2009 Gift Guide For Guys

This was written for (and is cross-posted at) BlogHer.
I have some general gift-guide additions I'd like to make that aren't guy-specific, but I'll post those separately.

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Let's face it: shopping for men is stupid.

We want to get them something they'll love, something other than grilling tongs or cologne, and so every year we ask hopefully, "What would you like for Christmas?" And every year we hear the same, mumbled, "I dunno."

Seriously. How is that even possible? I don't know what it is about the Y chromosome that makes men gift-dumb, but each year I feel like shopping for the guys in my life -- especially the in-law males, good grief -- makes me want to get everyone a Best Buy gift card and be done with it. (And by "Best Buy gift card" I mean "bottle of bourbon." FA LA LA LA LA.)

That said, I have been doing this a long time. And for every failed gift (I thought he'd LIKE Celtic Christmas carols), I've had some real successes, too. (Aside from the bourbon.) So I'm passing the fruits of my exhaustive hunts on to you. Thus...

Here are my Top Ten Official Suggestions for Gifts for Guys this holiday season! They are many and varied, in no particular order OR price range, but will hopefully prove useful for at least one hard-to-shop-for guy.

1. If you're going to go the "traditional" gift-giving route, do it with style.

Just because wallets and cufflinks are standard-issue male gift ideas doesn't mean they're bad ideas, especially if the items themselves don't suck. (Just sayin'.)

Tumi Wallet

I happen to love Tumi bags and accessories, and their wallets are just as nice. I got one for my husband last year and he said it was one of his favorite gifts. I ordered it from Nordstrom.com and was very pleased with the quality of the Tumi packaging. It was evident the gift was high-quality.

This is the Tumi Wallet, $88 L-fold ID version, but there are cheaper and more expensive versions as well.

Personalized Cufflinks

In the same vein, I love these cufflinks. Yes, I know, cufflinks, yawn. Plus who even wears French-cuffed shirts anymore? But still. Cufflinks are arguably something every man should own, and possibly something older generation males on your list might actually like, want, or need. These are monogrammable AND let you pop in mini photos. I think of it as a man-locket.

I should also note these are from Red Envelope, which always has beautiful gifts and gift packaging. $119 for silver, $99 for gold.

2. I have never gone wrong with gifting assortments of salsas and hot sauces.

Hot Sauce Gift Pack

Why do guys like condiments as gifts? I have absolutely no idea. But they always seem to love these!

Great as stocking stuffers individually, you can go crazy and buy "fancy" gift assortments as full-on gifts.

There are always interesting finds at Williams-Sonoma (and even more cool-but-expensive versions at Dean & Deluca), but I like trying things that are harder to come by.

Consider a site like "Hot Sauce World." For one, it's called Hot Sauce World. For another, I've ordered from them several years in a row, and have never been disappointed.

The gift pack shown here is $31.98 (and easy to wrap, unlike individual bottles). They also have interesting BBQ sauces and coffees, such as those flavored with Maker's Mark. (Yes, bourbon again.)

3. Man books.

Of course, it's entirely possible that your guys are like mine and prefer lengthy, detailed non-fiction books about something that happened a hundred years ago in a part of the world you didn't know existed featuring "historic" figures no one's ever heard of.

What's Your Poo Telling You?

But if that's true, then your guy probably also likes anything having to do with poo. Because if there's one thing my husband thinks is ENDLESSLY ENTERTAINING, it's poo.

I cannot roll my eyes hard enough.

Anyway, have you seen this poo book?

I like to think of it as a way to keep the poo-happy men in your life amused AND healthy. And now Chronicle Books has come out with a sequel, "What's My Pee Telling Me?" and I am not even kidding. Visit their site for the entire collection of books, calendars and well, other gifts.

Moving on...

There's nothing that says that gift books need to be specifically FOR the men you're giving them to. For example, every dad who has children could benefit from a copy of The Daring Book for Girls or The Dangerous Book for Boys. (About $18 through Amazon.)

Or you could snag my favorite Guide To Guys of all time for your guy, even though you'd actually be buying it for you. Try Dave Barry's Complete Guide To Guys. It's a classic.

And I suppose we must include a golf book, yeah?

Lost Balls

I'm kind of fundamentally opposed to getting guys ties and golf paraphernalia of any sort as gifts, but this book amuses me. At $29.95 it's good coffee table fodder.

I also really like the store/catalog it comes from, www.signals.com. Cool stuff there!

4. That thing that will mostly just take up space in your kitchen but that you buy anyway because the 6 times a year you use it you will feel like Martha Stewart.

