This holiday gift guide contains manly gift ideas for men and boys. When selecting the items to be included, we didn’t want to re-create the typical men’s holiday gift guide full of digital cameras and video games. Those sorts of lists are a dime a dozen, and the items on those lists only last a year before you have to upgrade. We wanted to create a list full of manly, quality items that will last a lifetime. They’re the sort of things that you’d find in your grandfather’s house as a boy. We’ve selected gifts from every price range, so whether you’re a poor college student or a well-off CEO, you’ll find something to suit your budget. And we’ve provided links to where you can get additional information about an item. Do your research and call around to local stores to find the best deal.
And now for the list.
Gifts for Men
Men are notoriously hard to shop for. You can’t just buy body lotion or scented candles and call it good. And no man wants a bunch of crap that’s just going to gather dust in the basement. Men want stuff they will actually use, things that make like easier and more enjoyable. If you’re buying a holiday gift for a brother, father, or friend, hopefully you will find something on this list that they will love. If you’re a guy who’s sick of your wife buying you ties with Tabasco designs, perhaps you can print off the list and highlight some of your favorites.
For the Traveling Man
The toiletry bag of millions of GI’s during World War II, it’s still an essential item for every man. A Dopp kit holds a man’s toiletries when he’s off on adventures and exploring the world.
If you’re looking for a leather man bag or suitcase, there’s no better place to buy one than the Saddleback Leather company. Exquisitely manly and built to last, these babies carry a 100-year warranty. It’s a bag your brother will be proud to carry with him, a bag his descendants will fight over when he’s dead. It’s a gift a grown man will be giddy to see under the tree.
While on the road, a man needs something on which to write down their observations and experiences. A journal can be too big and the back of napkins are just too small. Enter Field Notes. Inspired by vintage agricultural memo books, these 3.5 inch by 5.5 inch notebooks are large enough to capture all your thoughts but small enough to keep in your back pocket. They’re like Moleskine’s more rugged and adventurous younger brother.
For the Armchair Historian
Many man apartments are Spartan affairs, devoid of too much decoration. Help your buddy spruce up their place with a cool photograph to hang on the wall. The New York Times offers reprints of very cool vintage photographs. The photographs are exhibition quality, printed on archival paper, and come with your choice of frame and mat.
Full of jams, soaps, and foo foo crackers, gift baskets aren’t typically very manly. But these gift baskets from Circa History break the mold. Offered on a variety of themes, from the Founding Fathers to World War II, the baskets dispense with the fruit and nuts and are instead packed with things like vintage book ends, DVD’s, mugs, photographs, and meaty books.
Theodore Roosevelt’s life is an instruction manual on manliness. In Edmund Morris’ book, The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt, we see TR overcome adversity after adversity in order to become a paragon of manliness. Read about TR kicking his childhood sickness’s butt and then heading out West to become a rancher in the Dakotas. Finally, read about how Roosevelt set himself up to become the man who ushered in the modern U.S. Presidency.
For the Well-Groomed Man
In business since 1777, GB Kent & Sons Ltd is one of the few hairbrush manufacturers left in the United Kingdom. Their brushes are known for their high quality materials and craftsmanship. During WWI, Kent made hundreds of thousands of brushes for the British Office of War to be included in every GI’s grooming kit. Now that’s a manly brush.
Are your friends or brothers still shaving with some 8-bladed money sucking contraption? Help them discover the lost art of safety razor shaving. Hook them up with a nice safety razor, or a bowl and shaving cream brush. If your friend is already wisely shaving with a safety razor, buy him some quality, manly shaving cream.
A brush helps hydrate the shaving cream in order to form a thick, rich shaving lather. Using a brush to lather up helps get the shaving cream up under each whisker which results in better, smoother shaves. Plus, it just feels nice on your face to lather up with a brush. Brushes are made either of badger hair or boar hair. Get badger hair. The difference between a boar hair shaving brush and a badger hair shaving brush is like the difference between ground sirloin and a filet mignon.
Most men lather up using some green goop from a can. These massed produced shaving creams smell like you should be cleaning the floor with them. Share the pleasure of shaving with natural shaving creams and soaps with manly scents like almond or sandalwood. They cost more than the drugstore variety, but last far longer.
For the Well-Dressed Man
It’s not a gift you can surprise a man with; you’ll need his measurements and cooperation, of course. But a tailored suit will give your loved one an immensely useful gift, one he will use for years and years.
A shoeshine kit makes the perfect gift; it’s something that no guy thinks to buy, but every guy needs. I have fond memories of my dad bringing out his wooden shoe shine box once a month to shine his boots and our family’s shoes. Buy a quality kit in a manly wooden box that has all the necessary accoutrements to keep your love one’s shoes shining like a sheet of glass.
