As if I haven’t already read about 50 blog posts on this very topic, here I am throwing up a blog post about great gift ideas for writers. Why? Because it is after Christmas, and now the pressure is off and the sales begin.
If people I know are anything like me, they flew out the door on the 24th for a frenzied, unpleasant, angst-ridden gift-buying binge and hated every moment of it. (Oddly, I got all my shopping done this year with a full week to spare. Who am I?!) The last thing most people I know are going to want to do is to head back out and “hit the sales.” I know that thinking about doing that sort of thing makes me start to sweat and not in a good way. However, it’s the season to be thinking about gifts and buying stuff, so while it’s fresh in my forebrain, why not use this blog post to generate a list that I can direct people back to later on in the year at other appropriate gift-giving moments?
Do remember that “great” is a relative term here. This is MY list of gifts that, as a writer, I would love to get any time of the year on any occasion for any reason! The list is not arranged in order of preference either. I’m creating it as things come to me.
Quick disclaimer: I am not sponsored by or getting paid by anyone for recommending or for using any of the products I put on this list. These are entirely my own thoughts and ideas.
1) Fountain Pens (for old-school writers)
You had to have seen that coming. I continue my obsession with fountain pens. Most writers like quality writing implements, but not nearly enough of us own a fountain pen. I own many, and I write with them all the time. I’m also not rich or really anywhere even close to that descriptor, so I can’t recommend an expensive pen, although I’m hoping to treat myself to a gorgeous retractable fountain pen as a grad school graduation gift this summer.
Anyway, I recommend the Pilot Metropolitan fountain pen as a gift for the writer in your life. These pens have metal casings and a nice weight in the hand. The caps post well. They come in a variety of attractive covers. The disposable ink cartridges are inexpensive and easy to find, and if you’re cheap like me or are equally nerdy about inks like me, the disposable cartridges can be rinsed out and then refilled with other inks using either a plastic pipette or a glass eye dropper.
2) Notebooks (for all writers)
This is another obvious choice for a writer friend. I caved and bought myself two new (super cheap) notebooks for myself at Five-Below this year, because I have a teensy obsession with notebooks (see previous post here). I also found a few with pre-generated writing prompts. I got several identical copies of these and am going to be giving them to members of my long-distance writing group. The idea is that we can partake in a story-swap. I’m envisioning it a little like a book club, where once a month we all take the first prompt in our notebooks and write a piece of flash fiction off of it, then send it to each other. It’ll keep us all writing, keep our creativity-muscles in good shape, and keep us connected. Win-win-win, and whatnot.
3) Faux Old-Fashioned Typewriter Keyboard (for whimsical writers)
Part of me knows this is sort of a stupid gift, but that doesn’t change the fact that I grin like an idiot every time I look at this adorable if impractical device. My dad owned an ancient, high-backed Underwood typewriter when I was a kid. He showed me how to use it and then left me to play school, and secretary (sad, I know), and then to start typing stories on that old machine. Therefore, this high-tech-low-tech gift pushed my nostalgia button hard. In practice, it would probably end up annoying the heck out of me due to how small the keyboard is, and it doesn’t look all that easy to transport without snagging the keys and popping them off on stuff. But, seriously, just look at it! Isn’t it cute?
4) Gift Card to a Hip, Local, Coffee Shop (for… hip writers?)
Odin, hear my prayer, please no more gift cards to Dunkin Donuts or Starbucks or Panera Bread. Okay, Panera Bread, maybe, but not the other two. Ask your writer friend where they like to go to write and, assuming their answer is a coffee shop of some kind, hit up that spot and get them a gift card for MORE THAN ten dollars. Come on people; make it worth it, please.
4) Books (for humans)
Duh! This is the absolute no-brainer. And, by the way, books are just about the best gift idea for anyone, anywhere, at any time, for any occasion. Giving someone a great book kills so many birds with a single stone. Reading will improve the receiver’s brain, give them an awesome extended experience, and give them something great to talk about to other people. Books as gifts support the creative person or persons who wrote the book, designed the cover, etc. Also, buying books sends a message to the marketplace that books are a product worth creating, and maybe that will have a trickle-down effect for all of us. Maybe? That last bit could be a naive thought on my part.
Now, please, don’t just take a shot in the dark. And don’t buy them a book that YOU would like to read and so you figure they would, too. Take the time to find out what books they want. If they have a Goodreads account, check out their “Want to Read” list. If that isn’t a possibility, how about you just flat out ask them? You might be thinking, “But then they’ll know what I’m getting them for a present,” allow me to speak on their behalf for a moment: They don’t care. They will love the gift even if it’s not a total surprise because it’s something they WANT.
5) A Contigo® Travel Mug (for environmentally conscious writers)
This ties back to the gift card to your writer friend’s favorite haunt. Give your writer a way to nourish their caffeine habit in an environmentally friendly way.
