Writer’s magazines often feature suggested Christmas and Hannukah gifts for writers: fancy pens, award-winning books, writing aids, and coffee mugs sporting famous writers’ mugs. But those gifts are intended to be received by writers; what about the writer who has trouble finding gifts to give? I’m so glad you asked.
The following list is intended to suggest thoughtful and meaningful gifts for writers to give this holiday season:
- write a letter to your parent(s), thanking them for the things they did right in raising you;
- purchase a blank journal for a friend or loved one, and write short messages of gratitude and encouragement atop each page before giving it to him or her;
- write an original love poem for your husband or wife;
- create your own book titled 101 Things To Be Thankful For (or, if you’re a grammar purist, 101 Things For Which to Be Thankful) listing one praiseworthy thing particular to the intended recipient on each page;
- write an affectionate letter of remembrance to your sibling(s), recalling the highlights of your childhood together;
- pen an original prayer for someone;
- have some special nicknames or terms of endearment for some of your friends or family members? Order mugs or other keepsakes using the best of them;
- print an original, personalized award certificate for each family member, emphasizing each person’s unique and praiseworthy qualities (awards might include phrases like, “Best Red-haired Volleyball-playing Animal-loving Math-Excelling Daughter in the world!”);
- write a “Book of Promises” to someone you love;
- create an “Encouragement Basket,” stuffed with rolled, ribbon-tied slips of paper containing specific messages of encouragement for someone. The basket can be placed on a counter or makeup table and a new message read each day;
- still have love notes or letters from you and your spouse’s dating days? Dig them out and frame a few of the best, or bind them all into an album;
- write and bind an anecdotal family history, complete with photographs, to give to your children the Christmas before they leave for college, or to your parents on an anniversary or retirement date (or, if you’ve sent Christmas newsletters for a number of years, collect past copies and bind them together).
These are just a few ideas, but if this holiday season you give the gift of “a word fitly spoken”—or written—it may shine brighter than “apples of gold in pictures of silver” (Proverbs 25:11, King James Version of the Bible).
Sheri Dean Parmelee, Ph.D
I LOVE your ideas, Bob! Thanks for sharing such superb suggestions!
Thank you, Sheri! And thanks for being such a faithful reader of the blog.
Very timely for me, Bob, especially the part about getting a mug with a nickname…as I have just give my wife the moniker, “Chewbacca.” This is gonna be fun, if I survive it.
May I make an additional suggestion or two? If you know a writer who’s getting very tired of her or his Sisyphean task, offer a special kind of encouragement that says, “Your writing means something to me.”
This can be, maybe, a detailed letter of appreciation for a specific blog post that that person’s written, or specific and incisive praise for a manuscript (or parts thereof) that you’ve read.
If you know a caregiver, give a coupon that is good for a weekend afternoon of help…this can be doing yard work for him or her, running errands, fixing a meal, or giving respite care so the caregiver can have a day out. A lot of caregivers wind up feeling forgotten when the holidays come ’round, and offering appreciation, recognition, and support can mean the world.
Great, great ideas, Andrew. Which I’ve come to expect from you, whose comments mean something to me. (See what I did there?)
But I’d suggest a little more thought to your wife’s nickname and mug. In my opinion that would be a wookie mistake. Bwahahaha!
Bob, you really made my day. Thank you!
You’re right – the nickname does need more thought. Her hair’s not that long. So let’s see…’Jabba the Hutt’ is already taken (her brother), and so is ‘Mongo’ (it’s MY nickname).
Thought about ‘Ben’, after Ben Affleck, for his role in the recent film “The Accountant”…she’s an accountant herself, and also has some of the specialized skills the character displays. Don’t challenge Barb to a duel, or in any way draw her ire. Please. It causes SUCH a mess.
Guess I could have the cup inscribed with what the call her at work…”Wonder Woman”.
She deserves it.
Andrew, thanks for your suggestion re caregivers. Full-time caregivers with no back-up get exhausted and live very limiting lives. While most of us would never consider NOT doing what we do for our loved ones, fear of burnout is a frequent companion. I was feeling the singe of my tail feathers just a few days ago. To give a REALLY awesome gift to a caregiver, offer to do something on a regular basis – e.g. one hour a week to sweep the floors, once a month scheduled time (2-4 hours) to do whatever the caregiver wants (maybe just sit and chat), or offer to pick up prescriptions from the pharmacy on your way home from work. Again, thanks for your thoughtfulness.
