101 Guidesgiftproducts

d*s 2009 gift guides: ac’s guide for guys

by Grace Bonney

*On second thought, maybe introducing Grace to the UFC was a mistake*

Last year it really felt like the sky was falling. The economy was in free-fall, big institutions were melting away every five seconds and I think gas prices actually hit 25 cents a gallon for a few weeks there.

This year I think we’re all a bit less panicked, and more reflective. If you read my guide last year, you’ll remember that I am all about encouraging you to think about gift-giving as a chance to give the man in your life something that enhances their experience with the things they love. It’s really all about them, but what does that mean? If he wants nothing more than Left 4 Dead 2, and you’re still totally sick of him playing the first Left 4 Dead- just get him the thing he wants. He’ll really appreciate it – guys are pretty simple – give us things that you know we like, and you win – try to get too creative/fancy, and think about something that sounds good to you, and you might lose.

The other thing you’ll notice is that my guides are completely biased toward my own personal taste. I hope you don’t think you have to get him what I like, but it will show you that most guys are pre-occupied with a few different things at any given time, and they’re usually pretty obvious about what they are. At least, if you’re willing to find out.

Here are a few clues as to what your guy likes:

  • That thing he’s always talking to you about that you usually tune out to/nod and smile while surfing the web/wonder what you should eat for dinner. Clearly this thing is kind of annoying and something you are not at all interested in. Usually this thing has to do with him saying that someday he’ll do X or Y or would like to and you assuming that he’ll never do it because he never does.
  • That show on tv that’s his favorite, that he always watches or DVR’s, during which he gets all irritable and fidgety if you start asking him questions unrelated to the show.
  • The thing he and his idiot friends are always blabbing on and on about when you all go out and are wondering when he’ll be a gentleman and go up to the bar to get you a drink, and why are they always talking about such lame things.
  • It’s these “things” that usually give you the best clues as to what he likes and will be really happy. Even if it’s not a perfect fit, he will be happy to know you tried, and it will be ok. [Unless of course that “thing” is fantasy sports, in which case you should probably just break up with him/file for divorce now. Happy Holidays!]

    CLICK HERE for AC’s full guy’s guide after the jump!

    So here are some of the things that look cool to me this holiday season:


    The thing that’s cool about basic accessories for guys is that we use them every day, and we almost never think about getting new ones. Until we get one new thing, then we start noticing how old everything else we have is – it becomes a sort of chain reaction.

    For example, a new wallet can totally distract you from a lack of funds and make the few bills or cards you’ve got seem much more important. The Brixton wallet for anyone who has a boyfriend/husband who is a secret or not-so-secret rockstar. It’s even got a guitar pick in it! Very cool. I also like this more classic but still hip basic wallet by RVCA.

    And because wallets overstuffed with bills/papers are the worst, you’ll often want to pair it with a nice money clip. You could go classic with a simple black tumi, or flashy for the Lamborghini lover in your life.

    Also, you can never go wrong with a cool pair of cuff links. Here’s a set from Etsy (AC knows about Etsy?!) that manages to be steampunk, yet your dude won’t feel like he needs to be wearing a bowler hat or waxed mustache to wear them. He doesn’t even have to know what steampunk means (I wish I didn’t). If you’re dating or married to a senior citizen who used to make mixtapes, these might be more up their alley.


    Let’s face it, we could all use a drink these days. Hell, I’m drinking right now. I’ve probably been watching too much Mad Men. And while this bullet-shaped Martini Shaker is more 30’s than 60’s, it looks slick and is actually one of the better shakers on the market. Now despite the pathetic pink color, this thing would be awesome in a glass of scotch after a hard day. And if he’s got absolutely no class like me, he’ll probably think something like this rules.


    If he’s into gadgets, you’ll never go wrong with a Kindle. I’ve had one for two years and i love it – it’s really best for commuting and trips – I use it at home, but love it the most on the road. Now if he’s REALLY outmoded and still likes “physical objects” (freak) here are some recent non-fiction reads that look great:

  • Bill Simmons: The Big Book of Basketball – this book is REALLY BIG. And no one has really dug in to really give a full picture of what’s really up with the sport these days. He’s one of the most fun sportswriters around, and anyone who loves or even just appreciates basketball should enjoy themselves.
  • Chuck Klosterman – Eating the Dinosaur – People either love or hate this guy. I love him. But he’s not for everyone. Still, I’ll read anything he writes (non-fiction, I didn’t do the novel) – mostly because no one takes pop culture more seriously than he does.
  • James McManus: Cowboys Full – the Story of Poker – James McManus wrote the poker CLASSIC Positively Fifth Street, which was amazing (If he likes poker, and watches the World Series on ESPN, he MUST read it). So I’ll be reading this one as well.
  • Too Big to Fail: The Inside Story of How Wall Street and Washington Fought to Save the Financial System—and Themselves– Andrew Ross Sorkin. I’m a big fan of books about current events. The way I see it, they let me avoid paying attention to things as they’re happening, then like 9-12 months later, I can read one book feel like an expert and sound like I’ve been following the story all along. Plus it’s written by Aaron Sorkin’s brother so I can hope for lots of fast-paced witty banter while people walk quickly down hallways.
  • ac_music

    Ok this part of the guide definitely shows my age (I’m 32), and I’m the “old guy” among all the people I work with who are mostly in their mid-20’s. Nothing re-enforces this like the fact that I actually “buy” music. These idiots have practically convinced me that it’s irresponsible NOT to steal it. (Also the fact that I get these archaic things known as “albums” that have more than one song on them.) The music industry is so beyond screwed – EVERYONE torrents music, TV, everything. It’s insane.

