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Writers are EASY to find gifts for! I am positive that the writer in your life will love any of these gift ideas–I know, because I am a writer who personally shopped for; hand-selected; and bought, continues to use, and loves–or continues to covet–each and every one of these items.
Who are we kidding–I know you’re “the writer.” Get something for you–you’ll love it.
As someone who once spilled a full latte on her laptop, I no longer insist on just leak-proof, I also need spill-proof. This one does it. Hit it with your elbow and knocked it over? No big deal. Gotta leave in a hurry? No sloshing here. Need both hands? Hit the lock, toss it in your bag, and go! Love.
Mine had a bit of a manufactured taste when I first got it, but I soaked it over night in boiling water and baking soda, and we’re all good now. I recommend the stainless steel, because the colors tend to scratch. Also, the lid is ingenious, but you’ll want a brush to clean it once in a while.
I used to be a daily (sometimes twice-daily) Starbucks girl. No more. I got this wonderful machine and never looked back. This machine’s the next best thing to having your own private barista. Beans to brew. Pour in your whole beans, press a button. Voila! You have espresso.
They’ve been making this model for well over a decade, so all the kinks are worked out. And the design is flawless, both in terms of aesthetics and, more importantly, function. Also telling of it’s awesomeness is that when I was shopping for mine, word on the street was that this model was being discontinued–and people were not happy. Guess DeLonghi got the message, because that was a while ago, and they’re still widely available. As far as espresso machines go, this one is great value, and all your money goes to the coffee-making guts (the outside’s plastic, but it does its job well). If you drink a latte a day, this’ll pay for itself in three months. Six if you include the cost of milk and espresso beans. (You can find my absolute favorite espresso beans here. And for those who need decaf, go here. (These should be $15; if they’re not, wait for the sane sellers to restock.))
You can do all that heating and frothing of the milk by hand, with the wand, but I highly recommend an electric milk frother. This is the one I have. It’s wonderful. It comes with two frothing inserts, one that makes latte-style milk and another that makes very frothy, cappuccino-style milk. The higher the milk’s fat content, the frothier you can get it, but this little baby can even get fat-free coconut milk to froth. All you have to do is push a button. Way easier than a wand. (Also you can skip the coffee altogether and it’ll make you a nice hot cocoa.)
Did you ever notice how the coffee at artisan coffee houses is better than Starbucks, Peet’s, or other big chains? You may not have noticed if you specifically order non-fat milk (or live outside the States), but if you tend to order simple drinks with default milk, the reason for the difference is this: chains use 2%, coffee houses use whole milk.
But not just any whole milk. I was disappointed when my new espresso machine didn’t give me the results of the coffee house even though I was using whole milk. But then I learned: it’s because store-bought whole milk is 3.25%. Coffee house whole milk is 4%. They get it that way by adding cream, and you can get the same results with a little half and half. I use about 2-3 tablespoons of HnH in an otherwise 8oz serving of milk. The result? Perfection.
I’ve been using this planner for about four years now–I’m on my fifth one–and it’s my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE of all time. Every page spread is a week with places to write your agenda and also lots of other little spaces to jot notes throughout the week. When I have lots of ideas, my page spread is filled. What’s awesome, is that you can start it any time, because you fill in the dates as you go. So if you skip a week, no big deal. I like the full size, but they also have a half size, too.
Dry Erase Index Cards
I like to storyboard my plot on the wall, and these index cards are fantastic for that. They’re dry-erase, so you can write in big, thick, visible marker–and still erase when you need to make changes. And, of course, they’re reusable. I think I’ve done at least three projects on my set. They come in packs of 48, so I recommend two packs.
Retractable Dry Erase Markers
I use these markers on those index cards. The colors are great for color-coding subplots, but what I like best is that they’re click markers. They’re retractable. Meaning no looking for the lid. I’m always losing lids . . . and then the markers get dry . . . and then they don’t work. You still have to remember to retract them, as opposed to putting on the lid, but everything you need to do it is right there. Love.
Magnetic Dry Erase Board with Dot Grid
These kinds of boards are great for hanging the index cards, without taping or tacking them to your wall, making them super easy to move around. This particular board isn’t exactly like the ones I have (mine are over 10 years old), but it’s pretty close (maybe even better), because it’s got a dot grid. Highly recommended, especially if you do any kind of escalation tracking or story gridding, because the dots keep the graph neat and readable. I have four 2×3 boards, but if you know you’re serious about storyboarding and have the wall space, they come in 4×6 and even 4×8.
I have some push pin magnets that are pretty cute, and I used them for a while, but sometimes you need all the space you can get on those index cards, and you don’t want to have to leave room for the magnet. Enter map magnets. They’re so slender, they’ll fit in the space of a handwritten C or O or U. No extra space required. Perfect.
Writers Block Journal
I don’t have one of these, but I think it’s pretty clever. A very fun and snarky gift for the writer in your life. The pages are unlined, so you can doodle and come at your muse from another pen-to-paper angle than just writing. I find that when I doodle it releases resistance, and the doodles become words . . .
The Complete Oxford English Dictionary and Historical Thesaurus
The Oxford English Dictionary in normal type is something like 20 volumes, but this version squeezes the entire set into a single volume of 2424 bible-thin pages. As the description says, “The Compact is not an abridgement, but a direct photoreduction . . ., with nine pages of the original on every nine-by-twelve page of the Compact (a magnifying glass comes with it).” So many glorious words! And even more enticing is the thesaurus! 4448 pages of thematically arranged words!
Keep your writer’s brain sharp with crossword puzzles. My mom, in particular, likes these. For those who like a challenge, there’s always the New York Times Saturday crossword puzzle. The 2018 book (which also includes some Sunday puzzles) comes out in February.
Books about Words
Word Spy is about the words we make up as a culture that reflect the times. Words like frankenfood and dead tree edition and granny nanny. Story-inspiring stuff, right there.
Some other word books that could please your muse include:
Punderdome: A card game for pun lovers
I think the description says it all: “One part game, one part conversation starter, you don’t need to be a pun master to master Punderdome: the goal is to make bad jokes and have fun along the way.” What’s not to love?
The Writer’s Toolbox: Creative games and exercises for inspiring the ‘write’ side of your brain
I got this for christmas this year. I haven’t had a chance to play it yet, but it helps you build stories from scratch, including creating plot twists. Like a big writing prompt generator, only far more hands-on (which, to me, makes it far more fun).
The Storymatic Classic
Another game for making stories, and this one says it has 6 trillion stories in its one little box. I don’t have this one yet, but I like the idea of using it with a writer’s group.
Rory’s Story Cubes
I don’t have these either, but they look fun. The prompts on the dice are pictures; they’re symbolic, meaning you don’t have to speak any particular language to use them. The symbols will also speak to your subconscious better than words, so they could easily inspire you to a solution when you get stuck in your writing.
Okay, so I don’t actually have one of these, but my buns would kindly like me to get one. If only she’d pedal while she writes…
This addition would make it even better. Someday…
I don’t have one of these either, but I think it would be nice. Apparently it will work with almost any treadmill. That’s good, because–and I don’t know if this is just me–my treadmills seem to always be broken. That’s probably why I’ve never gotten a treadmill-desk, because the treadmill and the desk were one and the same. If one breaks, the other is useless. But this is a treadmill . . . desk, a desk for a treadmill, not a treadmill-desk.
Someday, someday . . .