I do some version of this gift guide every year, but for those of you who might not know me, I’m married to what you might call a very selective guy. I genuinely admire that Chris is extremely discerning and knows what he wants/likes in just about every scenario (hi, just going to take that as a personal compliment while I’m at it), but it means he’s dang near impossible to shop for.
And it’s made all the more difficult by the fact that, if there is something he’s eager to get, he usually takes the initiative to research the hell out of it…and then buy it for himself.
He’s an engineer, but not at all into gadgets. Athletic, but not loyal to any one team or team sport. And when it comes to his truest passions – mountain biking, cars, “timepieces” (aren’t we fancy!), home bartending – his tastes are so specific that it would be just silly for me to assume I’m privy to anything he wants and doesn’t already have.
Gifts For The Impossible-To-Shop-For Guy (Not A Cheesy Gadget or Sports Team Memento In Sight!)
Since having kiddos, the biggest gift I can give him is just time to pursue those things (hi, again, saaaaame), but I have a sense of pride around giving physical gifts, so I’ve curated an all new list of 12 gifts that are picky-guy-approved. These are all items that Chris has either purchased, himself, in the past year or so – or that he has been truly delighted to receive.
Need more gift-worthy inspo? Don’t forget to swing by our Holiday Gift Ideas page, there’s a lot more where this came from. Happy gifting!
In case you missed it: my original Gift Guide for the Guy Who Already Bought Himself Everything He Wants; 13 More Gifts For the Ultra-Picky Guy; and this Father’s Day Gifts That Truly Don’t Suck post has lots of curated gems that would be suitable for holiday gifting, too.
I have the women’s version of this jacket, so this Men’s 1996 Reto Nuptse is one pick that we can both endorse. We live in an area where a down jacket is a year-round item, and as such, we both have amassed quite a collection. I love this one because the shape and loft feel current (hilarious/amazing, since it’s literally a recreation of the original North Face Nuptse from 1996), and yet there is zero sacrifice to performance. It’s warm, gang – but not stifling when I wear it on days that are just cool, not cold. It’s also water repellent with a stowable hood, the whole thing packs into its pocket for travel, and it’s made from 100% recycled nylon and responsible down. Lotsa color options, too. Honestly, the unicorn of puffer jackets.
2. Pendleton Original Westerley Sweater
Yep, the one from The Big Lebowski. It’s grungy-meets-mountain chic-meets-California-cool-meets-Hallmark movie heartthrob-meets-hot guy who DGAF-meets-hot guy who does GAF…and I love it. (Zappos has the best selection of all three colors, and you better believe there’s a women’s version of the iconic Westerley sweater, too.)
Some time ago (15 years?), J.Crew made a most-excellent duofold henley. It was so comfy yet put together, from date night to the office to lounging at home. Truly an all-purpose top that just looked good. Chris wore it until it was in tatters. I’ve been hunting for a replacement for Chris ever since then, and last year we discovered these Marine Layer Dual Layer Henleys are almost identical, and they’re just as well made with two thin layers that make the henley lay beautifully and, together, are just a bit more insulated than your average henley. This year I’m thinking of nabbing Chris the green. Sizing is true.
Ok, full disclosure, I bought these salt and pepper grinders as a gift to myself last year, but they’re Chris-endorsed. I love the stoneware look (lots of color choices, too), but they’re actually lightweight and easy for even kids to use. I love that you actually invert them to dispense the ground salt and/or pepper from the wooden top because it means they don’t leave a pile of salt and pepper silt on the table. The ceramic grinding mechanism is tops, and they’re super easy to fill with a generous capacity that doesn’t require constant refilling.
Chris’ foray into Vuori was a pair of their supersoft DreamKnit joggers, so obviously he was instantly sold, but I have to say: despite the fact that he now has quite the collection of Ponto Performance Pants – he’s gotten even more use out of these Fleet Joggers.
They’re a super cool performance fabric that has 4-way stretch, dries quickly and honestly just looks great on. Office-appropriate, even, and they’d be perfect for the golf course (or so I’ve been told – we’re not golfers…yet). There’s a proper waistband and fly, which would seem to plant them firmly in Real Pants Territory, but Chris also insists that they’re extremely comfortable to wear. He’s got the Cocoa color, which is the perfect chalky brown. Thinking of nabbing him the Dark Oregano just to change things up.
I’ve talked about these Vans SK8-Hi MTE-2 Boots before. Chris had almost this exact pair for years and wore them for everything from the office to walks around the neighborhood to muddy trails to the icy, sludgy parking lots of Tahoe ski resorts in winter. I’m so excited Vans brought back almost the same exact styling for this version, with metal speed-lace D-rings (the epitome of form and function) and a super classic colorway that has major vintage appeal. From a performance standpoint, they’re incredibly well-insulated while keeping feet from overheating, and the traction can’t be beat.
Chris and I are actually not particularly into all things truffle. (I know it’s random, but some truffle flavored things honestly taste a little like, um, a nail salon, to me.) That said, the savory, aromatic truffle flavor of Truff’s signature hot sauce is nuanced and restrained, elevating anything you add it to — eggs, potatoes, steak, you name it. This Truff Starter Pack also includes their truffle salt and truffle oils, which are fun for finishing just about any dish, too. We use the salt to dress up freezer fries and sliced ribeye, and I’ve even drizzled a bit of the oil over mac n’ cheese.
This gift was also a hit with my father-in-law last year, who is just as discerning as his son. It’s easily the best and only pizza cutter you need. No more dragging hot toppings through your pizza with a wheel, or finding a place to safely store that clunky cutter. This one is kid-safe and makes quick work of cutting pizzas, quesadillas – even brownies and rice krispie treats (spray a little oil on it first). And it stores flat wherever you keep your cutting boards or baking sheets.
We’ve been building out our home bar for the past few years now, and I researched the heck out of the best all-purpose coupe glasses for serving cocktails straight up. These Nude Savage Coupe Glasses were designed in collaboration with bartender Remy Savage and Nude Glass, which is known for exceptionally clear, lead-free crystal glass that’s also durable. They offered me everything I was looking for: the right size (some coupe glasses intended for sparkling wines are much too large for cocktails); a super minimal coupe design, the promise of being dishwasher safe (!!) and a giftable (but not exorbitant) price-point. They’ve been an excellent addition to our bar.
My mom gifted this Patagonia 55L Duffle to Chris a couple of years ago, and it’s been the perfect bag for when you don’t want a true blue piece of rolling luggage. (For some reason, Chris almost always prefers to reach for a duffel over a hardsided carry-on — maybe leftover from his duffle-heavy hockey and bike racing days?). It’s durable and wipes clean easily, and, if you’re a strategically minimal packer, like my husband, it can cover you for anything from a long weekend to a week on the road. There’s a colorway for every taste, too. And the price feels very fair for the quality.
I know, this isn’t a gift guide for me, but the organizing capabilities of this smart Dagne Dover Large Toiletry Bag have me swoooooning. There’s a little pocket or strap or pouch for everything. In classic neoprene or an airy mesh that would be ideal for packing that still-damp bath pouf home from vacation. I like the Dark Moss, but I think Chris would be into the desert-y mauve vibes of the Dune hue.
Chris fell in love with this shower gel at a hotel on a work trip (I know, we should all have it so rough) and it’s been on my Christmas list for him ever since. This Le Labo Shower Gel in Basil has me intrigued, but we love Le Labo’s Hinoki scent, too. Lotsa luxe lather, too. Definitely gift-worthy.
If you’ve got a similar guy in your life, here’s hoping one of these items lightens your burden this gifting season. Godspeed!
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