The holidays are here again. Cue the gift-giving anxiety! I can’t tell you what you should buy for everyone on your list — mea culpa — but I can offer up these 15 holiday gifts for your writer friends. Whether you know an aspiring novelist or someone just nominated for a major award, this guide has a little something for writers of every stripe.
Year after year, my favorite gifts are always the ones that acknowledge my writerly business — whether that means a new book full of tips on how I can write better, a typewriter-themed accessory, or some cozy home goods for my home office. I’m not picky.
I can understand how some people might feel that they’re copping out of giving me a meaningful gift by turning to these old stand-bys every year. It’s the same feeling I get when I realize that, aw shit, I gave coffee mugs to my brothers and sisters-in-law, three years running. My personal opinion is that no one can possibly ever had enough coffee mugs, but I also want my giftees to feel like I put some thought, even just a tiny bit, into picking out their presents.
That’s why I’ve put together this list of 15 holiday gifts for your writer friends. You may not understand what they do, but it’s super easy to show them just how much you appreciate their friendship and the work they do.
15 Holiday Gifts for Your Writer Friends
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1. A Word Processor
Somewhere in-between the typewriter and the laptop, there was the word processor — a single-use instrument that allowed writers to type and save on the go. Although it’s certainly not the greenest writing option, the word processor allows modern-day writers to remove the Internet’s distractions from their writing space. Because most word processors only show a few lines of text at a time, they also prevent users from editing their work as they write, which any author will tell you is a deadly combination.
Today, Freewrite dominates the physical word-processing market, with two options for authors who yearn for the writing implements of yesteryear. The Freewrite Smart Typwriter is in its second incarnation, and boasts an e-ink screen, more than 1 million pages of local storage, and weeks of battery life. The Freewrite Traveler is the original Freewrite’s slimmer cousin, weighing in at less than 2 lbs. Both word processors retail for $599.
Of course, if you don’t want to buy a brand-new word processor, you don’t have to. Saving an old machine from the landfill is a way to green-up this gift, while keeping as much money as possible in your pocket. Used word processors start around $20-30 on eBay.
2. An Insulated Tumbler with a Spill-Resistant Lid
I know, I know, the coffee mug is such a cliché gift for the writer. But it’s a good cliché, and one for which my coffee mug collection and I are grateful. Writers, like all bookish folk, enjoy a good hot beverage, especially when we’re writing. Unfortunately, writers are also a forgetful sort, and remembering that we’ve made a cuppa, only to realize that that cuppa is now ice cold by our elbow? The worst.
So trust me — your local writer needs an insulated drinking vessel that will forgive all the myriad times they forget to drink their coffee, tea, or cocoa. While you’re at it, pick them up one with a spill-resistant lid, like this “book-lover” mug from Tervis. It keeps 24 oz. of hot beverage hot — or cold beverage cold — for the distracted writer, or the one who’s constantly on the go, all for just $14.99. Less flashy is this 30 oz. stainless steel tumbler from RTIC, currently selling for $12.99.
3. A Writer’s Block-Chopper
Writer’s block is the bane of every writer’s existence, so the author on your holiday gifting list will appreciate your efforts to help them overcome it. There are as many ways to overcome writer’s block as there are writers, but you’ll come across as fun and thoughtful if you pick up a dedicated writing-prompt kit for your friend.
Ranging in price from $10 to $30, the Writer Emergency Pack, Writer’s Toolbox, and Storymatic Game each come with plenty of features to lift an author out of their latest slump. The Writer Emergency Pack consists of 52 cards made to be drawn randomly whenever a fiction writer hits a snag. Geared more toward story-crafters who are having trouble beginning new projects, The Writer’s Toolbox comes with 60 writing prompts on sticks, and contains some sexual content among its materials. Finally, the Storymatic Game tasks players with combining character traits and situations to come up with new scenarios for their writing.
No matter where your writer friend encounters the most trouble in their work, these fun games will keep things lighthearted as they search for a way out of the mire.
4. Some Really Good Writing Software
If your writer friend still depends on Microsoft Word to do their writing, save them. Get them something better than the infinite scroll of a massive novel document, and give it to them ASAP.
Literature & Latte’s Scrivener program is my personal tool of choice, and it’s available on macOS ($49), Windows ($45), and iOS ($19.99). Scrivener includes built-in character-sketch templates and export options to format manuscripts for submission with minimal effort on the writer’s part. L&L also makes a plotting tool called Scapple, which retails for $18.
