Ho ho ho, Turtle Dove!
Once a year I set my Santa cap (sANNta cap?) on my noggin and give you my best gift picks for writers, marketers, creators. This is that issue.
I almost started this letter + list to you this week with the greeting "Hello, Consumer!"
But I thought better of it. Too snarky. And wrong.
The holidays are less about consumption than they are about generosity, aren't they?
The joy of giving to others. The deep gladness of surprising someone you love with something that's perfect for them.
I live for those holiday moments: When you're all sitting around together and you watch someone open a thing that you just know (know!) is going to kill. And it does. They laugh. You laugh.
It makes it all worthwhile.
So, my 2021 Holiday Reveler... Let's buckle up!
Here is my new + improved gift list for 2021.
(Note: None of these links are affiliate links. All I get in exchange for your click is joy in my heart.)
(Note 2: Many of the links here are to Amazon, for simplicity. But please source locally or from small business when you can; Amazon has enough money.)
1. A YEAR OF BOOKS. Twelve titles. Curated by you specifically for someone special.
This is the best gift I've ever received, so I'm putting it first. Maybe you know someone who will feel as I do.
Put them in a box. It'll be heavy, solid, as substantial as your love. And it'll give all year... not just on any one day.
You could package them in a million different ways.
- Promotion + Pay Raise in a Box (12 books on marketing/business/writing)?
- A Year Cloaked in Mystery? (whodunits, thrillers)
- 2022's Laugh Track? (humor titles)
- A Year of Adventure? (international cookbooks)
- Or maybe what 2022 really needs is No Drama! 12 Titles of Non-Fiction.
2. WRITER'S DIARIES. A writer's published diary is like seeing what ended up on the cutting room floor. It's the source material. The Darlings they cut. An Inside the Writer's Studio of How They Do the Work. I learn a lot about writing from reading writer's diaries.
I'm a major Sedaris fan; I got Volume 2 for my birthday in November. It sits on my bedside—I haven't started it yet.
Some books are like that for me—I want to both savor it and inhale it, so I spend some time in limbo before diving in. (Just me?)
3. A WORKING TYPEWRITER.
This will never not
be on my gift list. Because writing on an old-school typewriter will change your writing. Especially when you're feeling stuck or plugged or uninspired.
Seriously. It's distraction-free, it's weirdly and wonderfully tactile, And it slows down your brain so writing feels closer, in some way.
The link above is to Etsy. But you can find them new in some office supply stores, or used around the interwebs. (Try Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, Instagram, or here.)
4. QWERTY KEYBOARD.
This wireless typewriter keyboard is a Bluetooth-enabled mechanical keyboard that has an old-school vibe with modern functionality.
I keep mine in my Tiny House Studio, which—with its raw wood walls and high-speed Ethernet connectivity is also an old-school vibe with modern functionality.
You wouldn't want to gift any old software—a PowerPoint subscription would be weird LOL.
Yet Scrivener is the best software I've found for organizing and writing a book. So think of it less as software and more as a bat signal that I love you. I believe in you. And you are going to write that book in 2022.
Again with the software. But think about it: A gift that has someone thinking of you all year long? A tiny AI-powered robot that subtly supports their best writing?
Could there be an expression of a love more pure? I think not, Turtle Dove.
Grammarly has really stepped up its game in 2021, probably because it recently raised a bucket-truckload (trucket? Buck-load?) of money. Those 200 million dollars have funded improvements that sail far beyond grammar-checker—like tone of voice functionality and integration with Slack, among other things.
In other words, this $13B unicorn with a rainbow mane is riding our weak writing and sloppy sentences all the way to the bank. (Tortured metaphor—the robot hates it.)
Which leads me to... Sometimes it's annoying to have a robot-assistant writing buddy looking over your shoulder. But sometimes it's satisfying to trash the robot's recommendations because every so often I really do want a tortured metaphor or a run-on sentence just for effect because this paragraph belongs to me-and-me-alone Grammarly so SMOKE. THAT.
