Johnny’s Official Gift Guide for Men: The Last of the Decade

Hello again everyone! It’s been too long. I know I only post once a year, but I will say it’s very flattering to hear so many requests for my gift guide for men. Similar to Color & Chic, it was originally born out of Hoang-Kim’s female friends asking me what to buy the men in their lives. Without further ado, here’s the 4th edition of my gift guide for men and my last gift guide of the decade. This gift guide is more extensive than usual. It’s organized in order of the level of relationships to the guy in your life.

  1. From gifts for guys in your life like your boss, neighbors, and acquaintances who you deem worthy of gifts in general ($),
  2. to your close cousins and close friends ($$),
  3. to brothers, dads, husbands, fiances, and boyfriends ($$$). 

How Things Made This Gift Guide For Men

  1. Is this something he’d use every day? Men are usually functional creatures. My favorite things in life are items I use everyday making my life materially better.
  2. Is this something that will last? Guys buy certain things a lot and some things never. For example: I buy a lot of books all the time but I never buy clothes. I want to make sure whatever you get him will be something he doesn’t have to buy again unless it’s lost.
  3. Will this make your life better over the next year? This is where books, movies, and other “tools” will not only benefit him, but benefit you too. Win-win!
  4. Will his face light up? This is the most subjective question. It’s really for you to answer for the man in your life. What do they love? What are their hobbies?

With that out of the way, here are 50+ ideas for every man in your life.

Stocking Stuffers

Let’s start with some layups in my annual gift guide for men.

These three ideas starting this gift guide for men may not make his eyes light up, but they’ll definitely help his phone light up.

  • 10 ft iPhone charger – You probably don’t have one yourself, so get you and the men in your life the gift that keeps on giving. A 10 ft charging cord means you can lay on the couch or bed at any angle and still be on your phone while charging up. It’s something you never thought you needed until its in your life, then you can’t live without it.
  • Wireless charger – Similar to the 10 ft charger, I’ve been happy with the iPhone 10 and beyond coming with wireless charging capabilities. Now I don’t need to find the cord before bed. I can just leave my phone on the nightstand and it’ll charge. This convenience when you’re dead tired is a beautiful thing.
  • Adapters (USB-micro and USB-C) – If you are splitting an iOS vs. Android household or have several devices with different charging ports, this is an easy one. I’m sure it’s frustrating when you get to the end of the wire just to find exactly what you don’t need. Why not have both!

  • Leather Apple Watch Band – The silicone one the Apple watch comes with is cool, but maybe he needs something more professional for work or a fancy event you’re attending. Up his watch game with this.
  • Leather Airpod Case – Never get frustrated by accidentally picking up his Airpods again since you can tell the difference. Or, you want him to upgrade from the “floss” look to something a little more stylish.
  • Tile – As a guy who loses track of his stuff, this is very high on my own self-gift list. I have to stop asking Hoang-Kim where my things are constantly… and so should the man in your life.
  • Poopourri – Part gag gift. Fully functional. Need I say more?

  • Everyday Carry Pocket Knife –  Every guy needs an everyday carry pocket (EDC) knife. Whether he keeps it in his car or in his pocket, it’s incredibly valuable to be the guy who can cut open something at the right time. With more than 10 Amazon boxes up showing up at your door every week, this will definitely come in handy this holiday season. It can double as a bottle opener if you’re smart. This blade is 2.6 inches and non-threatening to carry around. This is important because you cannot carry a knife more than 5.5 inches in Texas. Lastly, it’s feather-light at just 1.4 oz. 
  • Moleskin Journals. For the contemplative and observant types in your life. It’s definitely a must-have for the Type-A’s in your family. Tell them the greatest men listened and took notes when important people spoke. I’m not much of a writer, but one of the best tips I’ve gotten was to take notes when you’re speaking with important people. They take it as a sign of respect and active listening. No one feels respected even if you’re typing notes on your phone or computer. Get it dotted, squared, ruled, or plain. Get it in multiple colors. One thing for sure…don’t cheap out on a daily-use journal. He’ll appreciate the binding and paper quality. It makes a significant difference.

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For the men in your life who have earned a little more than a stocking stuffer. This section in my gift guide for men includes a lot of things I use personally use every day and at least weekly.