    Maybe you’ve heard a thing or two about the Beatles this year. So rather than keep the hype going, I’ll just say that their music really has held up since it was recorded. This year they’ve re-released their entire catalog (remastered, of course) in a variety of formats, but I think this is one of the coolest. You also won’t go wrong with this one. One note: the USB version is the stereo edition of the Beatles catalog, and the CD one (that I’ve listed) is the mono edition (you can also get the stereo version on cd). If you don’t know which one to choose, you’re not alone. But here’s an overall safe bet – if your guy will listen to this on speakers, go mono, if he’ll listen on headphones, go stereo. If both, go stereo.

    Clearly I have a thing for box sets. Here a couple more fun ones:

  • The Pixies – Minotaur
  • Nirvana – Live at Reading
  • If those aren’t his taste, this is a great resource for finding cool rock and metal box sets, I’m sure there’s something in there for him.
  • boseheadphones
    So I love music, and love to listen to it on headphones. In fact, I own way too many pairs of them. But if I had to pick just one pair of all-purpose headphones, I’d probably go with the Bose Mobile In-Ear headphones – I have the non-mobile version of these, and love them. But I kind of wish I had these (they came out after I’d gotten mine) because they go so well with the iPhone. They’re really comfortable, and they sound great.

    Apple Gear:

    I’m also rather pitifully obsessed with Apple products (so cliche). But there it is. Here are a couple fun ones. On the low end, the new wireless mouse looks awesome, and can definitely spice up any Mac (that has bluetooth capability). Cool for a desktop or even a laptop when it’s on a flat surface. On the high end, there’s always the AppleTV. This is good for those guys who actually buy or rent tv shows on iTunes, because now you don’t have to watch them just on a laptop or computer, you can wireless route it through your TV. The added bonus is it will also play your iTunes music through your stereo like an Airport Express.


    Obviously this section is something of a personal favorite, as you can see above the types of hardships I have to endure in order to play video games while Grace is around. [Note: I’m assuming that he’s already got an Xbox360, PS3, or Wii. If he doesn’t, just go ahead and get him one already! I personally recommend the Xbox360, but the PS3 is great also (plus it doubles as a blu-ray player). The Wii is a ton of fun as well, but the game selection is more limited, and the graphics are not as powerful, but the motion based controls are so much fun that it pretty much makes up for anything else that it lacks.]

    One accessory that you might both agree is cool is a pair of gaming headphones with a built-in microphone. An added bonus of these is that they come in full 7.1 surround sound so in many cases they will give him a way better sound experience than his tv or stereo. And it’s wireless so that’s one less cord for him to leave on the floor. [While this will definitely make him look like more of a loser than he already does, it has the huge benefit of sparing you from the sounds of shooting guns, horrible screams, explosions, and car crashes dominating your living room. Sadly there will be no way to block the sound of him talking to his dorky friends. One step at a time.]

    Here are some fun games that came out this year.

    For most systems:
    The Beatles Rock Band (note: if he already has Rock Band or Guitar Hero, you don’t need to get him the new instruments, although they look pretty amazing)
    DJ Hero (for this one you’ll need the turntable)
    Modern Warfare 2
    Assassins Creed 2
    Need for Speed: Shift

    For Xbox360:
    Left 4 Dead 2

    For PS3
    Uncharted 2

    For Wii:
    New Super Mario Bros. Wii

    Lastly, I want to stress that although I’ve listed a whole bunch of products, some of the best gifts are not things you can necessarily buy in a store, but provide some fun and memorable activity. Remember above when I was talking about enhancing the things he already loves? My big three recommendations are:

  • Lessons – Does he have an instrument that he wishes he had more time for? Get him some lessons – you can almost always find someone who teaches any instrument on craigslist. Same goes for art, most sports, car racing, you name it. A few Google searches with what ever he likes plus “lessons”, “coach” or “class”, and you’ll be amazed at what’s out there.
  • Tickets – When we’d been dating for about four years, and I’d gotten into poker – Grace bought me in to a tournament at a casino in Atlantic City. I just about proposed to her right then and there. The bottom line is any time you can experience or watch something you love live, it’s way better than watching it on TV.
  • Time – maybe he’s just really busy and doesn’t have a lot of free time to do some of the things he likes- maybe that’s something you could give him? Tell him you’ll make some special time for him once a week/month whatever for him do do that thing (for instance, a game night with the guys – offer to cook or help get it set up). It’s low budget, and it will really give him something to look forward to for the next year.
  • So that’s all I’ve got! I wish you and yours happy holidays and a happy new year!

    Suggested For You


    • I totally just bought Left 4 Dead 2 for my boyfriend.. Thanks for the validation ac!

    • Thanks for the guide. I could definitely see my guy liking a set of earphone for his iPod – nice idea! I’m wondering though, can you suggest any that are in the $50 dollar range?

    • AC, you are a lifesaver. I have thoroughly read all of your gift guides in preparation for an upcoming birthday/christmas boy gift double whammy. Thank you!

