Liz’s 1st annual ‘Chosen Objects’ gift guide (2020 holiday edition)

Reading Time: 11 minutes

Here’s a fun fact: I love presents. Not just receiving them β€” although, that’s downright delightful β€” but also giving them. Seriously, the level to which gift-giving “sparks joy” can only be rivaled by those moments when I realize I can go an entire week wearing pajama pants without anyone being the wiser.

Yes, we’ll all likely be spending the upcoming pandemic-themed holiday season with loved ones over Zoom calls and/or in-person with everyone rolling around in human-sized hamster balls. (Oh, what a time to be alive, am I right?πŸŽ„) But that doesn’t change the fact that I am extremely excited to scheme over the next month as I choose the best gifts for colleagues, friends and loved ones.

I am also a huge fan of helping out when someone is struggling to find the perfect gift for a VIP in their lives. And that includes you!

There’s just one problem, though. I’m not Oprah.

I’m sorry, Oprah! I’m not worthy! 😭

Which means I’m pretty sure that (legally) I can’t go nuts with my own trademarked “favorite things” list. Maybe I could, but that’d be pretty unoriginal, don’t you think?

So, instead, I would like to welcome you all to the first annual Liz’s Festive Chosen Objects Gift Guide for Word Nerds and Other Content-enthused Marketing Dorks. Everything in this gift guide for writers and content creators list is hand-selected by me. And, in many cases, you’ll find these are items I use (and absolutely love) myself.

Actually, if you’re a fan of awesome stuff in general (writer or not), you’ll likely find something here that tickles your gift fancy.

In short, this isn’t your run-of-the-mill, phoned-in gift guide.

1. Write Drunk, Edit Sober pencils

From Amy of The Free House, Etsy
Available to ship in one (1) business day, $4.16 for two (2) + $5.96 shipping (from UK)

In addition to “The first draft of anything is shit,” my #1 literary boo thang, Ernest Hemingway is known for having said this utterly memorable, ham-fisted gem. And to have it memorialized on pencils makes it a fun and unique gift for the other word nerds in your life. Or heck, maybe just a nice gift for yourself!

I don’t know about you, but before I sit down at a keyboard, often I’ll scratch notes and ideas on paper (and in pencil) while my big ideas are still taking shape. Plus, there’s something romantic about writing in pencil. It’s a small “ancient relic” of writing I refuse to give up.

πŸ”Ž Related: Why creating content sucks (and how to make it hurt less)

Yes, they ship from the UK, but if you order now, you’ll have them on your doorstep in time for the holiday season. Plus, only ~$6 for international shipping? That’s not bad!

2. A cushioned lap desk

From HUANUO on Amazon
Usually available for free shipping via Prime for ~$40 (often with coupons available)

When I first plotted my move from Annapolis, Maryland, to East Haven, Connecticut, one of the bright spots was that I would no longer have to call my home my office, as well. (IMPACT, where I work, is based in New Haven.) Of course, COVID-19 had other plans, so within two weeks of my Great Northern Migration, everything shut down. And I’ve been working from home full-time ever since.

It’s taken me more than eight months to get a complete home office set up that didn’t involve a rickety card table, as I had sold everything off prior to my move β€” LOL, because “I wouldn’t need it anymore” right? And one of the things I am so thankful I purchased sooner rather than later is that little lap desk.

It doesn’t seem like much, I know. But now, during late-night writing binges (or even long blogging stretches in daytime hours), I can break free from the shackles of my desk and move to my couch or my bed.

I don’t always have to be trapped sitting upright like “an adult” who does dumb things like “pay bills on time.” Instead, I can cozy up in the snuggliest of pajamas and blankets β€” or even out on my balcony, even though I don’t have any furniture out there yet β€” as I try to shake the good words I need out of my brain.

Trust me, sometimes all you need is a change of scenery to get those creative juices flowing, and this little lap desk will allow for just that.

3. Action Items! notepad

From Knock Knock
Only $7.99 for this magical little thing (and you can get 20% off your first order) ✨

From the geniuses behind the Paper Tantrum Nifty Notes, What to Get Done (So I Can Have a Drink), and Sorry I Farted and 24 Other Apology Postcards comes Action Items!

I know I’ll sound like a weirdo for saying this, but I am in a deep, emotionally committed relationship with this product. I’ve been buying this exact notepad for more than three years, and I’ve gone through five in 2020 alone. I spent ages searching for a super simple, punchy to do list-themed notepad. Do you know how hard it is to find one that isn’t overwrought, overpriced or over-designed?

So, when I stumbled on this diamond in the rough from Knock Knock, I snatched it up immediately. And I haven’t looked back since. Admittedly, this isn’t a word nerd-specific gift recommendation; it’s ideal for any type A list-maker in your life.

