Simple Christmas Gift Ideas Using Your Skills

joehobot profile image Joe Hobot ・2 min read

Some of you might go and buy gift cards, some of you might go and buy shirts or some present that SO would love. Well what if you could use your skills and give them something digital?

I started doing this years ago and seems to be working well for both the gift receiver and gift giver.

Few years ago, one of my friends was always saying how he/she would love to have a website for pictures outside of facebook.

Xmas came around, and I did just that. Bought domain, build a site and provided account info and showed how to do stuff.. receiver was overwhelmed with joy and still is to date.

Last year, one of my family members at some dinner talk was saying how it takes them literally hours of gathering some data from one excel sheet to another and then also pull some data from various sites.

I put my python skills into work and just ask them to give me some sample data, it took me few hrs to build a simple app that literally took one simple command and took all the data needed and combined into one excel sheet.
Xmas came around.. I showed them github repo, and ask them to README.md (That usually devs never do 😛). The gratitude and joy of saving family member hours of work got me some nice gifts in return.

Say you are photoshop/design expert, you could use your skill and restore or colorize some of the old ripped pictures your Grandpa/Grandma have from 1940s.

Your Geekiness could be put to good use, build something with Raspberry PI a simple PLEX server or some home device.. whatever you can think of...

Just throwing few ideas out there...

Also, there are a lot of Charity and Contractor websites out there that want to have a simple feature added to their website but don't know how to add it or can't afford paying some Web Company $2000 that could take you literally less than an hr to build.

The only downside of it is that you might get asked questions throughout the year, if you go for something like a website .. (I would stay away from such gifts)

Please share some ideas or something you've done as a gift for your family or close friend.. or even a contractor who provided you free lawn mowing the next year.

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Joe Hobot


DevOps Guy who loves to work on CI/CD and recently full on Kubernetes.


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That's a wonderful idea !
I was wondering what kind of "gift" I can build an easily deploy using GitHub page for example. As a student, most of my teaching lessons include theory and sometimes more practice, but no one ever taught me how to easily and efficiently deploy my work.. I'm looking forward all kind of ideas !


This is awesome! I built a website for someones birthday once. Not a functional one, but one that said "Happy Birthday" and had fireworks in the background.

It's still online. The text is in Dutch, but you get the message. rosa.webdrawings.nl


I think people have a special reverence for native mobile apps. Since there's a higher barrier than websites, they feel pretty special. But building a simple native app is pretty easy and there are ample open source apps you can clone and tweak.

So on that note I feel like a custom built "couple" app that does something simple, maybe a shared photo album with some personal touch that you couldn't get on a non-customized product.

My 2 cents


Like for example pull imgs via API from Instagram,Google Photos and Flickr and then display imgs by doing just one search and all in one place :) MyPhotosAreEverywhereHowCanISearchThemAllAtOnce.com


Yes. Do this. Package it as a native app.

Coding for two possible users is also so much easier than arbitrary users. Hardcode all the things.


For father's day a few years ago, I built my dad a simple website to store and display all his dad jokes. He loves it, and still uses it to this day. He still says it was one of the best father's day gifts I've ever gotten him.



Btw is your dad's name Tony by any chance? ;)


Great post! We got inspired by your ideas and decided to spin it up including a special bonus that will help people "materialize" them faster and easier. :) Here is for those who are interested in taking up on a small X-mas project: dev.to/sashido/coding-skills-turne...


Sometimes simple things to us is awesome to non-tech people.

I made an simple app to my father that shows all of his favorites news sites, separated by types. All in one place.


Hey guys just leaving a codepen created by my brother. A animated christmas tree made only with CSS. Share and give your feedback. Thanks! Codepen: codepen.io/flavio_amaral/pen/QJqbpQ