Hey there, I’m AC, Grace’s fiancé, and I’ve been asked to do a roundup of gifts for her readers with boyfriends/husbands/dudes who might not be the kind of guys who read Design*Sponge. As some of you may remember, I did this last year, and I’m back again because either some of you found it helpful or Grace is just being straight up lazy this year. Anything’s possible.
So, because the economy is in the toilet and no one wants to spend a lot of money, it’s important to focus on the fundamental rule of gift giving: it’s the thought that counts. I’m serious! Think about it, we’re in the same economy that you are, and right about now we don’t want to spend a lot of money either. If you’re cool with one nice gift, or two small gifts, so are we. Just do us a favor this year: go with the fun gifts we want instead of the practical stuff that we need.
Today I’ll be giving you my take on “guy gifts” in the following categories: Accessories (aka, “guy jewelry”), Clothes, “Toys & Games”, and Media (Books, DVD’s, etc.).
CLICK HERE for the rest of AC’s guide for guys…
Let’s start with Accessories: Watches (the ones pictured can be found here, here and here), money clips, wallets, sunglasses, and fancy shaving accessories are usually pretty safe territory, especially if you keep it simple. (On a side note, personally, I’d avoid keychains and pens, no matter how nice they are. Seriously.)
The fun of gifting accessories is that, when done right, it takes something that a guy needs to use anyway, and makes it feel more…slick. In the case of having a cool wallet or money clip you’re like, “Oh, you need some cash to pay for dinner? I might have some right here in this…SHAZAM!” Or, these days, it could be the opposite, “I’ve got no cash, and you can tell this is so by looking right in here …SHAZAM!”
Either way: slick.
As for shaving accessories, I shave with a safety razor but would feel like a total bad-ass if I knew how to shave with a straight-razor. Knowing me I’d probably slice up my own face until I looked like Freddy Kruger (because it’s equally possible that I’d set myself on fire at the same time).
However, a professional, old school shave with hot towels from a classy barber is a cool gift. It’s one of the few ways you can (publicly) pamper your average guy without making him feel too girly. Unless he digs on facials or whatever in which case you may just live in LA. It’s cool.
For those of you who really know your guy’s taste well: (this is for the more adventurous of you) there’s clothes (shirts, jeans, shoes, etc.). However, before we get into the stuff that I like, I’ll give you some pointers on how to shop for your guy for those who need a primer on the basics (you know who are) – the rest of you can just skip to the list here:
- For starters, even if some item of clothing is “cute,” “sophisticated,” or “very stylish” – this has no bearing on whether or not he’ll like it (not whether or not he has good taste).
- However, if you think it’s “hot,” on the other hand – it’s fine. You can talk most guys into wearing anything if they really believe it makes them look hot.
- Girls often think that if a piece of clothing fits a guy well, that that’s somehow good enough. Not so. Any piece of clothing can seem very UN-cool if the pattern, or the texture is off, even if it fits well.
- Just think about your guy – does he like to draw attention to himself? If so, the bolder texture or pattern might be fine. Ultimately, it’s a judgment call. I suggest taking a good look at the clothes that he’s picked out for himself and let that be your guide (let’s not look for too long at the Guns N Roses/Metallica concert t-shirt he has because he went to the show when he was a freshman in high school and it was AWESOME. That would just be embarrassing for everyone).
- Either way, regardless of what types of colors he normally likes, you can often be more experimental with colors than with patterns or textures. I have no idea why this is.
In any case, for clothing this year I’m liking Monarchy brand stuff (mostly their T’s, thermals, and sweatshirts). It’s a slightly edgier alternative to the completely played out Ed Hardy look (which is really starting to get on my nerves). Most of us can’t do Monarchy head to toe without looking completely moronic, but it can be a nice touch if used sparingly. If you know what style of jeans he likes and want to buy him a fancy pair, I think Earnest Sewn makes really cool jeans. Dress shirts are nice, but unless your guy is a for-real grown up, they’re not nice gifts.
Sneakers are tough to do right, honestly, so proceed with caution. However, one of my co-workers has these and I think they look really cool and comfortable. And I’m not the kind of guy who’s into hemp-y vegan-y stuff, so now I’m extra impressed.
Also, if your guy happens to like indie rock (getting a little closer to my type now…), might I suggest going to the websites of some of the bands he likes and checking out their “Shop” sections? For example, I have a Decemberists T-Shirt that I bought online and I really like. You can also usually find posters or other merch (that’s right I said it) on these types of sites as well.
Ok let’s move on to the much more fun category: Toys.
If they were available, and inexpensive, I’d recommend the Kindle. But since neither of those things are going to happen anytime soon, let’s move on. I don’t have a car, but if I did I’d definitely want a GPS system (I know this gift is soooo last year, but they’re actually more affordable and easier to find this year). And if I was going to get a GPS system, I don’t see how I could pass up a KNIGHT RIDER GPS system!?!?
