What Not to Get Your Favorite Freelance Writer for Christmas


At the risk of seeming out of step with the spirit of Christmas, I thought I’d swim against the tide and share a few bad holiday gift ideas for writers.

There are plenty of lists out there to tell you what to get your freelance writer friends for Christmas. I even agree with some of them. But I don’t know if I’ve seen a list of what not to get.

So here we go.

6 Gifts Not to Get for Freelance Writers

Some gifts just aren’t welcome. And while it’s the spirit of the giving that really matters, sometimes even that is in question. Here are some unwelcome gifts.

  1. A “free” ebook that is actually a thinly veiled sales pitch. Okay, I like ebooks. I like free. I even take advantage of free offers sometimes. But this is not really a gift. Don’t pretend that it is.
  2. A “free” subscription to a newsletter that is actually a thinly veiled sales pitch. This is like the “gift” above… except it keeps on coming all year round. A gift is not a gift if you have to opt out.
  3. Products with your company name on it, especially items of clothing. Okay, this isn’t as bad the previous gifts, but really where am I going to wear it? And do you even know my size? (Do I want you to?)
  4. Food, unless you are a close friend. I’ve made this mistake myself. But these days so many people have dietary restrictions, odds are good that you’re sending something I can’t even eat.
  5. Pencils and paper (unless they’re really cute). Everyone assumes that because I’m a writer, I must need lots of these. And I do, to some extent. But actually I do most of my writing at the computer.
  6. Something you’ve written that you want me to check for you. If your goal is to get published, you may think that gifting me with your manuscript is a good gift idea. It isn’t. I charge to edit manuscripts.

By now, you may be scratching your head and thinking I’m really difficult to please. Nothing could be further from the truth.

What to Do Instead

This post wouldn’t be complete without a few positive gift suggestions. So here they are:

  1. A written recommendation or testimonial. These are like gold for freelance writers. If you’ve worked with me and liked my work, a couple of sentences saying so could be the best gift you could give me.
  2. An Amazon gift certificate. Even a small one helps. This way, I get to choose the books (or ebooks) that I want. And of course, Amazon sells more than books.
  3. An iTunes gift card. These are incredibly helpful. Not only can I download the music I like, I can also use it to download apps for my iPhone or iPad.

What about you?

What Christmas gifts do you NOT want to receive this year?

  1. I think I would welcome mostly anything. I have one client that has sent me a Harry & David basket the last two years and have liked the delicious pears and the crisp crackers. He is the only one that has sent me anything in 10 years of freelancing. Hmmm….

  2. Matt Keegan,

    That does sound like a fun gift. πŸ™‚

    That’s all you’ve gotten, though? Hmmm…

    Just kidding!

    Well, I have gotten some gifts in the past that I liked and also been pitched for “free” items that are actually sales pitches. (Probably a pet peeve of mine…)

  3. Haha, number six on your list of gifts not to get writers cracks me up – do people really do that??

    The best gift I’ve ever received from a client was a $200 gift card to Amazon. I was blown away by their generosity (and you can bet I gave their projects top priority in the future), and it helped me to pick up some great books and tech tools (like a new podcasting microphone – yay!).

  4. Okay, what am I doing wrong that I’ve never received a gift from a client? πŸ™‚ Of course, I’d trade in any gift for on-time payments and more projects. πŸ˜€

  5. Thanks Sarah!

    A $200 Amazon gift card sounds fabulous. Lucky you! πŸ™‚


    Maybe you’re not doing anything wrong. Maybe you just don’t have *that* kind of client. πŸ˜‰ Do you send client gifts yourself?

  6. I’m coming to the conversation late, but thought I’d add my two cents anyway.
    A gift certificate to Staples is always welcome. So is a bookstore gift certificate so we can buy a new Writer’s Market. πŸ™‚
    One item I rarely see mentioned would be a membership to a writer’s association, like the Editorial Freelancers’ Association. (I asked my husband for that last year.)

  7. Stephanie–Thanks for sharing your gift ideas. I’m sure many will find them helpful. πŸ™‚