    • Ok, those headphones are genius. If I have to listen to any more guns/screams/ shrieks from 12-year-old boys getting busted for playing video games while my 30-year-old bf is playing opposite them one more time, I’m going to scream.

    • I always love your posts AC but I don’t see how playing video games is any cooler than fantasy baseball.
      The Commissioner’s wife

    • These were great suggestions … and a riot to read! AC has a great voice. I’d love to read more posts by him! Also, that picture of you guys is too cute :)

    • Love this post! In response to your comment, Julie, my husband and I both love these Phillips folding over-the-ear headphones which are only $29. They’re no Bose, but a great value (and when mine started to crap out I called Phillips and they FedEx’ed me a new pair!):


      I’m also getting him another pair of SkullCandy earbuds which are about $20 from Amazon – they sound great and can take a beating.

    • Oh, how I love this list and my husband and I have looked forward to it all year! I am not sure you can top the Knight Rider GPS from last year, but that tabletop beer thing-y? Excellent ideas and written with such humor!

    • HA! Grace, I think our husbands could be best friends, it sounded so much like my John. Good to know it’s not just him ;)

    • I love reading AC’s gift guide every year. Cracks me up and he oddly I think has the same taste as the FH. Scary.

    • I LOVE this whole post!! Such fun suggestions, and really reminds me of my own husband’s tastes (he’s 29) which consist mainly of music gear, video games, and comic books.

      I am SO tired of listening to GTA IV – the headphones are a must! :)

      Thanks for the inspiration and laughs!

    • Great post! I’ve definitely been looking forward to AC’s gift guide since last year’s was such a riot. And Grace, that is one mean rear naked choke hold ;)

    • ac’s gift guide is always my favorite post of the year — but trying to read it at work and trying to hold in laughs is near impossible. grace, your sides must perpetually ache! :)

    • I’m currently single, female and ‘out of the demo’ yet DJ Hero is on my wishlist!

    • Thanks a bunch! I’m giving my bf whitewater kayaking lessons to get him away from the computer – maybe I should buy him Call of Duty too though…

      P.S. You’ll get that choke tighter if you put your hand through the elbow of your second arm and grab the back of your neck or the top of his head. He’ll tap.

    • Thanks for the therapy Grace, I thought I was the only one living with an Xbox360 addict, and the new choke hold pictured above will definitely help me deal with him better!

      This gift guide was spot on!

    • My boyfriend is also 32 but clearly he is of a different species from AC! It took reading this post for me to realize the strangeness of no video games, sports, or alcohol in our house. Some items not mentioned in this post that maybe can remedied in the comments: cookbooks for the carnivore, manly household accessories, tools, travel-related items. I know my man is dying for a Dremel kit, bike-gear, a charcoal grill, a tent for 2, and another trip to Mongolia!

    • i think our relationship would lose all sex appeal if i saw my bf sitting in front of the tv with one of those head sets on

      • robin

        it’s amazing what you can get used to and see as “normal” after a while. though i think the headset is balanced out by the fact that i work in my grungy sweat pants half the time ;)


    • You can never go wrong with cuff links? Seriously? You must run with some very metro men.

    • Loved that intro. You had me laughing out loud about how to pin-point what kinds of things he’s really into. Now, if I could just remember what he was talking about all those times I tuned him out while I scrolled through blogs…

    • Quirky cufflinks are awesome! Etsy’s a great source for them. I got my boyfriend a pair with old-fashioned cameos and they’re his favorite.

    • curse you ac…. i already bought my boyfriend a $200 camera and now i am trying oh so hard not to push the “continue to checkout button” on the blackbird website… that wallet would be perfect for him. thanks. but no thanks. but really, thanks.

      • ooh, i love so many things on that anthro guy’s guide. which means ac wouldn’t like any of them. ;)


    • I absolutely love gift guides – and I have to say you have one of my favorites!! You had me laughing out loud reading this one – so true. My husband always says that guys are simple creatures – I guess one of these days I’ll have to believe him! Thanks for all the great gift ideas.

    • Grace–this is one of the funniest posts I have ever read. You have a real gem on your hands, there! ;-)

    • Great gift ideas! Terrific variety and selection. One thing, (though I’m sure this was meant in humor) – not all of us tune our guys out, dislike their favorite shows or think their friends are idiots. Don’t forget about all us girls who really want to be our guy’s best friend AND partner. =)

    • I love what AC had to say about the simplicity of guys. Last year I asked my husband for a list and I got ” an airplane” and “a waterski boat”. So, I settled on an iPhone, figuring it would be cheaper. Guess who’s writing this comment on her new iPhone? This year’s list is a little more manageable and includes a wallet similar to the black one mentioned above.

    • Oh thank you! for the headphones. The screams and gun shots of his video games are driving me to my death. It’s like a present for us both!

    • This guide is genius- I love the idea of lessons and I might have to trade my morning coffee out habit for awhile so I can get that Pixies Box Set for my sweetheart. Thanks for the suggestions AC.

    • Yay! I love AC’s yearly holiday shopping guide. Thanks for backing me up on the Beatles Rock Band purchase. I went all out with all the guitars and everything. And as a Fantasy Sports wife, I must point out that they are probably the most quiet and unobtrusive hobby mentioned in this post so, for now, I’m sticking with my man ;)

    • OK, I could identify like two of those items by sight. The rest looked like stuff that was in the trash compacter in star wars (not in a bad way, in a futuristic way).

