As you may have guessed, this is more or less a gift guide for my husband, Chris. And I suppose I should clarify: it’s not that he buys himself a ton of stuff, all willy nilly. It’s that he’s a bit more of a minimalist than I am — and extremely particular about what he likes. So when he realizes he has the need for something, he researches the heck out of it, and then he buys it. Done. He’s not baited by promos or sales. He’s not particularly trendy. And he despises the accumulation of extra stuff.
And then there’s me. I take pride in giving Really. Freaking. Good. Gifts. No Starbucks gift cards here, friends. (OK, well, for my step-dad, yes, but only because he requests them, I swear.) So imagine the challenge I face attempting to buy gifts for a partner who not only doesn’t need anything, but also doesn’t particularly want anything new.
Thoughtful Gifts For Men Who *Think* They Have Everything
The result? This super tightly curated list of gifts that Chris never even knew he needed. (And actually, a few of these are things he already has, so I know they pass the test.) Mostly practical. Thoughtfully designed. (Did I mention he’s an engineer?) A little bit nerdy. And not a bit of junk.
Pssst…When you’re done here, head to our page of holiday gift guides for more seriously cool gift ideas for all your loved ones (or whoever).
1) Packable Backpack // This surprisingly spacious daypack packs down to something like the size of a CD jewel case (remember those?) — perfect for travel, stashing in the glove box for unexpected adventuring, camping, backpacking. You name it. The perfect price point for a stocking stuffer and LOADS of colors.
2) Walkie Talkies // If I’ve learned anything from post-apocalyptic young adult novels, it’s that my cell phone isn’t going to mean diddly in a dystopian future. And really, here in the land of earthquakes, power outages and rural internet, backup connectivity is pretty key. These aren’t the most high-end walkie talkies on the market, but after a fair bit of research, they do what they claim to do really well for a reasonable price (and also allow you to scan up to 10 weather channels to monitor severe weather alerts). He’ll keep ’em in the Earthquake pack if nothing else.
3) LEGO Technic Porche 911 // Chris will always have a soft spot for LEGOs (we both had impressive collections that we’ve since passed down to Lana), and this is something he’d totally geek out over but never buy himself. Bonus points for the fact that he’d love involving Lana in the build. And if he didn’t want it cluttering up the house upon completion, it’d be perfectly at home in his design studio at work.
4) Pendleton Water Repellent Cotton Hooded Jacket // I stumbled across this jacket while looking for the ladies’ equivalent for myself: a raincoat that doesn’t necessarily look like a raincoat. We both have anoraks, ski jackets and high-end waterproof performance apparel, but sometimes you just want to stay dry without looking particularly outdoorsy. This would be the perfect topper over Chris’ generally biz-casual work wardrobe — and a stylish piece to grab for foggy strolls on the coast, too.
5) Hydroflask Wine Tumbler // Speaking of strolls on the coast, love the idea of this wine tumbler for evening walks to see the sunset, trick o’ treating, caroling, dropping into a block party or just keeping our chardonnay chilled on beach days. Basically we have a lot of opportunities to walk around the neighborhood with booze in hand, and this is for that. Amazon link here. (Also available as a mug (Amazon) when coffee or tea is more appropriate.)
6) Nisolo Waxed Leather Boot // Chris already has one pair of Nisolo boots, and he loves them. I love everything the brand is doing in terms of fair wages and transparency, and the quality can’t be beat. The waxed leather makes these weatherproof, and the Vibram sole means they’d take a serious beating, and yet they still look cool enough for the office. Definitely the perfect multi-tasking shoe for big city living or logging major miles traveling.
7) Aesop Hand Wash // Admittedly a little (a lot) spendy for a bottle of hand soap, which is why it makes such a lovely gift. Both scents smell incredible — fresh and slightly masculine and not at all cologne-y — and the finely milled pumice suspended in the soap makes for a mini spa treatment every time you wash your hands. (Would be a fun housewarming gift, too, with a cool set of hand towels. We have these and are asked about them by literally everyone who uses the powder room. SO SOFT.)