  • Corkcicle Tumbler – I wasn’t much of a “tumbler” guy until this past year. When I got my matte black Corkcicle this year, I didn’t think it was that big a deal. I was wrong. This tumbler is amazing! FYI, I’m a year-round cold brew guy, so what really lit me up was when I left an iced coffee in the tumbler for a couple of hours in July Texas heat and there was still ice in it when I came back! If that’s not amazing, I don’t know what is. I take it with me everywhere now. Bonus: he can get 10 cents off at Starbucks for using a refillable cup AND all coffee shops will fill it to the brim even if he doesn’t get a “large.” Life bonus with every re-fill. 
  • Monogram Mug – FINALLY. The classic Anthropologie mug in “noir.” They mean black. Get him a monogrammed mug for a touch of personalization. He’ll be happy you pay attention and know the first letter of his first or last name.
  • Whiskey Glass – If you know he enjoys drinking whiskey, bourbon, or scotch, these are great glasses that add a touch of modern to his bar setup. This one’s for the James Bond-style men in your life.

  • 5-minute Journal – If you’ve heard him say he wants to meditate in the morning or enjoys a little writing/reflection, this is the perfect gift. The 5-minute journal is a gratitude journal that makes him think about all his blessings. It’s a quick morning activity that reminds him of his blessings, set some goals, and review the day. These are always fun to go back to a year or two later to remember where you were in life. 
  • Plug-in Streaming Media Player – If you’re thinking about cutting cable, this is the perfect time to get this streaming media player as your hub all your streaming entertainment. Just make sure he has Amazon Prime to make things easy. He can watch his favorites from Netflix, YouTube, Prime Video, Disney+, Apple TV, HBO, and more. Stream for free with Pluto, IMDB TV, and more.
  • Bluetooth Adapter for Car – I don’t have this yet, but I am buying it as we speak. I have a 2012 Honda Accord, so no “smart” features. I’m lucky to have an auxiliary port. This will allow him to play music and answer the phone without the cord and hassle.
  • Sports Team Gear for College or Pro Sports – If he’s a sports fan, this is an easy and affordable slam dunk. “Fan” is short for fanatic. Who wouldn’t want more gear to rep their squad! One of my favorite things is a Texas Longhorns long sleeve that I rep almost every Friday and a T-shirt I rep on Saturdays in the fall. Note: make sure you know which team he likes first. This one is either an easy slam dunk, but can go south if you’re wrong. 
  • Socks with Personality – If he goes to the office in a suit or pants and dress shoes everyday, he doesn’t get to show off his personality very much. He might get a chance with his tie, but otherwise, the only other option is his socks. This is where this gift is perfect. 

  • French Press Coffee Maker – You could get the generic version, but with any tool that you use daily, I always say get the “real thing.” There’s a difference in craftsmanship in the glass and plunger that makes a difference for coffee snobs. Make sure you get the right OZ size for everyday coffee making. The vacuum created when you plunge the press makes all the difference. No plastic smell or taste in your coffee ever again.
  • 39 pc Starter Toolkit – This gift ranks VERY VERY high in the “will this make your life better this year” category and the “Is this something that will last” category. One of the best gifts I’ve ever received was a tool kit from my Dad. I use it almost weekly and bring it to friends who need a helping hand. This covers all the basics for any small projects.
  • Meat Thermometer – For the “home chef” in your life. Take his game to the next level by adding precision to his cook. I used to think I was above this often cooking by feel with pretty good results. Then I got a meat thermometer and have it down to a science. It’s a reminder cooking is applied chemistry. 
  • If he’s an avid traveler, save him with this adapter – So many reasons to want your charging block to sit flush to the wall, especially in confined spaces like airports and airplanes. He will appreciate this very small, but very handy pro tool.

Books

The annual knowledge section in my gift guide for men. find books that will improve his life and yours.

