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Stop Giving Men Boring Gifts

A small upgrade to the basic gift guide goes a long way.

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Watch, headphones, and sunglasses Photo: John Balsom/Trunk Archive

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Gift guides for guys are simplified at best, boring at worst. A couple of broad categories claim to make it easy — a tie here, a shaving kit there, and boom you’re done.

But your dad/boyfriend/son already owns enough of these things. Below are upgrades to the typical holiday gifts you should give in the place of the more boring option.

Sain Laurent Skeleton-Print Tie Photo: Mr Porter

The Tie

Ties are the easiest, most common gift for a man you vaguely know. Because what could go wrong with a quality tie in a core color? Well, we could all die of boredom.

If you really want to give a tie, at least consider something weird. Maybe an oddball Saint Laurent option: either Skeleton-Print Silk ($225) or Musical Note Silk Twill Tie ($225). For guys with enough neckwear, Brooks Brothers makes a pretty sweet Tartan Tie Case ($148). For anyone with enough ties and a tie case to hold them in, Drake’s makes some absolutely gorgeous pocket squares ($85) to polish you off. This Don Draper Starter Kit from The Tie Bar ($45) is also an interesting and more affordable option.

Man getting wet shave Photo: Art of Shaving

The Shaving Kit

Razors, shaving cream, after shave. These are not gifts. These are toiletries. Gifts don’t have the word “toilet” in them. Just trust me. But if you do know someone who shaves, release them from this chore for at least a day by gifting them something like a Royal Shave experience ($60) at The Art of Shaving. It sounds weird, but post-shave you’ll have an instant convert — think Chandler after he found out about baths.

Molecule Fragrance Photo: Mr Porter

The Cologne

Searches for cologne skyrocket in December as people scurry to find an easy and elegant gift. In reality, though, cologne is a very difficult present to pull off unless you know exactly what scent someone is into.

Instead, try other things that smell good. This Muji Ultrasonic Aroma Diffuser ($69.50) is beautifully designed and spits out magical stuff noses will love. Alternatively, Escentric Molecules’s Molecule 01 ($80) is “fragrance” that just boosts everyone’s natural scent, meaning it smells different on everyone, and the wearer can’t even smell it.

Watches Photo: Eleven James

The Watch

Unless you’re really going to go all out and buy something that will leave the recipient on hands and knees whispering No no no, this is too much, forgo gifting someone a watch. Instead, turn someone into a power collector by setting them up with a subscription to Eleven James (packages start at $149/month), a service that allows customers to rent pricey watches. For more affordable options, Hodinkee, the go-to site for horologists, has a Watch Collector’s Notebook ($34), and Amazon sells this Timewheel Back Opener Wrench ($23.95) so timepiece enthusiasts can open up their pieces and go under the hood.

Tom Dixon Tank Decanter Photo: Tom Dixon

The Thing That Has to Do With Bacon

Based on absolutely zero research, I’m 100 percent positive things like The Bacon Cookbook ($27.48) or this DIY Bacon Kit ($13.16) exist only to be gifted to guys by well-intentioned people. Even if someone loves bacon, nothing will destroy that passion like making their own bacon at home.

If you’re looking for something in this vein, maybe try a nice bottle of Four Roses Small Batch bourbon ($35.97) or this Ol’ Major Bourbon ($28) that’s actually infused with bacon. What about a food-related gift? This Tom Dixon Tank Decanter ($140) is a stunner. If you really want to go the bacon route, Benton’s Country Ham will ship you the best Hickory Smoked Country Bacon ($30) you’ve ever tasted.

L.L.Bean Wool Ragg Sock Gift Set Photo: L.L.Bean

L.L.Bean Socks

There are several publications recommending you buy this L.L.Bean Wool Ragg Sock Gift Set ($34.95) for the guy in your life. And you know what, this is the one gift I can wholeheartedly get behind. Socks are a generic gift — yes, definitely — but they’re the kind you can never really have enough of. Especially super nice ones, like these.