The people in my life are amazing. They get me things I will use, things I will appreciate, things that speak to who I am in the world. In fact, they get me so many of these great things that, well, I have cupboards full of them.

For all of you who love writers, here are 3 perfectly apt, thoughtful gifts that you really shouldn’t give.

1. Journals. Many of us keep journals. If you are like me, you keep several – a writing practice one, a life one, a prayer one. And yet, still, journals are not good gifts for a couple of reasons. First, we probably have 30 of them. Second, journals are particular to the writer. Some of us like unlined; some of us prefer spiral bound. None of us like the ones with the kitten on the piano by a rose. Yet, we will feel obligated to keep and use said journals, every time cringing a little and flipping through to see how many more pages we have to fill before we can move on to that perfect one we bought ourselves.

2. Pens. If journals are idiosyncratic, pens are even more so. If you doubt me, check out this ode to my favorite pen and note that it was one of my most popular posts in 2011. Some of us like fountain pens; some of us roller balls. Some prefer pencil, although these people are probably simply trying to relive that elementary school moment when they got the lead to just the right angle. Pens just aren’t safe.

3. Mugs. Almost every writer I know has a mug of something on her desk when she writes – tea, coffee, whisky. Since we sit for long periods of time, we seem to need some sort of beverage to keep more than just our fingertips moving. So often, well-meaning friends buy us mugs. In fact, my favorite three mugs came from three good friends – a giant green one from Jan, a powder blue one from Laurie, and a hand-throw cream one from Betsy. So you see, I love mugs, but you can also see that I have plenty. A single person does not need more than three special mugs. We aren’t likely to share them with guests – we have cheap mugs from pharmaceutical companies for that. Plus, there’s the heft, size, and shape of the handle – it’s best to just steer clear.

At this point, you may be asking what you should get a writer. Here’s my best recommendation – gift cards to grocery stores. Many of us don’t make a lot of extra cash, so having extra cash is useful – but if you give us cash, we’ll probably spend it on the journals, pens, and mugs that we like. A grocery store gift card is wiser.

How many journals, pens, and mugs do you have? For what grocery store would you want a gift card?