Kyle’s Gift Guide for Men: Christmas Attack Zone

Dec 4, 2019

Here we are, year 3.

I was pretty sure that this gift guide would be cancelled by now, but we’re back for another season. If you are unfamiliar with my gift guides (go back and read the first and second) the premise is simple: Gift guides for men (usually) suck.  But my vanity, combined with my love of aimlessly browsing the adult Toy R’ Us catalog that is the internet, pushes me to build a better mousetrap.

This year’s gift guide is filled with gifts the man in your life will like and gifts that will give you the opportunity to Trojan horse some decent clothes into his closet so he doesn’t show up to holiday gatherings in pleated kakis and a pilling sweater while you look like a snack.

Shoes.  Sneakers, guys love sneakers. It stems from being a kid and always wanting the newest pair (Jordan’s, Kobe’s, etc.) and being told ‘no’ by our parents.  Yes, I’m probably projecting, but I’m not the only kid who had this problem.  Regardless, sneakers are having a moment right now.

If your guy is a traditionalist, Jordans are always a safe bet. If he’s not into basketball shoes, the Adidas NITE’s are a cool alternative.

Want a splurge gift?  Like a he-bought-you-diamonds-and-you’re-responding-in-kind-splurge?

The big thing right now is the crossover collaborations, and my favorite is the Virgil Abloh’s Off-White. If you want to see your nephew covet something on Christmas morning, have your significant other unwrap an all black box with the X on it.  Abloh’s Nike Grim Reapers are hot, and those who know, know.  He’ll get stopped on the street and receive knowing looks from dude’s in bars.

If he’s not into sneakers, boots are the next thing up.  We are big Taft house. I own a number of pairs. They hold up, put out new styles and colors regularly, and are a reasonable price.   These Jude Boots will look great with black jeans or a dark wash denim. (They are high on my on gift list, wink.)  But word to the wise, do not pay via PayPal.  For some reason, the transactions never go through.

There are a number of things Snoop Dogg and I have in common, one of which is our love of loafers.  He has a whole line called Duke+Dexter that are bringing smoking slippers to the masses. Look, I’m louder than most men with my fashion choices, so I would choose the camo.  But the basic black or navy are a safe place to start.

Snoop’s loafers are well-made and chic, but cheaper than Gucci.  Should you need something a bit less expensive in the loafer department, try these House of Hounds.

Watches. Can we please be done with Apple watches. Until I can leave my phone at home, I’m not carrying two devices. Men have so few jewelry/accessory options, we’re not giving up one of them for a half a phone that we wear on our wrists.  It’s basically a 21st Century pager until it works fully independent of the phone.

The Apple Watch was cool when it first came out. Now everyone has one.  It’s cancelled. We voted. We’re back on watches.

Last month, a friend reached out for advice on buying her boyfriend a watch.  She didn’t want to spend status watch money (3k+), but still wanted to get him a nice, dependable watch that he can wear on the regular.  So I advised her to spend $250-ish on a fashion watch, so if it lasts a couple years, it’s a great gift.

This black-faced Ted Baker with the teal band is great.  The contrasting colors are really unique.  But if you want something more subdued, the black and maroon band has a more neutral look.

If you’re hunting for a watch, I recommend hitting the discount department stores — The Rack, Off5th, Last Call, etc..  It’s an exercise in separating wheat from chaff, but there’s good stuff at deep discounts to be found.

Clothing. Whenever I see a men’s gift guide with a Patagucci puffer or quarter zip, my only response is, “How brave of you.” I know Patagonia has been the uniform for tech and finance bros alike since 2013, but it’s done. Don’t be the last guy wearing one like it’s a brand new thing you discovered while hiking through Chile.

This light jacket by Travis Mathew is more low profile and just as relaxed/outdoorsy without being tired.  It would also look nice with this Travis Mathew quarter zip, if that’s your man’s thing.  Because if you must be basic, be basic in a cool brand.

I’m happy to admit when I’m wrong (not that my wife would agree), and a few years back, I was wrong about North Face. I felt the design team was phoning it in, and that would continue to be the new normal until they slipped into fashion obscurity like Tommy Hilfiger. This year’s styles changed my mind. So many cool pieces that take the brand back to that rugged look men tilt toward.

This Cuchillo Insulated Vest is great in all of the colors. I like the orange best (like I said earlier, loud).  I love the Cuchillo coat, and I hope everyone else hates it so I’m the only person wearing it.

Any who know me, know my disdain for lounge wear. My wife teases me because I wear a button-up even when I’m laying on the couch sick with flu.  I do, however, make a loungewear-exception for Christmas.  Because, if I must lounge, I’m not doing it in old grey sweats.

These North Face pants in the black camo are slightly more streetwear.  Or you can go in-law ready in Lululemon.   Either way, make the lounging look Drake on the G5, not reality show bro at the laundromat.

Last year, I shared these AG pants, and they’re still a good pick for this year.  I wish men’s brands were making some new s**t that I could promote, but this year was light on improvements.

Golf.  The answer to the question “I know this person, not that well, but I do know he golfs.” Because anyone who golfs, even a little, loves golf stuff, and there is so much stuff to buy.

I said it last year, and I’ll say it again, Travis Mathew it making amazing stuff right now. The designs and colors have style but are not so over the top it turns some guys off.  It’s also nice enough that he could wear it to the office or out after a round.  Pair this polo with these shorts for a great gift.

For shoes, I’m loving these Nike’s.  You can walk 18 in them and they’re stylish.

If you have a golfer in your life, they will almost always be looking at new equipment. A great gift is a new wedge. Titleist Vokeys have been leading the pack for a number of years.  For a more infrequent golfer, these Callaway wedges are a great choice and way more forgiving.