8) nest Thermostat Temperature Sensors // These have to be used in conjunction with a nest Thermostat, but they essentially allow you to register the temperature for multiple rooms in your house and then set the thermostat to respond accordingly. (Lana’s room runs warm, for example, so in the evening we have the thermostat set to use her sensor so it doesn’t waste time and energy warming up the rest of the house and overheating her room in the process.) Nerdy, practical and cool. Perfect.
9) The North Face Rolling Luggage // I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: this is the best piece of luggage I have personally owned. I’ve had it for something like 10 years, it’s been all over the world, and it’s not suffered in the least. There’s nothing fancy about it, but it wipes clean, rolls like a gem, stows easily, resists water — and its cavernous single main compartment, which initially feels like a bit of a shortcoming, is brilliant in its simplicity. (Packing cubes to the rescue if you’re craving more organization.)
10) Blunt Metro Umbrella // Just a really, really well-designed and executed umbrella that’s been tested for up to 55 mph winds and comes in plenty of tasteful colors. Bought one for Chris last year, and he agrees it’s the perfect gift. We now have one in each car. (Also at Nordstrom.)
11) Pendleton Washable Wool Blanket // A luxe *washable* wool blanket that would be campy and classic over the end of a bed, but I love it even more for stashing in the car for road trips, unexpected picnic stops, beach trips, camping, impromptu star-gazing (before kids this was a thing, I swear…) — you get it. And it’s currently on sale for 50% off through December 23rd. Easy.
12) Kiehl’s Men’s Heavy Lifters Gift Set // All the men in our family have become diehard Kiehl’s fans, and this Heavy Lifters Gift Set has a few of the anti-aging favorites Chris has yet to try. Total no-brainer.
13) Hand Out Pro Ski Glove // The premise of these gloves makes so much sense — they unzip so you can free your fingers for full dexterity, as needed, without having to actually remove your glove. Anyone who’s ever tried to check their phone on a ski lift while tucking one glove under their arm and then getting said glove back on and appropriately cinched and tucked before the bar goes up can appreciate the genius of this design.
14) Benchmade Pocket Knife // This exact knife was one of the gifts I gave Chris for our first Christmas together, and he still uses it all the time. It’s invaluable when camping, but it also comes with us on all sorts of daily adventures, just in case. (It’s also opened hundreds of Amazon boxes over the years.) A good, mid-priced blade from a super-reputable manufacturer that stands the test of time.
15) Levi’s 511 Slim Jeans // I’ve written about it before, but 90% of the pants in Chris’ closet are Levis 511s. Between a skinny and a straight, they are literally the perfect cut for his build. (For reference, he’s 6’2″ with a slim-to-athletic frame.) These are Japanese selvedge denim, which makes them extra special and, thus, gift-worthy — but he loves his 511s enough that I’ve linked up a whole bunch of other cool styles and washes in their own shoppable section, below.
16) Nisolo Waxed Canvas Weekender // A weekender is such an easy piece of luggage — it doesn’t feel as formal to pack up as rollie, and lugging one around somehow looks…cool. This one from Nisolo (told you I’m loving the brand) is super-classic in its styling, and it’s made from waxed canvas, which is nice departure from leather but no less durable.
Shop All Chris’ Favorite Levi’s 511 Styles
As I’ve mentioned before, Chris loves his 511’s, so I’m linking up some favorites below. If you need anything longer than a 32″ inseam, your best bet for selection is most likely the Levi’s website, where you can sort by the style (this link will take you to the 511’s) and then by size and inseam. (And right now they’re 30% off with code WRAPPEDUP.) This fit must be one of their most popular, because there are so many washes and fabrics to choose from. (Nordstrom also has a pretty good selection, but it’s harder to come by the longer inseams.)
Shop All My Favorite Gifts For Men Who Have
I’m always looking for ideas to add to this list, so if you have hole-in-one gifts for your, uhhhh, particularly particular partners or friends, I’d love to hear.
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