The Writer’s List For Santa

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Before I became a writer and a librarian, I taught preschool. At holiday time, my students always brought me sweet little packages (chosen and paid for by their parents.) Inside were the usual “Best Teacher Ever” coffee cups, “I Love My Teacher” tree ornaments and “Number One Teacher” ball caps. All very kind, but not at all what I would want. I couldn’t drink coffee at school, I already have enough ornaments to decorate two trees and we had a professional dress code that barred hats. I always thanked them as sweetly as I could even while I sighed inside, wishing the coffee cup was a $5 Office Depot gift card instead. The problem was that people didn’t really understand what a teacher might want.

Writers run into the same problem. Once it’s known that we like to write (or God forbid, that we’re attempting to do it for a living), the wacky presents start showing up. Some of them are great. I admit, I think a t-shirt that says “Be careful or I’ll put you in my novel” is funny, but if you don’t wear t-shirts, it’s just a dust collector. So I’ve made up a list of ideas for you, my fellow writers, to share with your friends and family. In case you feel you need it.

Despite our heavily technological society, sometimes the best writing happens on paper with a pen. If you look around on the internet, you’ll find sites offering gorgeous tooled leather notebooks that hold hand-crafted paper, and gold-plated fountain pens filled with ink mixed from the berries of a tree that only grows in the Himalayas in the summer, and I’m sure they’re all lovely. I have a gorgeous book of my own (and I even asked for it!) Trouble is, I’ve never written a word in it, because it’s too nice. If you want something to really work in, spiral notebooks and Uniball pens are the best way to go. They’re lightweight and portable, and the gift-giver can afford to give you three dozen notebooks and three packs of pens for less than price of one ultra-chi-chi leather book.

If you like to compose while you’re driving to and from work, and don’t want to risk crashing the car while looking down at the notebook, you might enjoy a digital voice recorder. The only problem is that your fellow drivers will see you furiously talking to yourself, and might wonder what you’ll do next. But sometimes that’s fun, too.

Ordinary household use of a printer doesn’t empty a cartridge very quickly, but printing manuscripts and query letters will dry you out fast, so the gift of reams of white paper and printer ink cartridges is delightful. Just be certain the gift-giver knows what sort of printer you have, or you’ll end up in an exchange line. Even better than paper and ink, ask for gift cards to Office Depot or Staples, so you can fetch the supplies you need on your own.

People give tickets to concerts and theater events all the time…what about the registration to an upcoming con? Or maybe the gift of airline tickets to get you to the con. Granted those are both a little more expensive than paper and voice recorders, but if it’s in your gift-giver’s budget, it’s the perfect present. Ooh, I think I should mention this one to my husband… If that’s too much, maybe a subscription to Locus, Realms of Fantasy or some other useful magazine would be just the thing.

When I was ten or eleven, it became cool to create personal gift certificate booklets to give to our parents. Things like “One hour of babysitting my sister without complaining” or “One week of washing the dinner dishes”, that sort of thing. If your gift-giver’s budget is tight, maybe he can give the gift of an uninterrupted hour every night so you can write without having to make dinner and do laundry. Time’s the one thing we can never have enough of. And it doesn’t even need wrapping!

Writers are, for the most part, crazy for books. Crrrrrrazy. I’d rather get books than most anything else. Gift certificates to the local independent bookseller are a great idea. If there’s not an indie nearby, go for the chain, or even Amazon. And of course, the best option for the writers on your gift list…books by those fabulous folks at Magical Words!

Feel free to post your own writerly wish lists in the comments.

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19 comments to The Writer’s List For Santa

  • Beatriz

    Thanks, Misty! You just provided me with months worth of gift-giving ideas!

  • Misty said >>If your gift-giver’s budget is tight, maybe he can give the gift of an uninterrupted hour every night so you can write without having to make dinner and do laundry. Time’s the one thing we can never have enough of. And it doesn’t even need wrapping!>>

    I *must* second this one. I would *love* to have the hubby give me back the gift of the housekeeper. We used to have her come once a month and dig us out of the muck. ((She kindly never reported the bodies she found buried under the dust bunnies — I tip well.)) For various reasons that isn’t happening any more. Or at the very least, voluntarily do the vacuuming two times a week. I counted up the hours I spend cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, shopping for food, etc. and it is equal to the time spent writing. Writers would be soooo appreciative of the gift of time…

    Of course then there is the writer pal (who shall remain nameless) who wants silk jammies… (grins)

  • “Of course then there is the writer pal (who shall remain nameless) who wants silk jammies… (grins)”

    You promised you wouldn’t tell!!!