Specifically, I adore Contingo® travel mugs.
Testimonial – This past year I made myself a cup of tea to sip out of my Contigo® mug on my drive to work at 7:00 am. It was scalding hot, so I set it in a console cup holder to cool and completely (I mean completely) forgot about it. That afternoon, at 4:45 pm, I rediscovered it when I got into my car to go home. The tea in the travel mug had cooled just enough so that I could sip it without burning myself. Now that is an impressive mug!
I learned a lesson that day, too. I now make my tea, then add four ice cubes as I’m heading out the door so that I can enjoy my hot beverage on my actual drive.
6) A Coffee Bean Grinder (for coffee drinking writers)
If writer friend likes coffee, this is a great gift idea. Freshly ground beans make for significantly better tasting coffee than preground beans do. Also, it opens up the possibility of them trying out (or being gifted) unique gourmet bean blends. I own both a hand grinder and an electric grinder. Confession, I use the electric one more than I use the manual one, but only because it’s quicker and more convenient. The manual grinder does a better job of grinding the beans evenly.
Regardless, whenever I find myself in the rare and luxurious position of being alone in my home with a few hours of isolation available in which I can read or write, one of the first things I do is brew up a rich, quality cup of high-end coffee.
7) Noise Canceling Headphones (for writers with children)
Bose makes a $300 pair; I saw them in the Apple store and just about choked at the price. But you know what? I tried them on and, by Freya, those suckers were incredible!
As a writer who struggles to close out the world when I’m writing, this gift would be fantastic! There is literally a hole in the wall above my writing desk through which the dulcet tones of my playing/bickering/crying/screaming children echo to me as I attempt to immerse myself in another world. Noise canceling headphones would be a much-appreciated gift. But beware, not all “noise canceling” headphones do a good job of actually canceling out noise. If you’re going to commit to this gift idea, pay for ones that work!
8) Magazine Subscriptions (for writers of short fiction)
In what genre does your friend write? You should know this, but if you don’t, find out. Also, ask your aspirational writing friend, “In which magazines do you dream of getting published?” The pinnacle, prestige publications. Buy them a subscription to any and all of them.
The first step toward them achieving their dream is to read from those magazines often. However, yearly subscriptions can be pricey. I have a bucket list of amazing magazines in which I dream of one-day publishing, and I’d be delighted if someone bought me not just an issue but a whole year’s subscription of any of them. That would be incredible.
9) A Wicked Good Bag (for on-the-go writers)
I have owned both backpacks and messenger bags. I personally prefer messenger bags. Not sure why. Just do.
My current bag came from Barnes and Noble. A pretty good bag considering the price, and I’ve loved owning it for three years now. It’s just… starting to look its age, I guess. The heavily stained, frayed-at-the-edges canvas exterior has lost some of its attractiveness. It’s still quite functional, though. I would be so hesitant to spend money on a new one. I mean, who cares if it’s starting to look like something I found half-buried beside an abandoned set of train tracks, right?
Anyway, a woman who coaches in the same Science League that I coach in was sporting just about the best bag I have ever seen in my entire life. It’s by a company called Peak Design
Pause: Leather satchels that look like they’re meant to be perched across the back of some gorgeous adventuring archaeologist are my ultimate fantasy bags. My fantasy bags would not hold up to real life practicalities, however. The Peak Designs bag would, though, and you have to admit that they are also gorgeous in a completely different way than the Indiana Jones bags.
10) A Writer’s Retreat or Convention (for all writers)
The gift of a retreat would be a huge gift, a truly grand gesture. It would be (in my opinion) the penultimate gift you could ever possibly give to a writer. It’s like buying someone a cruise. Heck, I know of several writers retreats that ARE cruises. So… just sayin’.
What’s great is that there are retreats suited for all types of writers. What’s sad is that while most of us will yearn and pine and dream of attending a writers retreat, most of us will never follow through and go. There are logistical issues to attending a retreat. Circumstances must be taken into account. Childcare? Time off from work? Travel considerations? Before offering up this diamond ring of a gift to the writer in your life, make sure it’s something they both really want to do and could logistically do. If you’re not sure about how to “shop” for the perfect retreat, check out this excellent post: Making the Most of Your Writing Retreat by Janalyn Voigt over at LiveWriteBreathe.
If my beloved surprised me with a week-long writer’s retreat, I would probably get as excited as the day I… well, never you mind. Let’s just say I’d get very, very excited.
So there you go. A few ideas of fantastic gifts you could get that special writer in your life and have it be very genuinely appreciated.
Think long and hard. What would you love to get as a gift in the context of you being a writer? Share in the comments. Ideas are more than welcome.
Happy writing to you!