Gifts for People With ADHD: Hugely Helpful Last Minute Life Hacks

Red sign saying "last minute" beside text reading "life hack gifts for people with adhd" above an illustration of hands with boxing gloves holding up a wrapped prsent in front of a background of other presents, janetjay.com. Art by storyset.

Gifts for people with ADHD can be hard to figure out! So consider items that can truly make a difference in their day-to-day lives. Living with ADHD often means coping with forgetfulness, limited focus, time blindness, and organizational challenges on a daily basis. Thoughtful items like these can incredibly useful for managing this condition by improving productivity, managing symptoms, and restoring a sense of control. Whether it’s morning wake up lamps, noise-cancelling headphones, or magnetic frame hangers that let you change the look of your walls on a whim, these “life hack” gifts can assist with time management, memory, attention regulation, and reducing distractions along with helping establish the routines, reminders, and focus ADHD brains need.

The actual presents for your loved ones with ADHD are important, but more important by far is the care and consideration that you show in choosing them. They show that you listen when your loved one describes their challenges and that you truly care about helping.

(And there’s still time to buy them before the holidays!!!)

The actual presents for your loved ones with ADHD are important, but more important by far is the care and consideration that you show in choosing them. They show that you listen when your loved one describes their challenges and that you truly care about helping.

All Amazon links are affiliate links because why not? But if you have a small local store I’d rather you go there. I received free TilePix product but was not otherwise compensated. All opinions are my own and always will be.

Keeping it all clear

A woman in a long sleeve shirt with rolled cuffs and dark pants has "yes" on one side of her and "no" on the other, and is looking at the yes with a puzzled face and surrounded by question marks representing decision fatigue for people with adhd, art by storyset

Like many people with ADHD, if something isn’t visible, my brain forgets it exists. I had to learn how to organize in an entirely new way: everything has its place, and everything is visible. (That’s the goal at least.) And remember, decision fatigue is a real thing: having A Place that everything goes allows the person cleaning to focus on other things.

  • Maybe THE best gift for people with ADHD, if they don’t already have one, is a pretty bowl or a set of hooks to go right by the front door. That makes it easy to drop their wallet and keys as soon as they enter.
    • If you’re going for hooks, consider getting something with a built-in basket or shelf for mail!
    • And if you’re buying a bowl, instead of Amazon, try hitting up a craft fair or a local potter!
  • Can your friend with ADHD use some clear organizing bins or baskets? (I’ll answer for them: yes, they probably can.)
  • For a friend who cooks, a nice set of clear food storage jars can help them organize ingredients, get the counters clear and keep their kitchen lookin’ sharp!
  • For a friend that travels often, get them see-through bags and organizers to go in their suitcase, and clear little jars for makeup or other liquids that can’t be taken through TSA in their normal containers.
  • You could even make (or buy) them a little travel kit of crucial stuff that they could just grab and throw in!
  • That idea works for more than travel, too: is there anything they do frequently that you could make a little kit for? It’s so much easier than having to pack every time and make those decisions over and over.

Keeping it clean

Many people with ADHD struggle with cleaning. The solution is to make it as frictionless as possible.

  • The best way to get me to vacuum is to have the vacuum always close at hand, charged and ready to go as soon as the whim seizes me. It’s a big gift, but IMO a cordless stick vacuum is absolutely crucial. I have a model that’s specifically good for pet hair (thanks, Kismet and Arrow) and it has served me well for many years. It WAS an amazing gift for a person with ADHD: me! (Thanks Mom!)
  • Other people swear by their Roomba (and variations thereof).

If your friend has a pet…

Keeping track of things

I get distracted so easily and I lose everything. And I know I’m not the only one.

Illustratino of a man with adhd sitting at a laptop, speech bubble with gears in it, with four extra arms holding coffee, tablet, phone and megaphone

Trying to remember everything is a fool’s errand for people with ADHD. We need to automate when it’s possible, plan for when it’s not, and accept and anticipate that we might lose stuff. Possible gifts in this vein include:

