2020 Holiday Gift Guide

We are almost there the end of 2020 is near, and the holiday season is upon us. This year, gone are the long lines in the early morning crowds of Black Friday shopping; we can now comfortably shop from our couch while sipping a festive beverage at our leisure. And while this frees us of the stress of clamoring for the last remaining “new hotness” on the floor of the big box store, we do have to be mindful of order processing and shipping times. After all, what good is paying an annual fee for two-day shipping on all your orders if the item doesn’t ship for five days?

Did I mention that Digi-Key offers same-day shipping on in-stock orders received by 8 pm Central Time? Oh, and we are now offering reduced two-day shipping rates for US customers through the remainder of 2020!

Now that those pesky logistics are cleared up, allow me to offer some gift suggestions based on skill level to help you find the perfect gift for the engineer, maker, or student in your life.

Skill Level: Any

Items that do not require any electronics or special knowledge but have a universal appeal.

Seeed Mecanum Wheel Remote Control Toy Car

Not your standard RC car! The mecanum wheels allow this car to move in any direction or spin in a circle. Pair that with the blinking red and blue lights on the car, and a special dance mode that plays music while the car moves along with the beat, and you’ve got a sure winner on your hands!

Klein Tools Borescope for Android Devices

Featuring a tough, armored 10 ft long waterproof gooseneck cable and adjustable brightness control for the six onboard LEDs, this handy borescope provides high-quality 640 x 480 imagery from the IP67 rated 9 mm camera. Perfect for any DIYer or automotive enthusiast.

iFixit Pro Tech Toolkit

Armed with the data from hundreds of teardowns and thousands of repair guides, iFixit built the most effective toolkit for your practical repair needs. This kit features 64 screwdriver bits, including both standard and security bits; a jimmy; a variety of spudgers; opening pics; an assortment of tweezers; a suction handle; and more. Essentially, within this tool roll, you will have everything needed to get inside of any electronic device in your home to keep them working their best for years to come!

More great options:

Nebra AnyBeam MEMS Laser Pocket Projector – the world’s smallest pocket cinema projector

Snap Circuits Kits – snap-together circuit blocks with project guides to teach basic electronics

Skill Level: Basic

Items that require basic knowledge of practical electronics or coding.

Arduino Tinkerkit Braccio

The Braccio, which is the Italian word for arm, is a fully operational robotic arm, controlled via Arduino. It is a self-assembled kit that teaches coding and includes several example programs allowing the robotic arm to grip and move objects. Please note the Arduino board is not included, but we have several options available in stock here. The Arduino Braccio will make the perfect gift for the budding roboticist in your family!

TinyCircuits TinyTV Kit

This kit is easily assembled in under five minutes and can be loaded with up to five hours of your own videos. Like any TV, a remote control is included, allowing you to change channels, adjust the volume, and power the television on or off. Add your favorite holiday classic movies, put the video on loop, and hang this little guy on the tree for a really unique and personalized ornament!

FLIR EXTECH 400A True RMS AC/DC Clamp Meter + NCV

This EXTECH MA445 meter series measures AC/DC voltage, AC current, DC current, resistance, diode, continuity, capacitance, temperature, frequency, and duty cycle. In addition, the MA445 meter offers Display hold, MIN‐MAX, Relative mode, NCV (non‐contact voltage detection), and automatic power OFF. A must-have for the toolbox or the lab.

RetroFlag GPi Case for Raspberry Pi Zero

This Gameboy-inspired Pi Zero case features a color screen, battery compartment, and headphone jack so you can retro game on the go! Simply install a Pi Zero without headers in the cartridge using the solder-free pogo pin design, load up your software, pop in the batteries or grab a DC power adaptor, and get to some old-school gaming. Don’t forget to pick up a Pi Zero to complete the kit.

Arduino Starter Kit

The Starter Kit is a great way to get started with Arduino, coding, and electronics! The Starter Kit includes the components needed to make 15 different projects following the step-by-step tutorials, along with an Arduino Uno board. With several language options to choose from, the Arduino Starter Kit makes a terrific gift for anyone looking to get started coding microcontrollers.

More great options:

Raspberry Pi 400 – a Raspberry Pi computer built into a keyboard

Pimoroni Grow Raspberry Pi pHAT – compact plant moisture monitor with three soil probes

SparkFun Addressable RGB Fairy Lights – 5-meter length of addressable RGB LEDs allow for the creation of custom lighting animations

American Bright Flexible LED Light Strips – thin, easy to use, and great for ambient or accent lighting

Skill Level: Intermediate

Users of these products should have previous electronics or coding experience.

888A 2 in 1 Digital Hot Aire Rework and Soldering Station

A 60-Watt soldering iron and hot air station all in one small footprint. Digital controls allow precise temperature setting and control, and it features an adjustable sleep timer. An ideal solution for someone looking to add hot air to their workbench at a favorable entry-level price.

M5Stack FIRE IoT Development Kit

A modular, stackable, scalable, and portable device powered by an ESP-32 core. Open source, low cost, full-function, and easy for fast IoT prototyping. The kit includes three separable parts. The top houses the ESP32 processor, 2.4G antenna, power management, and an LCD screen. The middle portion is the M5GO base which houses a lithium battery, M-BUS socket, LED bar, and three GROVE expansion ports. The bottom is the charging dock, which is used to charge the M5GO base via POGO pins. A noteworthy solution for anyone looking to create a smart or connected project.

Raspberry Pi 4 Model B

A dual display single board computer featuring a quad-core 1.5 GHz processor, onboard Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, USB 3.0, and gigabit Ethernet. The 40-pin GPIO expansion header allows easy software control and monitoring of expansion boards or custom electronic circuits. Available in either 2GB, 4GB, or 8GB variations, the Raspberry Pi 4 is a staple for any electronics or computer science enthusiast!

Adafruit BrainCraft HAT – Machine Learning for Raspberry Pi 4

Designed to augment the Raspberry Pi 4 for machine learning applications using Google’s TensorFlow platform, the BrainCraft HAT has a 240 × 240 TFT IPS display, slots for camera connector cable for imaging projects, a 5-way joystick and button for UI input, dual microphones, stereo headphone and speaker out, three addressable RGB LEDs, two 3-pin STEMMA expansion connectors, and a Grove/STEMMA/Qwiic I2C expansion port. The BrainCraft HAT allows people to build a wide range of audio/video AI projects while also allowing easy plug-in of sensors and robotics!

More great options:

PICkit 4 microcontroller programmer – programmer and debugger for Microchip PIC series microcontrollers

Pycom FIPY IoT Development board – an ESP32 board with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, LoRa, Sigfox, and LTE CAT M1/NB1 onboard

Nebra AnyBeam Laser Projector HAT - a low cost, high-definition laser projector HAT for Raspberry Pi

Some Additional Options

While there are many great products listed here, these are just a few of the over 11 million products offered on our site. To help ensure you find exactly the right gift for that special someone, here are a few additional resources that may provide some direction for you.

About this author

Image of Nate Larson

Nate Larson is a Technical Content Developer that has been with Digi-Key Electronics since 2008. He earned his Associate of Applied Science degree in Electronics Technology & Automated Systems from Northland Community & Technical College through the Digi-Key scholarship program. Nate’s current role is assisting in the creation of unique technical projects, documenting the process and ultimately participating in the production of video media coverage for the projects. In his spare time Nate lives the DIY maker ethos, engaging in projects consisting of carpentry and woodworking, 3D printing, coding, and tinkering with anything electronic.

More posts by Nate Larson