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Your Holiday Gift Guide: Journals and Journaling

by Jacki Andre November 27, 2018

Your Holiday Gift Guide: Journals and Journaling

Hey Cool Cats! Have you heard the news?! It’s time to start rockin’ around the Christmas tree, dancin’ merrily in the new old-fashioned way.

It’s also time to get moving on your holiday shopping if you haven’t already. For the record: I haven’t. If you know me at all, that’s not a big surprise. My procrastination levels are legendary. Legendary.

But that’s okay. Because this year, everybody’s getting journaling supplies. Easy peasy. This year, I’m buying ALL. THE. WASHI. I tell ya. And why not? Journaling is for everybody. Seasoned Bujo’er? Kid? Writer? Artist? Scrapbooker or crafter? Unorganized procrastinator? (*whistles innocently*) Obsessive list-maker? All these people -- and others too -- would enjoy receiving and using journaling supplies.

It’s not difficult to choose journaling gifts. Don’t be shy. There’s no such thing as too much stationery. Someone who already journals would never turn down another notebook. And for those who don’t already journal, they might start if they had supplies that inspired them. Or, if they’re the artsy-crafty type, they might love a notebook and supplies for art journaling. And if someone truly has no interest in any kind of journaling whatsoever -- well, everyone needs pens and paper. Amirite?

Now, myself, I’m pretty new to the whole 21st-century concept of journaling. I totally get that there are a lot of choices out there. The options for notebooks alone are seemingly endless: softcover or hardcover? Spiral-bound or sewn spine? Lined, dotted, or grid paper? Does the weight of the paper matter? As for supplies, what the hey is a brush pen? Is it Midliner or Mildliner? And why on earth does anybody need stencils anyway?

Where do you even start to choose a journal-related gift?? Read on, my sparkly unicorn friends. I got your back. You know I do.

Gifting a Journal

The notebook a person uses as a journal can be a very personal choice. Some people may have a set preference for the type of journal they use.

Still, don’t be afraid to gift a journal to someone without knowing their preferences. I, for one, use several different journals:

  • My A4 spiral-bound lined notebook is my travel journal. Because the pages are so easy to remove, it’s perfect for pasting in ephemera. Removing excess pages means it won’t get too bulky.
  • My leather-bound sewn-spine A5 journal is my regular writing journal.
  • My intentions journal (which is my alternative to a vision board) is made of cardstock pages inserted into an actual binder.
  • My A6 dot grid journal was an impulse purchase because I’m curious about the dot grid trend. I haven’t found a dedicated use for it yet.
  • I have several other journals that were gifted to me. I will put them to use once I figure out their purpose.

You see? Even if someone has a preference, they may use different types of journals. And, especially for those just starting out, the chance to experiment with gifted journals may be appreciated as a way to discover which sizes, bindings, and paper types work best for them.

As well, some people choose dollar store journals because that’s the best they can afford. Why not make their hearts sing by gifting them an expensive iconic journal, like a Leuchtturm 1917, a Scribbles that Matter, or a Moleskine notebook?

Another option is to choose a journal with a cover that suits the recipient’s personality. Look for a cover with an inspirational quote that seems especially suited to your giftee, or one with a meaningful embossed image, like the ones from SohoSpark. And hey, if there’s enough time for a special order, there are businesses that will create a journal that’s embossed with any quote of your choosing or that has personal photos printed on the cover. Just google it up.


As with notebooks, people may already have favorite pens. But they will also appreciate the chance to experiment with different ones. And, trust me: they will adore you if you gift them pens that are iconic in the journaling community.

Fountain Pens

Whether a person knows how to do calligraphy, a fountain pen or calligraphy set makes a beautiful gift. And it just might be the impetus your giftee needs in order to learn a coveted skill.

Brush Pens

Brush pens mimic the strokes of a paintbrush but they have synthetic tips instead of bristles. They’re used primarily for lettering or for “fauxligraphy.” As pointed out on the ColorIt blog,watercolor brush pens, in particular:

allow you to use techniques that you never really get to play with using the typical alcohol-based markers or gel pens: dreamy blending, color washes, gradients and soft ombres---you name it, watercolor brush pens can probably do it.

The most iconic of these are Tombow’s dual brush pens. They are a splurge for many folks and would very likely be appreciated as a gift.


Highlighters have all kinds of uses in journals -- from shading in trackers to coloring to, yes, even highlighting text. Among dedicated journalers, the pastel Mildliner pens by Zebra are highly coveted. The same company makes highlighters with -- wait for it -- SPARKLES in the ink. If I’m on your gift list, I’ll take the sparkly ones in every color, please and thanks.

Erasable Pens and Markers

Do these really need an explanation? There’s nothing worse than spending a few hours creating a spread only to ruin it with a misplaced line or a misspelled word. Erasable pens and markers are the bees’ knees. Gift those babies like hotcakes.

Journaling Tools

There’s a tool for that!

Folding Ruler

I admit I was skeptical when I first saw a folding 12” ruler. Is it really necessary? In all honesty, probably not. But as Jennifer at Productive and Pretty points out, it’s especially handy for those who carry their Bujos with them. A 12” ruler may be a pain in the patootie to lug around but sometimes a 6” ruler just isn’t long enough.

Helix Angle and Circle Maker

I don’t have one of these myself *ahem* but I have heard about them before. They’re plastic Spirograph-type gizmos that can help you draw perfect circles in 22 different sizes. As a bonus, they’re super-reasonably priced at about $5 USD.


The Bullet Journal spreads that people share on social media are often intricate and beautiful works of art. For those of us without an artistic bone in our bodies, those spreads can be intimidating. Is a Bullet Journal really a Bullet Journal without the fancy pages? You betcha. First off, your journal is yours. Art is not required. Make it look however you want. But if it turns out that what you want are the beautiful artistic spreads, hello stencils!

Washi Tape

Washi tape has all kinds of uses, from prettying up pages to actually working as, well, tape. Every Bujo’er will tell you that there is no such thing as too much washi. Don’t be shy about gifting a few rolls. Then again, if you happen to know that your giftee perhaps does indeed have too much washi (*whistles innocently*), some kind of washi storage system would likely be appreciated.

Random Coveted Items

Rolling Carts

Over at the Inappropriate Bullet Journal Inspiration group on Facebook, rolling storage carts are highly coveted items. The metal ones with open tray-like storage are much preferred to the plastic type with drawers.

Photo Printers

Two popular photo printers for journaling purposes are the Polaroid Zip and the HP Sprocket. Both are tiny, don’t use ink, and are easily portable.

Penmanship Books

Just as the beautiful artistic spreads shared on social media can be intimidating, so too can the amazing lettering. But, as with anything, practice makes perfect. Anyone can improve their lettering skills with workbooks available for that purpose.

Seal and Wax Sets

Just because.

What do you think, sparkly unicorns? What are we missing from this wish list? Let me know in the comments below!

Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Unsplash
Jacki Andre
Jacki Andre

Jacki Andre has been journaling for over 30 years and still has her jam-packed Judy Blume Diary to prove it. Somewhere along the way, she started writing for reals, and is now a published author and Huffington Post blogger. In her spare time, Jacki supports dog rescue, advocates for disability rights, and educates other drivers via hand gestures about the importance of using turn signals. She keeps in shape by chasing joy (and her ‘80s teen idols) in earnest.

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