7. BOOK BLEND SPICES
is another perennial fave. Food, puns, books (also TV & music). Schitt's Greek, Herb Your Enthusiasm, Sage of Innocence, and (my fave) Lord of the Fries garlic seasoning.
The latter elevates my roasted potatoes into Nobel Prize territory. If potatoes were a Nobel category (root vegetable division). Which why not? (By the way, Grammarly is having an aneurysm over this entire paragraph.)
P.S. Use code annarchy2021 for 10% off.
It's always affordable. But this price is ridiculous: Code ANNTACLAUS21 gets you $100 off an individual or team (3+) membership.
9. SHINOLA NOTEBOOK.
This journal feels special. Someone gifted me one last year with my initials in fan-see-pants gold, which makes it feel functional AND beautiful.
I like how it lies flat because of its smyth-sewn binding, which is a centuries old book-binding technique that allows the pages to stay put when you open the notebook.
This notebook also allows you to throw around words like "smyth-sewn" with the authority of someone who was class valedictorian of Notebook School.
Look here: A notebook seems like a simple thing. But it's not.
So much goes into choosing the perfect one for you: paper feel, page smell (I once had one that smelled like apples), vibe, portability and size, its smyth-sewn status....
Moleskin is the Bo Jackson of notebooks: offering a rare versatility, range, breadth.
You want an Extra Large notebook with graphic squares instead of lines in Lemon Green? And a pocket version to match? Moleskin is already warmed up and on deck.
And that's as far as I can take any sports metaphor.
11. MINI RING LIGHT.
Your 2022 needs good lighting so you don't look like you're in a hostage situation during your weekly standup.
This package is both inexpensive and small. I recommended it last year, and I stand by it.
Also let's talk about the product copy:
"This lighting will give you more charming eyes. You will find that your eyes are full of charm, like the eyes of an angel."
I loitered over this description for a long time, trying to call up the last time I gazed into the eyes of an angel... Are angel eyes actually charming? Or was I more attracted to the angel's personality?
Anyway, my friend Kerry Gorgone does a lot of on-camera work, and she recommended this. Listen to Kerry.
Speaking of lighting...
12. VERILUX HAPPY LIGHT.
My friend Ashley swears this Happy Light helps her thrive throughout the deep, dark Minnesota winter.
Ashley suggested it to me on text. Before I even responded I think she sensed my skepticism. "Sounds lame but useful," she added without prompting—snipping my skepticism off at the quick.
13. WATERPROOF NOTEPAD.
Because every day I solve at least one world problem mid-shower. And I promptly forget it once I'm dry.
14. WRITER'S BLOCK SOAP.
So I don't believe writer's block is a thing. But soap obviously is. So is clever copy that sells soap to wash away fake writer's block.
I also love the Quarantine Nostalgia soap ("Smells like puzzles and home-cooked meals") and Office Naps soap.
15. BOOKISH CANDLES.
Forage Candle Company has the best domain name: SmellsLikeBooks.com
. The shop sells 40-ish different scents—from A (Avonlea) to W (Wuthering Heights).
I don't know how Hemingway himself actually smelled. But this shop has reinterpreted him as a mix of lemon peel and verbena with notes of bourbon. In the absence of data... seems about right.
16. YOUR OWN LIBRARY.
DIY style. These make me smile every time I see one in the wild.
18. LITERARY FUNKO POPS. Funko Pops are limited pop-culture collectibles—vinyl figurines with square-ish heads and button eyes that reflect pop culture's vacant soul. (LOL. Jeeeest keeeding.)
I wish there were more contemporary women authors. You can find Jane Austen
on eBay. But where's Tina Fey? Toni Morrison? Maya Angelou? Beverly Cleary? (Funko Product Team: Get on it.)
19. VAHDAM TEAS
. Loved by Oprah. Mariah. And me.
20. 2021 CUSTOM VAX ORNAMENT
from the artist (and marketer) Lori Magno. Could there be a better way to memorialize 2021 on your holiday tree? I think not.
P.S. Only 100 available. So get on it.