  • Upping the average 5 people around you: Never Eat Alone – I’ve never actually read this to the end. I have 3 copies, so clearly it’s good because I often buy books when they’re strongly recommended by people I respect. As a natural networking type, this book turns unfocused energy into specific tactics that are time-tested and true.
  • Get some perspective: When Breath Becomes Air – This one is tragically beautiful. Any clinicians in the family will appreciate this book. The author wrote it while battling cancer. Some truly mind-bending perspective.
  • Studying the greats: The Outsiders – There’s a lot of quotes talking about learning from failure. Perhaps some of the best secrets are from studying success. The Outsiders covers truly awe-inspiring executives who led organizations like Berkshire Hathaway, The Washington Post, and Capital Cities Broadcasting. This book is for the finance and investing nerds in your family. 
  • Entertaining Sci-Fi: Old Man’s War – The first book in the series was recommended to me by a close friend after I told him I could only get into the Halo series. I haven’t loved much Sci-Fi otherwise. Old Man’s War changed that. Truly entertaining and warped. It’ll bring you into a new future universe and really make you think about what a space-faring human race would look like. I highly recommend for sci-fi and fiction.

  • Self-improvement: Atomic Habits – Who are we beyond what we repeatedly do? This book has had several rave reviews and recommendations, so I’m just passing it along.  This one is for the guy in your life who really wants to reach a clear goal he’s said aloud. Turn it into action.
  • Negotiation: Never Split the Difference – Written by Chris Voss, the former FBI top hostage negotiator. He went to Harvard Business School and single-handedly re-wrote a lot of the curriculum. It’s filled with battle-tested strategies and tactics from high-stakes, life or limb negotiations into the business setting and made “professionals” look silly. He deep dives into some great, actionable tactics you can use immediately. I reference this book often before going into negotiations.
  • Learning from the guy who played a big part in Bill Gates and Microsoft’s lives: Paul Allen, Idea Man – There would be no “Paul Allen” without Bill Gates and there’d be no “Bill Gates” without Paul Allen. While they grew apart later in the life of Microsoft, Paul Allen is credited as a pivotal relationship that made Microsoft and Bill Gates what they are today. Paul Allen recently passed away in 2018 and the Seattle community speaks incredible things about his impact on the community. Pairs incredibly well with the Netflix limited-series Inside Bill’s Brain.

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He deserves something saying, “I’m really thankful you were in my life this year!” The section of the gift guide for men who are close friends and family.

  • Manly Man Toolkit – If he owns a home and doesn’t yet have a legitimately complete toolset, this is where you come in. No power tools included, but you’re moving onto bigger and better projects. Includes a set of wire cutters and wire strippers for small electrical projects. I changed my first chandelier this year and I’m one proud guy. It was relatively easy and definitely saved us $100-200+ to have a professional electrician do what amounts to a 30-minute project.

  • Power Bank – “I NEED THE JUICE!” This power bank will make sure he’s charged up all day and all night long. You’re seeing a theme. What is a man without his charge? What you’re paying for is density. You want the most capacity for the smallest profile. This one will charge a phone 6 times and tablets at least 2 times. This is one you can comfortably carry in your pocket or travel bag very discreetly. 
  • Portable Jump Starter with Air Compressor – This is for the guys who spend a lot of time in their car and on the road. My Mom recently had her car battery die in an inconvenient spot where someone couldn’t park beside her and jump her car without extra-long cables. This would’ve been a lifesaver so I bought it that day for any future cases. Keep it charged up and never have an issue with low tire pressure or a dead battery. Especially good for road trips since it can help fill up balls and bicycle tires too. My favorite feature is the compressor hose can screw onto your tire nozzle securely before turning on the compressor. Every guy needs one of these in their car. 
  • Button-down shirts: Without fail for almost a decade, J. Crew has been my go-to for casual button-down shirts. They’ve always had great tailored fit accentuating my shoulders and slim my torso. They update their prints annually with a few classics and I always come back. These are fantastic shirts that will last and last. I have had 1-2 “busted sleeves” where I ripped a hole through the sleeve because when I wear it with my sleeves rolled up, my elbow can get caught in the wrong part of the shirt when working and I rip through the sleeve. This only happens after a lot of washes through the years or the one time I mistakenly bought a factory version. Get the real deal!
  • Dress Pants – Sometimes it’s okay to get the store brand. These Nordstrom Chinos are perfect to me. You’re getting him a pair of pants for a great price, good feel, and fit great. Skip the pleats. The trick is getting them tailored. If you’re a Nordstrom member or get them full-price they’ll tailor them for free.
  • Food Accelerator: AKA a blowtorch attachment – This is on my wishlist. I sous vide pork loins, but really haven’t gotten to sear it to perfection. I’d sous vide a lot more pork loins and steaks if I had a blow torch and this accessory to sear it without a pan. Become the life of the party when you bring this to a friend’s house or host at your place. Pull this bad boy out and showcase your searing skills. 

