Put This On’s Holiday Gift Guide 2013

Every year we hear from the brothers, parents, wives, girlfriends and best pals of fashionable gentlemen. They ask us: what should I get my guy for Christmas? Well, we’ve got a holiday guide for you. Our goals: convenience, timelessness, and near-universal applicability.

Below are our picks. We’d also love it if you checked out the offerings of our beloved advertisers, not to mention our own goods. We offer hand-made pocket squares, by the piece or in subscriptions, and we’ve still got a few of our American-made baseball caps left. And if all of that isn’t enough, check out our 2011 and 2012 guides for more ideas. Again: timeless.

But for now… to the gifts!


image


An Antique Stickpin

Lately, I’ve taken to occasionally adorning my lapel buttonhole with a small stickpin. Men don’t get much chance to wear jewelry, and as long as the pin is muted in design and small in size, this is a nice way to do it. Jewelry, of course, is a wonderful gift, and you can find a fine stickpin for as little as a hundred dollars or so, or a costumier one for twenty. Even superb Edwardian and Victorian examples like the one above rarely go for more than a few hundred. An eBay search will reveal the possibilities. - Jesse


image


Artist / Rebel / Dandy: Men of Fashion

I’ve been sitting with this big beautiful book, the companion to RISD Museum’s exhibition of the same name, and really enjoying it. There are some scholarly articles (a bit obtuse), some dandy profiles (often charming, occasionally a bit hagiographic) and a lot of amazing, spectacular pictures. A perfect gift, whether your giftee is an artist, a rebel, a dandy - or just wants to imagine himself as one. - Jesse


image


Hilditch & Key Pyjamas

If you’re writing about British sleepwear, you get to spell it with a “y,” right? Hilditch & Key is one of England’s most respected shirtmakers, and in addition to shirts, they sell PJs. Flannel, twill or broadcloth, they’ve got it all, and on sale they’re quite reasonably priced, though delivery to the U.S. isn’t cheap. They even have long nightshirts, if that’s your thing. - Jesse


image


Merz B. Schwanen Socks

It’s rare that I fall in love with a product based on a picture on the internet, but when I saw these Merz B. Schwanen socks on Where Is The Cool, I found myself leaping to the search field on my browser and tracking down European websites from which I might buy them. They’re not cheap, but they’re beautiful. If you prefer a more affordable alternative, try Wigwam. - Jesse


image


Cedar For The Closet

If you’re looking for a stocking stuffer, why not some cedar for closets and underwear drawers? Sierra Trading Post has Great American Hanger Company’s hangers, rings, balls and sachets for less than five bucks, before you even apply one of their ubiquitous coupons. A bit of cedar oil can keep the wood fragrant for years. - Jesse


image


Vintage Deadstock French Work Jacket

The classic French worker’s jacket is cotton with a plain buttoned front. It’s been made famous in the US by the photographer Bill Cunningham. The French vintage shop Le Magasin General has them for 35 Euros - about fifty bucks. - Jesse


image


Les McCann & Eddie Harris: Swiss Movement

There are few records that can be relied upon in any company, in any context. Swiss Movement is one of them. One of jazz’s greatest LPs, it’s lively, fun and beautiful. It doesn’t require a degree in jazz studies to enjoy, but you can listen to it over and over again and get something new every time (trust me - I have). A perfect album for your giftee’s morning dress routing, or their evening cocktail parties. - Jesse


image


Gordy’s Camera Straps

I needed a strap for my camera - something better than the hideous nylon-and-plastic monstrosity that came with it. I turned to Gordy’s Camera Straps, and I couldn’t have been happier with the result. They allow you to customize leather color, length, binding color, attachment and everything else. The quality was superb and the price is excellent (about thirty bucks). The perfect gift for a photographer on your list. - Jesse


image


A Kiva Gift Card

Kiva is an NGO which specializes in third-world microlending. They offer small loans to poor people who otherwise would lack access to capital. The loans are low-interest, but are repayable, like any other, and the impressively high repayment rate makes an investment in Kiva a great way to make an impact on third-world poverty. They offer gift cards in any amount, and your giftee can reinvest his gift (and see it repaid) again and again. (Thanks, A.M.) - Jesse


