2012 Gift Guide: Gifts for Dudes

Monday, November 26, 2012

A friend who surprised you with a gift. Your new boyfriend's sister. A colleague that rocks. When it's time to grab a gift for someone who wasn't initially on your list it's critical to get a good bang for your buck. Or maybe you're on a tight budget and want to give the best gift you can afford. Throughout this month EA will be showcasing mini gift guides covering all sorts of occasions.

Today: gifts for dudes.

This guide is by no means exhaustive and mostly meant to help inspire ideas. Because much as it would be impossible to whittle down gifts for gals to 10 or so items, so too is it impossible for guys. One of my exes was very much about me buying him clothes for the holidays. ("I need some shirts for work. Get whatever will make me look good.") My last guy was big into sports. And my current guy is still in that new awkward-awesome phase...are we even getting each other gifts?

In general, I try to avoid getting a guy the following: cologne unless he asks for it because god knows he's been wearing the same scent for 10 years and won't wear anything new; new gadgets unless I've seen him specifically looking at something I'll probably get the wrong thing; video games because I won't see him for 2 weeks afterwards; anything that requires a lot of assembly.

And in general, some ideas that have gone over very well include: sporting event tickets (NFL or NBA mainly this time of year since the NHL's on strike), tickets to a concert/comedian/special event, weekender trip tickets (i.e. a weekend snowboarding trip to Vermont or Colorado), the latest iPad or must-have tablet, the latest inspirational biography (CEOs/sports figures/historical figures/etc), meat butchering classes, wine pairing classes, gift cards to electronics stores, iTunes, or Amazon.com.

With that out there, let's move on to the items in today's graphic.

Music is a pretty safe way to go with guys. If an iTunes gift card sounds too impersonal I suggest trying a pair of Beats by Dr. Dre headphones ($350, top row left). These noise-cancelling, bass-boosting ear pieces are expensive but worth it according to several people I've spoken with. Great for your budding mixmaster, the commuter who loves drowning outside noise away or the desk jockey who wants some aggressive beats during the day (but still respects his officemates). Here in NYC I see these a lot on the subway.

If you don't own an iPod dock for your home/apartment/dorm room/whatever, the holidays are a great excuse to get one for your guy. I love this Bose system ($399, top row right), which comes with a remote and has a slim profile. The sound quality is amazing and this system moves easily from room to room. I have one of these systems and have traveled with it several times. A remote helps to quickly skip through playlists and allows you some room to move away from the dock. As a bonus, your guy's iPod or iPhone will charge in the dock.

Back in college I dated a guy who hated frivolous expenses. It was a challenge to shop for him because I had to find things that were functional to his life that fit in with my fun, whimsical gift-giving. A few things have caught my eye recently that made me think of him. First up is Club Monaco's BRRRR Hat ($62, second row middle) which is as much a statement as it is a head warmer. It's perfect for adding just a touch of irony to an otherwise serious outfit or for completing the ski lounge gear.

Along a similar line, a pocket square elevates work fashion but can also be a little touch of quirk. Every good male creative designer I've worked with wears a pocket square. It can't be a coincidence! Once again Club Monaco comes through with the perfect Backgammon Pocket Square ($20, second row left). A more traditional guy might prefer J.Crew's Tartan Square ($45, second row left). These make perfect stocking stuffers!

If your guy has an ugly laptop bag from work, help him out. J.Crew's Abingdon Laptop Bag ($98, third row left) is inexpensive, functional, comfortable and I'm totally stealing it. The waxed canvas ages well and the bag has a surprising amount of zippers ad pockets. The shoulder strap detaches off this bag which holds laptops up to 15 inches.

These may offend some but I find Batle Studio's ammo-shaped graphite pencils hysterical and unexpected. Instead of doing worldwide damage, these pencils simply wear down over time with use. The latest collection comes in three military shapes: an AK-47 ($80, second row right), a 30mm shell ($80, second row right) or a bomb ($80, not shown). If the dark humor skews a little too dark for you the pencils are also available in a variety of nature and hand gesture shapes.

In a similar vein, I adore the Portal 2 Turret USB Desk Defender ($40, third row center). It's 100% less deadly than the video game version and I see how it could quickly become annoying but I can picture it on the desks of many of the men from my last company. On days when that report needs to get done or your guy is knee-deep in work this is a funny way to say go away.

Truth: I adore buying ties for guys. I love helping them tie on a tie, I love the smoothing move they make down the front after the tie is on, I love the way a guy looks in a nice tie. There's just something traditionally romantic about it to me.

So it's a secret (uh, was a secret) delight of mine when I get to buy a tie for my guy. I've got two go-to brands: Brioni and Herm├Ęs. From the online assortment I'm flipping over this classic blue Hermes Tie ($195, bottom row left),  which is silky and interlocked and delightful. For the more modern man I suggest something like the Brioni Silk Dot Tie, grey ($210, third row right). It's got an updated sensibility and will pair well with the current assortment of trendy suit colors. Giving your guy a lucky tie means he thinks about you in a good way every time he wears it. I adore it.

I confess to knowing very little about hard liquors other than that Johnny Walker Black is delicious. I listen to servers talk about whiskey flights and can fib my way through a Brandy conversation but in truth I could not tell you the difference between a Chivas Regal Royal Salute and a Dalwhinnie.

At the risk of sounding completely daft what I do like is a pretty collection of hard liquor decanters on a beverage cart. As these liquor shelves return to vogue thanks to the like of Mad Men, I suggest a selection of personalized decanters with a midcentury feel and a stately look. These three from Mark & Graham: Short Crystal Decanter ($220), Medium Crystal Decanter ($220), Tall Crystal Decanter ($220) caught my eye for their attractive range of personalization options. Mixing up stout and thin, short and tall creates an attractive assortment to stimulate any creative mind.

Or as Ron Burgundy likes to say, "I love scotch. Scotchy, scotch, scotch. Here it goes down, down into my belly..."

If your guy loves sports chances are he already has a jersey with his name or his favorite player's name on the back. Or if he's a Yankees fan just a number but you get my drift. You can thoroughly impress him by adding to his collection with a personalized throwback jersey like this NY Titans Jersey on NFL.com ($150, bottom row right). The Titans of course are the antecedent to the Jets who are woefully woeful right now. But you can cheer him up with this top!

Some teams have multiple throwback options available and they can be found in the jersey section of your favorite team for the NFL, NBA or MLB. Soccer possibly too? I've always loved the throwback St. Louis Cardinals gear myself.

What gifts have been successful with the men in your life? Share your tips in the comments!