I struggle with Christmas shopping. I get lists, but I don’t always want to just go and arbitrarily pick a couple of things out to use up my budget. This is especially important for people who I care and know a lot about. Maybe it’s because I’ve gotten used to some less-than-stellar gifts from my family. As a writer and reader, I’m a bit of an outlier.
Because of this, I came up with a list of gift ideas for people like me, in the hopes that it can help somebody find that perfect gift for their favorite readers and writers (including you).
10 Simple Gift Ideas for Your Favorite Writers and Readers
1. Bird by Bird – Anne Lamott (Price: >$15)
I honestly love this book. My high school journalism teacher recommended it to me, and it was required for my EN 101 class my first semester of college. Lamott is extremely accessible, and she mixes advice on life with her writing advice. Some of my favorite chapters are “School Lunches,” “Writing a Present,” and “The Last Class.” Of course, if your favorite writer already has this, there’s many other writing books out there for you to examine.
2. Nice Notebooks (Price: Varies)
My favorite time of the year is right before school starts. Why? Ten cent notebooks. They’re nothing special, just spiral-bound with the little wiry bits that once snagged a string on a brand new shirt the first time I wore it- not that I’m bitter. I have a dresser drawer full of them. Now, these notebooks are all fine and dandy, but for my birthday last year, my friend Lizzie (you can find her here) bought me a really lovely notebook with a cover made from recycled newspaper. I will say that I was a bit scared to start writing in it, simply because it was so pretty. Now, it makes the words I’ve written in it feel just a little more special. Make sure to throw in a quick note or your favorite quote on the inside cover so that they’re remember their favorite gift-giver ever.
3. Writing Utensils (Price: Varies)
I love the act of actually writing things down. I love the feel of put things down on paper. The problem is that I lose pens and pencils constantly. Actually, I lose everything constantly. However, when my dad bought me a Pentel Twist Erase III after I tried stealing his, he told me to not lose it. That was at least 3 years ago, and I still have it. I’ve only recently started writing with pens, but my sister gave me her obsession.
Even though they’ll most likely appreciate almost any utensils you give them, pay attention to what they use, or just flat-out ask them what they enjoy using or want to try. If you want to get really special, buy the writer in your life a personalized pen along with a matching journal. Writing utensil storage and organization will also always be appreciated. Depending on your writer, quills, fountain pens and calligraphy kits might also be a unique idea.
4. Literary Magazine Subscription ($15 and up)
This is great for readers and writers alike, but especially useful for writers planning on submitting to one of these publications since it can give them a taste for what these publications want to see. Considering how many you have to choose from, here’s a few bit of advice on picking one. First off, trying picking a publication made for writers in your state or region. If that doesn’t appeal to you, ask your favorite writer, or try Poets & Writers ($15.95 for one year), The New Yorker ($1 a week, plus access to their online archives), or Writer’s Digest ($9-$19 a year, based on digital or print format). Of course, there are other magazines that may appeal to your recipients. My personal favorite is National Geographic ($12-$19 a year).
5. Coffee and Tea (Price: Varies)
I’m a night writer with a hectic daytime schedule. That’s not a good combination, and a common struggle. Presently, an very large amount of my life circles around caffeine. Help your writer or reader burn the midnight oil the “sophisticated way” with some coffee or tea. If you’re not sure what they like, investigate their pantry, or try Teavana’s or Starbuck’s gift centers. Sampler packs are a great idea for your adventurous recipients. If they have a Keurig, then that merely expands your options.
6. Hardcover Classics, Signed Editions and Collectables ($10 and up)
I spend way too much time staring at the Barnes & Noble Collectables, both online and in the stores. There’s so many options, and they’re all so pretty. If you can, look at your recipient’s bookshelf and DVD collection to pick out a few options. Signed books are also a great idea, and not as prohibitively expensive as you might think. If you’re motivated, you could even try checking to see if there’s any book signings occurring in your area, and maybe surprise your recipient by bringing them over and giving them a copy for their favorite author to sign.
7. A Homemade Writing Prompt Book
This works best with someone whose writing you’re decently familiar with. You can find writing prompts literally everywhere. Google boasts 8.75 million results for them, for heaven’s sake. Write a bunch out on some index cards, or print them up on some card stock. You can bind them together on a bunch of different ways, but a hole punch and some loose leaf rings might be a good route. Of course, if you want to get really fancy, head over to an office supply store to have them professionally bound and laminated.
There’s all kinds of ways to make this gift unique. If you’re really ambitious, but together 365 of them into a prompt journal, or organize them into categories. Try finding prompts that might challenge your favorite writer to improve their skills. If it’s your thing, make up your own writing prompts, which can make this gift far more personal.
8. Book Subscription Boxes
So I just discovered the wonderful world of subscription boxes, and I am anxiously awaiting the new year to maybe buy a few month’s worth. There’s at least one service for every possible taste out there, and plenty for book lovers. Here’s just a few I thought worth mentioning (mostly because I want them):
Uppercase Box ($29 or $35 a month): Uppercase box sends you one YA book per month, along with a book-related goodie like bookmarks, jewelry , bags, and whatnot. The Expert Pick box is $29 a month, while $35 can get you a personalized pick. They also provide a forum for book discussions.
Quarterly’s Book Riot Box ($50 a quarter): Curated by Bookriot.com, the Book Riot box sends a collection of books and other materials centering around a certain theme every three months. The first four themes were “The Magic of Reading,” “Expand your Readerly Horizons,” “Books on Books,” and “Power of Words.”
Just the Right Book (Prices Vary): These book subscriptions provide monthly, bi-monthly, or quarterly subscriptions for Kids, Teens and Adults. The books are handpicked based on your reader’s tastes, and you can choose paperback, hardcover, or mixed options. They’re pretty pricey, but they also guarantee satisfaction, and allow your recipient to provide feedback to fine tune their selections.
9. Lap Desks (Price: > $15)
I spend most of my time writing either on my couch or my bed. That can result in a lot of discomfort for me, since it typically results in bad posture and awkward positions. There are hundreds of options for all kinds of budgets, with all kinds of great features like a built-in reading light and cup-holders.
10. Stuff that isn’t Reading- or Writing-Related
I’m a Writing Major. I’ve wanted to write for a living my entire life. I write a blog about writing. Getting gifts related to my passion makes me super happy, but it can get a little tiresome to get a Barnes and Noble Gift Card every year.
I am learning how to knit. I want to learn how to cook. I love animals, especially cats. I also love mermaids. These are things that I also love getting gifts for. Do you see where I’m heading with this? If you want to make a gift really meaningful, think of something you know about that person that not many other people know about.
I hope that this far from expansive list provides you (or your friends and relatives) a better handle on your Christmas Shopping list!
What some of the best gifts you’ve ever received? What would you add to this list? Make sure to share your responses in the comments below, and don’t forget to share this list on twitter with @SpunFromInk to help your followers with their present shopping!