1.) Great First Lines of Literature Mug
The beautiful thing about this gift is it can be given to the avid reader in your life too and they'll appreciate it just as much as the writer. I love this mug. Like, seriously love. It's monster-sized and holds a ton of coffee (or in my case, scotch or vodka). When I first bought it, we played around with some of the lines, trying to guess where they had come from (the answers are on the box if one doesn't know how to use Google). Some real gems on here, but my favorite may be the one from Fahrenheit 451:
"It was a pleasure to burn."
2.) Old School Style Lap Desk
I didn't even know these things existed until I was halfway through grad school. I arrived at a fellow writer's house for an end of semester party, saw it, and quickly became enamored with it. There are plenty of different styles of this kind of lap desk, but I got one for Christmas that's nearly identical to the one shown above. Prices range depending on how fancy you want to get, but these are great for the writer who prefers going the old school route of using pen and paper. Also great for holding manuscripts in need of editing and tons of red pens, highlighters, whatever. ESSENTIAL.
3.) The Macmillan Visual Dictionary
During my second semester of grad school, my professor opened up his workshop class by passing this book around. While he said it wasn't necessary for us, he said it was a pretty excellent accompaniment to any other writing guides we might have. Personally, I think it's a necessary addition to any writer's reference shelf as I've used it hundreds upon hundreds of times since first purchasing a copy in 2010. Ever wanted to know the names of the moving parts that make up a pocket watch? Look here. Ever wanted to know the names of particular aspects of architecture? Look here. Got a question about anatomy? Go here. A seriously amazing reference guide good for choosing exactly the right descriptor.
4.) "Write Like A Motherfucker" Mug
Created by The Rumpus.net, a writing organization here in San Francisco, I picked one of these up at a reading a few years ago. Cheap in cost, solid in product, the reason the writer in your life needs this should be obvious. Sometimes you just need a kick in the pants to get words on the page and it's nice to have the motivational mug to do that for you.
5.) Writer Emergency Pack
I don't recall who passed this start-up website my way originally, but the more I found out about the product, the more I wanted it. A set of cards meant to help unblock the creative mind or find ways out of a particularly sticky section of writing, the kickstarter for the project was funded quickly: their goal was $9,000 and they raised almost $160,000. Shows you how interested people are in this little gem. Production for the public won't start for awhile (the folks who funded the kickstarter are getting first dibs), but the aim is to provide writers with new ideas on story, character, and plot while also funding enough packs of cards to go out to youth writing programs across the country for free. Pretty rad all around.
(to sign up for update emails for the when the product is finally available, click HERE)
6.) The Writer's Guide to Character Traits
Yet another great reference tool. While writing my novel-as-thesis, I found that I had issues making my characters believable and non-cliched. My thesis advisor (the same professor who had recommended the Macmillan Visual Dictionary the year previous) told me about this. Multiple types of people and multiple types of personality traits are laid out clearly here, giving writers a chance to not stick to a formulaic character type, but to add extra depth to characters that may currently lack in it.