It’s crunch time, and if you’re anything like me, you’re just now realizing how much is left to buy. It’s even worse when there’s someone on your list who’s particularly dodgy to buy gifts.
Journalists, while notoriously easy to talk to, may just be among the hardest to shop for. The easiest way to make the journalist in your life, who may very well be working over the holidays, happy this holiday season is getting them the things that will make their job, life, or just overall well-being better. If you’re not in the industry, though, that might be hard to do. All is not lost.
Here are some things that are sure to inspire you into the perfect gift for your journalist.
Fake AP Stylebook items
If you’re reading this, you probably love grammar. But let’s face it, we all know grammar and AP Style can be a little, well, stuffy. Thankfully, our friends at Fake AP Stylebook have found a way to tactfully poke fun at it. The creators over at The Bureau Chiefs are even selling merchandise with some of their more popular “rules,” including T-shirts, buttons, and coffee mugs. While you may not get the clever puns, your grammar geek will surely chuckle at “Remember to close all parentheses; we’re not paying to air condition the entire paragraph,” and “ATM Machine: Machine that makes ATMs.”
If you’re looking for a hardbound copy of the subtle hilarities that make up the grammar-gone-wild Twitter account, you will have to wait until spring 2011 for the Fake AP Stylebook book, but there are plenty of goodies you can grab to stave off your anticipation.
Journalists love newspapers, especially when they’re used as things other than their primary purpose—try boxer shorts or wallets. If you’re going for a more hands-on approach for your holiday, instead of recycling your old newspapers, string strips together to make a classic basket.
Cool magazine or newspaper subscription
Most journalists still, and will always, love print media. (I mean, they kind of have to.) In fact, journalists may very well be the only people who are keeping the subscription base alive on the printer counterparts of your favorite online news and information source. UF magazine professor and Men’s Health contribution editor Ted Spiker recommends mental_floss, the magazine piled with an abundance of knowledge that, while it may not prepare you to be the next contestant on Jeopardy, is sure to impress your friends. For the hard-news centric on your list, you can’t go wrong with one from The New York Times.
Interesting editions of writing books
Along the same lines, your journalist probably has a soft spot for the classics that have become staples in the industry. Are they collectors of AP Stylebooks? (Guilty.) Find a copy of the first one published back in 1953—I’d even be impressed if you wrestled up this one—or another older edition.
What about Lynne Truss’s Eats, Shoots and Leaves? Or Strunk & White’s Elements of Style? Both or these classics have many different editions, each with their own look and style, that adds a unique touch to the word connoisseur’s library. I got the hardback illustrated copy of the Elements of Style last year, which turned out to be one of my favorite gifts—and one of the copies that few friends have seen before.
Everyday office items
Give anyone else a pen this holiday season, and you’ll probably get that same fake smile when you receive another snowman sweater. Journalists, like waiters, on the other hand, never underestimate the value of a good pen. And they can never have enough of them. Knock out two gifts in one and get them a pen recorder with at least 2GBs of space. On the same note, messenger bags, reporter’s pads, a pocket dictionary and thesaurus are sure to make them smile.
Remember: Coffee is a critical everyday office item for journalists. Pick up some local brew and a personal coffee maker for their desk so they don’t have to drink the Folgers in the office. Throw in a travel mug in there for those long trips to source interviews.