Let’s face it, ladies, most of the gift suggestions for guys are terrible.
Whiskey stones are a scam that won’t keep his Jameson cold. Unless he wears French cuff shirts, those cufflinks are unwearable. And only a freshly legal frat boy would want a monogrammed flask.
The following is a gift guide for guys, written by the most particular man I’ve ever met, my boyfriend.
The problem with holiday gift guides for men is that they’re simultaneously kitschy and generic. Brands are trying please everyone and end up pleasing no one. Does anyone really want BBQ tools shaped like golf clubs or a used hockey puck bottle opener? Of course not. So how do you choose better gifts?
Most women know what the men in their life like — he golfs, travels, goes to concerts — but they don’t know how to turn those likes into good gifts. Here are the gifts I would actually buy for myself, broken up into sub-categories to help you find the right gift.
For the Whiskey Drinker.
Let’s cut right through the bullsh*t and stop beating around the booze, why buy useless whiskey glasses or whiskey stones when you can just buy them whiskey? Whether it’s a bottle to go in the bar cart or one to go on the top shelf, having the right booze on hand to impress your buddies and celebrate a moment is a gift he’ll be thankful for time and time again.
Green Spot Whiskey ($40-$50). This is an insanely smooth and drinkable bottle of whiskey (even Abra will drink it). The flavor will impress his buddies, but it won’t break the bank if they finish the whole bottle (speaking from experience).
Need street cred? Japanese whiskeys are well-known to insiders and becoming popular on restaurant menus. This Hibiki 12-Year ($80) makes you look like you know what you’re talking about. This is a special occasion bottle to be enjoyed.
If you’re looking for a stocking stuffer, skip the ice molds and go for the giant cube tray. They melt slowly to keep from watering down whiskey, but make sure to boil the water so you get those restaurant-quality clear cubes.
For the Golfer in Your Life.
If you need a gift for a man who golfs, whether it’s your boss, brother-in-law, or boyfriend, no man has ever seen a brand new box of Titleist Pro-V1s ($48) and not smiled. “Pro Vs” are widely known as the gold-standard golf ball. They’re practical and slightly luxurious.
For Guy Who Hates Dress Pants.
These AG Graduate SUD Pants ($178) are the anti-jean. They add color to his wardrobe while being everything he likes about jeans. He can wear them with a belt for work or with a pair of sneakers on the weekend. These pants will get your boyfriend out of his jeans while maintaining comfortability. If this price is too steep, try these pants from Old Navy.
For the Business Traveler.
Convenience and style rarely go together, but the Tumi Alpha Bravo Knox Backpack ($289 on sale) gives the business traveler both. The pouches and side pockets provide easy access to all your essentials, the laptop zip pouch keeps your computer secure, and like all Tumi products can be monogrammed in store. Don’t be the asshole who carries a backpack with a conference logo from five years ago.
If your business traveler isn’t a backpack guy, try a pair of noise canceling headphones instead.
The Parrot Zik 3 Headphones ($399) have great sound quality and a modern looking design. The battery life is good, and he can replace the battery so he doesn’t end up buying a new set when it wears out. The side touch controls are also incredibly intuitive.
If noise canceling isn’t a priority, try a pair of Apple AirPods ($159). These have completely changed the way I work, I never have to search for my headset when a call comes in, and the cordless design means I stopped spilling coffee all over my desk. (I bought mine on eBay for a $10 markup if you can’t find them in stores.)
For the Guy with a Foot Fetish.
Abra bought me these boots last year (after dozens of dropped hints (it was two mentions, he’s full of it)) and they are worth every penny. I have received more compliments on these Jack Boots ($250) boots than any other thing I have ever owned. They can be worn with a suit or to dress up a pair of dark jeans. While $250 may seem a little steep, they have been frequently worn through 8 seasons of wet, rainy Pacific Northwest weather and they still look great.
They can be worn with a suit or to dress up a pair of dark jeans. While $250 may seem a little steep, they have been frequently worn through 8 seasons of wet, rainy Pacific Northwest weather and they still look great.
Anyone who’s familiar with Danner Boots knows how well-made they are. The Jack Workboots ($190) are great for commuting from the Metro to the office in bad weather or if you need to hike to up the hills in Georgetown during a bar crawl. They’re the shoe version of bringing an umbrella, but they don’t look like workboots.