4. ‘Stroke of genius’ pencil and pen cup

From Kate Spade via Amazon
Approximately $24 and (typically) with Prime free shipping

I have a weakness and it is Kate Spade EVERYTHING. So, duh, you were going to find Kate Spade on this list. If anything, I’m consistent.

If you have a content or digital marketing in nerd in your life who is still trying to spruce up their at-home (or in-office) space, this acrylic little idiomatic ditty with “a stroke of genius” etched into a gold base is an ideal gift.

πŸ”Ž Related: How answering ‘Who?’ the right way will make your content irresistible

So many of us spend more hours than we care to admit at our desks, so we might as well put the thought and care into the objects and pieces on it as we do elsewhere in our lives, right? It makes the whole notion of being “at work” much more enjoyable.

5. Le Pen pens

From Uchida
$1.89 for one pen, $7 to $20+ for themed color sets

I am completely obsessed with these pens. I was first introduced to these as a child in the early 90s, as they were a staple found on my mother’s desk. (She was, in her hey day in the 1960s and 1970s, an accomplished writer and editor in Washington, D.C.) By the end of middle school, I was obnoxious in my insistence to have Le Pens of my very own.

This has not changed in recent years. If anything, I’ve grown more fanatical in my love for Le Pen.

They’re wondrous, fine-tipped, richly colored treats that make the act of writing downright sensual. They’re smooth to write with, the hues are so shockingly bright and inviting, and they sit so comfortably between your fingertips due to their lightweight and slim build. If I’m still not convincing you, Le Pen is literally the official “Magnolia” pen of Chip and Joanna Gaines. So there.

You can purchase colors individually, of course. You can also, however, purchase them in themed sets like neon, pastel, and primary.

6. Retro ‘typewriter’ mechanical keyboard

From RYMEK via Amazon
$199 with free shipping for Prime members (often with a $20 off coupon available)

I’m going to be honest, this keyboard is my white whale. The first time I saw it, I don’t think I’ve ever smashed the “add to wishlist” button harder or faster.

Especially after I read this review:

Upon opening the box we immediately fell in love with it. See, sometimes you find tech that looks great in photos and on paper only to learn in person that it’s not all that awesome. That’s not the case here. In the real world this thing looks, and feels, incredible.”

Android Guys

One day, this beauty (which you can pair with computers, tablets and smartphones) will be mine.

If you’re someone who creates written content in any way for a living and you haven’t used a mechanical keyboard before… oh gosh, you have not lived. The tactile experience of the clickity-clackity keys makes every word you write feel so important.

And with that on my desk, I’d likely never want to stop writing.

7. Write More Good: an Absolutely Phony Guide

From Amazon
$5.95 with (typically) free Prime shipping

Yes, we may squabble over the superiority of our various style guides of choice β€” e.g. “AP Stylebook is to Chicago Manual of Style, as Helen Mirren is to Kim Kardashian, I SAID WHAT I SAID!!!” β€” most of us content-obsessed people can at least agree on one thing:

Style freakin’ matters.

So, this totally fake, “if you use this you will get fired!” book is the perfectly hilarious addition to any content nerd’s bookshelf.

Rules include:

  • World War’ should be used only for conflicts involving countries on at least three continents. For large-scale battles against clones, killer tomatoes, or a fifty-foot woman, use ‘attack’ instead.”
  • “When writing about a celebrity for an online audience, save your readers time by linking directly to nude photos of him or her.”

8. A mug that declares only true facts

From Effin’ Birds
Usually $20, on sale currently for $15 (subject to change, of course)

Effin’ Birds is probably one of my favorite discoveries of 2020. (And if you’re not into swear words, that’s totally fine β€” but I’d skip right to the next item without visiting that website.)

Look, creating content that makes money for yourself, your clients or your agency is hard, OK? So, when you decide that’s what you’re going to do β€” you’re going to be the awe-inspiring peacock that creates content magic β€” you deserve to drink out of a chalice that declares to the world how truly f*cking magnificent you are.

Also, I would recommend their I Am Going to Deal with This Problem by Yelling sticker.

9. This very specific hardbound Moleskine notebook

From Moleskine
$29.95 and worth every freakin’ penny

I’m sure I’m surprising no one by including Moleskine on my gift guide list. But just like every other mouth-breathing, pedantic, New Yorker-clutching word lover, I have a very specific Moleskine to which I am loyal. (It’s my “Le Pen equivalent” of notebook choices.)

πŸ”Ž Related: 3 questions every single introduction must answer every time

In this case, I’m head-over-heels in love with the hardcover Pro version of the notebook. Of course, the pages are silky smooth and don’t bleed through, and it’s chock-full of useful pages and pockets. But the thing I love the most is the structured page layout, which you don’t get with the “garden variety” Moleskines.

