All right, let’s just get this out there from the get-go – men can be really hard to shop for. I know this…because I am one and have been told this for my entire life. Unless your man happens to have a particular hobby that allows for ongoing, affordable (this is rare) expansion…chances are you’ve struggled with what to get them on significant days like this.
So to ease the pain a bit….here are 9 simple gifts that men typically like, one of which is almost certainly suited for your favorite suitor. Let’s dive in. (product links are in bold if you want to see more)
Personalized Leather Goods from Ezra Arthur
There’s something hard-wired into the soul of the male of the species that loves to mark its territory. Mercifully, we’ve evolved as a society past doing so physically, but there’s still something deeply satisfying about having our name stamped on things we own. That’s why Monogramming is the gift giver’s best friend. Just slap his initials on anything and he’s probably gonna keep it forever.
Another thing that we all seem to love: leather goods. There are a lot of leather makers out there these days but I’m particularly fond of the Ezra Arthur brand. American-made, high-quality products that will last – my #1 front pocket wallet is 6 years old and still going strong. They make all kinds of different goods, they deliver fast, and you can have your man’s initials stamped on just about anything. It’s a slam dunk gift, every time.
A Good Book
If your man’s a reader, then he’s already got his reading list on lock and you can just move down the list. If, however, he’s not a reader…picking up a good book is one of the most therapeutic things a man can do to let down at the end of the day. Understand…I’m not talking about the kind of book that requires him to engage mentally and chew on heady, existential ideas. I’m talking about something that’s clearly written and full of action with a basic enough storyline that he can consume it a chapter at a time, with days in between if necessary, and still never lose track of the plot.
For this, I highly recommend The Terminal List by Jack Carr ($15). Carr is a former Navy Seal and this book is a straightforward conspiracy thriller that pulls from his military expertise to create an enjoyable read that entertains without asking too much of you. As an added bonus, the book is currently being made into an Amazon Prime TV series starring Chris Pratt, so getting this for your man ahead of that release gives him the rare opportunity to flex his intellectual superiority when the inevitable opportunity comes up to say, “ehhh…the book was way better.” Think of it as a two-for-one gift.
Eye Cream (don’t laugh)
Whether your man is a skincare type of guy or not, I’m pretty sure that he’d rather his face looked more like Brad Pitt than Steve Buschemi. That’s a whole topic in and of itself, but the first place that we men start to go Buschemi is under our eyes. Somewhere in our 30’s, big bags and dark circles start to form, and once they’re there, they ain’t leaving so easy, so if your man wants to age like Clooney, preventative care starts now.
There’s a number of products that will do the trick – the higher-end being something like Tom Ford Anti-Fatigue Eye Treatment ($80). I love Tom Ford and his stuff is magic, but that’s a bit of a steep price point for me. As an alternative, I’ve found that the Countermatch Eye Rescue Cream from Beautycounter performs just as well as Mr. Ford’s offering, but at about half the price ($39). Daily use has literally reversed my Buschemi factor and put me squarely on the road to Clooney (one can dream, right?). It’s the one skincare item I’ll never go a day without and I guarantee your man will thank you in the long run.
A Good Pen
It’s precisely because we no longer need to write anything down that investing in great writing materials is so meaningful. Great journals (Ezra Arthur makes some), personalized stationery, leather-bound field notes – these are all great options, but where the rubber really meets the road is a man’s writing utensil of choice. Here are three options, depending on your guy’s DNA.
The Lamy Safari ($29)– fountain pens are the pinnacle of writing experience but it’s hard to know where to start. The Lamy Safari is a comfortable writer that looks smart in a business meeting but doesn’t cost you a ton of cash. Also comes in ballpoint if that’s more his speed.
Kaweco Liliput Fountain Pen ($49) – this little beauty is the perfect marriage of fountain pen fancy and utilitarian functionality. It’s small – the unscrewed cap attaches to the back of the pen in order to form a full-length pen for writing, but when closed, is so compact that it could fit into the change pocket on your jeans.
Warrior Poet Society WPS Tactical Pen ($19) – If your man is more of an EDC guy than a corporate note-taker, the WPS Tactical Pen might be your best choice. Designed as a tactical tool for self-defense, breaking through glass, or quickly jotting down critical “intel”, it’s a rugged option that any guy would feel manly carrying around.
