do this sort of thing.

You might also think about hiring a life coach or motivational speaker to come in for a day and offer one-on-one visits with everybody. It would be like getting a mental massage. :-)

The physical massage option is always on the table too...heh
posted by circular at 3:45 PM on February 17, 2010

posted by pupdog at 4:03 PM on February 17, 2010

Instead of a Wii, get a Playstation + TV + Guitar Hero + guitar controllers. And maybe the rock band kit too. A fair number of software engineers I know enjoy those games.
posted by A dead Quaker at 4:18 PM on February 17, 2010

For a kind-of "out there" idea: Nabaztag, the Wi-Fi animatronic bunny with API.

Or how about devoting the last half of some Friday (or even a full Saturday replete with alcohol) for:
--Some kind of programming competition. Game development, mashups, whatever.
--Each developer to work on any project they'd like.
--a LAN party
--a cooperative Arduino project that other people in the company can ooo and ahhh at.
--Laser tag

I like the idea of giving the developers time to be creative because it encourages them to bring new ideas to the company, exercises their minds, creates fun competition, and lets them show off a bit.

And as said above, you can't go wrong with a dedicated rock band setup.
posted by TimeTravelSpeed at 6:17 PM on February 17, 2010

When I interned at a, ahem, very large software company based on the west coast, one of the teams down the hall saved up all of their morale money for the whole year to get personalized *really* nice Northface fleeces. It had the team name/logo on it and looked really sharp. So along those lines - a nice piece of apparel? Possibly embroidered? That's what I would want.
posted by kthxbi at 6:29 PM on February 17, 2010

I always wanted to set up a model train track on the tops of our cubicle walls. With the long-term plan of having an onboard camera and controlled by visiting a local webapp.

A big slot car track is awesome, too.
posted by nightwood at 6:46 PM on February 17, 2010

So I'm curious ... what did you end up asking for?
posted by kthxbi at 8:26 AM on February 21, 2010

Response by poster: We're totally procrastinating and haven't asked for anything yet.

Really sort of amazing when you consider how many of us there are. I'll post an update as soon as I can!
posted by bkudria at 12:36 PM on February 21, 2010

Response by poster: Boring update: we got Visa gift cards, cause they were easier/better for taxes, I think. Or something.

Our boss can be kinda practical, at times.
posted by bkudria at 12:14 PM on March 20, 2010

« Older Toe pick!   |   Translation of asian writing Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.