Editors note: I’ve linked to one or two websites which have some examples of some of the items on this list. I have no affiliation with these websites. I do not receive a commission for any sales made through links on this page, and unfortunately can’t offer any discounts, sorry fellas.
Buying good presents can be tough, especially for grown men.
Gifts come cheap these days.
Just about anything a fella wants is a mere credit card swipe away.
Most things we want we get. If we don’t, it’s probably because we haven’t saved up enough yet.
Come Christmas and birthday time loved ones are left scratching their heads, scouring major shopping outlets for inspiration at the last minute. Worse still, they end up hunting down trashy listicles on Google like ‘100 gift ideas for the modern man’ or some other such nonsense.
Top google hits for searches like ‘top X gifts for a man this year’, are literally all money mints. Massive listicles of the most useless junk to help boost affiliate income for bloggers who’s only ambition is to make money. Don’t get me wrong, that’s my ambition too, but my marketing strategy is to aim for trust, and the quality of my content, rather than cheap clickbait.
No most items on these lists are trending knick knacks and trivial junk. They are designed to appeal to our disposable, boyish culture in a kind of quasi-manly way.
At their core, these lists are basically skimmable click-bait, with no real content and no deep thought has gone into the gift ideas.
I’d like to do something a bit different here. This is not just a list of mindless last minute junk that you can spring on an unsuspecting husband/brother/father on Christmas morning. Hopefully what you’ll find on here is the kind of present he won’t have to feign excitement for when he sees it. This is a short, humble list of items that I personally own (or think would be awesome to own), that have made a significant enhancement to my life in some way, whether as a gift, or something I have purchased that I think could make a suitable gift for a lot of fellas.
Have you heard of the 5 love languages?
- Quality time
- Acts of service
- Words of affirmation
- Physical touch
- Gift giving
Well, gift giving never used to make much sense to me. I figured anyone who prioritised gift giving as their main source of affection for another was just superficial and materialistic. Until I realised a couple things…
I love stuff.
Not just that, but I started to learn that not all gifts are made equal. Now, not to get too soppy, but there are some gifts I’ve received over the years that have hit deep into my soul.
You might wonder what is the big deal anyway? Everybody gets crappy gifts. Isn’t that half the fun?
Well, yeah, sort of. But that just begs the question, have we become so indifferent to waste and disposable nonsense that our goal at Christmas time is to get stuff that we know will elicit a forced smile and some awkward laughter, only to be thrown in the bin six months later?
Maybe you’re thinking that you’d love to give a good gift, but the recipient is not the kind of person who cares about that sort of thing. I can almost guarantee that’s not true. If anything, the person who doesn’t seem to care about the kind of gifts they get, can be the one who is most surprised when somebody gives them something that they can actually enjoy and appreciate. Probably the main reason they’ve never cared for gifts is because they’ve never really been given anything worth appreciating (or they could just be a complete muppet, who knows).
Giving a gift can be more than just a last minute exercise in ‘making the thought count’ (ugh), but instead can be something worthy of actual thought and consideration. We’ve all received gifts that make us feel a little dead inside and we’ve also all received gifts that were truly unexpected in a good way.
The bottom line is, however thoughtful (or thoughtless), every gift we give says something to the recipient.
- I don’t even care, really
- I knew you’d get a laugh out of this
- I know this will enhance your life in some way
- I want to lick caramel sauce off your chest
- Honey, if you want to become a medieval broad swordsman, I’ll support you
When you realise that depending on the gift, the giver, the context, and the level of thought put into it, a gift can become a lot more than just a thing. A real gift can be an expression of another person’s deep knowledge of you; it’s evidence that they pay attention to the small details. When your gift to another person becomes a collection of things you want to say about them like, ‘I know you’, ‘I get you’, ‘You’re important to me’, then gift giving becomes a love language. If a picture can paint a thousand words, how much more can a physical object when given with conviction?
A great gift can start a hobby or a collection, it can bring a man to tears, remind him of his best past experiences, it can change a mans life.
A good gift can even change the world.
Need I remind you that salvation is a free gift from Christ.
That being said, it’s also true that considerable time spent on a gift is not always viable. This is great for immediate family, and maybe a very close friend. But it may not be practical (or even appropriate) to go scouring the globe, looking for a trinket that was hand crafted in a Vietnamese monastery in the mountains, for your brother’s father-in-law. However, this is often where gift giving is in the most need of assistance, these kind-of-obligatory, but not too sentimental situations are where a lot of us default to the yellow polka dot business socks, or a department store cosmetics box set.
So for the rest of this post I’ll offer up a few pointers to help with figuring out what to get the fellas in your life this Christmas. Finally, I will offer a few humble suggestions for gifts and explain a bit about why I think they’re good presents to give.
Here are some things to consider when trying to find a really good gift:
Who is it for? How close are you?