The only downside is that you don’t get the full spectrum of color choices available in their other lines. Whether you go with my recommendation or not, if you’re on the hunt for a notebook, check out Moleskine. They’re highly customizable and in a class of their own.

10. A Prescriptivist’s Guide to Common Issues in the English Language poster

From Pop Chart
$30 and utterly hilarious

I received this as a gift a few years ago, and it immediately became one of my most treasured possessions. I’m not kidding. In fact, I love it so much, I hung it up in my new apartment where I knew everyone who came to visit would see it β€” above my toilet in the bathroom.

Bask in its educational, “Boyz II Metallica” glory.

11. Hand-blown glass typewriter ornament

From Old World Christmas
For $19.99 (plus shipping)

Every holiday season, I buy one or two ornaments to symbolize big events or themes in my life that year, and I almost always get them from Old World Christmas, the iconic, hand-blown glass ornament manufacturer.

For instance, this year I went with toilet paper as one of them. (I’m still waiting on the ornament on the right from Hartford Prints to arrive as my second, in celebration of my new home.)

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Whether you or someone you know has recently started a new content-based role, has made a new commitment to creating content in their current role, or they simply just love words, this classic, shiny typewriter ornament is a delightfully thoughtful gift they’ll be able to admire for years to come.

12. Long Story Short: the Only Storytelling Guide You’ll Ever Need by Margot Leitman

From Amazon
$17.99 with free shipping for Prime members

Whenever I visit the link for that book on Amazon, I see this now:

I’ve made everyone on my editorial team at IMPACT read it. Anyone who has ever been through content coaching with me β€” hi, Will and Brian! β€” has been forced to read it.

I cannot overstate how impactful this book has been on my career as a writer, business content creator, storyteller, and keynote speaker. Buy this for yourself. Buy this for the content creators in your life. Buy this for anyone who has ever wanted to master the art of telling compelling, memorable, engaging stories at work or in their personal lives.

I’m so happy that one of my favorite humans, Melanie Spring, brought this book into my life… in fact, speaking of Melanie…

13. Manifest Your Life, a live workshop, with Melanie Spring

From Melanie Spring
A live workshop experience for $20, a choice of three dates

Call me hokey or “woo woo,” but it has been a helluva year, and who knows what 2021 will have in store. So, as we charge forward with all of our different goals for ourselves, our content, our businesses and our clients, this workshop from the captivating public speaker and coach Melanie Spring (who I am also lucky enough to call a friend) may be just what the doctor ordered.

Consider investing in yourself, a friend or a loved one with this workshop. Or it can also be a fun, thought-provoking bonding experience for you and someone in your life that you’ll always remember. And at $20 per person, it won’t cause your wallet to spontaneously catch on fire.

I’ll be attending the one on December 30, myself.

14. Handmade ampersand earrings

From Poseidon’s Booty via Etsy
$48 to $200, depending on materials selected, with free domestic shipping

I love handcrafted gifts, don’t you? And these customizable ampersand earrings are such a lovely, thoughtful gift idea for those who love words and punctuation as much as I do. I might end up getting myself these and putting them under the tree with a note saying they’re from Santa.

Shhh, don’t tell.

15. Wordsmith writer’s block prompt cards

From BestSelf via Amazon
$14.99 for 100 prompts, $24.99 for 150 prompts

When I decided I was going to create this gift guide for writers and content creators, I knew immediately I would be putting this on the list… for obvious reasons, I would hope.

Writer’s block is the freakin’ worst, and no one is immune from it β€” not even the most seasoned writer can escape the nefarious clutches of the blank screen and a mocking cursor blink. So, give the gift of sanity this holiday season with this super practical (but really fun) gift.

If I’m being totally honest, I bought myself the 150-pack right before adding this to the list… and if you read my first article for my website, you know exactly why.

16. ‘Jules’ blue light glasses

Ugh, I felt so weak when I hit “submit order” on these glasses. You see, for many, many moons, I had failed to succumb to the siren’s song of Instagram ads. But these glasses finally got me.

However, any buyer’s remorse I had immediately evaporated as soon when they arrived on my doorstep. I get loads of compliments on them during Zoom video calls with coworkers, which my vain ass positively adores. (I can rock a bitchy librarian look, let me tell you.)

Most importantly, however, these actually deliver on their promise of making your eyes hurt less, making it easier to sleep, and so on. Seriously, my quality of life as a writer, digital marketer and internet dweller has gone way up since these came into my life.

If those particular specs don’t tickle your fancy, they have loads of other styles to choose from.

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