I’d like to suggest writing a thank you to a high school teacher. Maybe send your old English teacher a sample of your best work. If they truly inspired you to become a better writer, put them in the acknowledgements and send them a copy. When I thanked my high school physics teacher after I’d been publishing tech articles for 15 years, I probably should have sent along a reprint. I didn’t think of that then. But I wouldn’t have made science my career if Mr. Pentzer hadn’t told me he thought it was a great idea for me to become a chemist at a time when girls didn’t do that. The delight my thank you gave him was palpable in his reply. English teachers teach captive audiences, so they hear mostly complaints. Too bad mine are all dead so I can’t do this myself.
Excellent, Carol! I did something similar for a high school teacher.
Janet Ann Collins
When I was in my early 20s and working in a school for the first time I sent a letter of appreciation to my third grade teacher. Much later my letter was published with her obituary in the School District newsletter. She’d kept it for years because it meant a lot to her. Writing to any teacher you appreciated is worthwhile.
I love these suggestions! A couple of years ago for Christmas I gave my dad a printed copy of a piece I wrote, talking about how his love for me more easily allowed me to fathom my heavenly Father’s great love for me. I know it was special to him.
And I like Andrew’s gift idea for a writer. Several more years ago at Christmas, when I was still very unsure of my calling to write, I received a journal with a very encouraging note written in the front cover, from my best friend. It basically told me in no uncertain terms to write, no matter what. I still have it to this day, although I don’t want to mark it up with my scribbles so it hasn’t been used as the giver may have intended!
The best gift of encouragement I have ever received at Christmas was from my husband. When I decided to try and write, I found a little antique writing desk that I told him I would buy as my reward for getting published. I would use the prize to keep me focused on my goal. But shortly after I told him, I found it beside the tree for me that Christmas. When I asked why he’d gone ahead and bought it for me when I was supposed to wait until I had been published, he answered that faith means stepping out and preparing for the answer before you can see it. He told me he knew I would be published some day, and this was his act of faith. I was published for the first time less than two months later!
These are great ideas, Bob. And Andrew, I always enjoy your comments, but I especially love your struggle to nickname your wife!
Jaime, I teared up reading your story about your husband buying you the desk as a way of having faith for you! That is amazing! My husband is like that, too. May we find ways to bless them this Christmas!
Jaime, what a lovely response. Your husband is almost as great as me. ALMOST.
Great ideas! Thanks for getting the juices flowing…
Thank you, Bob. The first thing I plan to implement is the encouragement basket for a friend with health issues. Perfect timing! She’s leaving the hospital and going south to the Ohio (notice I said “Ohio!”) River to be closer to her daughter today. Our group of grey-haired ‘babes’ can work on this together! (In full disclosure, none of us have been babes for fifty or sixty years–nevertheless we are still young at heart, sort of like you! 🙂
How awesome is that? Except for the remark about “we” are “still” “young at heart.” Why, I’ll have you know….never mind, I forgot what I was saying.
It’s okay, Bob. Even if you remembered, I’d forget it within the hour!
Exce,lent ideas, Bob. Such specialized gifts attach a quality the recipients can value and cherish for years to come. As writers we are fortunate to have at our fingertips the tools to “speak life” to others. Especially dear is when we can use our gift to bless our loved ones. I’ll have to give this some thought! I’ve always loved the wording in your closing verse. I made a poster with those words and a drawing to match (apples of gold resting in a stem-ware bowl) that I put up in my classroom when I was a reading specialist. A well-spoken word has its own unique power.
Yes, isn’t that a lovely word picture?
What great ideas! Love the idea of framing old love notes. Perhaps even using them as a mat to frame a photo?? (I used our daughter’s first finger painting as a mat for a daddy/daughter photo for Father’s Day.)
And the idea to print off an award…our daughter would love that. Hmm. Perhaps add photos of her at different stages??
I love combining photography and writing for tear-jerker gifts 🙂 And now you’ve got my mind spinning. Thank you, Bob!
Joey, my kids compete every Christmas and birthday to see who can make Mom and/or Dad cry with a sensitive, touching gift. So cruel….
So cruel and yet so sweet. 😉
Janet Ann Collins
When I was a kid my grandfather lived with us and told us many stories about his youth in the 1800s. A few years back I wrote those down, printed and spiral bound them as gifts to my cousins and other family members. I’ve never in my life given a gift that was so much appreciated.
These are AWESOME ideas! I think I may take you up on several of them. Thank you!
Dear Bob, I’m sorry I missed this post yesterday. Did you miss my first-of-the-morning comment? Kidding! This is a great post! My favorite gift ever from my blessed-with-the-write-skills sister was a poem in the style of The Night Before Christmas. She filled the verses with hilarious Christmas memories of our childhood, like our dad being in a bad mood because he had stayed up all night assembling Barbie’s dream house, and us decorating my mom in Christmas lights.