  • A smart thermostat: Good for the environment, good for the pocketbook, and good for not having to think about it.
  • Programmable coffee pot: Wouldn’t it be nice to wake up to the smell of coffee? Just another way to encourage an ADHD brain to get out of bed, and another way to save time in the morning.
  • Whether you care about setting it the night before or not, consider buying a coffee maker that doesn’t require filters– it’s one less thing to remember! I own this one, which is great because it can make either a full pot or just one cup at a time. (Coincidentally, it’s the coffee maker that Jessica McCabe of the “How To ADHD” channel recommends in her “ADHD-friendly House Hacks” video! Cannot recommend her videos enough, seriously.)
  • Electric toothbrush with a built-in timer. These range in cost from $15 to $100+, but the timer is the crucial part. Of course your gift recipient could set a separate timer, but… will they? Will they really? (More on timers here!)
  • Does your friend have certain items that they use often? Buy them duplicates so they 1. don’t have to carry them around and 2. don’t have the opportunity to lose them. Especially good for dudes who try to carry everything in their pockets.
teal and black drawing of a computer monitor with three hands holding three magnifying glasses in front of it, plants on either side, art by storyset
  • Speaking of losing things, Tiles, Airtags, or other “find my X” tracker tags can be crucial. I’ve actually tried out a range of these:
    • I say from experience, don’t waste your money on anything cheaper than a Tile. (If you must, at least make sure the battery is replaceable.)
    • Tiles work OK, but you have to be near to the thing you’ve lost to make it make a sound. For me, that defeats much of the purpose. Especially considering its position updating is not great, and almost all the functionality is locked behind a premium subscription? Meh.
  • 2024 update: Fuck Tiles. Don’t buy tiles. They’re worthless.
    • I hear Airtags are pretty solid so that’s apt to be what I do next.

But if you’ve found another type of tracking doohickey you really like, I’d very much love to hear about it!

Timing is Everything

Time blindness is another fun ADHD thing, so we have to rely on alarms and timers more than most.

The image is an infographic titled "5 Types of Timers for ADHD". It is colorful and divided into sections for each type of timer: digital timer, hourglass, kitchen timer, timer with visual countdown, phone / smartwatch, with "janetjay.com" at the bottom
  • Speaking of “sure, they could use their phone, but…” People with ADHD need to own a timer. There’s great benefit in having something visually counting down increments of time. See the infographic for a rundown on the 5 main types of timers and how they stack up in terms of helpfulness for ADHD.
    • A legit hourglass with sand is a great gift because it can be visually beautiful and thus always out on a shelf within view and easy reach. I actually have a pretty one and one that came out of some game that I use for different things.
    • But people with ADHD also ought to have a timer with big face and a visual representation of the time, usually in a circle, not just numbers counting down. There are analog and digital versions of these (and a thousand variations). Maybe include a video or book about the Pomodoro technique: it could change everything for them!

Style & Decor

I know I’m not the only one with ADHD who obsesses a little too much about what’s hanging on the wall and where. I’m loathe to hammer another hole in my rental unless I know it’s the perfect picture in the perfect place (and how often am I sure of that??). So in my house I tend towards decor that can be changed on a whim:

Illustration of a woman with long dark hair pondering three different image windows
  • These vertical displays where snapshots are attached with tiny magnets are great for everything from Christmas cards to art prints.
  • A cute corkboard or “ribbon bulletin board” and some fun pushpins are as low tech as it gets, but they’re still around for a reason!
  • TilePix is a cool service that prints your custom-designed images in frames (or on glass) that are hung using damage-free magnetics so you can move them around freely! I got some prints of work by one of my favorite artists and have been changing them around on my wall, trying to find the exact right order/combination to hang them in. They’re easy, look cool, and the best part? You can literally pick them up the same day at any of the 9,000 Walgreens nationwide. If you’re really stuck for a gift idea, prints like this of meaningful photos or art could be a great option. (If you’re REALLY stuck… they’ve also got magnetic wallpaper.)

Follow me on social media this week to see me unbox my new TilePix and to help me choose how to hang the dang things!

Focusing in

With ADHD it’s often all or nothing in terms of focus. Consider buying gifts that can help your friend stay in the zone.

