What to buy a mathematician for Christmas

Men are hard to buy presents for. Mathematicians are even harder. All they really need is a pencil and some paper … and maybe a rubbish bin (unlike economists who don’t use the rubbish bin). Which reminds me of a joke: What do mathematicians do when they’re constipated? They work it out with a pencil.

I always struggle to think of something to buy Ben for Christmas but last Christmas I think I hit the jackpot: I bought him a whiteboard. He loves it! I love it too and so do the kids. In fact, we’ve all been using Ben’s whiteboard. Every home should have one. I’ll let you guess who did what on Ben’s whiteboard:


All our stuff from New Zealand arrived today. I’m never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever moving again. We have too much stuff. We previously had a minimalist thing going on here; now we’re surrounded by clutter. Oh well.

18 responses to “What to buy a mathematician for Christmas”

  1. really like the new look of the blog. also if you ever want to give ben a scientific calculator i’ve got at least 2, still in the box and all. won them in highschool so they’re a bit dated.

  2. Just give him two number candles – one with a 4 and one with a 2 (if your not familiar with The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy look it up)
    A cake with enough wee candles & holders for his age in binary (empty ones for the 0s)
    Enough, enough.

    As you can tell we’re not big on pressies in our household.

  3. Friends of mine bought a bigger house o accommodate all that they had collected and have some free space. Within a year that house was full too. It seems if we’ve got it, then we will use it.

    • That’s definitely not going to happen. I’m determined to get rid of stuff and that’s what I’ve already started doing. The other problem is that we rented a partly furnished house so we’ve got 1.5 houses worth of furniture. When we get our own place the rental property furniture will get left behind.

  4. A very inspired choice, Rachel! I’ve studied the white board and I think I can hazard a guess as to who owns what. I never know what to buy men as presents unless they’re interested in clothes. 🙂

    • I don’t know why I never thought of this as a gift before. It’s so great and I can remember having a blackboard in our house when I was a kid and my dad used it all the time.

  5. Every time I see this post title in a sidebar, my brain reads it as ‘Want to buy a mathematician for Christmas’?

    Which has several problems.. it’s not Christmas, and it’s irresponsible to sell mathematicians without ensuring that they are going to a good home.

    On topic, you need a proper mathematician’s calculator.. it doesn’t have a numeric pad, just ‘0, ‘small’, 1, n, ‘large’ and ‘infinity’ (and -1).

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