Creative Gifts for Writers 2018

Looking for that perfect gift to give your writer friend? We’re a quirky unique bunch. As an author myself, I’ve amassed my share of “Here’s a notebook I think you’d like”s over the years. I’m not complaining! Any well-intended gift is sincerely appreciated. But if you’d like to wow the pants off of your writer friend (or just get an all-caps THANKS!), here are some out-of-the-box, creative gift ideas. Some are standard but fun [wacky bookmarks] but others I guarantee you’ve never thought of before–and are–get this–free [book reviews]!! 

Please note I get no royalties or kickbacks from any of these external sites, and I cannot otherwise vouch for their awesomeness; I just happen to think they rock. 

1. Adorable, unique bookmarks

Sure, anyone with kids has bookmarks climbing out of our ears and flowing off our desks…but do we have any creeping out of our books? Creative ideas like these are sure to please even your writer friend that MAKES bookmarks.

2. Ways to not keep spouses/kids up at night when ideas strike

Don’t let them wake the house when they are up late catering to their muse. This cool nightlight not only opens up to the shape of a book (see what I did there!), it’s attached to a USB cable, allowing them to write by hand by plugging in their cell phone which is next to their bed anyway, or write on the laptop with just enough light to see the keys. This way they can stay in bed writing copious notes, or drift off to the side of the room without needing to turn on all the house lights to head downstairs.


Books on the craft of writing

Great books on writing are super easy to order online and have delivered to their door (but of course I’m going to suggest you get from your local bookseller). 

Cheers to you, writer friend!
  • 4. Champagne! 

Show them you have your full support, and that you believe in them, by buying them a bottle of champagne to celebrate their first/next/upcoming contract or milestone. It doesn’t have to be a fancy bottle, or break the bank. It’ll mean even more if you include a handwritten note of encouragement for them to reread when they are having a bad day. 

  • 5. Yoga class pass or membership

Give them time to get past redundancy and perhaps writers block, as they FINALLY LEAVE THE HOUSE to let those ideas simmers once they hit the yoga mat. Good energy begets good energy. Couldn’t we all use a little of that?

Photo credit: our local indy bookstore
  • 6. Buy their @%#! book!

This may sound weird, because technically you aren’t giving them anything. But trust me–you are! Telling an author you just bought their book is like giving them a warm hug wrapped in chocolate cake (without the mess). If you already PAID FOR their book–not already have it–(which, unless you are their mom, sorry but I doubt you have), then buy another one to give to a friend or donate to a school library or teen shelter or neighbor. Even if you know you’ll never read it–they don’t need to know that. Support your friend fer pete’s sake. It’s Christmas!

Buying it at a local independent bookstore (if they don’t carry it–ask them to order it) is more helpful then buying at the website where everything is 40% off, because it helps the local economy and introduces the bookseller to your author friend. [Fork over the retail price you cheapskate. The amount you’d have saved won’t even buy a cup of coffee.]

  • 7. Art 
    How can you not love artwork like the above, lettered on clear glass and matted in a circle? Head over to etsy  for this mantra made by JaneAustenandCo, or pick your/their favorite quote and make your own.

  • 8. Support — via a book review

If you’ve got zero money in your pocket but want to give SOMEthing, give a book review! Did you know that the number of book reviews can help boost a book’s placement on websites like Amazon Books and general Google searches? The more reviews, the higher  up it will likely show. Reviews of any kind are a HUGE factor, if not boost, to an author’s success. Even if they aren’t glowing reviews! A review shows the book has been read. And that the reader took the time to review it–which means it made an impact on the reader. In fact, a mention of the book in any form of social media is welcomed. I mean, who can’t give a free gift? Just make sure you’ve read the book, and make it a genuine review. Websites are cracking down on what they perceive to be “buddy reviews” and are deleting them without warning. Give a fair review. I mean sure–round up on the number of stars by all means–just don’t go too overboard on the comments or it’ll come across as fake. No one wants that, not even for the holidays.

If free is the only way you’re going this year, at a minimum, check out their book from a library–or ask your local library to carry their book (and tell your friend you did so). It might not seem like a big deal, but checking a book out of library, or even taking it off the shelf and having a librarian re-shelf it, can make a big difference in how long a library keeps a book. This is how a California librarian explained it: “If a book has not been checked out in a certain number of months, it gets chucked. Yep. And then [the] book will be gone from the system, forever.” Sad, right? She went on to say, “Basically, librarians are always actively looking for books to ‘weed.’ They have to get rid of books on a regular basis to make room for new ones coming in. If they find a book that hasn’t been checked out for ages, and it’s a book they love, they might put it on display or do something else to increase its circulation. But they might also just decide this book has lived its life, and because there is no demand for it anymore, it’s time to pass it on. Sad but reality. ” So check out your friends book(s)!