True story. All men. All…men…secretly wish they were cowboys. Whether it’s just a distant sentiment from their childhood that they barely think about now or a tangible, conscious desire that’s always simmering just under the surface, men love the idea of being a cowboy. Good news is, “being a cowboy” doesn’t mean going “full rodeo” or becoming a ranch hand somewhere. Now, more than ever, western-inspired style has become an acceptable part of our cultural landscape and in many cases, incorporating a little “yee-haw” into your wardrobe is an easy way to set yourself apart without looking like you stepped out of the costume department of Back to the Future 3. And here’s another truth, if your man doesn’t already wear boots, getting the signature of approval from his significant other to try them out is very possibly the only thing holding him back.
For the money, you won’t find a better boot option than Tecovas. They will run in the $200-$300 range for a basic boot, but they will last you for years. There are a handful of stores around the country and they sell gift cards on their site. They run true to size and their return/exchange policy is so good that ordering online is completely painless if you’re unsure about picking the right size. You won’t find a better value anywhere and honestly, it’s a small price to pay for finally getting to scratch the existential itch of lifelong cowboy envy.
A Good Blade
God-willing, your man will never be engaged in a knife fight. But that’s not why men like to carry knives anyway. There’s something primal about having a good blade are your disposal, even if you’re just opening Amazon Prime boxes or cutting up an apple, and there are few gifts that are more universal than a high-quality, aesthetically pleasing knife. Here are a few options at various ends of the spectrum.
Gerber Remix ($38) – for a basic pocket clip knife, you can never go wrong with Gerber. The quality to cost ratio is incredible and it’s a huge step up from those cheapo gas station flippers that your junk drawer is full of.
Boker Magnum Damascus ($65) – if you’re looking for a bit more refinement, a gentleman’s blade if you will, the Boker Magnum is a small, pocket folder with beautiful etching and a Damascus steel blade, which is some of the highest quality steel you can find. This knife is one that he’ll pass on to the grandkids.
Winkler WK Field Knife ($375) – if your man already carries a pocket knife daily and is into a more rugged lifestyle it may be time to graduate up to a fixed blade. Not only is this knife the kind of thing that can handle a lifetime of hard use, but it also gives him the gift of instant street cred for having the baddest knife of all his friends.
Every man should have two handkerchiefs on him at all times. One for his own use – dirty work, cleanups, emergency bandaging…and a clean one on hand for any time a lady needs it. Custom monogrammed handkerchiefs are a classy touch for a dressed-up occasion, but for a great everyday upgrade to the standard bandana, Cantonment makes beautifully designed, well-crafted handkerchiefs that come in a variety of colors and designs. They sell as a two-pack ($40), so he’s got everything he needs on hand.
Dignified Summer Footwear
To paraphrase the great David Coggins, “you should never see a man’s toes unless he’s withing walking distance of a swimmable body of water.” With rare exception, this is good advice and while some men see a tattered pair of crocs as an acceptable solution, I’d like to humbly suggest that there’s a much more masculine and elegant way to accomplish this. Since the 1930’s, dignified men around the equator have kept their feet cool and dry without revealing their bare toes to the world via the humble Huarache sandal. It’s a classy way to do “sandals” without actually having to wear sandals or dressing down to flip flops (or the dreaded crocs). I’ve worn THIS PAIR from Nisolo ($150) on every single hot day of the past 3 years and they’ve only gotten better with age. I’d argue that they’re the best money I’ve ever spent.
The Gift of Analog Audio
If your man loves music at all, then the single best delivery method he can experience is vinyl records with an all-analog path. Or more simply put, a record player with speakers that plug directly into it. Analog audio is an *enormous* world that you can get lost in very quickly, with no ceiling on how much you can spend as you go down the rabbit hole. But for the everyday listener, a great entry point is still very accessible. I’ll give you my suggestions below, and the best part of introducing this option is that new records make for an affordable gift option for every special occasion for years to come.
Record Player – There are a lot of options out there, a good percentage of which are total crap. I currently have a Crossley C6 ($200) which is an excellent starter option for the money. It plays consistently, sounds great, and the clean aesthetic looks great on your shelves.
Decent Speakers – Also plentiful are the many options for speakers and sadly, no amount of reading reviews will help you narrow this down. As with most technology, you get what you pay for, but I purchased these Edifier R1280Ts bookshelf speakers($109) and I have not regretted it. They won’t fill a house party with thumping bass, but if you’re looking for low profile speakers with warm, balanced sound that don’t require an additional subwoofer, these will do a great job with most all music styles. And as a bonus, they also have Bluetooth for when you’re in the mood to stream something from Spotify plus an optical input for plugging in an AppleTV or other streaming system.