Here's a fact that we've learned over several holiday seasons at CWPE: Pencils make excellent gifts. Think about it - they're good for all ages, they're useful, and when thoughtfully assembled can tell a unique story or fit a special purpose. And are they a great gift for the person who has everything? Absolutely.
There are, of course, hundreds of pencils and pencil accessories out in the world, so we thought we'd share some of our tricks for putting together an assortment for a great gift.
1) Start with a theme. Are the pencils for an artist, a student, a crossword puzzle fanatic? Perhaps there's a color palette you'd like to work with? Or maybe you want to pick pencils from a certain far off place? Choosing a light idea to theme your gift around will significantly help narrow down the selection.
2) Determine a budget. Our pencils average around $1.50 each, with some that are very cheap ($0.25 each) and some that are more expensive (vintage Blackwing 602s cost about $80). Are you looking for some extravagance for someone who usually doesn't spend money on themselves, or are you looking to introduce someone to new favorites they can repurchase again and again?
3) Pick a variety. We tend to think 6 to 12 pencils make the perfect amount for a gift (particularly because they can be wrapped very tidily). An assortment makes gifting more fun because your recipient will have an opportunity to play with different graphite feels.
4) Add an accessory. An eraser, a sharpener, an extender, or a pencil cap make the perfect add-on to round out your pencil gift. Sharpeners in particular are great because it will give your recipient the opportunity to try out their new pencils right away if they don't already have one.
5) Bonuses. If your budget allows, adding a pencil case or a notebook is a great bonus. Notebooks tend to be a little trickier to shop for, particularly if you're not 100% certain what your recipient likes to use. If you're not certain, we tend to recommend something special or unusual, like the Craft Design Technology Grid notepad, which is perfect for jotting down notes, but also nice enough for letter writing.
A note about cases: If you want to gift pencils inside a pencil case, just know that lot of cases are designed a little too short for brand new, unsharpened pencils. Just check the product specifications first - a pencil is around 7 to 8 inches long, depending on the type. You can always pre-sharpen pencils to get them to fit in a shorter case, too.
The World Traveler - An assortment of pencils from around the world (we have 12 different countries to choose from!). We love putting these together because pencils vary so much from country to country. You could also add a bonus eraser or sharpener from a far-off place.
The Artist - Pencils in a few different hardnesses, plus a quality eraser. Sketching can involve all types of graphite, so we recommend picking a little of each on the grading spectrum - some very hard, some medium, some very soft. A high-quality eraser is also a must - Sumo and Technik are our favorites.
The Notetaker - A few good #2 pencils with erasers on the end, plus travel sharpener. Think anything that would be good for note-taking in a classroom - pencils with good point retention and a sharpener that holds shavings. Bonuses could be a highlighter pencil, or maybe some eraser caps.
The Journal-er - Some classy writing pencils plus a really nice notebook. For the notebook, you can go with something like a Baron Fig Confidant that your recipient can buy again and again and start an archive, or with something more unique like an Emilio Braga notebook from Portugal. Pencil caps would be a good add-on to this gift so they can take their journaling supplies on the go.
Looking for something even easier? Try a set! We've got a variety of samplers, colored pencil tins, and other gift sets that make excellent, easy gifts. Check them out in our Easy Gifts collection.
Still stuck? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can get you started!
Pssst... if you're shopping for a Secret Santa, Caroline has some bonus advice for you!