Friday, November 18, 2011

Holiday Gift Ideas For Guys

Does anyone else find it practically impossible to shop for the men in your lives? I struggle with this every year. What to get M., what to get my dad, what to get M.’s dad, what to get the various other adult males on our shopping list. It’s difficult for me to come up with ideas that I like, and that I also think they will like. Likely because, well, I’m a girl, and I just have different interests/tastes than they do. So shopping for guys is definitely a step outside of my comfort zone.

Below I’m going to try to brainstorm a little, for my benefit, and hopefully for yours, too. For the most part, I’m going to ignore the electronics and gadgets that guys universally seem to love. Because those are some of the more obvious gifts that will ALWAYS please a man, depending on your budget and current electronics stash at your house. I’m talking about things like iPads, iPhones, flat screen TVs, gaming systems, games for gaming systems, etc. I’m also not going to attempt to list out, for example, specific golf clubs your golf-nut dad or boyfriend might like. In cases where a guy has a hobby or two that makes shopping easy, run with it! But this list is not a hobby-specific list, it’s for those of us who have nowhere to start and are already starting to panic a bit about the prospect of RUNNING OUT OF TIME due to lack of inspiration and/or indecision.

1) Alright, first up: Vintage Sports Posters. Now, M. and I both roll our eyes and snicker at the many, many House Hunters episodes that feature a couple focused on finding the perfect house with the perfect “Man Cave”, “Men’s Den”, “Guy Room”, etc. Why a room that is really just a playroom for a grown-up (and by "playroom," I mean place to watch TV and fart with abandon, or whatnot) needs to be front and center in the house selection considerations is beyond me, but apparently it is A THING TO HAVE. A guy space of some sort. This guy space needs to be furnished and decorated, like any other house space, no? And if left up to their own devices, a guy would probably decorate with... well, nothing. Or something, more likely, that the average woman in his life will find slightly off-putting. So if YOU know a guy with a "Man Cave" or other such "space of his own," consider giving the gift of taste by choosing something decorative. Something you and he BOTH like.

Here are a few wall choices from I like the tin and wood signs they offer because no frame is needed, but a poster in a non-plastic (read: step up from the college d├ęcor days) is nice, too. For the football lover, you could get something like this vintage football player poster ($14.99):

They even have some choices from specific schools and teams - fun if you can find the right one for the sports nut in your life. Like this one, featuring a rivalry between Boston College and University of Texas (wood sign, $29.99):

There are posters and signs from all kinds of sports and hobbies to choose from - I especially like some of the cycling posters/signs, don't you? (wood sign, $29.99):

Allposters has many categories to sift through, and I’m sure other sites have some great options, too.

2) Another site that I just discovered is called 20X200 – it’s a website for artists to sell their art to everyday consumers like you and me, at affordable prices. This site would be great for anyone one your gift list, but I noticed they have some great pieces that fit in with today’s “guy” theme. And it’s REAL ART, by current artists, so you can feel all grown up and stuff.

Like this Las Vegas print by Corinne Vionnet:

Or this print of vintage cameras by Christine Berrie:

I could post a lot more of those, but I do want to move beyond “stuff for the walls,” as I realize that not everyone necessarily shares my view that art can make for a great (and likely unexpected) holiday gift. But I will point out that 20X200 has a nifty “Gift” section on their website to help you find the perfect match for your giftee, so if you’re interested, check it out.

On to a random assortment of other suggestions...

3) Whiskey stones - An innovative way to chill liquor drinks without diluting the flavor the way melted ice can. Could also be used by those wine drinkers that love a really cold glass of white wine (ahem, Mimi). Pair with a bottle of nice whiskey or bourbon and/or a set of glasses:

4) A little on the "gadgety" and "frat guy" side, but how about this iPhone Bottle Opener? ($19.99 when not on sale):

5) For those that already own an iPad or iPad2, the X Stand from Brookstone would make a great gift. It's a stand that allows you to use your iPad like a desktop computer, while giving you the ability to rotate it in any position you need. If I had an iPad, I would totally buy this ($49.99):

6) In terms of casual clothes, my favorite go-to outfit for men is to pair a waffle weave/thermal shirt with a nice pair of jeans or cargo pants. For the thermal shirt, make sure to get one that's not too loose/baggy - as with women's clothes, some things are meant to hug the form a little, even if you think your form isn't the sveltest one out there. Going large and shapeless is just going to make you look... large and shapeless. So I recommend, for this type of shirt, to select one that is a little stretchy, like the Urban Pipeline Thermal Tee from Kohls ($17.99 or 2 for $30). Sorry, no picture to share here, as I can't figure out how to save it to my desktop. But check out the link - these are great, comfortable shirts.

Pair the shirt with cargo pants, like these ones from Land's End ($44.95):

and, if you're feeling ambitious, some casual, stylish shoes, like these Skechers NORCO sneakers in brown ($49.98):

7) All of the guys on my shopping list are pretty active outdoors, and those outdoor locations they live in include lots of woods. Woods + Summer = Bugs, right? I'm intrigued by a line of Bug Shield clothing offered by Columbia. It reportedly keeps bugs away, is anti-microbial, and offers SPF 50 protection from the sun. I could see M. or his dad wearing this while they mow the lawn, or my dad wearing it as he moves rocks around up at his Maine lake house.

