9 best diaries to start 2021 off the right way

The new year is pending, so get all your exciting plans written down in one of these useful journals

Martha Alexander
Tuesday 22 December 2020 16:00
<p>After the year we’ve had, full of cancelled plans, don’t be put off a paper version</p>

After the year we’ve had, full of cancelled plans, don’t be put off a paper version

After the year we’ve had – full of cancelled plans – we’d all be forgiven for swearing off diaries forever.

And yet, even as 2021 looms ahead as nothing but a question mark luxury stationers Papier report a colossal increase in demand of diaries ahead of the peak December rush at 200 per cent YOY.

Even without Covid-19 interfering in our plans, it’s an incredible statistic that disproves the notion that we as a society do absolutely everything digitally.

But a diary is more than a date book – although it is of course, by definition, exactly that. 

A diary is a memento, a planner, a journal and a space to write down thoughts and reactions. It can be a simple appointment book, efficiently gathering only place and time, but it can also be a place for lists, feelings, dreams and secrets.

Our roundup consists of everything from neat pocket appointment books to heavy tomes for deepest thoughts. We’ve been mindful of budget but included some properly luxurious showstoppers and in a number of cases, the diary offers artwork or writing to help and inspire.

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Buckram Diary

This is the epitome of understated quality. The Buckram range is handbound and the quality of the workmanship really shows. It’s beautiful as an object alone – and weighty without being onerous to use. The cover wipes clean – a very good quality for anyone prone to regularly spilling coffee and can be personalised. Given that this is day-to-page there is scope for doing a spot of journaling here – rather than simply appointment noting. The paper itself is thick and easy to write on: it smacks of quality. We love the green – it’s classic and smart – but there is an extensive alternative colour palette to pick from.

Flamingo Pink 2021 Diary

Oh, this is a beauty, there can be no doubt. Pink with gold embossing – this is just the ticket into a brand-new year. Each spread is a week view on one side – perfect for appointments, short notes and key timings and a full page for notes on the other. The front of the diary is full of helpful information – currencies, holidays, clothing sizes and sunrise/set times, all the things you might turn to Google for. Yes, it’s not cheap but it is luxurious. If pink isn’t your hue, there are others to choose from. It’s a brilliant size, too, larger than pocket and smaller than table – ideal for handbags.

Redstone 2021 Diary Of Everyday Pleasures

Every year Redstone produces a diary that is part essential planner, part work of art. The Redstone is always timely and yet full of obscure writing, illustrations and ideas. The focus changes year on year (although the size and format is always the same). This year the theme is “everyday pleasures” – unbelievably apt for the times we’re living in, and a complete tonic. There are images of cups of tea, or birthday cake, as well as kisses, paddling and passages on schadenfreude. This is what it sets out to be – a pleasure for every day.

Moons & Stars Leather Diary

One of the things that we especially love about Papier is how the diaries are always presented inlaid within a gorgeous box, which adds to the luxury. This leather beauty, personalised alongside moon and star embossing, makes for a wonderful start to the year. It’s a week to view, but also includes sections for jotting down goals and to-do lists. This is so smart – be prepared to be asked where you got it – repeatedly!

Bookends Diary

This cover is certainly unique and we are here for it. This diary is A5 and offers a double-page spread for every week of the year. What we love about this is that the inside pages are made from music sheet paper. The book itself has special binding that means it will lay flat on the table (perfect for left-handed people who struggle to use the start of notebooks!) and comes packed in a card folio box. This diary is really fun and really unusual – a delight to use.

2021 Diary

Adorned with flora and bees, the cover’s prettiness extends to the interior – there are illustrations throughout which make this week to view diary more than just an appointment book. Each spread contains diary dates as well as space for notes. At the back is a built-in cardboard envelope for receipts or tickets which we always find an underrated but endlessly handy feature in a dairy. There is a pink ribbon bookmark and a pink elastic strap to keep the pages together – we think this is a lovely cheering diary – and inexpensive to boot.

Classic Daily Diary

Although this is A5, it is much heavier and thicker than it might appear in pictures, which we really rated as it feels imposing and solid on any desk. The ring binding is wide, and the pages move smoothly – is there anything more irritating than a too-tight ring bind? There are 11 colours to choose from and a variety of metallic foiling options too. This is a day per page situation, so journaling is entirely possible. What we thought was especially lovely about this classic diary were the options for personalisation. Not only is this possible on the cover, but also on the first page: a personal message can be left here, printed on thicker card. Martha Brook does beautiful gift wrapping too.

Faber & Faber Poetry Diary

Every year Faber releases its poetry diary – a celebration of poetry based on the original Faber Poetry list which was founded in the 1920s and informed by the talent and taste of TS Eliot. The 2021 diary features space to make dates and notes as well as poems from a range of exceptional writers including Emily Dickinson and William Wordsworth, as well as contemporary talents such as Wendy Cope and Rachael Allen. This diary is perfect for anyone who likes frequent doses of literary inspiration while they are planning their lives. It’s a lovely thing.

Slim Essential Diary

Small, slim, sleek and cheap as chips – this is the perfect no-nonsense appointment book for anyone who likes to travel light and keep things simple. With a week-to-view page system, a space for notes in the back and a ribbon for bookmarking – this is unpretentious and efficient. 

Verdict: 2021 diaries

The Buckram gets our vote for being so brilliantly made and for the beautiful quality of the paper. It’s large without being cumbersome and the quality of the paper and binding is evident from the moment it’s in your hands. If that’s not for you,  go for the Redstone – it’s a unique education as well as an organisational tool! 

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