I don't need to tell you about how awesome grilled cheese and tomato soup can be - everyone knows it's the ultimate comfort food. Soup & Sandwich PlatterBut really, what soup-sandwich combo isn't great? Enter this handy-dandy soup and sandwich platter from Uncommon Goods. Pretty, useful, and doesn't take up the kind of space that those other kitchen items you never use will. Plus, it can double as a chip-and-dip type serving platter. $30 for a set of two.

5. Because any Guy-themed gift list is going to include beer-related products.

The Beer BellyThis is a ridiculous item and I'm sure it's mostly a joke, but I had 4 different guys email me about it when it made the news last year, so it's got to be worth mentioning.

It's called the beer belly (www.thebeerbelly.com), and its express purpose is for smuggling beer into sporting events. I feel like you can't even say the product name without prefacing it by yelling, "DUDE!"

(I wish there were better product photos, but I don't know what I should be expecting. Still, this image...am I allowed to say "Gay Porn" in a gift-giving guide?)

Anyway. You wear this God-awful thing under your shirt, and then you discreetly suck from the beer straw. Ta-da!

Yes, they sell a version for women called The Wine Rack. Ahem.

The Beer Belly costs $49.95 which is a little much for a gag gift. But who knows? Maybe some DUDE! out there reaaaaaaally wants this.

Beer Belt

Classing it up just a tad...

Here's another Red Envelope special. The beer belt still has a DUDE! feeling, but somehow more civilized and less porn-y.

It's $34.95.

Last but not least of our beer-themed gifts we have the Ring Bottle Opener from Urban Outfitters. It's $8 and exactly what it sounds like. A sort of macho/metro man-ring that doubles as a bottle opener.

Ring Opener Ring Bottle Opener Ring Bottle Opener

6. And wine, too.

The folks at Crushpad run a nifty operation, where you can have your own blend of wine made for you. If you live near Crushpad (in SF or NY), you can actually go visit the operation, but this "Fuse Box" is their do-it-at-home version.

Basically, Fuse Box Wine Blending Kityou take the kit and futz around with various blends until you have the wine blended to your exact preferences. Then you send away for an actual case (or more) of the wine you created, complete with custom labels.

You can learn more about it here.

The kit itself is $79.99. If you go through the steps, find a wine blend you like and order your wine, the finished product will cost $336 per case. Not cheap, but not bad ($28/bottle) if you go in on a case with friends. And you can always invite those friends over to help you create your personalized blend in the first place.

7. And something to put the drinks in...

Tiffany TumblerWho doesn't love that telltale blue box? Believe it or not, there are some reasonably priced, gorgeous items available at Tiffany & Co. Among my favorite (uh, and only) things to purchase at Tiffany are glasses.

Side note: glasses (highballs, wine, whatever) from Tiffany make excellent off-the-registry wedding gifts.

These tumblers are attractive, well made, great for anything (not just booze) and come with the cache of being from Tiffany. A set of two is $30.

8. For the man who's handy in the kitchen.

You will think I'm totally lying but I'm not: this was my husband's second favorite gift last year:

Pot Scraper

Yep. A $15 pan scraper from The Metropolitan Museum of Art store. (Leave it to me to see a MoMA catalog and pick out a pan scraper.) But seriously. My husband does the dishes most of the time, and loves this sturdy, all-around useful tool. It's really pretty amazing.

Chopping Boards

I also really like this set of chopping boards because one chopping board is never enough. Plus it looks all clean and organized.

Of course, this handy, easy-to-clean set is a bit on the expensive side, coming in at $85.

I still think it's worth it if it means separating HIS space in the kitchen from YOURS. (Or is that just my issue? Hmmm.)


Lastly, we know that boys like knives. They just do.

Personally, I think that's awesome (I love cooking with good knives), BUT. I hate the look of standard, clunky wooden knife blocks.

These alternatives to a standard knife blocks are attractive, simple, and a great idea. (You just stick the knives in among the bamboo reeds.) My sister-in-law requested one for Christmas two years ago and I have loved them since. So for no particular reason, I'm assuming this means men will love them, too.

They range in price from $49 (small) to $89 (large) from VivaTerra.

Onion Goggles

Lastly? Let it be known that these things rock. Men, women, it doesn't matter. Get a pair of onion goggles! They will save your onion-cutting life.

Sure, anyone wearing them looks ridiculous -- note that the catalog image does not include someone IN the goggles -- but hey, it's better than looking like dinner has made you weep uncontrollably. $22 at Sur La Table.

9. For the Metro you know and love (or for the man you just want to spruce up). Especially those who shave their heads.

Shima Scarf

If you have a Metro guy in your life, you know how impossible they are to shop for. Things must be just so. At least, in my experience.

That's why I LOVE this scarf, also from the MoMA store. It's chic, urban, artistic and high quality. Frankly, I think men who can pull off wearing this (which is basically any guy WILLING to) is sexy.