To quote AoM’s fashion guru, Antonio Centeno, “A gentleman should always be ready to help a lady, child, or fellow man in need. Carrying a simple white cotton handkerchief in your back pocket is a habit that’s inexpensive, easy to pick-up, and allows you to come to the rescue in a potentially embarrassing moment. Oh, and the proper response when they thank you is to say, “You’re welcome, and please keep it.”
Every man needs a good hat in their wardrobe. A hat can give a man touch of class and sophistication, impart personality, and add an interesting and unique accent to your outfits. If you don’t know what kind of hat to buy your bud or husband, make sure to check out AoM’s handy guide. If you’re looking for a place to buy a hat, go visit your local haberdashery. If you don’t have a haberdashery, try the Village Hat Shop.
My dad had a dresser top valet and when I was a kid I loved going through it. Full of old watches, tie bars, cuff links, and pocket knives, it was like a treasure chest of manliness. For some reason the dresser valet has gone out of style, but they’re still extremely functional and stylish. If you know a man who is constantly misplacing their keys, cell phone, or watch, a dresser valet can serve as a place to dump all those things so he’ll always know where they are. Newer dresser valets also include the convenience of charging stations for all your electronic gizmos and gadgets.
Most men these days just follow the latest trends, or pay no attention to their appearance at all. But if you want to be a well-dressed man, you need to focus on creating a wardrobe with classic styles that will never go out of fashion. In Dressing the Man, a man can learn how to mix patterns, what to look for when trying on clothes in the fitting room, what kind of jacket to wear with a straight-point collar, the history of the monk-strap shoe, the correct position for a bow tie, and what “business casual” really means.
The Leisurely Man
Every man needs a pair of shoes they can put on when they come home from a long day of work and kick up their feet in their favorite man chair. Moccasins are the perfect manly house shoe.
General MacArthur, Einstein, Oppenheimer, Twain, Gandalf the Wizard. What do all these men have in common? They were pipe smokers. There’s something about a pipe that makes a man look wiser and manlier. Plus pipe smokes smells a heck of a lot better than cigarette smoke. If you know a man who smokes, consider getting them a pipe along with some pipe tobacco.
A man is going to need something to read while wearing his moccasins and smoking his pipe. How about a daily newspaper? Subscriptions to a newspaper are a fantastic gift; they keep on giving all the year through. Every man should read a daily newspaper. Getting the news from your computer is nice, but there’s something about sitting down to breakfast with the world’s events spread before you. Order the New York Times for a more liberally minded man, the Washington Post for a more conservative guy. If you can’t afford a daily subscription, buy one for just the Sunday edition. They’re so large, there’s enough in that one paper for a man to chew on the rest of the week.
Give the man in your life 3,000 years worth of manly wisdom. This book contains a collection of poems, essays, and excerpts from great literature about manliness. It’s one of those books you can pick up, flip to any page, and be guaranteed to come away uplifted and edified.
The ball point pen has taken the throne of the daily writing instrument of choice, but every man needs a pen for those occasions when a bit of panache is needed. This is where the fountain pen comes in. The nib on a fountain pen allows for more handwriting flourishes. So the next time your dad signs his checks, it will look like he signed the Declaration of Independence. The heftiness of fountain pens also make them very masculine. You might consider getting some books on penmanship along with a fountain pen. Most men these days have atrocious handwriting. Perhaps the fountain pen will inspire him to improve his handwriting for all those thank you notes he’ll be writing after Christmas.
If you know a man who spends a great deal of time outdoors, get him a nice pocket compass so he’ll never lose his way. Sure, GPS may be easier and more accurate, but batteries die and satellite connections can be disrupted. That’s when having a compass comes in handy. Get him one that he’ll pass on to his grandkids. You might also consider getting a book on orienteering if your buddy has been out of practice in using a compass.
Starting a campfire is manly. Starting a campfire without matches is even manlier. Most matches don’t work when wet. Flint and steel will always get a spark even in a downpour. Give this to a man, so they’ll never be caught without a fire to keep them warm at night when they’re reconnecting with Mother Nature.
If you know man who enjoys fishing, consider getting him a few of his favorite fishing lures. Many fishermen have their preferences when it comes to lures, so make sure you know what your man likes before you buy anything. If you know someone who fly fishes, get them a fly tying kit.
Fly tying kit: $70
This is one manly poker set. Every chip has an image of either a moose or a buck. This is a perfect set to take on a drive in camping trip with the bros. It has everything your friend will need to have a low stakes poker game under the light of a kerosene lantern while smoking a pipe with his friends.
If your man is an avid outdoorsman, he will surely appreciate this book put out by the Boone and Crockett Society (an organization that Theodore Roosevelt founded). Hunting the American West contains an intriguing narrative of the history of hunting in the American West based on primary sources of men who were actually there. The book is also chock full of illustrations and images straight from the 19th Century. It will definitely make any coffee table manlier.