image


Knit Cap

Winter accessories are easy Christmas gifts; the only problem is you the recipient gets them halfway through the cold-weather season. A distinctive cap that will last a few years is the best choice. I’d love a Buzz Rickson replica WWII watch cap or a Scotland-made striped or fair isle cap from J. Press; for the budget-minded there’s the always reliable but essentially disposable surplus wool caps. - Pete


image

Matt Zoller Seitz’s The Wes Anderson Collection
A fastidious and carefully orchestrated discussion and illustration of Wes Anderson’s fastidious and carefully orchestrated films. With full-bleed, colorful film stills and illustrations, this is not a candidate for your Kindle. The art complements accompanying essays and a long interview with Anderson by Zoller Seitz, TV critic for New York Magazine. Say what you want about his films, but Wes Anderson is maybe our culture’s best argument for corduroy suits and Wallabees. - Pete

image


Brady Ariel Trout Bag with Liner

English maker Brady’s flagship fishing bag is fantastic for carrying fly fishing tackle or camera equipment, but because of the generous size and removable, rubberized liner, it’s also supposed to make a great diaper bag. As a soon-to-be dad to twins, I think I’ll need two. - Pete


image


Subscription to a Magazine He Probably Can’t Read

Maybe Men’s Non-no, Huge, Free & Easy, and Popeye are as shallow and disappointingly ad-driven as most American men’s magazines, but I can’t read Japanese so I’ll never know. You can buy Japanese men’s magazines one issue at a time at places like Kinokuniya, and subscriptions through services like Acclaim.  A 12-month, 12-issue subscription to Popeye is around $200, but it’s exactly the kind of gift I like—something that defies practicality. - Pete


image


Good Coffee

I recently moved into a new apartment and it turns out my landlord is a famous coffee expert. His website, Coffee Review, has a page dedicated to exceptionally good roasts. I imagine any of those would make for a great gift for a coffee lover. (Note, I’m not getting anything by plugging my landlord’s website, I just think it’s a good resource). - Derek


image


Shoe Care Box

A nice box to hold shoe care supplies would be great for anyone who’s fastidious about their footwear. I listed some options here a couple of years ago, but just picked up this from Gerstner recently. They’re a bit more expensive, but exceptionally well made and, perhaps most importantly, big enough to hold all the shoe care supplies one might own. They also have nice cases for other types of enthusiasts and hobbyists. - Derek


image


O’Connell’s Shetland Sweaters

I really fell in love with O’Connell’s Shetland sweaters this year. They’re the best Shetlands I’ve come across - dense enough to be hardy, but not so dense that they’re bulky. I recommend going one up from your giftee’s sport coat size. Note, the colors on O’Connell’s website are a bit washed out, so I took some photos of my Shetlands here for reference. - Derek


image


A Nice Fragrance

If you want to give a fragrance, it would be hard to go wrong with Creed’s Green Irish Tweed or L’Artisan Parfumeur’s Timbuktu (both of which we’ve recommended in the past). I also really like Penhaligon’s Blenheim Bouquet and Terre d’Hermes by Hermes. All four would be good, but safe, bets. - Derek


image


Leather Laptop Sleeve

Most laptop cases are a bit of an eyesore, which is why it’s nice to see simple leather designs from companies such as Berg & Berg, Kaufmann Mercantile, and Calabrese. These would be well appreciated by anyone who puts thought into how they dress - regardless if they like to wear sport coats and ties, or something more causal such as field jackets with chinos. - Derek  


image


Framed Photograph

For family members and close friends, consider giving a simple, framed photograph of you and your giftee, perhaps taken in the past year. You can find nice frames at Tiffany & Co. and Ralph Lauren, or more affordably at Target and Michaels. This past Thanksgiving, a friend of mine pulled out a photo I gifted him fifteen years ago. These kind of things really do become more special with age. - Derek

The Put This On Holiday Gift Guide, 2nd Edition

image

Our second holiday gift guide is here to help you find some useful and unique items for those on your shopping list this year. We’ve each picked some of our favorites and hope this will help you find the right gift and have it arrive in time to be wrapped and under the tree. And be sure to check out last year’s gift guide

+++++

Jesse’s picks:

image

Ebbets Field Flannels outerwear: I love vintage athletic gear. Some of it (Larry Bird shorts) won’t work on the street, but some of it will. Ebbets Field Flannels makes some really cool jackets - I especially love their groundskeeper jackets and satin windbreakers. This one’s for the San Francisco Seals, my hometown club. It’s $85 at Ebbets.com.