What? Aren't men in scarves sexy? Am I getting sidetracked?

Remember how I mentioned men like knives? I think razors count, too.

Art of ShavingIf you've never heard of it, let me introduce you to The Art of Shaving line. It's all old-school shaving tools, like when men used to go to the barber to get a shave with their haircuts. Except they also offer updated grooming products and beautiful gift sets. Check them out.

The good? The items are incredibly high-quality and really attractive, frankly. They're the kinds of products you don't mind sharing bathroom space with.

They are excellent for men who shave their heads.

The bad? The products are all super expensive. Arguably worth the cost, because they're items men will use almost every day for years. Then again, for what a basic set costs, you could get an iPhone. The "Manual Shaving Set" pictured above runs $275.

Speaking of shaved heads...

HeadBladeIf you are shopping for a man who has to shave his head regularly, you can always try one of the HeadBlade products.

HeadBlade is a razor developed specifically for guys who have to run a razor over their skulls, which requires a very different motion than shaving one's face. Apparently. I don't know, it seems really cool and there are lots of accoutrements you can get to go with it. And unlike the shaving systems above, the basic HeadBlade costs $13.

BY THE WAY. The best after-shave, bump-reducing tonic on the market is called Tend Skin. One bottle runs $20 but is TOTALLY WORTH IT. Why? Because not only is it the best product for reducing redness and bumps on men's faces and necks, but it's the best stuff for addressing redness and bumps post-lady-waxing. So you can give it to the man in your life ("It's the best stuff out there!") and then steal some. Win-win!

The Man CanAnd if you're just looking for a nice gift set for a non-metro guy, something not too girly or expensive or weird, how about The Man Can by Orvis?

This $50 gift set includes all the things you'd want from a spa kit, but dressed up in manly colors, names, and scents.

Nice, huh?

Plus the non-metro recipient of this gift will perhaps rest assured when you tell him it's from a website that has a man in a canoe with a dog on its homepage.

10. Into every life, a little geek must fall.

If you haven't seen it, haven't heard of it, haven't visited Think Geek, you can thank me now. Honestly, if I were a little less creative and just a little more lazy, my entire gift guide would be "Go to ThinkGeek.com. You're welcome." If the men in your life skew even slightly geeky, this is the only place you'll need to shop for them, ever. (You might pick up something tricked-out-geek for yourself.)

I couldn't possibly showcase all my favorite products because there are too many. Flasks that say "Meh." T-shirts with Shakespeare in code. Products displaying "WTF." LOLCats fridge magnets. Toys for cubicle wars. Light sabers.

Oh, it's a goldmine.

Stealth CopterBut if I had to pick just one...I'd probably select the ever-popular, ever-fun, ever-awesome-to-open-Christmas-morning remote-controlled helicopter.

Think Geek claims that this little gem is the "easiest to fly, most precise controlling R/C copter yet!" Okay! As of the time of writing this, it's also 23% off -- just $22.99! Not bad for such a fun gadget.

Bonus: Cats love these things. I speak from personal experience.

But of course, we all know that techie, code-loving guys aren't the only kind of man-geeks out there. There's also the reader-y, writer-y geek, too.

I don't know why it is that men I know love -- LOVE -- writing on graph paper (????) but they do. So rather than question them and/or fight it, I just go with it.

And everyone loves Moleskine notebooks, yes? Moleskine NotebookBig, small, graph paper, normal paper, you name it. These high-quality notebooks are beloved in our household, and I think it's safe to say that if you know a guy who likes writing, taking notes, keeping track of...oh...anything...these should be a hit. Hardcover, softcover, sketch, graph, lined, large, small, you name it.

All available at Chronicle Books. Small graph notebook pictured above, $12.

Now, this next gift suggestion is extra special, because it works for geeky guys who read, but ALSO for geeky (and NON-geeky) guys who are "handy" AND/OR guys who might not have anything to do with geeky but who HIKE and are all outdoorsy and stuff!

It's like the omni-guy gift!


It's called the Headlamp. And, well, here's the thing...

A couple weeks ago, I wanted to go to bed and crash at around 8 p.m. My husband wanted to stay up reading The New Yorker. (Different kind of geek altogether.) I felt bad and said he could keep the light on, but he said "No, I have a thing, let's see if I can find it."

Next thing you know, my husband is lying next to me in bed in his boxers, looking like he's about to go on a spelunking mission.

"What is THAT?" I ask him, having never seen this device in the years we've been together.

"Oh, it's a Headlamp thing. I can use it to read at night while you're sleeping. But originally I got it for when I used to go running before the sun came up."

HeadlampOnMyHusbandI was awestruck. I took a picture. (It looks like I took it using nightvision goggles or something. Also, how thrilled is he to be featured mostly naked in my blog reading The New Yorker? OH SO VERY.)