Seems obvious I know, but think about how close they are to you. If it’s for your husband, I would argue that there’s almost no limit to how much thought you can put into it, or money depending on your budget. However, if it’s for your sister’s husband, then you don’t want to get something too intimate, or perhaps more valuable than something your sister is going to get for him. I call this the velveteen rabbit.
The trick here, is that it’s still possible to get a great thoughtful gift. It just has to be thoughtful in a way that says ‘you’re a great brother-in-law’, and not in a way that says ‘I’m not-so-secretly jealous of my sister’. You want it to be something unique, and tailored to their personality, without being too intimate or personal. Which brings me to my next point.
What do they like?
Again it seems obvious, but this is often the hardest part.
“We only see each other at Christmas, I have no idea what kind of stuff he’s into”.
Chances are you know something about them. Even if you have no idea, you can easily call someone who does to get some advice (this is also a great way to prevent doubling up).
Learn to keep your eye out for clues. Pay attention to things that they say. A husband or son for example throughout the year will be continually dropping hints, even if they are not doing it deliberately. Even relatives that you don’t see that often. When you do see them, learn to pay attention, when you have conversations listen carefully, learn about them. They are, after all, your family.
The real key is to think carefully about how to use the information you have. For example if you have an Uncle who is an avid whiskey drinker, that doesn’t necessarily mean he wants an Extra large Wild Turkey T-shirt (never buy anyone an extra large Wild Turkey T-shirt, ever, even if you think they’d like it)… It probably means he would love a nice bottle of Wild Turkey. If it’s in your budget, maybe go for a limited edition or some rare blend that costs a little more and shows you went the extra mile.
If he’s a white collar, and everyone in the family knows it, then a yearly planner might sound good, except that everyone else is thinking the same thing, and he can probably get them for free from his office, and probably never uses it anyway. However, if you know he would use it, then maybe a step up would be a refillable leather bound diary cover? Small nuances like a little extra quality, or some other personal touch, or something with just a little extra thought in it, can take an average stocking stuffer into something that they will truly appreciate.
What do you like?
What kinds of gifts do you like? To go a little further, what kinds of gifts would you think of as good gifts, from various people in your life? Why?
Chances are there are some common themes you can pick up on that can provide some inspiration.
What have you been given over the years that made you die a little bit inside? What was it about that gift that you didn’t like?
Was it because it just seemed like another piece of useless filler that would take up space under the vanity?
Or sit in your closet for 5 years until you can safely throw it away without the giver being upset?
Or was it because you got the same thing from five other people?
Alternatively, what are the gifts that really made you smile, even when they didn’t seem particularly amazing? What made it just that little bit different?
Sometimes a gift will hit you right between the eyes, not because it is particularly valuable, but because it had some obvious meaning that went beyond the item itself.
If you can understand the particular qualities that make some gifts more memorable than others, then you’re already halfway to becoming a gift giving connoisseur.
So with all that in mind. I’ve compiled a list of stuff which I’ve personally received or bought myself (or I think would be awesome to have) that I think would make an awesome gift for some guy you know, some more expensive than others. I’ve gone into a bit of detail about why I think each gift is a good idea, to hopefully give you a bit of intuition that might carry into other gift ideas aswell.
Good quality clothing
Clothes can be a tough gig. If you take your personal style seriously, then you probably have a pretty decent wardrobe already and you’re probably quite fussy about what you wear, so unless someone knows your measurements it could be difficult nigh on impossible to get you something that fits perfectly. But the satisfaction of getting a really great article of clothing is worth someone putting in the effort to figure it out. When you know a man well enough to know what he likes, and what he needs, it goes a long way to showing how much you care, and that you’re willing to take a risk. Even when you don’t know enough about a fella to invest in a custom merino wool overcoat, here are a couple points to keep in mind that may make it a bit easier:
- There are some wardrobe items you can never have enough of
- well fitted plain white button down shirts
- thin sweaters
- underwear (I know, I know, but how about you lash out, don’t just get “underwear”, get underwear)
- There are things you can buy that are easier to get the right fit (or don’t need to be fitted)
- A good pair of black leather dress shoes (with a matching belt!)
- A tie bar
- A wool sweater
This is the category where you really have to know the guy your buying for. It takes a bit of preparation, but if you can nail a really great piece of clothing, it will not go unappreciated to a man who takes pride in his appearance. Little bit of a risk, potentially huge payoffs.
OK, so DVD’s really aren’t very original… but they really are awesome. Maybe not every guys bag, but they’re definitely mine.
Now days we have netflix, foxtel and what-have-you, so you might wonder if DVD’s will just fade into obscurity.