image

Complete World Knowledge box set, by John Hodgman: You might know John Hodgman from The Daily Show, or the Mac v. PC commercials, or even from the Judge John Hodgman podcast. He’s a brilliant performer in all of those venues, but first and foremost, he is a writer. This box set contains the three books, which themselves contain All World Knowledge. From hobo names to Ragnarok. These books are brilliantly funny and surprisingly wise, just like John.

image

Vintage cufflinks: Cufflinks are a classic gentleman’s gift. This year, give a vintage pair. Something special. You can find wonderful links at any price range - get gold and diamonds for a few thousand bucks or gilt and enamel for ten. Our link points to links on eBay described as “Deco,” but you can try “Edwardian” or “art nouveau” or “guilloche” or whatever you like. Our preference, as you might know, is for double-sided links, rather than the toggle variety. Your local estate jeweler will have something, as well — and online dealers like those on 1sdibs will, too.

image

Mitchell’s Wool Fat Shaving Soap: It’s more than just a charming name. I’ve been using mine since my brother-in-law gave it to me for Christmas last year, and I absolutely love it. It smells only, well, “soapy,” and it leaves my skin softer than after I shave than it was before. I’ve maybe used a third of my puck in a year of shaving - this refill will last a long time.

image

Tonx & Aeropress: I don’t drink coffee, but my wife is a coffee snob of the absolute highest order. A former barista at a high-end coffee place, she’s fanatical about her coffee and will accept nothing less than the best. She enjoys cold-brewed and drip coffee from time to time, but she’s totally crazy about her AeroPress. It’s a weird little plastic plunger thingy that she swears makes the best coffee on earth. Everyone I know who has one can’t believe how amazing it is. She feels the same way about Tonx, a coffee subscription service that sends high-end beans to our home. The combination (along with a conical burr grinder) puts her in caffeine heaven.

image

Drake’s of London accessories: There’s no brand in the world that I’m more consistently impressed by than Drake’s, who make unsurpassably beautiful men’s accessories. You really can’t go wrong with any of their products, but I’ve chosen one of their ancient madder ties. My wife knows that she has carte blanche to buy me anything from Drake’s - I know it will be good.

+++++

Derek’s picks:

image

Bottle of good wine or Scotch: Sometimes you don’t know someone that well, but still have to get them a gift. In such cases, I can’t think of anything better than a bottle of good wine or Scotch (unless they’re underage, in which case anything would be better than a bottle of good wine or Scotch). Oban and Talisker are easy to like, in my opinion.   

image

L’Artisan Parfumeur’s Timbuktu: I only wear cologne once or twice a week, but when I do, the one I reach for the most is L’Artisan Parfumeur’s Timbuktu. It’s officially described as smelling like “pink pepper, karo karounde, and vetiver,” but for the lay, I would describe it as very masculine, woody, and somewhat reminiscent of incense. A bit more original than the aqua-smelling stuff most people wear. 

image

A pet: Check first to see if your recipient is up for the big responsibility of taking care of a pet, but if they are, I can’t think of a gift that would bring more happiness in the coming years than a dog or a cat. Adopt one from a local animal shelter, which we all know are brimming with unwanted animals, or try using an online service such as Petfinder

image

A nice briefcase: If you know someone starting off on a new career, consider getting them a nice briefcase. I use this one from Lotuff and Clegg, but since buying it, the company has split up. Lotuff Leathers still carries the model, but the craftsman who used to make all of Lotuff and Clegg’s bags is now working under Frank Clegg Leatherworks. Both companies’ products are very expensive, but I will say I really enjoy my purchase. If you want something more affordable, consider Filson’s satchel, Saddleback Leathers, Custom Hide, and the selection at Brooks Brothers. If your recipient can get away with a more casual bag, I also really like Filson’s 70256 and 70257, which are on sale right now through Joe’s Sporting Goods and Vermont Gear

image

Chester Mox wallet: I’m a big fan of Chester Mox’s wallets. This year, they started using Ilcea’s antique calf (on their website it’s listed under “antique Italian calf”), which is this incredibly beautiful, slightly mottled leather that’s also used by companies such as John Lobb. Everything 100% handmade in Los Angeles and made-to-order, so if you want a particular leather used for a different model, you can email them for a price quote. In addition, they can laser etch a monogram for $10, which might be a nice way to personalize your gift. Consider the passport wallet for a frequent traveler, or a slim card case for someone who wears suits or sport coats often.

