The Perfect "Man Gift" for that Favorite Fellow in Your Life
Surefire favorites—as well as gifts to avoid like the Plague
My husband has a jacket he loves. He wears it around town, blissfully unaware of its effect in public. It's the equivalent of a raggedy, faded flannel shirt with the sleeves cut off. I call it his redneck jacket. In terms of accessorizing, all it needs is a shotgun and a six-pack of beer. I once tried to get him to agree to wear it only in the dark. He refused.
Ok, so now I have to go holiday shopping for him, which means the first thing I have to do is adjust my mindset. I recognize that the object is to get him something he'll love, not something I'll love. In other words, I have to think like a guy.
Easier said than done. But here's what I've learned through the years:
The Dreaded DON'Ts of Buying For Men
I've come to realize that men and women have a vastly different emotional connection to clothing. Men don't typically stand in front of a store window and think, "If I just had those pants, my life would be perfect." I've gradually come to accept this puzzling fact. Men are fully capable of seeing a new shirt as, well, a new shirt, which is a stinging disappointment for their personal shoppers.
Still, he'd love something new to wear to work, right? Correction: he'd like something new to wear to work. Not love, like. A sport jacket or a new trench coat would be welcome additions to a work wardrobe but, kind of like socks and underwear, there's a good chance he'll see them as utilitarian purchases (i.e., necessary evils.)
How about something funny? Well, here we get into different dangerous territory. Wearing an "I'm With Stupid" t-shirt can be funny at first (well, probably not) but it's a sure bet it will get really annoying really quickly. Plus he may wear it when he's with you. Beware.
Ah, the age old, no-imagination, gender-stereotype fallback. A brand new leaf blower! A ratchet set! Really? Chances are, if he told you he wanted a gift like this, it's because he couldn't think of anything to say when you asked him what he wanted. Or else he was trying to protect himself from getting another reindeer sweater.
Which brings me to another important category: Gifts for Men that are really about YOU.
"DAD GIFTS" and "MY HOT HUBBY GIFTS"
Kids love giving dad t-shirts that say things like "Human ATM Machine" and "Father of the World's Greatest Kid." They also love buying dad toys that they want to play with. ("Let's buy Dad a new Wii game so he'll play it with me!") Wives, it must be said, tend to make a beeline for the bottle of sexy cologne they swoon over, or the button-down shirt that brings out the blue in hubby's eyes. Does her man truly care about these things? Probably not. Will he be a good sport when he opens the present? Probably.
My point is: for God's sake, get him something for HIMSELF.
INTERVIEW WITH A REAL MAN:
I had a chance to discuss this topic with a genuine Montclair resident of the male persuasion. He confirmed some of the truisms here, along with some specific advice of his own.
Man: Electronics are always a great idea. Only, don't get him a GPS just because you need one.
Patch: Point taken.
Man: There are certain things (at an electronics store) that have no practical purpose but just have to be got.
Patch: Such as?
Man: You can't go wrong with a big screen HD TV. I mean, you can go into the poor house, but you can't go wrong.
Patch: Mm hmm.
Man: Ok, basically, when you're looking for something to buy him, it comes down to this: What does he want in his man cave? A big screen HD TV. A great music system. A small fridge for beer. Maybe some classic DVDs—for example, The Bourne trilogy, The Untouchables, Reservoir Dogs, The Godfather series remastered. Oh, yeah, and maybe a pool table.
Patch: I get the picture.
Man: Also consider: A man and his car. Some men have more passion for their cars than they have for their women.
Patch: Is that so?
Man: I've heard this is true. And they can do enhancements on their car.
I found this little talk very illuminating. Very illuminating indeed. But back to the subject at hand.
Here's my list of gifts your guy is sure to love:
1. (See mancave, above.)
2. Gift certificates to any place he loves. Such as: an electronics store, a book store, a music store, a sporting goods store, a gourmet store, a sports equipment store, etc.—you get the picture.
3. A day of fun and relaxation: a voucher for a massage or foot rub, a movie, dinner at his favorite restaurant. Who wouldn't love that?
4. That thing he's always wanted, no matter how crazy or goofy. The Elvis tie he can't stop laughing about. The bizarre sculpture he's been ogling in the antique store for a year. Tickets to that horrible band he's been following since college.
5. A surprise trip somewhere! This can be as simple as a day trip to a city he's always wanted to see or as elaborate as a vacation getaway to the destination of his dreams.
Remember, this is about him, not you. So if you find yourself thinking, "I'm sure he'd love a mani-pedi and but on the tiny chance he hates it, I'll use it myself,"— it's time to re-think your strategy!