If the guy on your list isn’t a boot guy, these M.Gemi Drivers ($125) are my second-favorite shoe. Comfortable and durable, they bring color to your wardrobe without being obnoxious. Okay, maybe they’re obnoxious, but they’re within bounds.
Looking for a stocking stuffer? Stolen Riches Laces ($18) upgrade your basic brown shoe to something not so boring. They’re the modern day equivalent of a power tie.
For Literally Every Man You Know.
If there’s one thing that’s relatable for all guys it’s the pain and hassle of shaving your face. Most men have been Gillette guys since their teens; this Bevel Shave Kit ($72) was a little bit of a novelty when Abra gave it to me but the straight blade is a game changer. When I need a super close shave, this Bevel is all I reach for. Also, the razors are far less expensive to replace, even though you only get one use per blade.
This is a great generic gift. If you have a hard to shop for man on your list or some random brother-in-law, this is the gift that you need. It’s quality and cool without being too personalized.
Editor’s Note: You cannot carry-on travel with this razor unless you enjoy having awkward conversations with TSA.
For the Guy Who Has to Wear a Suit.
While I do miss my roller bag, I don’t miss the wrinkles. This Hook + Albert Weekender ($445) is a two-in-one bag that goes from duffle to garment bag in two quick zips. Great for a business trip or a weekend wedding, it saves you from having to carry two bags. Men stop me in airports just to ask who made my bag. It also comes in leather for $585.
If that’s out of your budget, this Trail Breeze Weekender ($212) is a nice sub. The exterior pockets are always nice and the canvas is durable.
For the Guy Who Loved His College Days.
Be a hero at his New Year’s Eve party with these Slip Cup beer pong inserts ($11). While we all like to relive our college days once a year, we’d like to be throwing up for the right reasons the next morning. No more grit, dog hair, or grass in your Solo cup. Also a great secret Santa gift.
For the Man Who Appreciates Utility.
These Christmas gifts may not be sexy … but neither are bacon neck t-shirts, holey boxers, or frostbite. These gifts are practical, useful and will be appreciated months from now. They’re the gifts that would be terrible for a 5-year-old, but perfect for a 35-year-old.
If there’s one thing I know, it’s great socks. No one would question my sock knowledge. Happy Socks ($12) are the perfect combination of options and consistency. There make a wide range of colors and styles, but they’re a good, durable thickness.
Traditional dress socks are thin and wear out quickly. Happy Socks will last your guy a minimum of two years. And anyone who’s had to walk from one end of the airport to the other in a pair of dress shoes and thin dress socks will understand the importance of sock thickness. Loud socks may be a little “last year,” but color is always your friend.
Lacoste V-Neck Pima Cotton Tees ($49) are comfortable, stylish, durable, and an upgrade from your standard white tee. Word to the wise, these cannot go in the dryer, or else they’ll go from an XL to a girlfriend t-shirt in one dry cycle (this is why Abra doesn’t do my laundry (you shrink one damn t-shirt)).
This Merino Wool Canada Goose Beanie ($75) will keep your head warm and look cool. And isn’t that all you’re really looking for in a hat?
For the Guy Who Was a Kid in the 90s.
The reason the Super NES Classic ($79) is the perfect gift … nostalgia. Christmas was great as a kid because when you opened something up, you got to play with it. As much as I enjoy a pair of boots, I can’t take them out of the box and play with them. Once you’re done opening presents, you can turn the tables on your nieces and nephews by crushing them at Super Mario Kart.
Gifts to Skip.
Don’t buy him a wallet, wallets are a deeply personal decision. Most women don’t get that. Thickness, material, card slots, all of these depend on individual needs and tastes.
I always laugh when I see throw blankets, pillows, or other home goods on men’s gift guides. Most of us don’t care what pillow is on the couch, we’re just smooshing it anyway (yeah, we know, we bought those crushed pillows).
No cufflinks, unless you’ve seen him wear cufflinks 1,000x. And if you do buy them, they need to be a splurge gift or a pair he’s already asked for. Cheaping out on a gift like that will just leave him feeling obligated to wear them.
Don’t buy a man who doesn’t wear ties a tie. Christmas is not the time to wish something into existence. If he’s not a tie guy, this is not the time to bring up your sartorial dreams for him (or in Kyle’s case, buy a tie that wasn’t quite right, which is all the ones I pick out).
Some women think buying Christmas lingerie is a good gift, but that’s the equivalent of him giving you a snow blower. Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, save it for February.