My mother, God bless her, has always gone overboard for her three children on Christmas. She still does and I’m in my mid-30s. It never fails. I’ll walk into her house on Christmas day and there will sit three excessively large “piles” of presents, each equal in their dollar value and their number. It’s ridiculous, but I will admit that usually my mother is spot on with her gift giving. There is always, however, one piece of clothing that she spontaneously buys at JC Penny or Sears or Macy’s that I am not going to wear. I’ll open it and smile. I’ll tell her it’s nice. She’ll be pleased.
I’m not a clothes horse, but I wear what I wear. I have my (for lack of a better term) style. I’m comfortable with it. It’s not going to change. I’m also a guy, which means I’m inherently lazy. I have nor will I ever return these items. I just don’t go to those stores, and I’m really not about using my free time to return an awful shirt to JC Penny, because I don’t think JC Penny has anything I want.
The key to buying gifts for men is simply to know the man you are buying a gift for. Most guys are simplistic in nature. We should be quite easy to buy for. Heck, even if you call it unthoughtful, gift cards work. A former boss of mine golfs. I didn’t know what kind of balls he played, but I knew he golfed often. Did I go out and buy him a dozen balls he isn’t going to play? No, I went to a web site that specializes in golf balls and got him a gift certificate. It was a hit!
Below is a list of five categories to avoid this Christmas when shopping for the special man in your life. Of course, there are exceptions to everything, and guys, believe it or not, differ in personality. It shouldn’t be that hard to please them though. These categories are general. Use them as a guide when you start your shopping and we’ll all have a happy holiday season.
CATEGORY 1: Just Because You’d Wear It Doesn’t Mean I Would
Ladies, if you want to change the way your man dresses, there needs to be a discussion first. Wasting money on clothes that are simply going to make him feel like less of the man he is because he agrees to wear them isn’t the best way to move a relationship along. Does it hurt to find out where a person shops? What colors a guy tends to wear? The level of comfort and casual put into their wardrobe decisions? My girlfriends brother had me for pollyanna this past Christmas. They told him just to get me a gift card to Old Navy. I would have happily accepted that gift. He and his girlfriend took it upon themselves to shop. I got two long sleeve t-shirts with skulls on them. Big skulls. Really big skulls. That Christmas morning I was wearing a v-neck sweater over a button down, a nice pair of khakis and Kenneth Cole shoes. As I opened the gift her brother said, “When I thought of you, I thought of skulls.” You can’t make that up.
CATEGORY 2: Dinner at Chili’s is NOT on My Christmas List
Gift cards are wonderful for men. We are generally not sentimental, and sometimes it’s nice having someone else pick up the tab on a meal or things we need. However, I’m not looking for a gift card to a chain restaurant. Been there, done that. Do some research. If you feel like a gift card or certificate is a poor gift because there isn’t as much thought, well, put some effort into the purchase. Research the restaurants in the area and pair your friend or loved one’s interests with a place you think they might enjoy. Do the men in your life have hobbies? Do they own a home? With the amount of money I spend annually at Home Depot and Lowe’s, gift cards to those places are an awesome gift! And I rent! As a general rule, guys don’t do anything without reason. Give me a reason to treat myself to something and I will! Chili’s or Houlihan’s are not a treat to me.
CATEGORY 3: Go Go Gadgets
Whenever I’m at the mall and walk past Sharper Image, I usually stop in. I sit on the 6-speed vibrating massage chair, stare aimlessly at the metronome, marvel at the RC helicopters and giggle at the motorized tie rack. Never once have I reached into my wallet to pay for one of these items. They are what amount to Christmas toys for men. Christmas day, we’ll put them together, consider ourselves cutting edge and rave about them to the giver. You know where they’ll end up? In the back of a closet, a box in the basement or garage, or invariably, in the trash because we broke them within a month. Gadgets are an awful gift because a large group of men already buy themselves a lot of crap they don’t need. They don’t need any help. Men outside that group never wanted that stuff to begin with. (NOTE: this category includes ANYTHING you see advertised for more than 30 seconds on your television set).
CATEGORY 4: Are You Trying to Tell Me Something?
The holiday season is a time for giving and sharing with those you love. When I open a gift, I know that the person who spent time and money to purchase and prepare that gift cares on some level about me. I need that level of caring to stop right there. If while opening his gift, you say to your brother, “we got you this because we care about you…” then you are not getting the meaning of the holiday. Guys don’t want to find out they’re fat Christmas morning when you get them a gym membership. They are about to eat 14 cookies, drink 6 beers and a pitcher of egg nog, eat themselves into a coma at dinner and enjoy a day where the most work they have to do is picking up wrapping paper. If their nose hair is growing to the point you’re afraid they are going to eat it, well, so be it, it’s the holidays. You have to let that go. The day after Christmas, it is then appropriate to say, “Uncle Joe, your nose is throwing up hair. You have to do something about that.” There are numerous examples of these kinds of gifts.
CATEGORY 5: I Think Tequila Sucks and I’ll Drink Brandy When I’m 70
This category is for those holiday gift givers who have folks on their list like teachers, bartenders, a really good mailman, an uncle-in-law or a boss. It also covers all the hosts of the many holiday parties we attend from year to year. A nice bottle to those who enjoy a cocktail or two is nice this time of year. I was once at a Christmas party where a young guy, around 22 years old, brought a bottle of Gordon’s Gin. This is the kind of gin who’s makers can’t even afford to put it in a glass bottle. This was not a college party. He happened to work with one of the hosts. Not only did this guy show up with this abomination, he decided after a half hour that there were actual adults there and he did not fit in. He attempted to take the bottle back and leave. I stepped in and took it from him with these words, “you don’t get this back because you were tacky enough to bring it in the first place.” Try to have an idea what people drink. If your Aunt Hattie digs Old Grandad, then OG it is. However, I doubt that goes over well at your buddy’s who you’ve spent countless hours with in a bar. Just because someone gave it to you and you don’t want it does not make it appropriate for you to give it to someone else. Don’t buy cheap domestic wine. Pick out a bottle with a cool name. Canned beer is not a gift. If you are bringing beer to a holiday party, it should come in a bottle.
Of course, there are always guys that move to the beat of their own drummer. Maybe you’re related to a hoarder who likes junk. Maybe a gentleman you know loves the fajitas at Chili’s. Maybe your chunky cousin asked for a gym membership because he wants to go but can’t afford it. There are exceptions to all the rules. But have a few guys you know read this article. I think you’ll find these are pretty solid rules to go by. Happy shopping!