  • Lounge Pants – part of my weekend uniform – These pants from Outdoor Voices are incredibly versatile. I start every Saturday with them on rain or shine. I can get a workout in, handle some chores, and go out and run errands while looking great and feeling great. Every guy could use a pair.
  • Tommy John Boxer Briefs –  I know…underwear…really? Yes really. As a guy who has at times severely underinvested in underwear, take it from me that you want to spend a little extra on a few pairs of underwear. Remember…they’re the most intimate part of his everyday dress. Invest in keeping your man’s parts comfortable and dry. I also love that boxer briefs are comfortable and breathable enough to get a good workout in too. Get him a pair (like 2 pairs hah)
  • Low Profile 550-fill Down Vest – I never really understood vest weather until I went to South Korea for the Olympics and had multiple layers for a day that might be in the 60s and then go down to the 20s by the evening. Perfect vest weather is a variation of 40-60 degrees. I understand why people in Northern California wear them now that Texas has had a more temperate fall/winter season with similar weather on good days. If you have a season where you’re in this zone, get him a low profile vest. Warm, but just warm enough. 

  • Weighted Blanket – For the “cuddler” sleepers. The guy who put pillows around them or try and hug you a lot. If you like this, don’t buy this. If they’re a little anxious when sleeping alone, this will put that to rest. The weighted blanket will make you feel like you’re being hugged all night long.
  • Cast Iron Pan with Enamel Coating – William Sonoma is providing a huge discount at the time of this posting. If you don’t have a cast-iron skillet in his pots/pans repertoire, he should get one. They’re perfect for searing steaks and making a whole host of recipes that need to transition to or from the oven. I recommend the enamel-coated version because it needs far less babying (what most call “seasoning”) through its uses. This pan will get so hot, it can turn low-smoke point oils like olive oil directly into flames. I accidentally pour oil in AFTER I heated the pan on high and made an accidental and embarrassing flambé. 

Subscriptions

We are reaching “subscription overload” at this point. With that in mind, this section of my gift guide for men only includes what I deem “the essentials.”

  • The Athletic – Great sports writing is dead. Except at The Athletic. I subscribed recently to follow my dear Texas Longhorns. Their editorial and level of detail is amazing. Great team coverage that’s nuanced and detailed. They cover all major teams and sports, but make sure they cover the team and sport your guy wants. His subscription gets him All-Access, so he can also read the best national stories.
  • Disney+ – Hard not to include this. Disney received 10,000,000+ subscribers on the first day. At $6.99/month it’s a no-brainer if you’re a Disney fan or have kids. Sometimes I forget some of their best movies are only available on DVD or very limited release. If he’s a Hulu subscriber, you can help him add it for ~$4.
  • Wall Street Journal – I’ve always gravitated to WSJ as my go-to source of information. I’ve been able to trust their reporting and writing across multiple sectors. They have a “gotcha” special at $1 for 2 months that hooked me. It’s ~$40/month so after all the 50% off specials and stuff, so it can turn out to be a fairly extravagant gift. Great for having a well-read man in your life. For me, I just got tired of getting paywalled too often for articles I wanted to read. The subscription is intellectual freedom from the paywall hah!
  • Dollar Shave Club – I don’t even shave that often and it’s just nice never running out of razors. 

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Just wow! For the guys who have made a big impact on your life year-after-year. They’ve earned a golden goose egg of a gift. This section of my gift guide for men will put the AYYYY! in his holiday!