+++++

Kiyoshi’s picks:

image

Cashmere socks: A few years ago, I wouldn’t have bought into the idea of luxury socks. Then I bought a pair of wool, over-the-calf socks from Pantherella and changed my mind after trying them on for a day. There’s been no looking back, and looking forward I’d love to try pairs in cashmere. Most places only sell mid-calf cashmere socks, but you can find over-the-calf versions from Kabbaz-Kelly & Sons from makers Marcoliani and Bresciani. If you’re unsure of what color to buy for someone, navy or charcoal-grey will probably compliment the majority of their wardrobe. 

image

Monogrammed necktie from Vanda Fine Clothing: With enough time, everyone finds their preferred neckwear maker and mine is Vanda Fine Clothing. I love the hand-rolled edges, untipped blades, six-fold construction and that most of their ties have no lining. Giving a necktie as a gift is a safe idea in most cases, but you can add a touch of personalization through Vanda’s hand-sewn monogramming service to make it truly unique. 

image

A good chef’s knife: If the person on your gift list cooks, but doesn’t have a high-quality chef’s knife in their kitchen, then this makes a great gift that they’ll use for a lifetime. I received my chef’s knife as a gift almost five years ago and it immediately made it easier to cook when it came to preparation — the sharper the knife, the safer and faster you are while making food. My recommendation comes from my experience with the Wusthof Classic Ikon 8” chef knife. I prefer the Ikon, Classic Ikon and Blackwood Ikon lines, just because I feel their handles fit more naturally in the hand. 

image

Corter Leather Bottlehook keychain: For years I carried my keys (all four of them) on a single twist-tie. I liked the simplicity and didn’t like the idea of wearing an obnoxious keychain. The Bootlehook, however, adds functionality while also having a one-piece, no-moving-parts way to keep your keys on your beltloop. I’ve been carrying it for about a month now since buying it directly at NorthenGRADE and the change has been good. It’s a very well-designed item and comes in copper, pewter, red, black and two types of camouflage

image

A cedar chest: For my birthday, my parents gave me a cedar chest, which my father hand-finished himself. I wasn’t initially sure what I’d use it for, but I use it now to store sweaters and scarves. It looks much nicer than the plastic storage containers I used before and I know it’ll be in use for years — hopefully decades — to come. Buying something like this online offers a lot of options, but I really liked what I saw at Graham Woodworking, which offers a simple design and several sizes, ranging in price from $180 to $500. 

image

The Complete Calvin & Hobbes, by Bill Watterson: Personally, I love boxed sets of all sorts, but I wasn’t sure how universally appealing some of them would be to a wider audience. But the comic strip Calvin & Hobbes made me laugh as a kid, and when I read it now I’m picking up on things that I totally missed back then. The artwork is fun (especially the full-color Sunday strips) and the writing is a joy to read. Newcomers and long-time fans will definitely find these comics a fun way to spend an afternoon. 

The Put This On Holiday Gift Guide
Christmas is only a few weeks away and you have perhaps a week to  order things online if you want them delivered on time. As such, we here at Put This On thought we’d put together a holiday gift guide, full of suggestions of things we’d like this year we think would make for wonderful gifts this Christmas. Hopefully you’ll find something you like or can use for inspiration.
Jesse’s picks:

Gentlemen: A Timeless Guide to Fashion by B. Roetzel: Roetzel’s    book is translated from German, so the prose is sometimes a little    inelegant, but it’s a deep wealth of information on everything from how    to dress to where styles originate to brands to everything else   important  to a PTO reader. And it’s a beautiful book, too. 

Beckel canvas duffle:This    is what a canvas duffle should be: well-made, reasonably priced,   simply  and handsomely designed. Beckel makes all their stuff in   Portland from  genuinely heavy-duty materials. I bought one of these for   my teenage  brother-in-law last year, and he says it’s one of his   favorite  possessions. 

Kent Wang cufflinks: Cuff    links were the start of Kent Wang’s clothing empire, and he still   makes  perfect, simple, affordable pieces. These knots will never be out   of  place, and will last a lifetime. And despite the run-up in metal   costs,  they’re only $45.

Land’s End leather gloves: Gloves    are the kind of basic that Lands’ End does well. These won’t match  the   quality of the $300 pair you buy from England, but they’re superb  for   their $45 price. 

