11 Essential Stationery Items Everyone Needs

Ever found the perfect gift for your best friend?

You know it’s something she’ll love. It cost less than you expected. And you bought it before her birthday.

You jump for joy. And decide to wrap it later.

Later translates into ten minutes before you’re heading out to meet her for dinner. You grab some wrapping paper. But can’t find any cellotape. Of course, cellotape is on your ‘someday’ shopping list. You’ve been meaning to buy some. Your good feelings about the perfect present give way to frustration at your wrapping challenges.

That’s just one scenario that won’t repeat itself once you’ve collated an organised assortment of stationery.


Here’s eleven items that will fend off future fiascos.

1.    Cellotape

Of course, this one’s obvious. From gift-wrapping to mending torn sheets of paper. When you need cellotape, there’s honestly no alternative. I like this tape from Paperchase. Stick to the real deal. I’ve found with cheap versions, it’s hard to find the free edge and it tears off at an awkward angle. I also like this scotch magic tape. It’s easy to peel off, if you’re not a pro gift-wrapper! Whatever your choose, make life easy for yourself and get a tape dispenser too.

2.    Scissors

Use this to cut up pieces of cellotape, paper or card. Tearing and teeth are subpar alternatives that I’ve tried and tested on several occasions. The results aren’t pretty. Save your teeth and buy a pair of scissors. 

3.    Stapler

If you’ve ever dropped a bundle of sheets that aren’t page-marked, you’ll understand how important a stapler can be. Whenever I have a document to read that is more than two pages long, I prefer to read it on paper rather than a screen. Having a stapler to hand makes easy work of keeping the sheets together. 

4.    Staples

As soon as you’ve bought a stapler, buy a supply of staples too. Getting caught out by an empty stapler is not fun or funny. There’s usually a few included with a new stapler, however you can almost guarantee that just when you really need to use the stapler, there’ll be no staples left. Be prepared. Stock up.

5.    Paper clips

There are some paper items that you’ll want to group together, but without the damage or permanence of using staples. This is where paper clips come into their own. Back in the day, silver/grey oval paper clips were pretty much the standard. Nowadays, paper clips come in all shapes, sizes and colours. Have a look in Paperchase and Etsy and be inspired by just about every colour in the rainbow.

6.    Tape measure/Ruler

Trying to guess what 35cm looks isn’t easy, especially when you need real precision. A ruler takes away the guesswork. Online shopping has made it mandatory to have a tape measure to measure up your wardrobe, ‘armpit to armpit’ and ‘shoulder to hem’ (any eBay fans out there, hi!). No longer confined to a dressmaker’s sewing kit, tape measures can fill in for a ruler too.

7.    Pens

Everyone has a favourite; fine nib, fountain, just the right flow rate of ink. I find my handwriting changes with different pens. To keep your writing legible and consistent when writing cards, handwritten notes and gift tags, keep a duplicate of your favourite pen in the same place as the rest of your writing supplies.

8.    Envelopes

Of late, I’ve observed that when I’m required to return a completed form, there’s no return envelope included. Having a home supply is handy and can also be economical if you buy in bulk. Years ago I bought these envelopes and years later they’re still going strong. I’ll confess, I bought a huge box, buying in bulk made the price a bargain and it isn’t something I’ve needed to buy again since then.

9.    Postage Stamps

When posting a letter or package, having stamps on hand means you can post it write away. I can’t guarantee that there’ll be a postbox near you, but having your letter ready to post is one less thing to contend with.

10. Thank you cards

I started cultivating the habit of writing thank you cards a while ago. It wasn’t a habit that stuck until I stumbled upon these cards at Smythson. They are simply designed. The paper is decadent, the packaging is a delight and the price is a steal. And showing gratitude is a good thing.

11. Letter Opener

So there was this time where I just couldn’t grow my nails, they seemed to grow at a snail’s pace. I scoured the web for tips and tricks to speed up the their growth. I read article after article. Until I came across one that suggested things to stop doing. That got me interested. One of the tips was to stop mistreating my nails and hands in general. Fingers are not for opening letters, letter openers are. And so I bought one and have used it ever since. My nails grew by the way, but I do have Sally Hansen to thank for that too.

Bonus No. 12. Stationery Box

Now that you’ve compiled your essentials. Put them in a handy place so you can always find them. A dedicated drawer, a shelf or stationery box will keep them all organised and ready for use at the drop of a hat.


Charles Dickens’ was a fan of stationery. I’ve turned one of his quotes into a downloadable quote. Once you’ve downloaded it, you can print and frame it for your workspace or pop it in your planner.