      But more importantly, I LOVE AC’s column (and the picture of you two, Hilarious), and I think he should have a column on here bc he is so funny and insightful.

      thanks AC! I look forward to this each year!!!

    • Besides the cufflinks, I can’t find a single thing on this list that is specific to guys – so why is this a “guys gift list”? And what’s with the whole “tough stuff is cool, girly stuff is for sissies!” vibe?

      I expect better from d*s.

      • wehaf

        this is a list of things we think guys will like- not a list of things ONLY guys can like. i’m not going to get into a feminist battle over this, so if you don’t like it, feel free to check out any of the other blogs running guy’s guides, they might have something more to your liking.


    • I love the gift guide! Thank you!! I can’t imagine any “metro” dude ever wearing cufflinks. And for that I’m thankful! :)

    • You know you’re married to a gamer when he starts asking for MLG (Major League Gaming) points for Christmas so he can buy cool stuff. At least he already has the Turtle Beach headset so I don’t have to listen to constant warfare. So worth the pricetag!

    • I second Mariel, these posts are hilarious and so true. I always spend so much time trying to think of something so creative instead of just going with what’s obvious. Thanks!

    • I bought the Bose headphones for my bf for his birthday.


      Good picks! I wait for this list every year!

    • Awesome as always AC! Love those headphones, might be just what my man needs! I think all he’s getting this year is cookies, I’ve bought enough toys and gadgets lately!

    • This is the most adorable post ! I like the fact that it’s not a one size fits all list, you also give great advice.

      I bought my husband 3 beautifull books about his favourite sport (rugby) and will make a bookmak from a picture of him and our toddler “playing”. I wasn’t so sure it was the right gift but now I know I got it right, thank you!

    • good point grace! maybe i’ll pick him up the dorky head set and pick me up a pair of grungy sweats :O) i do like the idea of being spared the noise!

    • Oh, come on, Grace. Somebody makes a simple comment about gender and your list and you basically tell her that if she doesn’t like it, she can **** off? There’s some holiday spirit! Sheesh.

      • shana

        my response was as simple as hers was. i think sometimes people forget that i have the right to defend content on my site, as much as everyone else has the right to dislike it. i don’t always step into the comment section, but i do when i feel someone is off-base with a comment. i frequently recommend people check out other blogs, not as a way to tell someone to “*$%& off” but as a reminder that we aren’t the only option for specific types of content.


    • So being of perhaps similar mind to AC and being of similar age I thought I’d add a few more things that I like. Just consider that I’m not your “typical” guy in some respects, but definitely a typical guy in others.

      -being a HUGE soccer fan, I always buy a new copy of Football Manager (they call it football everywhere else) every year. It’s a video game for the PC, Mac or Sony PSP. Instead of a lot of loud noise or mindless shooting, you run EVERY aspect of your favorite soccer team. Not a soccer guy? Look for a similar game for another sport, there are some out there.
      -Of course we all love some mindless shooting in our games and Left for Dead 2 looks a real blast. Just know that it’s only available for PC or Xbox 360.

      -I’m a big fan of Banana Republic’s “Heritage” collection. It’s vintage inspired/vintagesque clothing. It costs a bit more, but it’s much more limited in terms of availability. I own and recommend the following from the Heritage Collection: straight deconstructed jean, straight slim jean, silk/wool bias plaid tie (which is a cool skinny tie), moleskin double-breasted topcoat, double-breasted button up mock sweater, black pinstripe 3-piece suit pant. Other great things that Banana Republic has for guys are their tumbled leather bag collection which includes a cool vintage looking camera bag and a function duffle bag or a pair of lined leather gloves. Banana Republic has a lot of deals going on right now and if you get on their email list you can really maximize the savings.
      -Tired of those gym shoes on him? Get him a pair of the Men’s Sprint Grip Chukkha boots/half-tops from Converse by John Varvatos. Piperlime has them with free shipping and free returns. Again, get on the email list and get some offers.
      -Tired of that sports jersey on him? Check out Original Retro’s t-shirts. They cost a bit more and they are fitted, but they are nice t’s and they look great. Plus they layer well under that sweater you’re going to get him. Plus they look and feel like he’s had it for years without him having neglected showing them a washer/dryer. Again, get on their email list as they’ve got great offers right now.
      -Why not some Uggs? No, not the kind that you wear. Well they’re the same brand, but I’m talking slippers here. I got a pair from a colleague a few years back. I didn’t like them at first, but I grew to love them very quickly. They make some very masculine styles too.