Louise Irvine Shetland sweater: A    thousand companies are making knock-offs of this sweater. These folks    make them the old-fashioned way: old ladies with knitting needles. If  I   told you which fancy brands buy from them and re-tag, or   what  they charged, you’d be shocked. These are genuine heirloom knits. 

Drake’s cardigan: This is the sweater I want to be buried in.  

Creed Green Irish Tweed cologne: If    you’re looking for a scent, look no further than this one. It’s    laughably expensive, but that’s the point of giving a scent, right?    Weirdly, it is much cheaper from Walgreens.com. 

Sam Hober navy grenadine tie: The    navy grenadine is the most useful tie you can own. For $80, Sam Hober    will make one to your specifications. Just be sure to let them know   it’s  a Christmas gift, so they get it to you in time. 

Fisher Space Pen: THEY’RE FROM SPACE! (Also wonderful pens.) 

Obenauf’s Heavy Duty Leather Preservative: When    it comes to caring for boots and other shoes-you-don’t-polish,    Obenauf’s LP is the gold standard. And it smells like honey, too. 

Abbeyhorn shoehorn: A real horn shoehorn is a pleasure the recipient can appreciate every day. 

Howard Yount umbrellas: If    you live in a rainy part of the world, and the gift receiver is the    kind of person who’s careful with their things, there’s no better gift    than a beautiful umbrella. Like most things at Howard Yount, you can  get   a luxury-quality product for about half the price - these guys  have   solid wood shafts and beautifully colored canopies. 

Mocc socks: A five-pack of Mocc Sock & Co’s loafer socks will get your loved one prepped for springtime bare-ankled-ness. 

Wool knit hats: They cost $6. They go with anything. As long as it’s cold.
Derek’s picks:

Shaving set: A handsome shaving set looks nice on the counter and is a pleasure to use.    

Geo F. Trumper’s sampler pack: Geo    F. Trumper sells wonderful soaps, shaving creams, and colognes. Since  different men prefer different scents, I suggest picking up the sampler  pack as a stocking stuffer. I also really like Santa Maria Novella, but you’ll only be able to buy full sized items. 

Johnstons of Elgin blanket: I recently bought a Johnstons of Elgin shetland blanket and surprisingly liked it more than my Pendleton. Half the price too. 

Imperial Porcelain tea or coffee sets: The    Imperial Porcelain Factory was set up in 1744 to produce handpainted    ceramic products for the ruling family in Russia. I’ve had a chance to    see these, and trust me - they’re incredible. If you know someone who    likes to drink tea or coffee, I think these would make for great  gifts.

O’Mast DVD: Anyone who loves tailored clothing or classic men’s style is sure to appreciate this DVD. 

Shoe care kit: A high-quality shoe care kit would be the  perfect gift for a shoe enthusiast. This one at A Suitable Wardrobe is  my favorite, but for more affordable options, check my earlier guide here. 

Smartwool long underwear: If     you live in a cold climate, you need good long johns. Smartwool  makes    some of the best. They’re well constructed and made of wool,  which   means  they’ll keep you warm, but won’t leave you sweaty and  damp.

Smythson “Bright Ideas” notebook: I like to give my friends a good ribbing. This seems like it would be good for a laugh, but also be useful. 

Mother of Pearl pocket knife: A mother of pearl pocket knife is an artful knife of distinction. It’s not made for hard outdoor  use, but it’s a beautifully elegant thing to have. Just remember to  make the recipient pay you a penny, as gifting a knife brings bad  luck and severes a relationship. 

Tiffany’s money clip: I  actually find money clips to be a bit cumbersome to use, but I like  the way they look. Tiffany has some very simple, classic models as well  some more interesting, “organic” designs by Elsa Peretti. 

Draper of Glastonbury house slippers: Few   men would buy a pair of nice house slippers, but few men wouldn’t  enjoy  them. I recommend Draper of  Glastonbury. They’re available  through their site or slightly cheaper at  Pediwear.

Handwritten letter: A the risk of sounding overly sentimental, I think one of the best  gifts you can give someone is a heartfelt, handwritten letter. Tell them  all the things you wanted to tell them throughout the year. Or collect  stories from family and friends and have them share their favorite memories of that  person. Include a few photos, either from the year or of you wishing  them a Merry Christmas. These are the things I enjoy giving and  receiving the most, not expensive, fancy objects. Though, that’s not to  say I wouldn’t enjoy wearing that Drake’s cardigan while reading a multi-page, handwritten letter either … just sayin’.

