DIY Gifts: A Guide to Mix Drives


With nominal resources coming your way, a phone bill to pay and rent around the corner, being able to afford a decent gift for your favorite people can present quite a challenge.  Here’s my personal fix, a thoughtful, valuable gift that can be tailored to just about anyone’s interests, for those with a lack of funds in the bank.

Step 1:  Buy a flash drive.  There are a few different ways to go here and if you’re willing to spend a few extra bucks, you can buy a quirky flash drive that, in itself, is a good gift.  For instance, for $30 at Mikey’s Hook Up (88 N. 6th St., Williamsburg, 718-599-8906) you can buy a key-shaped LaCie flash drive.  At you can buy one shaped like a cassette tape for $14.99. Fred Flare (131 Meserole, Greenpoint, 718-349-1257) offers several cool options including Star Wars-themed drives.  Otherwise, you can buy a bare bones drive for less.

Step 2: Acquire content.  There are a number of different ways to acquire content, most of which, you should know by now: iTunes,, your own collection of DVDs and CDs. The great thing about mix drives is that you can put just about any kind of media on it.  I like to switch it up, starting with a mix of my favorite songs or albums as well as a few podcasts and audiobooks.  If you have photos that your gift-receiver would like, you might want to consider putting a few of them on there and finish it off with some videos, TV shows and films.  Here’s what I’d include on a mix drive right now:

  • Albums:  Bomb the Music Industry: Scrambles, Cee Lo Green: The Lady Killer, Fake Problems: Real Ghosts Caught on Tape, Tallest Man on Earth: The Wild Hunt
  • Audiobooks: Imperial Bedrooms by Bret Easton Ellis, Freedom by Jonathan Franzen, The Seven Year Bitch by Jennifer Belle
  • Podcasts: Slate Culture Gabfest, This American Life, Jordan Jesse Go
  • Movies: Kick Ass, Zombieland, We Live in Public, Catfish
  • TV: Breaking Bad, Dexter, Louis Theroux’s Weird Weekends, Mad Men

Plug the drive into your computer and then take all of the files you wish to include on your mix and drag them onto your drive.  Copying can take anywhere from five minutes to an hour.  You may want to convert video files to MP4 to make them iPhone or iPad ready.  For this, use Visual Hub (Mac).

Step 3:  Presentation.  Open a Word document and begin to list what’s on your mix drive.  For songs, simply list.  For full albums, go to Google Image Search or Amazon for artwork and drag into your word file.  For films, books, podcasts, find descriptions, as well as artwork, and drag it all into your document.  By the end you should have a couple of pages.  Print it out and put it into a manila envelope.  Dress up the envelope with drawings, stickers and whatever else seems decorative and appropriate to the person you’re giving the drive to and throw in patches, buttons and other knick-knacks for fun.  Put your Mix Drive into the envelope and present with a big smile on your clever face.

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