December 12, 2023 (Updated )
Whether your sibling is the editor of a fashion mag or your uni flatmate is a future political correspondent, we’ve curated the ultimate gift guide for all journalists and writers – from stationary picks to DIY ideas and book recommendations.
Regardless of whether you are buying for an accomplished writer, need a goal-setting stocking filler for a student, or a present a bit more left-field for a journalist trying something new, JR has you covered.
Did you know Journo Resources publishes an annual magazine? The third edition of The Yearbook is now available to pre-order — just in time for Christmas! A beautiful 100-page ring-bound book filled with in-depth features, practical tools and industry advice, it directly goes towards funding our annual fellowship and makes quite the lovely gift, if we do say so ourselves.
Just drop us an email after you purchase and we’ll send you a gift certificate, and two digital copies of our previous editions.
We’re kicking off with all-things practical. Fear not, though, practical doesn’t have to mean boring.
The microphone pen: Because I don’t speak the elusive language of shorthand, sometimes I find it stressful trying to record a conversation on my phone while taking notes simultaneously. So, the Philips VoiceTracer Recorder Pen, which is both a microphone and pen, sounded ideal. Combined with Sembly’s AI Speech-to-Text Cloud Software, it automatically transcribes your recordings once plugged into your device.
Another, slightly pricier set up option is the Pivo Max, which is a smartphone tracking mount rather than your regular tripod. It uses AI technology to auto-track your movement, so if you’re self-filming — which many journalists do — it essentially acts as a camera operator. It’s also a great option for any fitness journalists creating workout content.
Lapel mics: There’s nothing worse than when you’ve shot some great video, only to find the sound quality is dire. A quick fix to this can be using lapel microphones — little mics that clip onto somebody’s clothing.
Again, there are options for all budgets here — this two-pack is £15.99 and is useful for recording conversations between two people.
Home podcast microphone: Know someone who’s always wanted to start a podcast? A podcast mic might be the nudge they need. There are loads of budget-friendly options — from relatively basic to Barbie pink.
While you can’t go wrong with stationary, it can be overwhelming. We popped some ideas below, so you don’t end up buying the whole shop.
Impress with a Moleskine: Ah, a Moleskine notebook — the stuff of stationary dreams. Your writer or journalist friend is probably always after one, but will never buy it for themselves.
Journals: I recently discovered the Evolve Journal, made by two brothers who found the joys of journaling in 2020. Created by Freddie and Sam (whose childhood dreams were to be a Bin Man and Batman, respectively), it functions as both a daily planner and journal by combining daily task lists with insightful prompts and questions.
The Circle Planner also has four great options for those who endeavour to make the most out of their day. From annual, monthly, and daily goals for your professional and personal life, as well as flat calendar plans and invoice trackers, consider yourself organised! The full planner even accounts for hour-by-hour productivity.
We thought we’d throw this into the mix as a practical gift option. By becoming a JR member, you’ll receive career-boosting benefits — regular workshops and events, additional newsletters, and free access to the brand-new shiny transcription service that is JR Transcribe.
Even better, you’ll simultaneously be supporting our work to make the industry look more like those it serves. Members also get a free annual copy of our magazine!
Whiteboard planners: Are you always notebook-switching and losing your to-do lists? Yeah, me too. The answer? Whiteboard planners. The lovely independent stationery brand Once Upon A Tuesday has a great selection — from weekly to monthly, and all wipeable.
Shower-proof notebooks: Yes, you read that correctly. Last year, we hosted Katie Edwards for an event about opinion writing, who casually mentioned that she keeps a waterproof notebook in the shower — the location of her best ideas. We’ve been on the hunt for one ever since.
As the pencil attached to this notebook says: “No more great ideas down the drain.”
Pens glorious pens: Particularly applicable if you’re buying for a student journo, but equally, everyone needs pens. Bic has gotten boujee with this coloured pen gift set. Alternatively, a big ol’ pack of regular biros is a great stocking filler. This isn’t sponsored by Bic, btw (we wish).
The best pens in town, though? It’s got to be Muji. If you’re looking to impress on the stationary front, Muji pens are your best bet.
To ensure nobody ends up with ten notebook-shaped parcels under the tree, we’ve also curated a list of more unique gift ideas.
A surprise magazine subscription: Subscription services like Stack handpick a different independent magazine each month for subscribers. Similarly, Rare Mags selects a set of titles for subscribers based on their interests. A great idea for anybody who loves exploring new publications and writers but is easily overwhelmed at the newsstand!