For writers who aren’t necessarily writing fiction, or even books, consider Ulysses, a $45 program for macOS and iOS. Ulysses has similar functionality to Scrivener, but with more flexibility for users who aren’t traditional novelists.
Finally, there’s Freedom, a premium app that syncs across subscribed devices to curtail excessive social media use. It’s available at three price points: $6.99 monthly, $29.04 yearly, or $129 for a lifetime subscription. Writers who just can’t stay off of Twitter will thank you, eventually, for this one.
5. A Calendar Just for Them
I know that calendars can come off as a thoughtless gift, but did you know they make calendars for writers? And I’m not just talking about the word-a-day calendars — although those are pretty boss and would make excellent gifts for writers. No, I’m talking about the Writer’s Digest Desk Calendar, which sells for somewhere between $9.99 and $14.99. That page-a-day calendar is jam-packed with writing prompts, NaNoWriMo survival tips, and more.
In the interest of full disclosure, you should know that I am a dingus who bought one of these calendars last November, set it aside for use in the new year, and promptly forgot about it until approximately two weeks ago. This is why you buy us the insulated tumblers, people. We forget things.
Supposing your writer friend isn’t a calendar person, another time-based writing tool will do! I’m a fan of Amy Peters’s The Writer’s Devotional: 365 Inspirational Exercises, Ideas, Tips & Motivations on Writing, which designates a particular purpose to each day of the week. For example, The Writer’s Devotional dedicates Thursdays to editing.
No matter whether you grab a calendar, devotional, or something else — a metronome, maybe? or a pomodoro timer? — these time-based holiday gifts for your writer friends will help them stay on top of their workload.
6. A Set of Noise-Cancelling Headphones
My sensory processing disorder makes writing in noisy environments a nightmare, particularly if there’s more than one noise happening at a time. The TV’s on, someone’s having a conversation, and another person is playing a game on their phone? TOO MUCH. CAN’T CONCENTRATE. MUST … NOT … MURDER … FAMILY …
Your writer friend’s experience with noise pollution might be less extreme than mine, but I can guarantee you that it’s no less irritating. The best noise-cancelling headphones in 2019 range in price from $100 to $400, but a number of good options exist in the $50-100 range. Holiday gifts for your writer friends that also keep them from murdering their families? Win-win.
7. A Creative Writing Course
A good writing group is hard to come by, as anyone who drifted apart from their university writing buddies will tell you. If you want to give your writer friend an amazing gift this holiday season, consider purchasing a creative writing course for them.
For writers based in remote locations, or those who are simply hermits, there’s MasterClass, which features learn-at-your-own-pace courses taught by Margaret Atwood, Judy Blume, Dan Brown, and Neil Gaiman, among others. You can purchase a single class for $90 or pay $180 for a yearly pass with access to everything MasterClass has to offer.
Based in New York City, the Gotham Writer’s Workshop offers classes in all forms of creative writing, both in-person and online. Prices start at around $165, and classes range from one day to ten weeks in length.
Finally, it never hurts to check with your local university, which may offer individual courses for non-degree-seeking students. Be advised, however, that these courses may cost more than other options, due to the fact that many institutions charge part-time and non-degree-seeking students hundreds of dollars per semester hour.
There are plenty of great, alcoholic gifts on the market today, from homebrewing kits to every hipster’s favorite, Two Buck Chuck. For the giftee with a flair for the dramatic, there’s this Absinthe Making Kit that will let them bring the liquor of choice of Oscar Wilde and Charles Baudelaire right into their own kitchens.
If your writer friend is a teetotaler, however, giving a tea, coffee, or cocoa sampler is a great way to show how much you care. Whatever your friend orders at the bar that isn’t alcohol, give them that, even if it’s a few bottles of cranberry juice and some limes. Be a pal!
9. A Creativity Candle
Small-batch candles are kind of my new favorite thing at the end of this decade, so I have to dedicate a little bit of space in this piece to repping some great candles for writers. This Magic Intention Candle for Creativity can be yours for $26, and this Art Ritual Candle is priced similarly at $24. ScentualGoddess sells this much-smaller Creative Juice Candle for $12.95.
If you’re looking for something a little less witchy woo-woo and a little more aromatherapy, there are still plenty of options out there. ForageCandle has soy-based offerings available in Hemingway, Avonlea, and Library scents, all for $22 each. BurningBookCandleCo has 4 oz. and 8 oz. versions of its Writer’s Café scented candle for $7 and $15, respectively. For $28 each, FlyPaperProducts sells gorgeous, hand-poured candles in scents like Jane Austen, The Poet, and The Writer. Finally, BriarWick offers Book Worm, Fireside Reading, and Pen to Paper candles starting at $8.50.
