Gift guide for him

Gift Guide for Him: What to Buy Your Husband

Christmas Gifts and A Gift Guide for Him

Click here to download the free Gift Guide for Him worksheet


Full Disclosure: I Don’t Buy My Husband Christmas Gifts

Jamin is a super non-traditionalist (is that a word?) and does not like doing things that people do just because it’s what we do. That includes gift-giving on particular days. This is why the kids and I are banned from making or buying any gifts for Papa for Christmas, Father’s Day, his birthday…you get the idea. The kids are still figuring this out, and are more than a little confused as to why he wouldn’t want something special for Christmas. They’ll get there. Maybe.

What is allowed are random “just because I love you and was thinking about you” surprises. (Don’t tell Jamin, but I have had a kid get a present for Papa around his birthday because they really really wanted to, and then just save it for a different day. Some kids are just really into giving birthday gifts.) So I guess you could call this a Random I Love You Day Gift Guide. Either way, having limited experience in this field, I’m not going to be super helpful, but I do have a couple rules I stick to when deciding if a certain surprise will make a good gift.

Rule One: Anything the kids make or think up themselves is a win. A painted coffee mug that says, “I love Papa” will get used way more often than the Mickey Mouse mug we got in Disneyland.

Rule Two: Note things he typically spends extra time or money on. We often pick up Cherry Nibs when we’re at the one store that sells them because it’s Papa’s favorite. I also will watch for deals on tickets for events that Jamin could take one or more of the kids to, since he likes to spend his free time on adventures with the family.

Rule Three: I don’t have a rule three. Seriously, two rules is all I got. Jamin’s gonna be way more help in this department 😉

JAMIN RESPONDS: Beware the mug idea!  I like mugs.  I don’t want to have to use a lame one.  December 10th, 2008 you gave me NBA 2k09. Total surprise.  Still remember it.  That was the best.  Actually, I probably have the year and the game wrong, but it was the first time I remember you having the guts to not give me a gift on a holiday.  I knew we would be together forever.  Seriously, though – it does a lot for our relationship that you’re willing to love me in the way I best receive it instead of the way you think would be safest or most convenient.


tldr: Gift Guide for Him? c’mon…you already know…amirite?

For me? Nothing. I don’t ever want a present on a holiday. Never give me something when the calendar says it’s time to give me something. Not Father’s Day or my birthday or Christmas or anything. Or at least put in the card, “I wouldn’t have gotten you something, but I knew I’d feel guilty if I didn’t, so this gift is really a gift to myself. Thanks for helping with my conscience.” Then I’ll take whatever you want to buy me, but we agree on what’s happening here.

The only exception is earned events like graduation or unexpected events, like the passing of a loved one. But even then, don’t bring it to the funeral/wake or the graduation party. Give it to me before or after…LONG before or after.

But I do love gifts any other time of year! And, as you might imagine, I have strong feelings about what kinds of gifts are good. Too many gifts cost me more than they benefit me. Here are my guidelines for giving gifts to a heartless scrooge like me:

*Don’t spend my money without my input

We’ve been poor. We’re still not out of the woods, and some months are downright scary. I imagine if we made a whole lot more money, I wouldn’t mind it if my wife bought me a car or a computer or a phone. But not now. As long as we need regular conversations about which bills we’re paying when, don’t burden me with a thoughtful spending spree that is going to stress me out later. Unless it’s money that you saved up secretly, and even then, I might end up being upset that you let us limp along when you had a secret stash this whole time.

*Don’t try to get me something I’d really like by getting me something from my hobbies/profession that you don’t know anything about.

And don’t get advice from your friends. The fact that your friend’s husband also has the same hobby, and he really liked this version of this thing doesn’t mean you have insider information about my hobby. If you’re not sure it’s a winner on your own authority, it’s a real gamble whether I’m going to love it or hate it. It doesn’t make me feel closer to you that you tried and failed to get me something from a domain you don’t know anything about, and now I have to try not to resent you every time I have to use your gift even though I really don’t want one in my life. If you really liked my hobbies, you would do them. So it doesn’t make me feel like you’re more ‘involved’ with my life that you recognized I have a hobby and you found something related to it, any more than if I bought a tall guy a basketball or a black guy a rap album or a woman some tampons. See? I noticed something obvious about you and bought you an unusable related gift! Now use it and love me.

*Don’t ‘personalize’ something for me that I’m supposed to use.

