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21 Great Holiday Gifts for the Dissertation Writer in Your Life | Issue 260

Summary: Great holiday gifts will delight your favorite doctoral student and brighten their path. (P.S. Self-gifting encouraged!)


By the ABD Coaches Circle

This holiday season surprise your favorite doctoral student with a gift that will speed their journey and add a touch of joy. 

Below find our recommended gift list compiled from top dissertation coaches. Given their understanding of ABD challenges, they suggest gifts that boost energy, save time, reduce stress, and light the path.

The perfect gift doesn't need to be expensive. Gifts of time, e.g., cooking or babysitting, will be well received.

If you want to splurge on that special person, consider gift certificates, e.g., for a personal trainer or coach, or even a dissertation retreat. 

If you are currently writing your dissertation, forward this list to those who care about you. We also encourage you to be generous to yourself in ways that further your best self. Your well-being and your goals matter! 

We agree it's the thought that counts—and all of these gifts clearly affirm the value of the person and his/her goal of finishing the doctorate: 


1. Prepared meal subscription or delivery of homecooked meals 


2. Professional housekeeping or laundry service, or offer your own services 

3. Massage gift certificate 

4. Local roasted coffee with handy thermal mug 

5. Spotify subscription (and note playlists for study, including white and pink noise) 

6. Amazon Echo or Echo Dot for music and reminders 

7. Writing software, e.g., Scrivener. (Check with recipient as they may be nonreturnable.) 

8. Meditation app to hone focus, e.g., Insight Timer, Calm, or Headspace 

9. Weighted blanket to facilitate sleep, improve mood, and decrease anxiety 

10. Personal trainer or yoga classes at convenient location 

11. Gift certificate for printer ink 

12. Top rated air purifier with filtration and ionization 

13. Aromatherapy diffuser and essential oils, e.g., citrus and mint for focus 

14. Gift certificate for professional clothes or great haircut for job interview 

15. A dissertation retreat at an off-season vacation place without distractions or obligations 

16. Great water bottle to keep the brain hydrated 

17. Gift certificate for babysitting 

18. New printer or laptop. (Recommend student select this.) 

19. Motivational quotes to place in work area, e.g., framed print, engraved stone, mug 

20. Dissertation "power cape," e.g., a fleecy throw. . . or perhaps a pair of power socks 

21. Gift certificate for dissertation coaching. (Click here for more info.) 

Consistent moral support will always be welcomed. Whether your gift is a beribboned box or a genuine smile and affirmation for their work and ambition, your encouragement will be appreciated. 

With appreciation to my ABD Coaches Circle colleagues Ilene Berns-Zare, Diane Dreher, and Vannetta Iddrisu

for their great gift suggestions for this article. ~ Gayle Scroggs, Editor



If you are considering whether to get your own coach to help you reach your academic goals, fill out this brief application for a free consultation with a dissertation coach.

An accomplished coach, workshop leader, keynote speaker, and educator, Gayle earned her doctorate in social psychology from the University of New Hampshire. Her deep expertise in positive psychology allows her to help clients build their personal strengths, positive habits, and confidence to overcome procrastination, self-doubts and other blocks in order to reach vital academic and personal goals. In addition to editing the ABD Survival Guide, she contributed two chapters to the positive psychology anthology, Women's Paths to Happiness. Contact her at for coaching, presentations, and workshops on thriving in graduate school and beyond, and find free resources

BEN DEAN, Publisher, ABDSG
Ben holds a Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Texas at Austin. He began writing the ABDSG in 1997. Over the years, the ABDSG has published hundreds of articles and provided thousands of hours of pro bono coaching and teleworkshops to ABDs all over the world. Ben is also the founder of MentorCoach (, a virtual university focused on training accomplished professionals to become part-time or full-time coaches. You may wish to subscribe to the Coaching Toward Happiness eNewsletter! It's on applying the science of Positive Psychology to your work and life (131,000 readers). Ben lives in suburban Maryland with his wife, Janice, their two children, and Dusty, their Norwegian dwarf bunny.



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