I didn't understand why anyone would own one of these things, it looks so ridiculous. (And let's not get me started on how ridiculous "running before the sun comes up" is.)

But then an amazing thing happened! When I asked people on my blog to come up with suggestions for the ultimate guy gift, I received precisely ONE reply. And it was for the Headlamp. The commenter said that her husband uses it for EVERYTHING, particularly for fixing things around the house. Which is when I realized that the Headlamp is maybe the best geeky/non-geeky guy gift that ever was.

Now you know. Petzl Headlamp, available at REI for $39.95.

Ooh! Extra #11! Because sometimes, you just want to give a guy something romantic or meaningful (that isn't so schmaltzy he won't admit to owning it).

Night SkyThat's where this comes in.

It's a personalized "Night Sky" poster.

I know it sounds cheesy, but it's kind of cool and I liked it and thought it was worth mentioning.

See, you can pick your date and location, and they will provide a personalized photo of what the night sky looked like then and there.

You could pick a birthday, anniversary, any special occasion, really.

So that's my guy's gifting round-up! May it serve as at least a somewhat useful starting point for your own impossible-man-shopping this season.

Good luck, and happy holidays!


  1. Headlamps are AWESOME, and I'm not a guy. I've been using them for over 15 years! I originally got one for camping because it allows you to keep your hands free, and soon realized how glorious a concept it is. Just last week I used one when I needed to dig through my office closet to find a certain picture frame I was sure was in there (it's a deep, dark, very full closet, and yes, the frame was there). Headlamps rock.

  2. God bless you. I've got to buy a gift for Mr. I Don't Need Anything who, conveniently enough, shaves his head. Done!

  3. How is it possible that we're receiving the same catalogs on two separate coasts??? I am not kidding when I say that I have, within the past week, gone through the barrage of catalogs I've recently received and have circled at LEAST 75% of what you've pictured here. So. Not. Kidding.

    Yet another of those inexplicable Kiki/Emily moments where we're doing the exact same thing, unbeknownst to the other. Funny universe we live in...

    The 28th will be a blast, as all of the men open the same gifts... ;o)

    xo Em

  4. Wow! I'm very impressed with this gift guide, and will almost certainly come back and look at in a few weeks when I go christmas shopping (who am I kidding- I usually start Christmas shopping around December 20th). Shopping for my Dad and Boyfriend are always the hardest of them all. Thanks for the great ideas!!

  5. Wow, these are actual gifts that people I know would want. I even want some.

    I have to say, the headlamp is SO popular with the men I know. Something about looking like a miner maybe?

  6. Even I have a headlamp for when the storms knock out the power. I can go about my business of reading, or really anything I want to do and my little headlamp keeps my hands free to do those things. I love it. Also, for the budget minded they are available at Harbor Freight. They aren't quite as upscale as your guy's, but work well.

    Oh...the books...I so see my son loving the golf one and maybe the poo one. We are a pretty low brow/low tech/geeky family. Our guys are engineers...need I say more.

  7. God bless you is right, I have bookmarked and will absolutely be using this guide in the next few weeks!

  8. A headlamp is great a great spotlight to aid eyebrow tweezing as well.

  9. How could you miss this?! http://www.perpetualkid.com/index.asp?PageAction=VIEWPROD&ProdID=1816&dc=froogle20090515
    I am female, but own this in red. Every single male that has seen this looooves it! One of the perks, beyond being absurdly great is that many different knives will fit so you are not stuck with the set it comes with.

  10. My husband always says the best present I ever gave him was a welding helmet, because he uses it and it will last forever. This was also the Christmas he proposed to me, so I thought my gift to him stunk, but apparently not.

  11. Great list - love the knife block idea. I saw a few things here I want for ME!

  12. Ha. I just read Farmer's Daughter's comment three times before I realized she was referencing a WELDING helmet and not a WEDDING helmet.

    Echoing others - I've marked a few items in this list. Thanks!

  13. Ah gots me no quibbles wit yer sugjeschuns, but ah thunk it wuz worth notin' that tha critters you deescribed twern't MEN attall, just MALES. MEN doesn't thinks ner beehayves like that.

  14. I have one of those headlamps, and they ARE awesome!!

    Great job!!

  15. We have a collection of headlamps that we use way more than flashlights in our house. We lost power last week for several days and we have a newborn baby. Changing diapers is WAY easier with a headlamp on!

    Great list of gift ideas!

  16. Excellent post with nice pic..,I really like your post.It's so informative for me, Thanks for sharing such a beautiful post.
    - gifts for guys

  17. Nice list but please don't forget us if you update it this year. <a href="http://www.realmangifts.com>real gifts for real men</a>


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