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  • 9. (Nice!) Clothes

Scarves, leggings, pins, you name it. A friend bought me a scarf that has banned books listed/crossed out. I sometimes wear it as a skirt–see above (writers are the creative type afterall). Other scarves have bookshelves [found on etsy, Amazon and Zazzle], ones with the text from your favorite novel such as the Alice in Wonderland scarf and other classics from storiarts, and ones (like above) that look like a stamped library due-date card. Google “books scarf” or “word scarf” or a similar combination and you’ll be amazed at the selection. Order now, though, as many are special order (and most likely worth it).

Then there are ADORABLE pins like a set of images from The Little Prince Book from Out of Print (typewrtiters, Edage Allen Poe with a Santa hat, oh…too many too list). They can go on the scarves or be standalone gifts–they are small in size but sure to win over any heart.

Leggings are fun too. I will warn against ordering leggings online without checking their material and reading reviews. I ordered a pair from a company that rhymes with Brave New Rook and while I’m sure the company is full of wonderful people, their leggings are HORRIBLE quality (100% polyester) and there was no way to tell from the their website how awful they’d feel or look in real life. The stitching is atrocious. The fact that there was only one review should have tipped me off. [They also took weeks to arrive but that’s another story]. You don’t have that issue with scarves so I’m thinking they are a safer sight-unseen purchase. And scarves look so classy!

All these suggestions are conversation starters too. Many writers are introverts so any are a welcomed party accessory.

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  • 10. Education

Sign your writer up for a class, a workshop, a conference. I love SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) and it’s one nonprofit I can vouch for. Why not buy your writer an annual membership? It’ll last all year long (join SCBWI). Everyone has a chapter near them (check here for where yours might be) and every region hosts local events, meet ups, etc.  Kidlit411 has no membership fee, and offers a list of reputable places to look for events/conferences/workshops practically worldwide that might be wroth signing them up for. Other online and/or downloadable classes seem to be cropping up daily. Most are hosted by solid industry professionals and offer sessions year round. Just carefully investigate the credentials of who’s presenting, and comparison shop for prices. SCBWI tends to offer stellar webinars throughout the year, for example, for $10 or $15 members (only $20ish for nonmembers). Have a look at some upcoming ones here — check back often for updates. Make sure the topic is a good fit. I mean, don’t get your writer a workshop on editing if they haven’t even written their story yet; if that’s their situation, suggest they take a beginner’s class on how to write or how to get started first. 

  • 11. Some bling, or anything Harry Potter, or both

Jewelry is a slam dunk most of the time. So is anything Harry Potter. Harry Potter jewelry? Oh my. Then there’s simple bracelets like the one above, with bookish sayings, for $14. For your writer/illustrator friend, here’s a great crayon charm necklace for only $12! They’ve got it with typewriters too.  Plenty of jewelry out there for all tastes. Google key writing-type words or phrases and add “bracelet” or “necklace” to see what crops up. There’s lots.

  • 12. A professional critique 

We could all use a helping hand when it comes to making our writing better. Why not buy your writer a professional critique of their work? [Note: NEVER do this on the fly. ONLY go with a reputable, experienced author who you’ve gotten recommendations from. (What have they published recently, by what publishing house, to what acclaim? If you’ve never heard of them, get names of people they’ve critiqued for and see what they say.)] Here are some writers I can vouch for. There are plenty of others too! These are literally off the top of my head. Check them out yourself–carefully! You want to make sure you get the best fit for your specific work.

  1. Carol Munro,
  2. Nikki Shannon Smith, 
  3. ME! Bitsy Kemper,

13.  Better-than-your-average tee

Nothing I like better than supporting small businesses, especially when they have quality goods. This one even has a “Gifts for book lovers” page! I know, I know, the last thing we need is another book bag, but the book-themed tees are super cute. Anyone can find a crass shirt with text. Why not find a pretty one they WANT to wear, and can wear anyplace? Since I’ve purchased from this vendor before, she’s kindly offered up a 20% off for anyone to use as much as they want: KEMPER20 (and no, I get no profit or benefit from your purchase–I just like her stuff).

Regardless of what you get your writer, knowing you shopped with them in mind will make all the difference.  They will love you went out of your way for them!

When it’s all said and done, the particular gift you give isn’t what matters most. What matters most is how the particular gift made the recipient feel.

Lisa Bader, gift-giving expert,

I’m betting some of these you haven’t thought of. And maybe you’ll give one (or two?) a try? No excuses to not do SOMEthing! 

If you found other cool stuff, let me know. Or send it to me 🙂

Whatever part of the season you celebrate, may you celebrate it with love. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and, of course…

Happy Gift Giving!