Need a Gift Idea? Five Reasons to Give a Journal

Imagine this. You wake up in the morning, you check your calendar, and you realize that your sister’s birthday is coming up.

Sara's journals. Yellow is my everyday, red is my family holiday, green is letters to Jude, pink flower is letters to Ayla.
Sara’s journals. Yellow is my everyday, red is my family holiday, green is letters to Jude, pink flower is letters to Ayla.

No problem, you still have a week left, right?

A couple of days later maybe you write in your calendar “get gift for Renee” or send card to “Lesley.” And then you go about your day.

You do extra laundry that day because one of the kids wet the bed. The kids finished the eggs you were relying on to make a breakfast for dinner, so you run to the store, only to come home and find out that bread you were going to use is covered with mold. No gift purchased that day.

The day before you know that it’s real-deal time to get something for your sister. You start a new day, things get a little hectic, and before you know it, it’s 11:30 the night before your sister’s birthday and you end up sending an Amazon gift card.

It’s nice and definitely useful.

Is it really what you want to give? Does it really make a statement about how much you appreciate your sister being such an important part of your life?

(I know, it sounds as though I am totally dissing Amazon gift cards. I’m not opposed to them AT ALL, and I love receiving them, but I will say that each time I give one, I feel a little guilty. Like I could have done a better job.)

How do I combat this?

I give journals.

And here’s why.

  1. A journal can be used in a variety of different ways. It can be a diary, a place to write recipes, family memory book, used to document a vacation, a sketch book, a place to store images of all the cool things you want to be, do, and have…I could go on and on.
  2. Journals are pretty! They are often little works of art that are so much fun to open. You can buy handmade journals on Etsy (and I’m sure other crafty websites) and give someone a one-of-a-kind gift.
  3. You have no way of knowing when that person is really going to need a journal. Imagine it’s the middle of the night and the person you gave a journal to just suffered a broken heart, can’t sleep because of a crisis at work, or wins the lottery. And in that moment when the emotions are built up and they are dying to let them out, they find the journal you gave them and voila! They have a safe place to empty and process. It’s like magic!
  4. Buying journals is fun for you too. It’s cool to pick one out on behalf of someone else. If you are shopping for one in person, you can look for the perfect color or image on the cover for the person you’re buying for. Which is kind of cool. (If my sister were a color, what would she be?) If shopping online you can actually search for what you want. Leather, solid color, images, lined paper, etc.
  5. You can jazz up any journal by including pens. Fancy pens, sparkly ink pens, Sharpie pens, pens that click, pens with caps, pens with multiple colors (remember how cool these were in middle school?), or of course pens that are color coordinated with the journal you pick out. The sky’s the limit!

I love giving (and receiving) journals for any occasion. But there’s something special about giving a journal for a birthday.

Your birthday is your own private New Year celebration. It’s a time where we might set new goals or embrace a life change. Maybe this year you know someone who’s starting a new decade.

A journal is a beautiful gift to remind someone you care about that the life they live is worth recording. You are saying that you believe in them and their ability to create a kick-ass life story.

And who knows. Maybe you’ll save yourself the trouble of trying to find “the perfect gift.” Everyone can use socks and underwear. I would also argue that everyone can use a journal (and a fantastic pen).


  1. My Brood AwakeningGift Ideas For the Traveler That Won’t Break the Bank | 15th Dec 17

    […] for it, Sara Marchessault is a pro of journals and gives you her five reasons to give a journal here. I know you know someone who’s livin’ it up, so give them a place to document it. […]

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