Columbia Bug Shield Long Sleeve Shirt ($49.99):

And the button-down version ($67.95):

8) A nice quality sweater is always a good gift - here are a few styles that appear to be all the rage lately (and look warm, too!). These are all from Land's End, and a little on the pricey side, but Land's End e-mails out coupon deals every day if you're on their mailing list, which might help some of these fit in your holiday budget a bit better. Other stores have similar styles to offer, too, so look around for the best deal:

Men's Donegal Button Mock Sweater - I'm oddly into the elbow patches on this one - very professorial ($99.50):

Men's Regular Knit Donegal Button Mock Sweater, featuring a hint of what I believe is called a "shawl collar," something Esquire magazine assured me is very much "in" right now ($79.50):

Men's Zip-front Drifter Cardigan - an update on the classic cardigan, a sweater my grandpa was never without during each winter, for as long as I can remember. This one looks great, for any age and dress situation. Comes in lots of colors, too ($49.50):

9) For a music lover, consider a box set. It's a bit old school in this age of iTunes and MP3 players, but my husband swears he likes having all the liner notes and discs from his collections, and I'm sure he's not alone. Like this upcoming release from Rush, Sector 1 ($46.89), and/or it's companion sets, Sector 2 and Sector 3:

A quick look through shows other great options in this category, like the Beach Boys, U2, Pink Floyd (several to choose from), The Smiths, and a whole lot more.

10) A product I can personally recommend is the Audiovox Acoustic Research Wireless Speaker - we actually have two of them. You plug your computer or other music-playing device (iPhone, iPod, etc) into the transmitter, which will transmit wirelessly to the speaker. It's an indoor/outdoor speaker, and very portable - we carry it around the house or outside so the music can follow us wherever we go. The sound is great, and the speaker runs on batteries, or you can plug it in if you're running low on size AA's. We ended up buying a second one so that we can play the same music upstairs and downstairs (one transmitter can transmit to multiple speakers). If you're looking for a cheap way to simulate a "wired" house, this is it! (on sale right now for $63.00):

11) A great book or collection of books is always a safe bet for a pleasing Christmas gift. Most of the guys I know like biographies and other types of nonfiction, historical fiction, and thrillers. A few current suggestions are:

The new Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson (of course) ($14.99 on Kindle, $17.88 hardcover sale price)

11/22/63: A Novel by Steven King ($16.99 on Kindle, $19.25 harcover)

Einstein: His Life and Universe, also by Walter Isaacson ($14.99 on Kindle, $15.98 paperback, which seems oddly high)

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand ($12.99 on Kindle, $14.00 hardcover)

12) M. and I both come from places with hard winters and variable weather, so we're engrained with the idea of weather as an inevitable topic of conversation at any gathering. Plus, it's always nice to know what kind of weather you're facing for the day when you get up in the morning, without having to flip on the TV. There are many, many weather stations out there to choose from, with price tags from as little as $19.99, all the way up to multiple-hundred dollars. Most don't give you a forecast, per se - you won't see the anticipated high and low for the day, but they do give you the current temperature outside, and in some cases, a bunch of other information (like wind chill, humidity, pressure, etc). You can stick it in your bathroom or bedroom, and figure out how to dress for the day. This relatively inexpensive one from National Geographic will actually keep track of all recorded temperatures over the last 5 years, and provide you with the recorded highs a lows so that you can seem knowledgeable with all your coworkers about that trending global warming :-):

The National Geographic Wireless Almanac Thermometer ($29.99)

13) Encourage progress on that DIY home improvement project you’ve been craving by gifting this demolition tool – what could be more exciting than destroying something, right? He’ll be itching to find a way to use this (on sale for $22.65):

14) Magwear Magnetic Wristband -The plastic caddy is fitted with a strong magnet, a great place to keep all the nails and screws needed for a job without worry of dropping or losing them ($19.50):

15) Autel MaxiScan MS300 CAN OBD-11 Scan Tool – Ever had the Check Engine light come on in your car, with no idea why, but plenty of paranoia about whether to pull-over-right-now-OMFG-we-are-all-going-to-die? Just to find out the next day, and $150 later, that it was just a malfunction in (insert random car-talky language here) something that was not really a problem at all? This handy little tool can help you out, AND make it seem like maybe you actually know a little bit about cars after all. You can plug it in to your car, get a code read out, and look up the codes to see a) what’s wrong with your car; and b) sometimes, how to fix it yourself (on sale right now for $29.95).

16) And finally, here's where I would recommend some kind of power tool, like a reciprocating saw or whatnot (I think that's one of those tools that the typical handy guy really likes?). But I don't know much about that, so you're basically on your own there. Good luck.

Considering how much time it has taken me to write the above list (hours and hours, no joke), you'd think I'd have more than 16 suggestions to show for it. Which should give you an indication of just how challenging I find it to shop for guys! But rather than hunting down more items (and really, I could have put many more on, but copying and pasting all these links and photos is the biggest time suck ever), I'm just going to stop here. For now. And hope that this list helps you as much as it has helped me.

Feel free to add your own great guy gift ideas in the comments, I'd love to hear them!


  1. Um, those are all amazing...thanks for the great ideas. You really did your homework! Actually, the vintage posters really spiffy looking. We have zero wall space left in our house, but for our next place, those would be really nice.

  2. Great suggestions on clothing. I think Jeremy needs a few new pieces :-) You forgot the best guy present...slippers!! I personally want fleece lined Crocs this year but am thinking about this for the hubby:

  3. Love all these ideas! Do you have any gift ideas for parents and inlaws? They are soooo hard to shop for!

  4. So many nice things and items, I like all these ideas, they are really great. Specially that sweater. I like this blog, I have learned a lot of things here.
    gift ideas for him