They are almost always crappy versions of the thing, so now I am obligated to use an inferior [coffee mug, hammer, guitar pick, whatever because you personalized it. Hopefully it will break soon so I’ll have a good excuse to use a quality version of that thing.

*Don’t make me pay for it in other ways

If you’re going to fold my laundry for a month, don’t neglect cleaning the kitchen (or whatever responsibilities were in your domain). Don’t cook me a meal and leave the dishes out. Don’t stay up so late working on a gift for me that you’re too tired to fool around.

Okay, now to the actual list. If I’ve already hinted at something I like, forget the following list. Get me that. If I said that I wanted something and you’re the kind of person who paid attention and got if for me, forget the following list. You already won. Just don’t pin your hopes on me. If it was an off-handed remark about something that I don’t even remember wanting, don’t put that on me. Otherwise, pick one of the following things or give me the choice of one of a few things you’d like to give me…

Budgeted Hobbies

…and tell me where we’re making room in the budget. With this gift, I can do the stuff I want to without feeling guilty about taking the money out of the budget:

*Golf – golf is stupid. I hate golf. But for my friends who like it, some kind of membership or passes would be great.
*Indoor soccer membership or passes. Now here’s an actual sport. That’s probably why it’s fun and not stupid like golf.
*Shooting range. Ammo and range certificates. Except I am really set on ammo at the moment…
*Flying lessons so I can finish my pilot’s license.

Better versions or more of what I already use

…or new ones if mine are worn out. If I already use it and don’t have a better one, it’s because I was saving that money for the family. Upgrade something I use all the time and I’ll think of you every time I use it. This is the safest gift, and maybe the best:

*Phone. I’m still on 5th gen iPhone. Hopefully not by the time you read this.
*Upgraded Audible account. I’d love to get an extra audiobook or two each month.
*48-pack of zero calorie Rock Stars. I usually only drink them occasionally, but now I can have one whenever I want, guilt-free. Plus, I’ll probably have more energy to wash the dishes faster.
*Check my Amazon wish list and “saved for later” in my cart.
*In-app purchases. I could use more keys in Rocket League to open the crates we earn when we play.
*Collector’s boxed set of Newsradio, the best show ever made, would also be an upgrade of what I have. I just don’t know where I would play a DVD. But for a lot of guys, the upgraded version of their favorite media would be super cool.
*Hobby-related apparel.  Usually shoes would be too utilitarian to be an exciting gift, but when my indoor soccer shoes are worn down, new ones would be really cool. Just be careful in case I was planning to get a different kind when these finally really died.


I don’t want these since I already have them, but they were the best tools for the money:

*Impact driver. No! This is definitely not the same as a powered screwdriver or a drill. The “impact” part makes it so a noodle-armed guy like me can drive a 5-inch screw through a board in seconds. I feel very strong with this tool. I only recently broke down and bought this with the studio remodel and realized that all the years I spent with a regular, cheaper drill were wasted years of my life.
*Pokey tools. I don’t know what they are supposed to be used for, but these are the most used tools in the tool box. They get used almost daily for all kinds of jobs! (I just learned their official name is “picks” and “hooks”, but “pokey tools” seems just as good a name to me.)
*Magnetic stud finder. The yellow one with the earth magnets. Long story short: regular stud finders try to find dense parts of the wall that probably have studs. This finds the screws or nails that were used to hang the drywall on the studs, so you know there is definitely a stud right there.

Artsy. If you wanna go homemade:

*Planned ‘relations’. Just please don’t make me turn in cute cards or ask for stuff. Just tell me that you’ve got stuff planned then go for it.
*Anything the kids made, as long as you didn’t tell them to make it or what to write. One of my favorite cards is from my daughter that says, “I love you! You are the best Papa ever and every day your learning to be better and better.”  I loved it so much I didn’t even fix the misuse of ‘your’.
*Anything related to family day. This is where the other rules don’t apply. A sucky home-made bag is more than a sucky homemade bag when it’s the family day picnic bag. A terrible personalized mug is use-able if it’s just the one I use when I take the kids on Papa Days.

WENDY RESPONDS: Well, I know what I’m doing on January 23rd. Seriously, this is a great guide, and not just for husbands! I think these are probably pretty solid gift-giving guidelines for any of the difficult-to-shop-for people on the list.
So, thanks for helping me with my Christmas gift planning 🙂

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