1. A gift certificate to their favourite brick and mortar or online bookstore because writers love to read! Gift certificates allow them to whittle down their TBR lists or to get those research books they've been needing.
2. If your writer self-publishes, (and really who doesn't nowadays?) what about surprising them with a gift certificate from a website that sells pre-made covers or maybe splurging out for a certificate for a custom-made cover? There are more and more great designers offering great covers at good prices so this doesn't have to break your bank.
3. Tea! Yes, tea! I know coffee is usually cited as the invigorating drink of choice for writers but nobody is going to resist the wonderful teas available from sites like this and this. And the intoxicating scents are guaranteed to rev anyone's imagination!
4. If there's going to be a writer's conference, workshop or retreat near you, why not send your writer into transports of delights by covering the fee? If you live in a country or island with more than say 50,000 people, there's probably a good chance that your public library or community college, for example, will offer a course or workshop your writer can take advantage of. And don't limit it to writing, a good social media marketing class might be just as useful as a creative writing class.
5. Do you know how your writer organizes the notes and research for her books? If, for example, she uses binders and poster-boards, why not lay in a full-year's supply?
6. Is your writer writing about about a particular location she or he has never been to? Why not get them a few travel guides about the area? I, myself, depend on my Insight Guides but I also love the look of the Knopf City Guides (not the maps). Of course, if you can afford it, how about the gift of a plane or train fare? I'm thinking of setting my next book in Tuscany, hint, hint!
7. Writers spend a lot of time sitting in front of their computers and that can exact a toll on our fitness so the gift of a gym membership might be just the thing to bring more activity into the life of your writer. A treadmill, exercycle or stepper are also great options.
8. Writers are avid readers and we don't allow such things as dim lighting to deter us which makes a lamp a perfect gift. Check out some awesome ones here and here (provides a good guide to selecting the best one for the situation).
I hope you find these helpful but really the best thing is to know your writer and figuring out how to help them do their thing and it might not even have to cost you a thing. If, for example, your writer is working on his first police procedural and you're able to set up a drive-around with the local police department for him you can bet that gift won't be forgotten!
Happy Holidays, everyone!