There are few relationships more important/personal than a golfer and their putter. If you’re looking for a gift that can win you Christmas in a single gift, a Scotty Cameron putter is the answer.  You’ll need to do some recon to find out what type of putter your golfer uses, but the reaction on Christmas morning will be worth the effort. (When they ask who to thank … have them send me a box of the ProV-1s or …)

An easy gift, for literally anyone who golfs, is a box of nice balls.  The Taylormade TP5x balls are on par with the Pro V’s and are the hot new toy on the shelf.

Grooming.  I still love the Bevel razor set if your guy needs a razor.  But if you want to get a hot gift, this GilletteLabs heated razor is that gift (literally).  Or go with the gift he didn’t know he wanted and snap up this machine that makes hot shaving lather.  Hot.shaving.lather.

Skincare. We need to talk about skincare, for men who don’t do skincare, because none of us are Benjamin Button. I am way more skittish about aging than my wife; she’s older than me and looks younger.  (And I really hope she’s reading this.)  So after I spent a year bitching about how I thought looked tired and was starting to get wrinkles and bags under my eyes, Abra wandered into my office with Clinique for Men Super Energizer.

The product is easy to use and the packaging isn’t intimidating.  A month later the bags were totally gone and the lines were less noticeable.  Highly recommend.  They also make an exfoliating cleanser.

If you think you can talk your guy into a serum, it needs to be in a package that he won’t be embarrassed for his buddies to see on a golf trip.  Also, it cannot cost $150 an ounce.  You ladies may be willing to spend that, but I am not, and neither is he.

This one from Anthony looked good, but anything with an eye-dropper is just getting spilled.  So I switched to this one in a pump container.

Cooking. Lastly, if you have a guy who loves to cook, this is an under-gifted area.  The best way to give a cooking gift is to know what he likes to cook.

If your man is a barbecuer, especially if he owns a smoker (Green Egg, Traeger, both are nice), he needs a way to haul meat.   These Angus cutting boards with the grooves and juice-dripping channels are a lifesaver.  They make it easy to rest and tear up a brisket or pork shoulder.  They also hold a Thanksgiving turkey or 50 burgers and hot dogs for the kids.  There’s also a less expensive version on Amazon.

A great knife is always a good gift for any cook.  A Wusthof Santoku Knife is a kitchen workhorse.  If he’s good for chef-style knives, the Shun 2-piece prep kit makes prepping food a breeze.

For a very prolific cook, the Anova sous vide machine has many uses.  The whole set-up is a stretch for a casual cook, but everything you eat from now on will be cooked too the perfect internal temperature.

If you need other gift ideas, leave your questions in the comments.  Abra tricked me into writing a separate Ask Kyle post.  If you already submitted your question via her Instagram Stories, look for the answers in that post.

{image by Aaron Wilson; this post contains affiliate links that may generate commission for the author}

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  1. ANdrea says:

    “It’s cancelled. We voted. We’re back on watches.” Someone say Amen!

    Thanks for taking the time each year to pull together such a unique gift guide. I always look forward to your suggestions, and you knocked it out of the park. And those Grim Reapers, good lord. Forget my husband, I want a pair for myself!!

    Can’t wait for the ‘Ask Kyle’ follow up.

  2. AAR1 says:

    Loving the 30 Rock reference in the title! A totally great roundup of ideas! As to questions: Any book recommendations for the history/politics buffs?

  3. Lauren says:

    Kyle’s lists never disappoint – the best men’s gift guide on the internet. Truly. Thank you! (Wouldn’t mind seeing Kyle do other posts, too, I enjoy his writing style!)

  4. Nancy M. says:

    Thanks Kyle!! Any suggestions for a button down shirt that isn’t plaid? Maybe a nice warm one that isn’t boxy?

  5. MOnica T says:

    Great gift guide Kyle, just as we’ve come to expect after 3 years! Thank you for sharing.

  6. Crystal says:

    The price tag on those sneakers just blew my mind. You weren’t kidding about “like a he-bought-you-diamonds-and-you’re-responding-in-kind-splurge.”

  7. ral says:

    Nice list – thank you! Like Andrea’s said above, I want those too!

  8. J says:

    Nice guide again Kyle! My nephew wants those Off-whites; you’re not kidding that people will stop you if you have them on!!

  9. Jill says:

    Thank you, Kyle! Do you have a well-made golf belt to recommend?

  10. BN says:

    Really Snoop Dogg — you don’t make shoes bigger than size 13.5?! (I loved the camo loafers but my husband wears a 17… although I’m not sure I’d spend that much on his shoes anyway… )

  11. Michelle says:

    I absolutely Trojan horse patterned clothing into my friend’s closet so he’s not all one solid color. Ted Baker polos and shirts (picked up at rack or rue la la) are my favorite to gift.

    Made me laugh since that it exactly what I do.

  12. Whitley says:

    Kyle’s commentary is EVERYTHING. Living for his gift guide!

  13. KD says:

    Kyle, your writing style is hilarious. Lots of excellent opinions here. Thanks for including this one, Belle, I’m on it for my brother!

  14. Anna says:

    Excellent suggestions as always! In the golf vein and in addition to the shoes, do you have recommendations for a pull cart? Trying to encourage walking the course!

  15. Stephanie says:

    I’m living for the snark in this post! Also, this is an amazing gift guide and I’ll definitely be coming back to this as I shop for my husband this year.

  16. Kk says:

    I have the womens version of the Nie Air max golf shoes and can confirm- theyre comfortable and stable off the tee, and I get a lot of compliments. Big fan!
    If youre looking for more cool golf stuff, I think TrendyGolf has a really great curated selection.

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