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.
For something under-$150, try the Diesel M24 backpack or the Everlane Modern Snap Pack.
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.
I think the both of you should write more posts together. 🙂
^^^THIS x 100. Thanks for the very best guide for dudes I’ve ever seen. You just saved me a ton of time and will make my husband very happy. I’d expect nothing less from this blog but you knocked it out of the park again.
+1000 YES. This post was hilarious to read, in addition to being super helpful.
Btw, isn’t K from Montana too? Where did you find a stylish MT man? I love my Montanan-born-and-bred BF dearly but his idea of great footwear is waterproof Merrell hiking sneakers. *sigh*
Kyle is from Wisconsin.
Loving this! Thanks, Kyle – sage advice. 🙂 It seems like he really enjoyed writing this!
This guide is epic – so much better than other guides I’ve seen this year.
I second having Kyle guest post more. I’ve found a small handful of women’s fashion blogs that I like, but nothing for guys.
Question about the Hook + Albert weekender – the pics don’t show a dopp kit packed – is there room for one along with clothes?
Yes, with a suit zipped up in the garment portion of the bag I can sit fit ( a pair of dress shoes, jeans, 2 shirts, sock and underwear, and a toiletries set). You can also use the pockets on the side.
Can I ask for two recommendations? (1) A professional “manly” scarf, and (2) a duffle bag insert to protect suits?
I am a huge fan of scarves for many reasons. Men’s coats are typically black or blue. So any chance to add color is something I’m happy about. Also, when paired with a thicker sport coat and gloves you can skip the heavy overcoat for fall and early winter.
That being said, when I think ” manly scarf” I think darker colors, a wider scarf, and cashmere. Burberry is my personal favorite, they are expensive but they last.
I’ve found all suit protector to be about the same quality. Just avoid the metal hooks, they cause TSA stops.
Hands down, best gift guide I’ve read this year!
As a whiskey drinker, I 100% agree with the Green Spot and giant ice cubes recommendations. Redbreast is another off the beaten path Irish whiskey that will score high marks.
Betty Rhoades says:
This was a great post – y’all are so funny! My hubby travels every week for work, and he swears by that Tumi backpack. And those Jack boots are so nice…
Best gift guide for men I’ve read this year! On point, hilarious, and very helpful 🙂
Really great gift guide! So nice to read a men’s gift guide that is 1)actually written by a guy, and 2) not written by a girl who’s a Nordstrom influencer, and is thus constrained by Ugg, Bose and Patagonia parameters
Or a girl who doesn’t have a boyfriend and just took picks from the Esquire guide.
K Leigh says:
I don’t think there’s any greater truth than whiskey stones being a scam that doesn’t keep your whiskey (or bourbon) cold. Word.
MOnica T says:
Great guide, love the no-nonsense style! My husbands old backpack just blew out, and ironically he started a new job today and had to take…a conference backpack I got last year…doh. Now I feel like I failed as a wife, but I’m sure he will be happy to open up a new backpack on Christmas!
omg NEED the beer pong inserts lol!
Great post! I am genuinely excited to gift my boyfriend something from this guide. Also, the level of effort you put into this guide is truly A+.
Agree with all the other commenters that this men’s gift guide is great!
A note on undershirts – Those Lacoste ones look nice, but I have to say as both an observer and an undershirt stealer, the costco kirkland brand undershirts are the absolute best. My boyfriend swears by them in black and white because they are thick, soft, and wear like iron without pilling or getting thin in spots. Really they’re great. I had to buy him a new pack last month because I’ve successfully stolen several.
They’re not undershirts, they’re t-shirts.
Awesome gift guide! I see at least three things on this list my husband would like. And yes, you both should do posts together more often.
My husband would be completely confused by most items on this list. But he also bought me a snowblower one year, and I was ecstatic, so maybe we are the wrong audience.
I’ll be adding that whiskey to MY wish list, thanks for the tip!
This is the best gift guide for guys that I’ve seen! Well done, the both of you.
Love the boot recommendations! My hubby hasn’t done boots before. Are there any tricks to be aware of? For example, specific types and shapes of pants they don’t go with? For reference, my husband works in a business casual office, so he wears mostly khakis or other colors of khaki pant material pants with button ups or a polo and quarter zip. Thanks!
As it relates to the office, a traditional to slimmer cut pants are my preference with boots. If khakis are his usual work wear, I would suggest a darker brown Brogues boot. I own almost an identical pair of the Cole Hann’s below. They also go great with dark jeans on the weekend.
Since I know you’re from the wild west, too, any recommendations for outdoorsy minimalist men? Last year I got my brother in law a hooded SWEATSHIRT for Christmas (from Arborwear) and he loves it. I’m perplexed haha.
I’m getting my brother a truck hitch chair hammock. I find men always love under armor cold gear because it’s so expensive to buy on its own. https://shopstyle.it/l/pW7N
Kyle has some gear from a company called Great Lakes Hockey that he likes.
Oh, this is great – I just found a gift for my brother! I’m originally from MN, and my oldest brother still plays men’s league hockey, so this is perfect. Thanks for sharing the site!
Any ideas for male colleagues or work associates? I am usually able to figure out what to get my husband and other male relatives but am stumped when it comes to male colleagues especially when I know little about their interests and don’t have more than $50-75 per person.
Any broad strokes gleaned from their ” what I did this weekend stories” or FB profiles?
This was amazing both in content and context. Please write more together!
I’m gonna buy half these things in the list. Love the golf balls and the boots!
My boyfriend is not so much of an irish/scotch whiskey drinker; more of a bourbon drinker. Any recommendations?
As a matter of fact, I have opinions on all types of booze. HA! Both of these are extremely drinkable and offer slightly different flavors. The High West also looks great on a bar cart.
1. High West American Prairie Bourbon
2. Eagle Rare 10 Yr
* Bulleit Rye has been an old standby for a couple years. Reasonable in price and available in 1.5L to avoid extra trips to the store.
Probably still have some bulleit in the cupboard! Thanks for the recs!
I read this gift guide yesterday. Today, the hubs mentioned he wanted a nice shaving kit. Thanks for the tip!
This was both super-helpful and hilarious to read…thanks to you both!
Thank you thank you! I got my husband the bevel razor for Chanukah. He likes a straight razor but hasnt had time to sharpen his lately and went back to multiblade drug store razors. His neck was not happy. This is working much better for him!