      *I’ll keep this pretty mainstream.
      -If you’re looking for something new (IE 2009), I like the Monsters of Folk album. The guys who comprise this super group never really did it for me in their usual acts, but as a group I think they did a great job with this album. Definitely folky acoustic, but there’s some alt-country and even tinges of rock and pop sprinkled in. I got the actually CD from Amazon for only 8 bucks and it’s only 10 bucks now. Not sure if he’d like it? Check out their MySpace page and you can listen to it all to see.
      -Along a similar line as Monsters of Folk you have the “Dark was the Night” compilation. Not only is it a good and sizable compilation featuring some of today’s bigger “indie” artists, but it’s not too pricey and the proceeds go to a good cause.
      -Does he still sing “I’m a loser baby, so…”? Well believe it or not Beck is still alive and kicking, it. Last year he released “Modern Guilt” which is one of his best albums. Beck is still Beck in one sense, but in another sense he’s once again “invented” himself as he’s done so many times before.
      -Of course you can’t go wrong the entire Beatles collection and I have to say that Apple with the USB plug in is great.
      -Concert tickets make a great gift. Not every concert ticket goes for 100 buck these days for seats all the way at the back. You can get good seats to a good act in a great venue for a third of the price of a “big name” artist. In my city there are some great venues these days that offer shows for only 10 bucks. One of the coolest gifts I ever got was from an ex who gave me a picture frame with concert tickets inside.
      -I have a Magno Radio from Areaware and I love it. Not only is made of wood and it looks amazing (wood and retro design), but it’s functional too. I use it for NPR every morning. I also plug in my MP3 player too as it can function as a speaker for that. It even gets shortwave radio which is fun. Oh, and it’s made by local artisans in SE Asia so your purchase is going to a good cause.
      -So I really don’t like how everyone loves Apple. I think that while they have the best designed products that the products themselves are overpriced and if you really compare them to other models from the competition that they’re really no better. Still I have to say that I love the iPhone. I am definitely getting one. He’s already got an iPhone? Get him a case/cover for it. The Vers wood case available at Design Public is great. Wood not his thing? Get a cool leather case that you design from Vaja.
      -Looking for ear buds? Good a pair of wood earbuds to match that wood iPhone/iPod case.
      -If you’re on a budget and he doesn’t have an MP3 player or doesn’t need the latest in technology, an original Zune 30 would be a good buy. What is a Zune? Well it’s Microsoft’s MP3 player (or “ipod” if you must). The Zune 30 was MSs orginal foray into the market and you can still find them out there. They’re 32gb and can hold music, video, pictures, podcasts and games. They also have a built in radio. While it was never as sleek as the iPod, it has a cool retro look as though it fell outta the 70s or 80s. It looks really cool in either brown or white, but the black is nice too. So how much? Well I’ve seen them for 68 bucks this holiday. What’s great is that you can still find accessories to go with it for dirt cheap as well.

      Yes, are for a guy.
      -I’m both a fan and owner of pieces from Dolan Geiman. He has a myriad of things on offer at a myriad of prices. Plus it’s art from a real guy if you will. I recommend an original or a box print, but you can’t go wrong with Dolan’s work. Oh, and he’s got his Holiday Sale going on over at Etsy right now.
      -A log bowl from Loyal Loot is a great “piece” for a guy. Not only is it decorative, but it can be functional too. Each one is different and you can choose from a ton of different colors.
      -Don’t really know if he’d like an art piece? What about a book on art? There are a lot of nice hardcovers out there with anything from the photography of Ansel Adams to the the art of music albums. I personally love my limited edition hardcover copy of Charley Harper: An Illustrated Life.

      -Books can be really encompassing, but just getting him a book on something he’s interested in can be great. I have an aunt who always gets me the best books because she knows what I’m into. She’s got me the Beatles Anthology (coffee table book), a great book on Hitler (I have a History degree), some great books on soccer (Morbo, Barça: A People’s Passion, How Soccer Explains the World) and even a book on birds. If he’s into sports, get him a book about sports. Does he have a hobby or pastime? Get him a book to do with that, like say a fishing book. I reference my bird book all the time.
      -How about some booze? Seriously. Does he like beer? Well find out what he likes and go to your locally owned liquor store and talk to them. They can probalby recommend something different and unique that he’s never tried and these days possbily never even heard of.
      -How about food? I’m a sucker for Lindt chocolate truffles. Oh, and if I get a pint of Ben and Jerry’s Maple Blondie with a bow on it for Xmas it might well be the best gift I get. And part of the proceeds go to charity.
      – How about a TV series on DVD? I love pretty much anything HBO does. Deadwood and the Wire are great for guys. Did you drag him to Twilight? Well give True Blood a try. If he doesn’t like it (and he will like it more than Twilight), you probably will. While I haven’t seen MadMen, it’s just a matter of time and looks a show a guy would like.
      -How about Netflix? Not only is it easy and in my opinion cheap, but it’s something you can share. Add to that you can watch some of their movies online too.

    • I laughed out loud at the “married to a senior citizen that used to make mixtapes,” comment. Guilty as charged!

      For those looking for headphones, I have great things to say about Sennheiser. They have a range of headphones at reasonable pricepoints, and the quality is much better than you would expect for the price.

      AC’s guide is hands-down my favorite holiday reference list!

    • Shana – thanks, but I think grace is right. If this is the kind of content, and comments, that I can expect from design-sponge, I’m happy to take my browsing elsewhere. Grace stated upfront that she/d*s is not willing to open a discussion about the gender implications in this post, and sites that aren’t willing to engage in productive conversations or accept criticism on their content are sites I can do without.

      Also intriguing, and telling, is that grace assumes I’m female, simply because I criticised a list from a feminist perspective. Another gender assumption failure, and more evidence that d*s doesn’t have the progressive sort of attitude I’m looking for.

    • I agree, Grace has the right to defend d*s content if someone knocks it (i.e. “i expected better”).

      I like AC’s gift guides because his perspective is quite close to my husband’s. My husband appreciates well-designed things, but that doesn’t mean *his* idea of a great gift matches mine!