  • Long Sleeve Henley and Tommy John Joggers – I hate pajamas. Does that make me a monster? I never thought I’d wear pajamas, but Tommy John changed my mind. These “second skin” PJs are so incredibly soft and breathable I couldn’t help but wear them. I run hot, so the fact they’re soft and still allow me to sleep cool makes a big difference. I’m hooked. Just bite the bullet and buy the whole set. It’ll be the most expensive set of PJs ever, but wow…with these you definitely get what you pay for.
  • Lululemon pants that could pass for work pants – As a long-time ABC pants customer, I know some of their pants can almost pass for dark chinos, which is a beautiful thing. These pants have fewer seams and give him a pseudo-professional look depending on his workplace and obviously he can jump straight into the gym with by just switching his shirt and shoes. Isn’t life wonderful with little miracles like this!
  • Chelsea Boots – These new slip-on boots Hoang-Kim got me are amazing. Call me lazy, but I hate having to tie my shoes. I really enjoy having a pair of professional boots I can wear with any pair of jeans, chinos, or slacks. Plus it’s one pair of boots I’ll probably get multiple colors of. 
  • Airpod Pros: This is the gift on the list that I’m getting myself. If you haven’t graduated to Bluetooth earbuds one way or another, you should at least upgrade to Airpods. They changed my life. My hope is I can run with Airpod Pros. I’ve heard from friends you can put these in while standing in Times Square and have pure, unadulterated silence. It’s glorious!
  • Noise Cancelling Wireless Headphones: Indispensable. My travel and office life have never been the same since. If he works in an open office floor plan and can wear these, get them for him ASAP. Als, if he travels a lot, get them for him ASAP. They are a staple for weekly or bi-weekly travelers.

  • Game console – New consoles like the Playstation 5 come out next year. That means you can get this generation game console at a great price a long with a bunch of games. For the casual gamer or gamer couple, this is a perfect time to get one for your house. At worst you have a smart TV now. Also, I mostly write a gift guide for “men.” This is a gift that all kids will LOVE. I know my eyes lit up multiple times as a kid getting a console or new games. 

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Bonus Section of my gift guide for men $$$$ – When money ain’t no thang!

  • Vacuum that makes you feel like a certified Ghostbuster – I have a weird relationship with vacuuming. Namely, I love it. Something about vacuuming is uniquely soothing to me. Maybe it’s that there’s an instant result. Maybe it’s the sound. I’m not sure what it is, but like all the things I love in my life, I invest in the best tools. This vacuum is tiny, powerful, and doubles in making me feel amazing because of the shape and user experience. It’s one of a kind. We recently got this for a friend as a wedding present and his wife said she hasn’t seen him light up like that since the wedding hah!
  • Is this heaven? Sleep on this cloud – This really isn’t a gift for him as it is a gift for you both. If you’re due, try out this mattress. Hoang-Kim wrote a full post on why we love it here. I’ve been sleeping on one for the last few years and I get amazing sleep. It’s not for everyone, but I love a soft mattress. It’s got the right amount of firmness for me. A cloud that supports my back and will support yours. You spend 33% of your life on this thing, so make the investment. Plus, they have a hybrid with coils and a super bougie one called the Legend our friend says is worth every penny.
  • Working man’s messenger bag – Ladies…look at that man go. I have a Ted Baker messenger bag I invested in during my first internship in NYC. I’ve never received more compliments consistently over the years. The inner lining elevates this bag to sophisticated and accents a masculine leather shell. Sounds like your man. If he takes care of this bag, it’ll take care of him for a lifetime. 

Going for the grand slam in my last gift guide for men!

This idea fits somewhere between buying the latest iPhone and buying a new car.

  • Macbook Pro 16”: The “new new” one. I have to put this on my list because I’ve heard it’s glorious and at least has me looking at upgrading my laptop. This is really only something to consider if this is your main workhorse computer. Basically, they learned from their last “Pro” gaffe by putting back the “ESC” key, re-did the keyboard where it feels amazing again, and put in speakers that sound impossibly good for a laptop. Besides all the typical technical upgrades, those are the three reasons to upgrade.

If you’ve made it all the way down here, I want to say thank you so much for reading! I hope these ideas have inspired you to get the men in your life a little something special this holiday season.

I made sure for my last guide of the decade I went deeper than ever before and to add a lot of new gift ideas in my 2019 gift guide for men. If you’d like more ideas, take a look at my 2018 gift guide for men. I try my best to give a good percentage of “timeless” gifts in my guides.