The Put This On Holiday Gift Guide

Christmas is only a few weeks away and you have perhaps a week to order things online if you want them delivered on time. As such, we here at Put This On thought we’d put together a holiday gift guide, full of suggestions of things we’d like this year we think would make for wonderful gifts this Christmas. Hopefully you’ll find something you like or can use for inspiration.

Jesse’s picks:


  • Gentlemen: A Timeless Guide to Fashion by B. Roetzel: Roetzel’s book is translated from German, so the prose is sometimes a little inelegant, but it’s a deep wealth of information on everything from how to dress to where styles originate to brands to everything else important to a PTO reader. And it’s a beautiful book, too.

  • Beckel canvas duffle:This is what a canvas duffle should be: well-made, reasonably priced, simply and handsomely designed. Beckel makes all their stuff in Portland from genuinely heavy-duty materials. I bought one of these for my teenage brother-in-law last year, and he says it’s one of his favorite possessions.

  • Kent Wang cufflinks: Cuff links were the start of Kent Wang’s clothing empire, and he still makes perfect, simple, affordable pieces. These knots will never be out of place, and will last a lifetime. And despite the run-up in metal costs, they’re only $45.

  • Land’s End leather gloves: Gloves are the kind of basic that Lands’ End does well. These won’t match the quality of the $300 pair you buy from England, but they’re superb for their $45 price.

  • Louise Irvine Shetland sweater: A thousand companies are making knock-offs of this sweater. These folks make them the old-fashioned way: old ladies with knitting needles. If I told you which fancy brands buy from them and re-tag, or what they charged, you’d be shocked. These are genuine heirloom knits.

  • Creed Green Irish Tweed cologne: If you’re looking for a scent, look no further than this one. It’s laughably expensive, but that’s the point of giving a scent, right? Weirdly, it is much cheaper from Walgreens.com.

  • Sam Hober navy grenadine tie: The navy grenadine is the most useful tie you can own. For $80, Sam Hober will make one to your specifications. Just be sure to let them know it’s a Christmas gift, so they get it to you in time.

  • Abbeyhorn shoehorn: A real horn shoehorn is a pleasure the recipient can appreciate every day.

  • Howard Yount umbrellas: If you live in a rainy part of the world, and the gift receiver is the kind of person who’s careful with their things, there’s no better gift than a beautiful umbrella. Like most things at Howard Yount, you can get a luxury-quality product for about half the price - these guys have solid wood shafts and beautifully colored canopies.

  • Mocc socks: A five-pack of Mocc Sock & Co’s loafer socks will get your loved one prepped for springtime bare-ankled-ness.

  • Wool knit hats: They cost $6. They go with anything. As long as it’s cold.

Derek’s picks:


  • Shaving set: A handsome shaving set looks nice on the counter and is a pleasure to use.   

  • Geo F. Trumper’s sampler pack: Geo F. Trumper sells wonderful soaps, shaving creams, and colognes. Since different men prefer different scents, I suggest picking up the sampler pack as a stocking stuffer. I also really like Santa Maria Novella, but you’ll only be able to buy full sized items.

  • Johnstons of Elgin blanket: I recently bought a Johnstons of Elgin shetland blanket and surprisingly liked it more than my Pendleton. Half the price too.

  • Imperial Porcelain tea or coffee sets: The Imperial Porcelain Factory was set up in 1744 to produce handpainted ceramic products for the ruling family in Russia. I’ve had a chance to see these, and trust me - they’re incredible. If you know someone who likes to drink tea or coffee, I think these would make for great gifts.

  • O’Mast DVD: Anyone who loves tailored clothing or classic men’s style is sure to appreciate this DVD.

  • Shoe care kit: A high-quality shoe care kit would be the perfect gift for a shoe enthusiast. This one at A Suitable Wardrobe is my favorite, but for more affordable options, check my earlier guide here.

  • Smartwool long underwear: If you live in a cold climate, you need good long johns. Smartwool makes some of the best. They’re well constructed and made of wool, which means they’ll keep you warm, but won’t leave you sweaty and damp.