    • I have never commented on this site even though I have read it daily for two years now. Grace you rock! Its your perspective and instincts that make this site great, keep on letting people know when they are off base. As for this post, AC you sound like such an awesome guy and I will def use your advice when looking for gifts as I am usually stumped when it comes to guys. Great work!

    • AC’s gift guides are so entertaining and well written. Grace works so hard to produce this lovely and interesting website. I don’t get where there is any controversy or call for criticism here. Best wishes for a happy, healthy and peaceful holiday season.

    • Awesome. My husband is also 32 and this whole list is right up his alley. Thanks, too, AC, for reminding me to get him something that HE’LL like as opposed to something that I would like him to like!

    • Damnit. I’ve been holding back on buying the stupid dumb good for nothing video game my guy wants, and now you’ve just convinced me to.

      call of duty modern warfare 2 > me

    • Sarcasm aside, as a long time reader, who just so happens to be gay and a guy, these overtly hetero-centric posts make me feel a wee bit ostracized and kinda nauseous…sorry!

    • now a list of gifts for the ladies in our lives I’m sure I’m not the only one that reads D*S

      • robert

        d*s is a pretty girl-centric site (the overwhelming majority of our readers, and editors, are women) so i’m pretty sure the ladies in your life would appreciate many of the gift ideas in the guides we posted this week for gifts under $25, $50 and $100.


        i don’t think any of our posts, gift guides or not, are “overtly hetero”. we have a large gay/lesbian audience at d*s and they’ve always been wonderfully vocal with me about not being stereotyped as liking certain types of gifts, products or styles. (in terms of weddings, the one “hetero” thing we do post- i’ve been actively seeking out design-centric gay weddings for some time now and have been having a hard time finding couples that are willing to share their big day online. that said, we’re still trying)

        in terms of this particular guys guide, i don’t think video games, music and cufflinks are in any way something that gay men couldn’t, or wouldn’t, use. like ac said in the opening of his guide, this is geared towards his personal taste, and is meant as a guideline for guy gift-giving. so the general categories of games, music, accessories and books don’t in any way seem “hetero” to me.


    • Hi there, I really enjoyed reading your post and some very interesting feedback too, thanks a lot for sharing. Begging my misses for Assassins Creed 2… here’s to wishing. Happy hols.

    • I just think it’s funny that people feel the need to tell the author of a blog that a Christmas wish list post is sexist/overly hetero/anti-gay/whatever. This is a design-specific blog that can and should post unique, reader-friendly lists, and it does. Poor Grace would have to line up 20 different wish lists to satisfy every socio-/economic-/gender-specific group out there. Let her choose lists which cater to perhaps most (but not all) of her readers to best maximize her time. Give her & AC a break!

      This was a great list with a fabulously hilarious twist! :)

    • wow – people actually feel the need to complain that there’s ‘nothing they like on the list’ – seriously? I don’t think Grace and ac expect every guy, gay straight or otherwise to like everything on the list – that’s why it’s called a guide!! get a life people!

      Well done ac and grace – great post! x

    • Hi Grace – Can you give some quick directions on how you bought AC into a poker tornament? I think my boyfriend would love that but I really know nothing about poker and he’s only played a little online, never in a casino. Thanks! :)

      • hi jennie!

        i called a few casinos in atlantic city (where we were going) and asked about their beginner’s poker tournaments. they usually have a few a day and the buy-ins can range from $100 to well over $1,000. i picked one that i could afford and then basically all we did was show up, sign up and then i paid on the spot. most of them don’t require you to pay in advance and won’t actually take your money in advance. so my treat was to rent a zipcar, stay in the borgata for a night and do the poker game. that way i could be there to buy him in, but you could always send him to the casino with cash if you won’t be going with him. :)


    • Ahhhhhh, AC’s gift guide. :D Always my favourite part of the D*S holiday posts. I love his writing style and his taste (hell, I want half the stuff on this list. Even the cufflinks, and I am a lady.)

      Also, what ACC said.

    • Hi Grace,
      I been a reader and d*s lover for a while now. Thanks for bringing style, beauty and Grace onto my screen. d*s and it’s links, take me on a colourful and enlightening ride each time I click on. Look forward to more next year.

    • jeez, it’s just a gift guide. and a terrific (and very funny) one at that. i always look forward to ac’s annual post. and those video game headphones may be just what i need to escape Call of Duty hell.

    • Hi everyone,

      First of all, thanks for all the great feedback. It’s nice to know that this is helpful, at least for some of you. I’m going to dig in and try to respond to some of the questions and comments.

      Julie – Headphones in the $50 price range: there are plenty of good headphones for this price. Scosche IDR350md’s are great (plus they have the volume control feature for ipods and phone features for iphones). Also to echo the other commenters, Sennheiser & SkullCandy also make some great ones)

      Alison – neither playing video games nor fantasy baseball are “cool” per se. to Grace’s point, it was a joke. i’ve tried and failed to get into fantasy sports twice (all the data analysis reminds me too much of my job, and it basically feels a lot more like work than fun). but i do recommend the book “fantasyland” (by Sam Walker) for any fantasy sports player who hasn’t read it – it’s excellent. i mentioned it in last year’s gift guide.

      Stella – I may be quite different from your boyfriend, but it sounds like you are getting him what HE wants this season, which is all I’m here to encourage you to do. My tastes are definitely not for everyone!

      Rebecca – I don’t run with any men. I hate running.