A Typewriter: Thanks to our love of nostalgia, ‘retro’ tech has had somewhat of a rebirth — disposable cameras, flip phones, cassettes — the list goes on. A typewriter is a thoughtful and fun gift for any writer or journalist friend wanting to romanticise their creative projects and endeavours.
Our founder and editor, Jem, has the LEGO typewriter which we are obsessed with here at JR. While this one isn’t actually functional (yet), it looks incredible and is quite the building project. Jem has hopes and dreams of one day making it work as a real typewriter. There are lots of vintage working typewriters on eBay, and some more modern takes on Amazon. This also seems like a pretty comprehensive guide to finding typewriters suitable for working writers.
Something warm: In the words of Martin Lewis: “Heat the human, not the home.” Chances are, your giftee will work remotely for at least some of their time. Chances also are, they’re rationing the heating.
A wearable blanket or thermal socks might be appreciated. However, if you want to go a bit more chic, Cotswold Knit has a lovely range of snoods and hand warmers. My hands are often freezing when I type, so these hand warmers have been a great alternative to full-on gloves.
Vintage magazines: Vintage magazines, which can easily be found on sites like eBay, Oxfam, and Etsy, are a thoughtful and unique option. Some are more expensive than others, like this 1990 Supermodel edition of Vogue, which, to be fair, is signed by Naomi Campbell. For £39.99, you can purchase a collection of 1800s Harper’s monthly magazines. Another idea (courtesy of TikTok) would be to hunt down the edition of their favourite magazine published on their birth month. There are lots under £10.
Something crafty: Creative rest — as we explored in our piece on overwhelm — is important. If you’re shopping for a patient person, these miniature paper model kits are incredible. Equally, Lego or a colouring book is always fun.
Something homemade: Get creative! A collage using clippings of old magazines and newspapers is a fun and easy idea. Buy a cheap frame or mount to give it a professional edge. Check Pinterest for inspo.
Water bottle: Drinking more water may be your NY resolution, but this bottle also fits a bottle of wine’s worth of liquid in, which is good to know.
Photo calendar: We all need a calendar to keep on track, but why not gift a personalised photo calendar? It always looks like you’ve made an effort if there’s a personal element, and besides, it’s a fun trip down memory lane selecting the pics.
Rescue Remedy: A bit leftfield but a good stocking filler. A spritz of Rescue Remedy when you’re feeling the stress can go a long way; a good addition to any journalist’s toolkit.
A surprise book subscription: Your giftee is likely a big reader. Similar to the magazine subscription, a Storysmith Subscription for Curious Readers is nice. It also comes with coffee!
Talking of books, I asked the team for their end-of-year reading recommendations.
Design Lead and Director, Jack, recommends Jenny Graham’s Coffee First Then The World, which follows Graham’s record-breaking cycle around the world. “It was a very down-to-earth account of doing something incredible, and while it seemed like she broadly had a terrible time, she was very chipper about it all,” Jack says.
For fiction, our Founder and Editor, Jem, recommends Emma Gannon’s Olive. “I think the fact I managed to read this entire book in one day probably says all you need to know about why I’m recommending it. As someone who’s always known having kids wasn’t for them, it was really interesting and comforting to see how that played out across a friendship group — even if none of my friends have really made those choices yet, it feels like it’s coming. Olive also happens to be a journalist. So bonus JR points.” Jem also recommends (and read in one day) Celeste Ng’s Our Missing Hearts for its thought-provoking nature and beautiful writing style.
Our Deputy Editor, Kayleigh, recommends Jenny Slate’s Little Weirds. “She’s an interesting writer with a strange, superfluous writing style; one of the essays on her grandparents made me cry,” says Kayleigh. Emily Ratakowzski’s memoir My Body is another top pick.
Our Admin Assistant, April, chooses Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi. She says: “It’s the first book in a series of four, and I picked it up for 50p in Waterstones earlier in January. It’s a very soothing read.”
Fiction-wise, I’ve loved anything by Taylor Jenkins Reid and Beth O’Leary. Dolly Alderton’s Ghosts, whose protagonist is a food writer, was also a top read for me. For non-fiction, I’ll always recommend Elise Downing’s Coasting, which follows her adventures as the first woman and youngest person to run self-supported around the coast of Britain. I also loved Elizabeth Day’s Friendaholic.
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Featured Image: Patrick Pahlke via Unsplash