Jilly: Practical Gifts

Can you believe it’s the end of November already? The holidays are here, and I also have a landmark birthday to celebrate before the end of 2020. I’m pretty sure Mr. Wood and I will have a nice party for two, but it’s a shame we won’t be able to share the occasion with our friends.

As we won’t be able to meet up, people have started asking me for gift suggestions. I feel incredibly fortunate in my creative and personal life, and don’t really need or want anything, but I’ve been told that’s not a helpful reply 😉 .

I was racking my brains for a better response when I found the list below. Apparently I wrote it three years ago, but I wouldn’t change a thing.

Are you a creature of habit? What simple, practical gifts would keep your daily routine running smoothly?

Here are mine:

Free: Creative Kickstarters
I would love somebody to curate (say) a dozen recommendations especially for me—could be novels, or biographies, music, movies or experiences. The idea would be to offer suggestions that the giver thinks would be new to me and that I would enjoy. It would be fun to investigate the suggestions, to think about why the giver chose them for me, and to decide whether to go ahead and invest in them.

Inexpensive: Screen cleaning cloths
Do you use microfiber cloths to clean your phone and computer screen? All my devices seem to be perpetually smeary, and there’s never a clean microfiber cloth to hand when I want one.

Moderate: Bath Treats
One of my favorite ways to treat myself after a good day’s writing, or to console myself after a bad one, is with a bubble bath (I’m super-jealous of Michaeline who has a local hot springs). Bath treats can range from the cheap ’n cheerful to the ludicrously pricy. I’d be thrilled with any of them.

Moderate: Coffee
I always kick-start the day with fresh-brewed coffee using beans supplied by HR Higgins, a family-run London coffee merchant. They have an excellent online shop and efficient delivery service. A 250g valve bag of smooth, aromatic Costa Rica San Jose beans could be acquired for a smidge under £11.

Expensive: Moleskine Notebooks
I love Moleskine notebooks—the classic version with a soft black cover, ruled pages, size XL. I use them every day, for brainstorming, working through story ideas, blocking scenes, sketching settings, listing potential names, trying out titles, blog ideas, double-checking contest requirements, keeping a note of reminders, and a thousand other useful snippets. I can track my writing and publishing progress over the last decade by flipping back through the books. I get through at about half a dozen books each year, and at around £16 ($20) each they’re not cheap.

What workaday goodies would you most appreciate?

How do you feel about practical gifts? Would they leave you delighted or disappointed?

6 thoughts on “Jilly: Practical Gifts

  1. I think if there were books I wanted for research (but not immediate research), I’d put them on a public wishlist, like Goodreads or Amazon, and anything I didn’t get for Christmas, I could buy in January.

    I guess the one thing I’d like is a bright light that I could use as a grow light for plants, and shine on my desk when I’m writing for a kind of SAD sunshine boost.

    And then, of course, there are the pens. I like all sorts of pens, but especially brush pens, and colored pen sets. This would go well with graph paper as a gift for me.

    Tis the season, isn’t it? I’m in Christmas mode today, and when I finish writing some words on my NaNo, I’ll do some Christmas shopping for family.

  2. Great post – I hope Santa’s reading! I personally love surprises – but I hate it if people waste money because they don’t me well enough! so it’s a delicate balance…

    For me, my simple asks are – clean, smooth paper (like your notebooks, although I get nervous about starting a new notebook – the first page always seem so important, somehow!); ink for my printer (I have to print stuff off to read it with any concentration and I can write on it with….); a red pen, one of those with micro fibre tips.

    And finally, if you were really to push the boat out and COVID were a distant memory, I’d like a consultation with someone (chiropractor?) to work out the best position to write in. I had to work very hard over one weekend and spent probably about 12 hours at the PC and my neck is now killing me…. 😦

    • I love the visit to a chiropractor idea! I’ve been watching Brenda Mondragon pop backs and adjust necks (and do scraping, which looks dramatic, but doesn’t feel bad), and this summer I’ve had time to work on self-relaxation techniques that have helped me put my body back together a little bit. But there really is nothing like a pro!

      Cheaper idea, riffing off yours, Sara. Buy a couple of hand massages for your favorite writer!

      I don’t know if anyone is doing this, but wouldn’t it be fun if a salon set up a sort of “confessional box” with holes for the arms and legs, and you could get a massage that way? NO breathing on each other? The confessional box could have piped in music, be darkened, and it’d have to be totally plastic or something you could wipe down very quickly between customers, but maybe you’d get a blanky or fluffy towel to hold while you got massaged by unseen hands . . . .

      Gift cards with a two-year expiry date would be good, though. It can help the businesses now, and your writer can go when it’s safe.

  3. I love the idea of a curated list of inspirations!

    I have a glass-fronted cabinet that I inherited from my favorite aunt. It is filled with little animal figurines. If someone wanted to get me something personal, a new figurine would be fun.

    • Oh, and that gave me an idea! There are a lot of artists on social media. Find one you like, and have them draw “fan art” of one of your writer’s characters! I think there must be a price point to fit most budgets, from simple cartoon to a more elaborate color poster.

      Or more simply, a nice mug with your writer’s best cover on it.

  4. Pingback: Michaeline: Holiday Gifts for Writers, Redux – Eight Ladies Writing

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