  • Mother of Pearl pocket knife: A mother of pearl pocket knife is an artful knife of distinction. It’s not made for hard outdoor use, but it’s a beautifully elegant thing to have. Just remember to make the recipient pay you a penny, as gifting a knife brings bad luck and severes a relationship.

  • Tiffany’s money clip: I actually find money clips to be a bit cumbersome to use, but I like the way they look. Tiffany has some very simple, classic models as well some more interesting, “organic” designs by Elsa Peretti.

  • Draper of Glastonbury house slippers: Few men would buy a pair of nice house slippers, but few men wouldn’t enjoy them. I recommend Draper of Glastonbury. They’re available through their site or slightly cheaper at Pediwear.

  • Handwritten letter: A the risk of sounding overly sentimental, I think one of the best gifts you can give someone is a heartfelt, handwritten letter. Tell them all the things you wanted to tell them throughout the year. Or collect stories from family and friends and have them share their favorite memories of that person. Include a few photos, either from the year or of you wishing them a Merry Christmas. These are the things I enjoy giving and receiving the most, not expensive, fancy objects. Though, that’s not to say I wouldn’t enjoy wearing that Drake’s cardigan while reading a multi-page, handwritten letter either … just sayin’.
Q and Answer: The Law School Gift
Claire writes: My little brother is graduating from law school next month  and I’d like to get him something practical to commemorate the occasion  and show him how proud I am of him, but I’m not sure what would be a  good option.  I bought him a Jack Spade bag once for Christmas which he  promptly returned (to my chagrin) and he has the handwriting of a  4th-grade serial killer, so the ol’ engraved Cross pen is probably out  too. Do you have any classic suggestions other than good old cashola?  My budget is about $200.
For an occasion as important as this, and a relationship as close as brother and sister, you want a gift that is classic and will last.  For men, the usual suspects are pens, watches, bags or jewelry.
Watches are out - $200 can certainly buy a wearable watch, but not one so nice you’d want to have it for the rest of your life.  I think the low end for that sort of watch, even vintage, is three or four hundred dollars.
Bags are out, too.  For one thing, you already struck out once in this department, and for another thing, the kind of bag you’d want to give would likely cost more than $200.  You’d probably want to give him a briefcase, given the nature of the occasion, and something wonderful that would last him his career would cost more than your budget allows.  (When my wife graduated from law school, I got her a briefcase.  And other, more romantic stuff.)
You’ve removed pens from the list, as well.  You could find a wonderful pen for that amount of money, but if he isn’t going to use it, then it isn’t worth buying.
That leaves jewelry, which for men means cuff links.  Here, there are many wonderful options.  I’d suggest heading to the vintage fine jewelry section of eBay and looking at the cufflinks therein.  You’ll want something simple, that is clearly not a novelty piece.  I’d say you should go for solid gold or silver; that budget will accommodate precious metal.

Q and Answer: The Law School Gift

Claire writes: My little brother is graduating from law school next month and I’d like to get him something practical to commemorate the occasion and show him how proud I am of him, but I’m not sure what would be a good option.  I bought him a Jack Spade bag once for Christmas which he promptly returned (to my chagrin) and he has the handwriting of a 4th-grade serial killer, so the ol’ engraved Cross pen is probably out too. Do you have any classic suggestions other than good old cashola?  My budget is about $200.

For an occasion as important as this, and a relationship as close as brother and sister, you want a gift that is classic and will last.  For men, the usual suspects are pens, watches, bags or jewelry.

Watches are out - $200 can certainly buy a wearable watch, but not one so nice you’d want to have it for the rest of your life.  I think the low end for that sort of watch, even vintage, is three or four hundred dollars.

Bags are out, too.  For one thing, you already struck out once in this department, and for another thing, the kind of bag you’d want to give would likely cost more than $200.  You’d probably want to give him a briefcase, given the nature of the occasion, and something wonderful that would last him his career would cost more than your budget allows.  (When my wife graduated from law school, I got her a briefcase.  And other, more romantic stuff.)

You’ve removed pens from the list, as well.  You could find a wonderful pen for that amount of money, but if he isn’t going to use it, then it isn’t worth buying.

That leaves jewelry, which for men means cuff links.  Here, there are many wonderful options.  I’d suggest heading to the vintage fine jewelry section of eBay and looking at the cufflinks therein.  You’ll want something simple, that is clearly not a novelty piece.  I’d say you should go for solid gold or silver; that budget will accommodate precious metal.