Muhle R41 Razor Every guy shaves, so why not learn to enjoy it? Seriously, this is what our grandfathers used, and if they were willful enough to avoid the temptation to “upgrade” to cartridge and electric razors through the years, we would have inherited their Gillette razors. This Muhle ($55 - $60) is both functional and beautiful. There are cheaper double edge razors out there, but I think this one is an heirloom; it will outlast you. The knurled handle prevents slipping in the wet/soapy shaving environment, an important design element when there are two exposed razor blade edges. Simple to use, very effective, and great for the skin as it doesn’t lift hairs above the skin level to cut them like modern cartridge or electric razors. That causes ingrow whiskers, the bane of good skin everywhere. Be sure to pick up some double-edge blades, as well (I prefer Derby).
Wallet – Two choices here: one by Hartmann ($35!) and one by Jack Spade ($85). Don’t want anything too big as it will spoil the line of your rear (very important) and cause too much discomfort when driving. These are slim but offer enough space to get you through your day with the necessaries. Either will last for years without worry and is stylish without being trendy.
DR Harris – ($10 - $75) One of the English greats, and a genuine value in skin and body care for men. Environmentally-conscious, but very traditional. Classy packaging, tons of great product lines in very traditional male scents. Personally, I use their shaving soaps and aftershaves (Pink in the summer and Aftershave Milk in the winter). Look amazing in old-school glass bottles on the bathroom counter.
Watch – Citizen EcoDrive ($96) Never needs batteries, classic black band, with day/date. White-face Timex watches are big with the Hipster crowd right now, but I think black is a more mature look. Save the Timex for the weekends and wear this to work.
Homebrewing Kit – If you drink, you should try your hand at making it. I got started brewing about five years ago and have had a ton of fun messing with it every couple of months since then. Totally manageable in an apartment, too. Two big names in homebrewing gear are Northern Brewer ($79) and Williams Brewing ($115) either of which will yield quality results. You’ll need a big stainless stock pot (24qts or better), but that is multipurpose, so it’s not a single-use investment to buy a good one. Making beer is as easy and boiling water and waiting, and these will come with specific instructions.
Tie – Face it, we all eventually get a tie for a holiday, so why not make it a classic worth owning? Sam Hober makes a grenadine tie that is an excellent value at $80. Grenadine is not the color, but instead a type of weave used with either thin (fina) or thicker (grossa) silk used for the tie which gives it a spectacular depth. It offers a point of interest in an otherwise conservative look, like with a light gray or navy suit.
Lytro Light Field Camera ($399) – The most expensive and gadget-y thing on my Christmas list. They’re calling it Camera 3.0, and it works like this: it captures an image of all the rays of light in a given field, and then saves that information in the image file. This allows you to manipulate the digital image focus and zoom by simply clicking on it. Try it out on their website – it is amazing. Not so great for printing images, but just fine for digital use and sharing. Only works with Apple hardware right now, but a Windows version is coming.
Cooks Illustrated – ($25/yr) This is a very guy-oriented cooking magazine. Featuring gadget reviews, historical cooking utensils, head-to-head comparisons, and in-depth experimentation with explanations about the results that don’t insult your intelligence, it’s a classic gift that keeps giving all year long. I cook at least two dishes out of each new magazine that comes and have yet to miss a beat. It’s a gift for him AND you!
Global Chef Knife – ($115 - $225 online) A good chef’s knife makes all the difference in food prep. Sharp, accurate, well-balanced, and stylish, I prefer the Global line of knives. Amazon usually has the best prices, but they’re carried in store by Williams-Sonoma, so you can go try them out. Hand feel is important, so if you’re thinking of getting him a knife, take him to the store so he can try some out. An 8- or 10-inch knife is perfect for everyday use.
AirSwimmers ($40) And now for something completely different: a remote-controlled shark that swims in the air. Who says all gifts need to be practical to be awesome? I want one because, well, let me repeat: a remote-controlled shark that swims in the air.