I’m not much of a gift giver.
Or a gift receiver.
My palms sweat as I unwrap a present, worrying if the smile plastered on my face looks as fake as it feels.
Why do I hate getting gifts? Maybe it’s the Jewish guilt: I worry someone spent money they didn’t have; I fret about plastic packaging going into the landfill; I even manage to feel guilty that the workers who made the gift might have been mistreated. And let’s not talk about whether the gift contains off-gassing toxins…
The presents I like best are experiences: homemade food, handmade drawings, artwork, coupons from my kids for things like soccer lessons (my holiday present from my son) and babysitting (my birthday present from my daughter), or a donation to a charity.
So now that I’ve established that I am the last person on earth to be recommending gift, you should probably click off my website and read another blog by someone more qualified.
Still reading? Here are my thoughts on the 15 most fabulous gifts to give to writers.
N.B.: There aren’t any associate links in this post. I get no kickbacks and make no money from this website. To the best of my knowledge, I don’t personally know any of the people at any of the companies mentioned below.
N.B. #2: If you’re as worried as I am about the environment, a possible workaround is to offset the carbon emissions by planting trees. Though my teenager insists, “that’s totally lame, Mo-om,” it seems like a good idea to me.
The 15 most fabulous gifts to give to a writer you love
- Writerly socks: How can any writer not want #2 pencil knee highs, notebook socks, banned book socks, Shakespeare socks, or Edgar Allan Poe socks?!
- A Jane Austen cushion cover: I’ve read Pride and Prejudice six times. If the writer in your life loves Jane Austen, he needs one of these. Or you could splurge on some Merimekko cushions instead. Their patterns inspire mucho creativity. (Mucho means mucho in Finnish.)
- A houseplant: Plants make indoor spaces look more inviting and help filter the air. Every time you breathe you are feeding them. Give your writer chum a potted cutting from one of your own plants or buy one at the local nursery. Just choose a species that is easy to take care of, so writerly distraction doesn’t lead to unintentional planticide.
- Fair-trade organic chocolate: Chocolate sharpens the mind, gives a hit of caffeine, and lights up reward centers in the brain. Dark chocolate is rumored to have myriad other health benefits though some of us prefer milk (raises hand). My husband’s favorites are all so expensive we don’t ever actually eat them: Domori, Michel Cluizel, Vosges. Our local chocolatier is less pricey and pretty good: Lillie Belle Farms. Or go for a gag gift and get some of these disgusting brain lollipops, jelly-filled gummy brains, or Shakespeare insult gum.
- Writer’s block soap: Soap is another gift I like because—even though it may not actually be necessary (think: no ’poo)—it is experiential. Writers are too busy creating to take showers, so a bar of soap makes for a good reminder.
- A little dough: I made this money pizza for my 11 year old. Just like tweens, writers are usually short on cash. Make one of these for them. Just substitute the two-dollar bills for twenties.
- A blank book: Writing in a gilded Italian hand-made journal covered in Florentine paper, like this one, or any of these (aren’t they gorgeous?), is inspirational to even the most reluctant writer. These journals are so beautiful they feel sinful. I burn through notebooks, so I’m always grateful to receive a blank book, sketchbook, reporter’s notebook, or moleskin.
- A novel, book of short stories, or book of poems: Inspire the writer in your life by gifting her your favorite book. A collection of read-aloud poetry also makes a good gift. We exchange poems on Hanukah instead of presents; Talking Like the Rain illustrated by Jane Dyer is our family’s favorite book of children’s poems.
- A bottle of fine wine (or scotch): Armed with Bacchus’s elixir, your writer friend can implement Hemingway’s advice, “Write drunk, edit sober.”
- A nice pen: to go with #7.
- A massage: A friend in my real-life writing group a few years ago gifted me a one-hour massage to celebrate submitting my book to the publisher. Best present ever.
- An adventure: I tell middle and high school students who are aspiring writers that to be a good writer you have to lead an interesting life, take risks, and step outside your comfort zone. That goes for more established writers as well. Give your writer friend an adventure. It doesn’t need to be ziplining (though that’s a good one). It could be watching you perform a Cesarean section, a day at the racetrack, or a midnight hike. Other ideas: a psychic reading, a private visit to your city’s water treatment plant, a Segway ride, a backstage theater tour, an afternoon at the gun range, a flying lesson.
- Lavender oil: Calming and sweet smelling, lavender oil is the perfect balm to calm the anxious writer’s nerves. It also alleviates headaches, and can help with concentration. Elevation, an essential oil blend I also really like, is crazy expensive but also a fabulous gift if the writer in your life needs cheering up.
- A coffee cup like this one or this one or this one: Grammar nerds (raises hand) love this stuff. Besides, you need coffee with your chocolate (see #4).
- A retreat: My best friend arranged for us to spend a weekend working at the Coast, a few hours away from home. She brought markers and oversized papers and we each brainstormed and drew our goals on the first day. We took exercise breaks every few hours; she woke at dawn to photograph the sunrise. It was a lot cheaper than an actual writers’ retreat, there were no application forms, and we both got an astounding amount of work done.
Jennifer Margulis, Ph.D., is an award-winning writer, Fulbright grantee, and sought-after speaker. She is the author/editor of seven books, including The Vaccine-Friendly Plan, co-written with Dr. Paul Thomas, M.D. (Ballantine, 2016). She used to self-medicate with organic dried mango while writing until the price went up to $16 per pound. She has yet to have a psychic reading. Give her the gift of buying one of her books. Follow her on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. Or meet her in person at The Book Nook and Java Shop in Montague, Michigan on December 10, 2016 or the Kalamazoo Public Library on December 11, 2016, where she will be speaking with Julie Obradovic, author of the new memoir An Unfortunate Coincidence.
Writers and writer lovers: What’s your favorite gift to give? What’s the best gift you’ve ever received? Share your gift ideas in the comment section below.