If you thought that was juvenile, then you haven’t spent that much time with me… so let’s get down to it. Video game consoles are basically the last bastions of youth most of us 30 year olds have left (unless it’s just me, in which case, I’m totally screwed). If your guy doesn’t already have one and has said at any point in his life that he might want one, just get him one already and be cool about him playing it (within reason). It doesn’t matter which one (Xbox, PS3, or Wii). I swear, you’ll be his hero. It will make all his friends even MORE jealous that he has a good one like you. That’s not even an opinion.
[On a personal note, my friend Daryl got her boyfriend a PS3 for his 40th birthday this year. I’ll be shocked if he hasn’t proposed to her by next year. No pressure, Dave!]
If he already has a game system, and he doesn’t have Rock Band (2) well then, quite frankly, it’s time. Grace and I have spent our share of Sundays drinking beer and playing it with friends this summer (it’s not like there’s anything to do OUTSIDE) and it’s been glorious. (Our band: the P-Feet, named after our cats who track their litter all over our living room floor – thanks guys!) You don’t have to get the bundle with all the instruments; you can get them individually, which can be cheaper.
Here’s a list of some other games that came out this year that I really liked (And, yes these are all violent and awful. I’m sorry.):
- Resistance: Fall of Man 2
- Rainbow Six Vegas 2
- Gears of War 2
- Get a Life 2 (not really a game, just making a note to myself here…)
- Grand Theft Auto IV
And if he’s going to waste his life playing video games, he may as well be drunk while he does it, right? Have you seen this? If Heineken is not your (or his) thing, here’s another good one: The Beer of the Month Club. Grace’s mom got me this last year and I loved it.
For those of you who are lucky enough to have a man in your life that prefers reading a book to the imagined glory of video games…here are some books about Sports & Music that I’ve read that I think would make great gifts. Why these two categories? Because I think these are two specific genres of books that (to me) really feel like reading for fun above anything else. Many people feel obligated to buy or read books that make them feel smarter or like they’re learning something “important,” or like they’re reading “great literature.” Those books are great too (I guess), but remember we’re going with “fun” this holiday season. So if Sports or Music books aren’t his thing, you’ll want to skip to the next section.
- Boys Will Be Boys: The Glory Days and Party Nights of the Dallas Cowboys Dynasty – Jeff Pearlman. I’m reading this now, and all I have to say is it opens with one player stabbing his teammate in the neck with a pair of scissors during an argument over a haircut. Need I say more? Very trashy, but very fun.
- FreeDarko presents The Macrophenomenal Pro Basketball Almanac: Styles, Stats, and Stars in Today’s Game. – This is probably the only book on this list that could actually appeal to a design fan as well as a sports fan. It looks really, really cool.
- Fantasyland, Sam Walker. I don’t even get into fantasy sports, but I loved this book. If your guy likes fantasy baseball, I bet he’ll love it.
- The Blind Side, Michael Lewis. Michael Lewis is a fantastic writer, and I’ll pretty much read anything he writes. Filled with great characters.
Rock & Roll:
- The Dirt: Confessions of the World’s Most Notorious Rock Band. It’s the story of Motley Crue. I’m not even a big fan of theirs but it’s an amazing story. I went through it about as fast as Grace went through Twillight. Warning: it’s also REALLY dirty. Really. Don’t say you weren’t warned.
- Fargo Rock City: A Heavy Metal Odyssey in Rural North Dakota, Chuck Klosterman – I know he has a new novel out but this is his masterpiece. A great book for anyone who’s ever been through a hair metal phase, no matter how brief.
- Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Underground 1981-1991, Michael Azzerad – A phenomenal book about the history of Indie Rock.
Other miscellaneous media gifts:
- TV Seasons: These are really fun holiday gifts because you can curl up together and watch TV the way it was meant to be watched: on DVD. It’s so much better that when you eventually catch up with the show in real life (assuming it’s still on) that you’ll be disappointed and irritated that you have to wait a week for the next episode. And don’t even get me started on commercials.
- Recommended for guys: Mad Men, The Wire, Entourage, Family Guy
- CD Box Sets – these are becoming so outdated so quickly that I almost hesitate to recommend anything like this. BUT, I did pick this up this year and really loved it. It’s called “No Thanks! The ’70s Punk Rebellion”. It’s not for everyone, but I really liked it.
Also, if he’s into Sports and/or Music you’ll rarely go wrong getting him tickets to something. A game, a concert, you know what he likes. Tickets are great gifts. And don’t feel like you have to go if it’s something you don’t like. Believe me, if you’re not into it, we’d rather go with a friend. We’ll still love you for it.
Well that just about wraps it up. Finally. Just go with what he likes. Or with what I like. Whatever.
One last suggestion:
What do you do if there’s a few things you really want to get him but can’t? One need look no farther than (sweet, sweet) reality television for advice: strategize and form alliances. (Just ask Evelyn from the Island Challenge.) Pick the thing within your budget that you think he’ll like most, and YOU get that for him. Then, SUGGEST the other stuff that you wanted to get him to his family members or anyone else who’s getting him a gift (and they WILL be looking for ideas because believe me they don’t know how to shop for him either). It’s a win-win!
Thanks for listening to me ramble on about my own tastes and preferences. Good luck, and happy shopping!