      JR – I don’t care what the book jacket says, if I type it that way, that’s how it’s spelled. Tell Chuck to call my lawyer.

      Wehaf – Wehaf to talk. This is a “guys gift list” because it was written by a guy, with guys in mind. That’s about all that qualifies me to write it. I don’t think anything I wrote about was inherently “tough” besides the pink ice tray. Also, you saw the picture of me getting choked by my much smaller wife, right? The “vibe” you may be getting might just be my own juvenile tastes and opinions rather than me actually hating on girly stuff. Don’t forget I’m married to the girl who writes Design*Sponge. ;)

      Erin – MLG! Glad he’s liking the headphones – sounds like they’re working for you too ;)

      Shana – Happy *****’n Holidays! :)

      Chris – Wow. I think you make some great points. I’ll respond to you in a separate comment.

      Jim McManus – JIM McMANUS! (Everyone please give me a minute to geek out…) I LOVED Positively Fifth Street and can’t wait to read Cowboys Full. Thank goodness for Google Alerts! [To anyone who hasn’t read it, Positively Fifth Street tells the story of when Jim covered the 2000 World Series of Poker for Harper’s Magzaine, and ended up playing in the tournament as well. It’s an amazing story of the history of the WSOP, of poker itself, and of Jim’s nearly winning (not a spoiler). I recommend it to anyone who knows how to read.]

      Holli – Modern Warfare 2 RULES. You should DEFINITELY get it for him if he wants it. Hopefully he’ll find me online and beat me as badly as everyone else does.

      Mateo – I have no intention of ostracizing anyone, and I’m sorry if this made you feel that way. If it’s any consolation, I’m pretty sure I make Grace nauseous on a regular basis as well.

      Robert – I just checked the data, and the only guys reading this site are you, Mateo, Chris, and Van (the other commenters).

      Thanks again everyone!

    • Chris,

      While I do enjoy them, I don’t tend to recommend sports games as a gift unless your guy is a hardcore gamer AND a hardcore fan of the sport in question. The intense realism of these games leads to complex control schemes and highly challenging gameplay that is often too much for a casual gamer. What usually happens is the guys who really want them, usually get them on their own as soon as they come out.

      I’m not that into BR but I love John Varvatos. Getting on email lists for discounts is also a great tip. I recommend keeping a separate email account for online/orders mailing lists to keep the spam under control.

      Retro sports jerseys or tees are a great idea for any sports fan.

      I’m don’t really get down with slippers, but I do like the big socks (with or without the foam bottom) to keep my feet warm in the winter. I know, no class. (My question is – who is this “colleague” who’s buying you slippers?)

      Didn’t hear the Monsters of Folk album, but I think Dark was the Night was easily my favorite Indie album of 2009. As far as I’m concerned, Beck hasn’t made any albums since Midnite Vultures.

      Love the tickets in a picture frame!

      I’m not familiar with the Magno Radio but it looks cool. I myself have an ugly plastic clock radio that I also use for NPR in the AM. Grace wants to replace it with a Tivoli, which is fine with me – I’ll take the upgrade! But I’d only recommend a radio as a gift if you already know for sure that a guy will listen to it (most commercial radio is awful these days unless you live in a few select cities). Satellite radio is pretty great if you don’t mind paying the subscription fees. I always make use of it when we rent Zipcars.

      Sorry to hear that you don’t like that “everyone” likes Apple (If by “everyone” you mean 10% of the market.) It’s definitely popular within some specific demographics (in particular, the D*S reading, NPR listening, graphic design crowd). Clearly, I’m part of the Mac demo, and while they definitely mark up the price of hardware, the UX, design, stability, security, and performance has been way better for ME, than my experience with PCs. That said, Windows 7 seems pretty cool (and not coincidentally, a lot more Mac-like).

      I have pretty mixed feelings about the Zune. I sort of like the clunky retro look you’re talking about, but I just found it to be a pain to navigate and use (and the store is awful. Microsoft points are perhaps the worst thing ever invented, speaking as someone who buys them in packs of 5000 for my Xbox360). They are affordable though, and kind of cool in a random way.

      I’m not much of an art collector, but then again, I have Grace around – she pretty much takes care of that in our house. Thanks for the tips.

      Definitely agree that getting a guy books on subjects he likes is a great idea, and a great booze/wine or beers almost never goes wrong. Local liquor stores are absolutely a great place for suggestions, and there are a ton of blogs dedicated to each and every type of liquor. And food is great as well.

      Totally agree that TV was meant to be watched on DVD. Getting into a new show via the gift of a full season on DVD is a fantastic idea. HBO shows are great, Mad Men is amazing, and Dexter is a good time as well. I hate ALL vampires though.

      Netflix is a good idea, and if he has an Xbox360, he can even stream the digital movies through that as well.

      Thanks again!

    • with grace’s infinite poise and charm and ac’s wry sense of humor, YOU TWO are the real gift this holiday season. digital hugs to the both ‘a ya’s!

    • I’m not sure why everyone is getting all riled up about this. My husband isn’t anything like AC but I enjoyed reading the list and thinking about other people (male, female, gay and straight) on my list. Maybe next year you could just call it AC’s Gift Guide and people could take it anyway they liked without all the gender/orientation nonsense.

    • The Book of Basketball! Thanks for reminding me. I wanted to get him something to read, since his just been rereading the books and comic books he has. I remember him talking about this book now. It was durning one of those times I wasn’t really listening.