  • Just about everybody can use a pair of noise-cancelling headphones. Whether used for music, podcasts or just white noise, they can make a huge difference in focus, productivity, and just making the world a bit more tolerable. Depending on how your friend will use them, decide between:
    • Earbud & In-Ear Headphones: Compact and portable, offering good noise isolation with a snug fit, but can be uncomfortable for some users and generally have lesser sound quality and less effective noise isolation.
    • Over-Ear Headphones: Known for superior sound quality and comfort, with quality noise isolation, but are bulkier and more obvious visibly.
a pink pair of headphones against a background of clouds with a 90's design aesthetic, text reads "#1 gift for people with adhd? noise-cancelling headphones, janetjay.com"
  • Don’t forget about earplugs!  They can help with concentration and reduce noise-induced headaches. They don’t have to be fancy, though there are certainly fancy options that are attempting to replicate some of the positives noise-cancelling headphones offer.
  • Notebook: maybe it’s my journalist background, but I always have a little notebook on me somewhere. There is real utility for me in physically writing a to-do list down, even if it might be more secure to put on a tablet. The action of writing it down makes it more real for me– and that’s a common ADHD thing.
    • Moleskines are the gold standard for tiny lil notebooks, and are especially helpful because most come with a little pocket in the back.
    • But there are a ton of other beautiful lil notebooks out there, many of which also have the little pocket.
    • A bullet journal is a perfect gift for people with ADHD who are trying to get organized.
    • If they’re a doodler like me, it’s a pretty safe bet that they’ll appreciate a set of nice pens or markers and a nice sketchbook.
    • Coloring books are also a legit great gift for people with ADHD: having one one hand absolutely helps me concentrate. (This year I was super impressed by these math-based coloring books!)
  • For some people, a smartwatch is a godsend. It allows them to set alarms, track stuff, and is attached to their wrist so they CAN’T lose it. (More on alarms here and tracking here.)
  • For other people, a tablet changes everything. It lets them take colorful notes, have everything saved in one place, and hedges against losing a physical notebook with important info. (Also lets them consume whatever awesome shows and books you recommend!) Just like with smartwatches, there’s a huge range in price here. Before you buy one, think about how your friend will use it and what for.
illustration of a person standing beside a desk, on the desk is a computer monitor with the design for a phone on it, the person is stnading beside the desk next to a whiteboard designing the phone and putting post-its around the design
  • I don’t care what other tech they have: everybody with ADHD should have a whiteboard hanging somewhere in their house, ready for those fleeting thoughts before they fly away forever. I have a cool tempered glass version!

Gifts for People with ADHD: Experiences, not stuff

Speaking of, get your friend with ADHD some dang media to watch and listen to! A gift card is great and all but if there’s something you love, you should share it with them, whether it’s a game, an album, a book, a show, a weird old webcomic from 20 years ago, or whatever else.

drawing of a man sitting in a room at a desk before a laptop, in a box above him is a screen with a man holding a book, pointing at a blackboard with a chemical symbol on it.  Art by storyset.com

But there are more options than “buy a book”: do they have an author or artist they really like? Sign them up for their Patreon, Substack or whatever else! Website or service like Youtube or Spotify they use often? Buy them a subscription so they don’t have to deal with ads! New skill they’d like to learn? Buy them a course! (Check if there are any quality free ones, though. There probably are.) Place they wanna go? Buy a ticket and offer to go with them!

Seeing a need for help and then helping is a far better gift than anything you can order online.

Illustration of a woman floating in & surrounded by icons representing gifts for people with ADHD based on their hobbies: gear, rocket, pencil, music note, play button, photo, lightbulb,

People with ADHD often jump from hobby to hobby: check if your friend is into anything new that you could gift tools or supplies for!

Extra points if it’s something like knitting or crocheting, hobbies that can truly be a gift for people with ADHD because they also help us focus. (I honestly don’t know if I would have made it through college without knitting in large lecture classes.)

Bright lights, big days

Lights can make a huge difference both aesthetically and psychologically, so they’re great gifts for friends with ADHD. Try these!

Sometimes, we just need help

Black white and teal drawing of a woman with a board balanced on her shoulder, forced to her knees by the strain of holding it up, with bills, clock, calendar, card, and virus on the board she carries. Art by storyset.com

Finally, consider the gift of service. If your friend with ADHD is really overwhelmed, no thingamajig is going to mean as much as help: help cleaning, help organizing, help cooking, help with childcare, help wherever they’re struggling most. Whether you do the work yourself or hire someone, just the offer of help can mean everything. Seeing a need for help and then helping is a far better gift than anything you can order from Amazon.

Are you done with your holiday shopping yet? Anything crucial I left off this list? Comment and let me know!

Pin This So You Don’t Forget, Then Check Out My Other Gift Guides!

Red sign saying "last minute" beside text reading "life hack gifts for people with adhd" above an illustration of hands with boxing gloves holding up a wrapped prsent in front of a background of other presents, janetjay.com. Art by storyset.
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