But if that’s true then it’s a wonder that JB HI-FI and other electronics stores are still overflowing with DVD’s and Blue Ray movies. Obviously they’re still selling. When possession is 9/10ths of the law, you can’t beat the sense of ownership that a hard case DVD or Blue-ray disc can bring. You simply can’t get that from renting digital media over the internet.
I love movies. One of my greatest sources of inspiration and motivation for maintaining a life of dilligence and masculinity comes from my favourite movie characters. They’re mostly fictional and contrived, but are often reflections of man’s deepest primal desires. They are who we want to be, and are often a good benchmark to aim for.
The best thing about a man’s movie collection is that it’s never complete. The paradox of DVD buying is that DVD’s are generally cheap, which also makes them expensive. A guy is not just going to go out and get every movie they’ve ever wanted all at once, even if he goes out and gets one or two each week, the list of movies he wants is always going to be longer than the list he has. Furthermore, DVD’s last a long, long time. They’re a permanent gift, and if a man you’re buying for is anything like me, he’ll not likely forget how he acquired his collection. If you buy him one of his favorite movies as a gift, he’ll remember 5 years later where he got it. If that doesn’t count as appreciation, I don’t know what does.
If you know what a man’s DVD collection is missing, you simply can’t go wrong with movies (and TV show box sets) as a gift that they will appreciate every time they watch it (even if it’s somewhat predictable). DVD’s are a great fail safe for any birthday or Christmas for most men, especially for a brother, or father in law. If you’re trying to decide between a three pack of sport socks from Big W, and a couple of movies… Get the movies.
Oh yeah. I recently bought a swag. I love my swag. If I had a swag when I was twenty, I’d probably have been to the Kimberlies by now, but I never actually thought to buy one. Save a man the trouble and buy one for him. If he likes camping but he’s not a big spender, then this is the perfect opportunity to really spoil him. There are some awesome swags out there, some quite cheap, some can get up there a bit. But if you’re looking for super quality, then you gotta be willing to spend a bit.
Like I said, I only recently bought a swag, and I’ve never had one before (although I’ve slept in tents plenty of times). But I can tell you a few things about my swag.
After checking out a few brands, one in particular got my attention for looking the most down to earth. I bought my swag online from www.mrswagman.com.au and it was clear that compared to others, these swags were more about quality and less about flair. I went with the classic, not just for the price, but because it had the most going for it.
It really sets the standard for:
- ease of use
It doesn’t look like Buckingham palace I’ll admit, but it’s also not designed for camping in the Queens backyard. It’s as tough as it looks. Super heavy duty rip stop canvas with a thick waterproof PVC base. In the middle of summer you can literally just roll it out and bunk down right on top of it if you want. The roof can be opened out and just draped over you, or if you prefer, it can be tied up to a tree, or to your bull bar to keep the canvas off your body. It weighs a ton and has a zipper the size of my thumb. You can peg it down, or not peg it down.
A couple of small concerns:
- Most of the fabric of this beast is legit, my only concern is the straps that hold it together, seem a little flimsy (compared to say seatbelt cord), which is a shame because the brass rings look like they could tow a semi.
- There is a nice large flap at the front which helps shade the front fly screen, however it unfortunately does not seal shut which I think is interesting. A little bit of an oversight for a swag that boasts being good enough everything Australia can throw at it. You can tie it down low with a bit of creative peg work, but still, you’d want an extra sleeping bag if you were gonna take it in the snow.
- The pegs and ropes that come with it seem to me to be a little flimsy. They’re fancy enough looking, and to be fair this swag definitely has more of a roll-out-n-go feel about it. But still if you’re going to include some optional extras, they should be on par with the rest of the product. Especially since a couple of heavy duty pegs isn’t too hard to come by.
Apart from that this swag is golden. If you’re looking for some fancy half-moon bamboo stick job then Mr Swagman has some higher end stuff. But I figure, if you’re going to that kind of trouble, you might as well just get a tent.
A swag is the perfect gift for any man who’s keen on getting outdoors.
A non-disposable razor (and gear)
Unless the man you’re buying for is 120 years old, there is a very high probability that he shaves with a disposable razor, or razor with disposable heads. But like anything worth doing, shaving is something that is worth doing well. I, like most men, spent the best part of my young adult years treating my bathroom habits like I treated the dishes… as a chore. ‘Grooming’ was not a word in my vocabulary. I shaved. Every couple days between showering and chucking on whatever clothing I could find (hoping that today would be one of those lucky days where it just seemed to work), I would pull out my pressurised foaming cream, my 5 blade and as quickly as humanly possible hack my facial hair off. Ever since my wife bought me my first straight razor as a Christmas present, shaving has become a delicate art form, a timeless hobby that has reached into my soul and brought my deepest masculine instincts bubbling to the surface. Shaving is no longer a chore. Now it’s a historic ritual that requires concentration and a steady hand. You’re holding right up against your own jugular a blade sharp enough to slice through bone. The best part? It’s not as hard to learn as you think and getting a nick doesn’t hurt nearly as much as you might think. The real motivation for getting it right, is to not have red spots all over your face for a couple days. But this comes with practise and time.