      Also, awesome list. My boy has pretty similar taste and is 2 years younger (30). Now if you had mention Star Wars and Superman, it would have been almost dead on. I find that those two are always the prefect fall backs, if I just have no ideas what to get him. Which is always good to have. ;)

      Also, I don’t see why a lot of the women on here are posting about the gaming headphones. Personally I play video games with my boyfriend. We’ve been playing a lot of the New Super Mario Bros. Wii. We always have fun together playing it and laughing, even though I die all the time.

      Thanks for the ideas, I’ll have to keep a look out for this next year too!

    • AC! I LOVE your down-to-earth commentary! Steampunk and Etsy! That is fantastic! Thanks so much for the ideas and guides. This absolutely my favorite site!

      Merry Christmas!


    • Thanks for the awesome post AC! I got some stares for laughing out loud while reading it!

    • AC,

      I loved your answers/rebuttals, well said! I can’t believe such a well-intentioned gift guide got people so riled up. If the “gender stereotypes” on d*sponge are what’s keeping you up at night–consider yourself blessed! Anyways, great list, great sense of humor, well done grace and ac.

    • AC,

      Thanks for the reply.

      While I don’t find sports games too complicated, I’ve thus far been able to hold off on the next gen gaming console. However I do think that most guys (at least our age) tend to prefer them. You’re right though, if they like them they probably just go and get them.

      If you like John Varvatos, as do I, then you might want to check out BR’s Heritage line. A lot of the items are Varvatosesque. The stuff seems to sell out online quick but I can usually find it in the stores (though it’s select stores only).

      Colleague now, formerly my boss. She got them for myself and another guy that I worked with and we both loved them.

      As I said, I’ve never loved the guys who make up the Monsters of Folk in terms of their individual work. I never disliked them a lot, but as is the case with M Ward, I’ve always tried to get into him and have never embraced an entire album. The Monsters of Folk album though I thought was quite good and I’d be shocked if they didn’t do a follow up at some point. And I’ll definitely say that it’s not as “folk” as I consider folk, but it’s also not “groundbreaking”. That would explain Pitchfork’s “average” review if you ask me. Though I have to say that the lack of true drumming is a miss, albeit not a big one. No love for Beck? He’s not what I go to generally when I listen to music or look for something new, but in my humble opinion he’s been very consistent in putting out quality albums over the years. I think to stop at Midnite Vultures means missing out on Sea Change and Modern Guilt, two contrasting albums that are both good on their own right and show the “mature” Beck.

      Those Tivoli radios look great too. I”m just impartial to wood. Your’e right though, unless they listen to a lot of radio around the house or are like me a fan of NPR then maybe not the best gift. However this for me is a modern classic piece and the functionality of being a speaker for MP3 players.

      Perhaps I should have been more specific as regards Apple. I think that pretty much everybody likes Apple as regards MP3 players and that’s what I was referring to. I don’t have numbers and I think you were referring to personal computers, but I’d guess they have 75% of the MP3 player market and that’s a conservative guess. What annoys me about that is that there are almost always better products in terms of comparable MP3 players from other producers. The original Zune stacked up better than the comparable iPod “Classic” video at the time. Sure the iPod was “prettier” and had the better design, but the Zune had a bigger screen, a built in radio tuner (great for an NPR listener) and in my opinion a better interface. In fact the interface gets better and better as Zune keeps providing free firmware updgrades and adds games along with marketplace access as that Zune had WiFi (where as the Apple didn’t). While I agree with you that the Zune marketplace isn’t the best due to the points, the more recent Zune pass is great for a lot of people. 15 bucks a month for unlimited songs and you get to keep 10 of them every month. Now 15 bucks for 10 songs isn’t a good deal, but getting to sample everything else out there with the unlimited access is a nice feature. At the end of the day though I have no allegiances. Again, I love Apple’s design and I’ll be getting an iPhone this year. I just think Apple gets a bit too much credit from the general populous due to it’s design and marketing as opposed to the quality of it’s product in comparison to it’s competitors.

      Yeah, local liquor stores are great. I learned so much about wine from a 10 minute conversation at a local liquor store a few years back. And these days there are so many different products as regards alcohol that you can definitely get something interesting that people have never even heard of.

      Anyway, while it may not be for everyone, full credit to you for your list. At least it’s in some ways different from the typical list for guys and it’s good to see someone with some similar tastes out there.

    • Came over to look for some gift ideas for my gf, who loves d*s and thought I’d check out this list. As a 30 year-old guy who loves music, design, gadgets, and video games, this list is pretty spot on.

      I mostly wanted to comment is response the person in the very beginning who wanted some headphones in the $50 range. I can’t reccomend the sony premium ex’s (http://www.sonystyle.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?catalogId=10551&storeId=10151&langId=-1&productId=8198552921665815076) highly enough. I had these for a while and loved them. Then got some super expensive shure e3c’s. After a few months I had to admit that the sony’s sounded better and went back. If I needed headphones and my gf got these for me, I’d be a super happy dude.

    • Sorry for the late comment, I’m a little behind on my reading :)

      I really want to get a Wii for my husband this christmas (and I really want us to have one too), I don’t know too much about video games. Is there any chance that a new Wii model will be coming out next year or will it be a while. I don’t want to buy something when a better version comes out soon after.