Fashion · From the Heart

But what do they actually want? (dude gift guide)

2015-12-25_025725506_718fa_iosToday I am welcoming my 3rd ever guest blogger!  Buying gifts for any man is always a challenge.  I feel like they give you NO CLUES and the internet is not helpful. I figured the best thing to do is ask a guy what he actually likes, wants, and has appreciated in the past. So party people… I would like to give up the blog to Brendon… my husband.img_1830

From Brendon:

Hi there. I hope you’re having a happy holiday season. Let me introduce myself. I’m the guy on the other end of this blog’s camera. KJ asked me to write to you about the art of buying gifts for men. I really dragged my feet on this assignment though because while I have received a lot of great gifts over the years, I hadn’t put much thought into just what made them great.

But after I procrastinated long enough, and after several strong cups of coffee and several more ominous looks from KJ, I finally put my thinking cap on and I think I even might have come up with a revelation or two. So, here we go…

First of all, let me just say that part of the reason I didn’t have any great “man gift” shopping ideas off the top of my head, is that when it came to gift buying season, I was always far more worried about what I was getting her than what I might be getting. I always wanted to get it right and stressed over that. When the actual gift-giving time came around, I was genuinely thankful when I got my gift, but to be honest, I never really appreciated how much thought went into it.

In the years that KJ and I have been together however, I’ve come to really appreciate what our gifts really mean. She has gotten me some awesome gifts… gifts that give you no choice but to think, “Whoa, how did you think of that? Where did you get this?” And sometimes… “Where the hell have you been hiding this?”img_5932-2014-12-24_204737

Here are my tips on what makes for a great gift with some examples of what I’ve received that I really love…

Meaningful – I know this sounds cliché and at first maybe not that helpful, but let me add some practical significance to this. If you want your gift to be meaningful, you have to start early. You cannot wait until two weeks before his birthday and expect to come up with a great idea. We are unknowingly giving each other clues on what we like all the time. Be sneaky. Do some stalking. Write stuff down thoughout the year. Let me tell a story about my third anniversary gift from KJ that really floored me. First of all, you should know that I love baseball and my favorite player growing up was a guy named Ozzie Smith. He played for the Cardinals and I had a poster of him in my room for 18 years. Well, our third anniversary being our “leather anniversary” KJ pays attention to that stuff… she got me an Ozzie Smith autographed baseball. I was overwhelmed. It was the kind of thing I’d wanted since childhood. I wasn’t even really aware KJ knew he was my favorite player… and I totally didn’t see it coming. Plus, you know… it’s leather. Whoa! Super meaningful to me. It told me that she listens to me. It told me that she cares about the things I care about. And dammit, it was even on anniversary theme!

·      Ozzie Smith Baseball – I mean he was only the greatest shortstop of all time. Does this really need more explaining?
·      Louis CK Tickets – He is my favorite comedian. This was also special because his tickets are extremely hard to get… not quite Hamilton hard, but close. KJ went through all kinds of hoops to get me these.
·      Mariners Season Tickets – These meant a lot to me because not only do I love baseball, but she was thinking about me when she is traveling. This gift gave me something to look forward to while she was away.

Useful – I’m going to do some generalizing here, so forgive me. Men like things they can use. I know. I know. I just said one of my favorite gifts was a signed baseball whose primary job is to sit on a shelf, but bear with me. In general, guys like gifts they can fiddle around and play with. One of my most cherished items fits this example very literally. My grandfather gave me a 100-year old fiddle that he had owned for decades. We used to play together, though my fiddling wasn’t very pleasant to listen to. But taking that old fiddle to my grandparents’ house and playing it with Grandpa is one of my most cherished memories.

·      Bluetooth Vintage Gramophone – KJ knows how much I like anything “old school”. This gramophone is amazing, and it came out of left field for me. Never expected it. We listen to Pandora on it literally every weekend too!
·      Crystal Decanters – When KJ and I met, I had one crystal decanter… surrounded by scotch, gin, vodka bottles. She helped me take my crystal game to the next level.
·      Grandpa’s Fiddle – This means so much to me because it meant so much to him. It’s a beautiful instrument and carries cherished memories.
·      Butcher Block – This is cool. I don’t know if you can appreciate how cool. It was built in 1919 and weighs as much as a baby elephant. You have a cutting board? That’s cute.
·      Stackable Toolbox – I know this might sound a little cliché, but you have no idea how great it is to have enough space for all of your tools. I love this gift. If you need proof, it’s the most organized space in my life. That should tell you something.

Nostalgia – Men can be weirdly nostalgic. I know it doesn’t fit the stereotype but think about it… One of the hottest toys right now is the Ninento Classic, a video gaming system from the mid-1980s. I told you about my beloved Ozzie Smith baseball. I do think a lot of men have been conditioned to not express their emotions, and therefore find ways to think about, cherish, and experience memories in a way that won’t get them labeled as weak, or effeminate, or somehow undesirable. That’s why guys save old comic books, lunch boxes, memorize lines from old movies, baseball cards, etc. Memories and emotions get tied up into these objects and if you find something that taps into that, it might be not just a great gift, but a good way to help break down some of those cultural emotional barriers.

·      Old Railroad Map of Missouri – I don’t know how KJ found this. It’s a map of Missouri (my home state) from the 1800s. Pretty amazing. Also you should know, I love maps.
·      Nutcracker – KJ’s mother got me this industrial nut cracker which I know sounds weird, but I’d been going on and on about wanting to collect walnuts from our backyard. Very sweet of her to indulge my bizarre hobbies!
·      Grandma’s Cast Iron Grill – This cast iron skillet is my grandmother’s… grandmother’s skillet! What a great keepsake. It probably survived the Civil War and it will certainly out-survive me!

Several of these fit into more than one category, and that makes them even better! I hope this is more helpful than just a list of flasks, cufflinks, and grilling accessories. Not that those won’t make great gifts, but how many years and gifts can you go with that stuff before you’re out of ideas? Thanks for reading. I’m officially handing the keys to the blog back to KJ!

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