    I’ll add music to the list. Find out (subtly) what your favorite writer listens to when writing and get him/her more of that. Or, just a gift certificate to Amazon so that he/she can buy music. That’s often the gift I want most.

  • Faith mentioning the silk jammies reminded me of one very wonderful gift…a gift certificate to the writer’s favorite masseuse or masseur. Sitting all that time does hideous things to one’s muscles, and a good massage can work wonders.

    Hey, I’d better call Diane!

  • Got my biggest writer present for my birthday this year. A quality laptop I can write with and take with me when we go to someone’s house or while we visit relatives in Indiana. Also got a 4 GB flash drive for it so I now have all my writing backed up on there, as well as my zip at home.

    Yeah, for me a gift card to B&N or Borders would be good right now. I’m starting to look at my book shelves and going, I’ve pretty much read all these over 5 times each… Been picking stuff up at the library to read.

    Course, I’ve got more practical things on my list, like a dishwasher and magic electricity elves to come and rewire the poorly wired house we’re renting.

  • And this writer has just found what she wants… a Cave!

  • I keep a wish list on Amazon so that friends and family can buy me oodles of books for Christmas and my birthday. Never mind that my to-read shelf is already overflowing. Must… get… more… books.

    Also, I sent my preschooler off on the bus just a short while ago with Starbucks gift cards for his teacher and aides. I figure that even if they don’t like coffee, they can easily re-gift it and please someone.

  • And for those of our readers whose houses are cluttered with large sacks of money, I could really use a new car.

  • Oh, AJ, what a nice addition to the wish list!

    And David — sorry! (slaps hand over mouth)

  • Good ideas Misty. I want to second (or third) the Amazon gift card. My father gives me one for christmas every year. My husband and I’ve made a game out of seeing how much we can get with it. Three years ago, I bought a router, a cd, and twelve books with a $100 gift card. I haven’t topped that yet. Maybe this year.

  • I’m right there with you, April. My Amazon gift card is one of my favorite presents. In fact, between my Holiday Amazon card, my Birthday Amazon card, and yes, I have an Amazon points earning credit card, I generally don’t buy books with my own money anymore. Well, mostly. Somehow there’s always that one I’ve just got to have and can’t wait another few months for the gift card. Ah, books, we love you and hate you! 😮

  • Beatriz

    But what I *really* want to know is, what size shoe does David wear so that I can buy the matching maribou slippers for his silk pj’s.

    *ducks and runs before Santa puts coal in her stocking*

  • Silk PJs in the plaid for clan McCohen….

  • Dude, I work in my pj’s, so it’s not only practical, but tax deductible, too.

  • Kim, I was not gonna say who! But that is perfect! Hmmm. So I can write off my old stained sweats and fuzzy socks?

  • Mia Scozzi

    Another idea is to get a cover for your everyday notebook or legal pad, this way it looks nice, protects the supremely important notes/story inside, and the writer shouldn’t have any guilt about writing in it.

  • I’m all for getting extra time but books are always a winner (and movies so DVD’s or movie vouchers). I used to like getting notebooks and stationary but I have so much now I will probably never run out.
    Thanks for the gift ideas.

  • Sarah

    Yes, what is this pajama phenomenon? I too write best in my floppiest, coziest clothes. And I have to roll up my sleeves. Can’t write with something around my wrist. No wonder people think we writers are lunatics.

  • I remember getting one of those nice leather bound notebooks. Like you, I could never get myself to actually write in it. It seemed to nice to notes and stuff. Those small pocket sized spiral notepads were my favorites. I’ve got a small pile of them tucked away dating back from late high school days.

    One of my favorite Christmas gift one year was being brought to Barnes & Noble and being told: “You have $100.00 to get whatever you want.” Let’s just say my military science fiction collection went from zero to pretty substantial. Sadly, I doubt I would be able to purchase anywhere near the same amount of books now aways for that money.