Put This On’s Holiday Gift Guide 2019

December 16, 2019

Hunting for the perfect gift can be stressful. Should you get something practical or sentimental? Something they can keep forever or a consumable? Every year around this time, we come out with our gift guide to help readers find that special item they can set under the tree. For more suggestions, don’t forget to check out our previous guides, where you’ll find dozens of other ideas. And of course don’t forget to take a look in our own shop, where you’ll find beautiful vintage items, handmade pocket squares and scarves, and who knows what else.



3sixteen Crewneck Thermal

Menswear has diverged into so many different directions, it’s hard to recommend clothing nowadays that would work across a range of wardrobes. But 3sixteen’s crewneck thermals would be great for anyone except people who like to feel cold and uncomfortable. They’re cotton, not wool, but wear surprisingly warm since they’re much thicker than the thermals you might pick up from The Gap or Eddie Bauer. They’re also triple-needle sewn at the neckline, so the collar never sags, and trim enough to layer underneath a flannel. -Derek



Bowling Alone by Robert Putnam

Everyone I talk to nowadays is thinking about issues concerning community. If you know someone interested in society and politics, give them a copy of Robert Putnam’s Bowling Alone. Harvard professor Putnam studies how the decline of physical communities — particularly in the form of social clubs — has affected civic engagement and democracy in America. He also helped pioneer the idea of social capital, which has become a powerful analytical concept in the fields of sociology, political science, and economics. Bowling Alone is academically rigorous but easy to understand. It also touches on political issues without being polemical. -Derek



New York Times Subscription

I don’t know anyone who couldn’t use a subscription to The New York Times. From politics to food to culture, The Gray Lady continues to be one of the best sources of information. At the moment, digital subscriptions are just $1/ week. If you sign up for a gift subscription, which starts at $25/ month, you also get a 30% discount on any item in their NYT store. I dig the porcelain logo mugs, Fairbault wool throws, and throwback tees. -Derek



Fellow’s Prismo

Years ago, we recommended the Aeropress as a holiday gift — and we still do. I know the contraption looks strange and vaguely like a high school chemistry kit, but it’s surprisingly easy to use and so much better than other coffee-brewing methods. If you know someone who already has an Aeropress, however, get them Fellow’s Prismo. When you attach this pressure-actuated valve to the end of an Aeropress, it dramatically increases the amount of pressure needed to squeeze water through the device. It takes minutes to learn how to use, and in the end, you wind up with something that tastes a lot like — albeit not exactly like — a shot of espresso. This would be a great gift for someone who loves espresso but doesn’t have the counter space or budget necessary for a high-end machine. -Derek



Bird Rock Coffee Roasters

Another suggestion for the coffee lover: beans from my favorite roaster, Bird Rock. They trade directly with farmers from around the world, only ship freshly roasted beans, and consistently earn high marks at Coffee Review. Coffee beans are only good for about ten days or so, unless you store them in the freezer (something not without controversy, but I do it myself). If you get freshly roasted beans, you’ll get the most out of your coffee. Bird Rock has premium Geisha coffee, if you’re so inclined, but I’ve been mostly drinking Natural Pacamara. -Derek



Nordstrom Leather Gloves

European labels such as Lavabre Cadet, Hestra, and Merola produce some of the best gloves in the world, but they’re also dearly expensive. For something that’s exceptionally well-made, practical, and affordable, I’ve been surprised by my in-house label gloves from Nordstrom. On sale, they cost anywhere from $50 to $70 — a perfect gift-giving price range. And while they’re machine-sewn, not handsewn, the stitch count is finer and just as durable. I’ve had mine for about ten years now and really like how they’ve aged. Get smooth leather if you want something dressier; deerskin for casual. -Derek



Dansk Kobenstyle Butter Warmer

This surprisingly useful little pot from Dansk is perfect for any small cooking task. I use mine any time I need to heat something up, but don’t want to clean a big pot afterward. It’s good for reheating a single serving of soup, making a cup of hot cocoa, or melting chocolate to pour over ice cream. And yes, warming butter too. This enameled version is more expensive than the plain metal varieties you can find elsewhere, but it heats up more evenly and looks handsome on the stovetop, especially next to Le Creuset cookware. You don’t have to keep it confined to the kitchen, either. The pot has a nice weight to it, as well as a spout at the end that makes it easy to pour. I sometimes use mine to pass sauce around at the dinner table. -Derek


Rusty Brown by Chris Ware

I love Chris Ware’s big, beautiful, bummers. His graphic novels are epic, intricate, and reward close reading and re-reading. His newest book densely weaves four (or so) stories — those of elementary school-age Rusty Brown; his father, a failed sci-fi writer; an emotionally stunted financial planner; and a dedicated teacher, all mired in their lives in snowy Nebraska, where Ware grew up. Like much of Ware’s work, these stories are not generally positive about human nature, but the despair is leavened by moments of hope, Ware’s elevation of everyday life, and his gorgeous, bold art. -Pete



A Handy Bag

The bags I’ve carried most for the last few years are a canvas and leather tote (from Kaufmann Mercantile) and a small-ish duffel bag from Archival Clothing, the brand from Lesli Larson and Tom Bonamici that found beauty in practicality and unusual historical material references. (One of their primary products was a musette, which is a small cross-body bag made for cyclists). After AC closed down, they took a break, but are back with a focused line called Handy Bags. I like their new tote, which has some of Archival’s DNA — cotton duck and military webbing, useful scale, and no-frills design. The cobalt color, reminiscent of Bill Cunningham’s French work jackets, is striking. -Pete


Dapper Classics Navy Cotton Socks

For the friend who wears tailored clothing, Dapper Classics’ over-the-calf socks are the accessory you know they can use. I recommend getting them in navy, which will go with anything short of a black suit. The mercerized cotton version is smooth to the touch and wears cooler than wool. Get one pair or five. You won’t regret it. -Ryan




My wife loves these recycled, reusable bags from BAGGU. She let me use one of her tiny, zippered pouches for my toiletries last week when I was traveling. I like it! One day, I’ll have a nice leather dopp kit. But for now, BAGGU’s simple, lightweight bags make me smile. -Ryan



Boar Bristle Toothbrush

The Good Liver sells these Italian “natural” toothbrushes made with sterilized boar bristles. Yes, it can be hard to spend $25 on a toothbrush for yourself, but it’s a great gift for someone who’s into artisanal craftsmanship. The Good Liver has a ton of other great gifts, too. -Ryan



Housewares by Andrew Neyer

Andrew Neyer was my old studio-mate in art school, and now he has a whole production studio that makes lights, mobiles, and little household goods that are so clever and funny, along with being beautiful, well-made, and nice to handle. Store your keys on his Helping Hand! Or hang a little Pet Light in your bedroom. You pet them on their back to switch them on and off. -Ryan