Every man should carry a pocketknife. If your loved one has not been initiated into this manly tradition, it’s time to help him along by giving him a quality knife. Don’t go with something with a fork, saw, and pizza cutter. Get something traditional that he’ll be able to carry comfortably in his pocket. We just released our own AoM pocket knife that we’re quite proud of, so check it out!
This is a piece of classic backpacking equipment. Despite fancier model stoves out there, this one is still a bestseller. Its compact, rugged construction will ensure that your camper will be using this for years to come.
In order to make a fire, a man is going to need wood. Ladies, while your husband won’t be able to fell a full grown oak tree with a hatchet, he will be able to split logs for kindling. It’s small and lightweight. so it’s ideal for all kinds of camping adventures.
Gifts For Boys (or the Boy in You)
Most boys these days ask for electronic gizmos like iPads, cell phones, and video games. The problem with these sorts of things is that they only last about a year. By next Christmas, your son will be bugging you to buy the more expensive upgrade. And they don’t inspire the kind of creativity and imagination that make boyhood playtime so memorable. This list contains timeless toys that can provide your sons and nephews hours of entertainment for years on end. What’s great about several of these toys is that they provide a father/son project with which to bond with your little buddy.
Tomahawk and Throwing Knives
Hatchet and knife throwing were some of my favorite activities at Scout camp. I would literally spend hours trying to perfect my throws. Nurture your son’s inner Davy Crockett with some throwing knives and a tomahawk. Also, if you have no idea about how to throw knives or tomahawks, consider getting an instructional book and/or DVD. This is an awesome activity you and your son can do together.
- Trail Hawk Tomahawk $30
- Throwing Knives $15
- Knife & Tomahawk Throwing: The Art of the Expert
- Knife and Tomahawk Throwing for Fun DVD $17
Every boy wants an official Red Ryder, carbine action, two-hundred shot range model air rifle after they see A Christmas Story. I got mine the Christmas I turned 10, and I never shot my eye out. My friends and I would take our guns out to the fields behind our houses and imagine we were on big game hunts. We didn’t make any kills, though we did stun a few squirrels. Sadly, many over-protective parents would never think to give their son a BB gun. Instead they give them video games that keep their kid cooped up in the stale safety of their house. Don’t be one of those parents. Give the boy the gun, teach him proper safety, and let him go on some adventures.
Instead of getting your son one of those motorized cars that only requires him to push a pedal to move, get him an old fashioned pedal car that will force him to move those little legs of his and get some exercise. Pedal cars are toys from a bygone era. You might have seen photos of your old man sitting in one on Christmas day when he was kid. This Fire Truck Pedal Car is made of a solid steel frame, so your son and your son’s son will be able to play with it for years. It also just looks cool.
Named after President Abraham Lincoln’s fabled childhood cabin, Lincoln Logs were invented in 1924 by the son of famous American architect Frank Lloyd Wright. The original slogan of the toy was: “Interesting playthings typifying the spirit of America.” Your son can spend hours building small frontier houses or large military forts. Get on the floor with him and give him a lesson about our pioneer forebears while you build together.
Yo-yos make great stocking stuffers. I remember one Christmas as a boy I got a nice cedar yo-yo from a family friend. I really didn’t know how to use it, but my dad busted out his old yo-yo from when he was a boy and showed me how to tie the slip knot around my finger and how to do the basic yo-yo throw. After that, he showed me a few tricks like “walk the dog” and “rock the cradle.” You can find yo-yos at most toy stores for about $4. Get a book of yo-yo tricks to go along with it.
Let your son’s imagination run wild with a set of plain wooden blocks. Watch him build the highest tower ever constructed by a four-year-old only to “blow it up” using block hand grenades. Because they’re plain wooden blocks you don’t have to worry about plastic chemicals or lead paint.
Books for Boys
The modern version of the Boy Scout Handbook has nothing on the original 1911 version. It’s full of outdoor skills every boy should know as well as sections on how to live the good life.
The Dangerous Book for Boys is all about recapturing Sunday afternoons and long summer days. Its vintage look harks back to a simpler time when boys would actually go outside and play. Your son can learn how to build a treehouse or how to make a periscope. Interwoven between the fun how-tos are information every boy should know, like facts about the moon and history’s greatest battles.
Classic Boy’s Literature
Fill your boy’s head with tales of adventure and danger with a set of classic books. It’s better than him sitting in front of the TV while his brain turns to mush. Make it a part of your evening routine to sit down and read a good book to your son. It will be a memory he’ll cherish for the rest of his life.
Now it’s your turn. Got any manly Christmas gift ideas? Share them with us in the comments.
Last updated: October 31, 2013