You don’t just have go for the cut-throat either, an equally manly option is the classic safety razor. This was the next evolution in razor technology, somewhat easier to get the hang of and somewhat less likely to cut you (hence the name).
The most imporant thing with this gift is to do it right. A traditional razor without an accompanying kit is a car without petrol. If you’re planning on treating a guy to a traditional razor, make sure you also get him a proper shaving brush and good quality soap too.
Yes, it’s a satchel. That’s what it’s called. It’s not a handbag, and it’s not for ladies. A satchel is a rather brutish, simplistic looking small leather bag with a strap. I bought one a year ago, and now I don’t know what I’d do without it.
The last thing I want to do on this blog is start writing articles with titles like “X quick tips to instantly transform your life today”… No thanks. why? Because you can guarantee in almost every case, posts like this are completely untrue.
Almost anything that will dramatically change your life will not be quick, and it will not be easy.
A satchel is one of the few possible exceptions to this rule. Hopefully if you’re reading this blog, it’s because you’re starting to grow out of wearing cargo’s and boardies everywhere you go, and are ready to start dressing like a grown up, with pants that actually fit and typically only have thin pockets around the top. When you start doing this you’ll start realising that your EDC just doesn’t quite all fit in these pockets (or doesn’t fit comfortably). The satchel came to my rescue. It’s awesome. It’s small enough that even when it’s full I don’t get tired of carrying it round, but large enough to carry the vast majority of stuff I need on any given day. It’s leather, which is awesome. It has a couple of useful pockets, but not too many that it’s exhausting.
Annoyingly, smartphones are getting bigger. Little by little, they’re getting bigger (I’ve been considering switching to a dumb phone for a while now, but more on that later), and they also have a perfectly flat glass screen. They’re really just not that comfortable, or attractive, or safe, sitting in your pocket these days. Satchel to the rescue again.
I think the thing that I appreciate the most about my satchel however, is that it allows me to take things everywhere I go that are super helpful, and have always wanted to have handy, but never had the space for them. Stuff like a small emergency bottle of deodorant, loose change, chewing gum, a couple toothpicks, maybe a book or a drink bottle, a pocket knife, etc. I think I’ve made my point.
If you know a man who is ready to start wearing grown up clothes, you can guarantee it won’t be long before he’s ready for a satchel. Do him a favour and pick one up for him this Christmas.
My personal recommendations are
- keep it simple (if he’s into that sort of thing)
- get leather if possible, even the cheapest leather bag will last a hell of a lot longer than any canvas or imitation leather bag
- try to proportion it to the recipients size. If he’s a small guy, get one on the smaller side, if he’s John Cena, maybe something like a messenger bag that would fit a laptop would be handy.
Last but not least…
Yeah I said it. Gift cards. I love them.
Gift cards get a bad rep. They haven’t really been around all that long, and people see them as a bit of a cop-out. I strongly disagree. It’s true that gift cards haven’t been around that long, and not everything new is superficial and tacky. The irony is, when we’re truly in a bind, and simply can’t think of anything to get someone, the idea of a gift card seems too impersonal and thoughtless, so we opt instead for some other impersonal and thoughtless junk which a man will accept with a tear and a smile.
How about this year, accept that things are the way they are. If you don’t know what a man will appreciate, don’t guess, and don’t go for the lucky dip. There’s nothing wrong with giving gift cards. I can tell you that I’ve never received a gift card as a present and been disappointed by it.
Having said all that, even the humble gift card has some room for creativity. Even if you think you know nothing about the recipient, you might know enough to get a gift card from a certain store.
It’s great way to tell your nephew “I know you’re into cars, but I don’t know what tools you need, so here’s something to chip into your next big purchase”. Another example, if you know the man you’re buying for is into quality, then a gift card from David Jones is going to be better received than one for the Reject shop.
If you really want to show some thoughtfulness, you can ring around to see if other relatives are planning on getting gift cards too. If so you can coordinate to either get them all for the same store so he can pool them into something more expensive, or you can get them from all different stores so that he has some variety.
The bottom line is, a gift card is guaranteed to go towards something a man will appreciate, and he will think of you when he makes that purchase.
Just remember at the end of it all, the person you’re buying for doesn’t need small cheap stuff, he’s already got that.
The willingness to put just a little bit of extra thought into it, can make all the difference.
That’s it fellas (and relatives of fellas)
If you liked this post definitely share it. People will go scouring the internet this year for last minute gift ideas. Put this post at the top of a Google search so they will read it instead of some junky listicle.
Don’t forget the greatest gift of all. Christ’s offer of salvation for all those who call upon his name, and confess their sins.