Not only are these candles lovely and long-lasting, they can also set a mood for writing, which can help to build habits and keep writers feeling inspired to write.
10. An Inkless Pen
Fancy pens are great and all, particularly for writers who prefer to craft their stories first by hand, but they have one major drawback for anyone who travels a lot. Pens leak, and badly, when subjected to the changes in cabin pressure on a jet. And pencils, with their shavings, replacement leads, and constant breaking, aren’t much better.
The solution: an inkless pen, like this one from UncommonGoods. As a pen, it’s a bit pricey at $45 — though the fancy-pen fans will have a good laugh at me for saying so — but that’s an absolute steal when you consider that it will never smudge, leak, or run out of ink.
11. A Dry-Erase Notepad
Since we’re on the subject of limitless writing tools, I feel I should point you toward this cheeky gift for jotters. Chronicle Books sells a Never-Ending Notepad, which is essentially a chunky dry-erase board masquerading as a checklist pad. It’s ceramic, so don’t buy it for your clumsier friends, but do get it for anyone who needs a practical paperweight. Some might feel a bit uncomfortable spending $19.95 on what could be termed a “small” gift, but I’d argue it’s quite a thoughtful present.
12. A Fancy-Schmancy Writing Board
Many long and terrible years ago, Yours Truly was a graphic design major. The extra items that art students at my alma mater had to buy were prohibitively expensive — around $400 in a discounted bundle from the local art-supply store and gallery. Among them was a drawing board, something I had never heard of before, and something that my fresh-out-of-art-school instructor chastised me for buying pre-made.
For those of you who don’t know, a drawing board is like a big, fancy clipboard that holds sketchpads. It’s an easel without legs. A vertical table. It’s incredibly useful, especially if you’re working on a 24 x 36″ sketch pad, or something similar.
It’s also a bit expensive, which is why I got called to the carpet for buying one outright, rather than purchasing “a piece of plywood and some art clips,” which I didn’t know was an acceptable thing to do at the time.
Why am I telling you all this? Because I’m about to suggest that you go and buy your writer friend a big, fancy, expensive clipboard. A luxe clipboard, but a clipboard, at that.
Available from Orvis, the No. 9 Medium Wood Writing Board and No. 10 Writing Board Lap Desk make gorgeous gifts for anyone who writes in the field, or just likes to write by hand. Priced at $270 and $330, respectively, these gifts lie outside what many can afford to spend on a single present, but if you’re in the market for a luxury item, this is a great choice.
13. Some Very Cozy Socks
When it comes to picking out holiday gifts for their writer friends, many shoppers overlook basic comfort items like socks, robes, and blankets. Don’t make this mistake! Being comfy means that a writer can focus on writing, without being distracted by discomfort.
I am a huge fan of comfort items, especially ones that keep my perpetually cold feet warm. Cozy socks are the only footwear I’ve ever found that keep my piggies toasty without making them sweat like … well, you get it.
At $12.99 per pair, Field & Stream’s cabin socks might seem prohibitively expensive, particularly if, like me, you’re used to buying your socks in bulk from a big-box store. One aloe-infused wear later, however, you’ll be hooked, and so will the writer on your holiday list.
14. A Blanket-Hoodie
Another comfort item, this “blanket/sweatshirt” is perfect for the writer who is always cold and/or in search of comfort. It’s big enough that a lot of people could use it as their own, one-person blanket fort, but it is a one-size-fits-most item, so be sure that it will fit your writer friend before purchasing. A Shark Tank-born sherpa jacket, The Comfy costs $39.99, and is available in navy, gray, burgundy, and “Komen pink.”
15. A Writing Retreat
Writing retreats are unique, intensive experiences that offer scribes a safe space to work on their craft, free from the distractions of day-to-day life. Tuition for these events ranges from a few hundred to a couple thousand dollars, which usually includes room and board for the length of the retreat.
Unless there’s plenty of time between the holidays and the writing retreat, you’ll want to work out the scheduling with your writer friend, because leaving their job, home, and family for 3-10 days will put a stress on their usual way of life. It might even be impossible for some writers’ schedules to accommodate. If you can afford this gift and make it work, however, your name might just appear in the acknowledgements section of a new bestseller.
Do you have a favorite gift you’ve received as a writer? What are your favorite holiday gifts to give your writer friends? Let me know in the comments!
Image credit: congerdesign on Pixabay