what to get your boyfriend this holiday season

Reader A. G. writes:

You wrote a post to let the guys know what their ladyfriends want this Christmas. So what should we ladies be buying our menfriends?

Dear A.G.:

Guys love presents! Image: Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Excellent question.

I conducted a similar bit of scientific research with my menfolk friends as I did with my womenfolk friends to get the ideas below.

A few notes:

While guys and girls both definitely appreciate personal touches (as in, the gift-giver has paid enough attention to go and get a gift for you that you really want), guys are a bit less likely to take it personally if the gift is more generic. Also, gift cards are not out of the question, as long as they’re to the right shop. Furthermore, the element of surprise is not necessarily as important to the gents as it is to the ladies,  so don’t be afraid to ask the guy what he wants, and take notes, because he’s probably going to be very specific.

Like the ladies I talked to, the guys also said that, in their dream worlds, the gifts they get would be something they wouldn’t get for themselves, either because of finances or time or because it’s too whimsical. Gift certificates fit into this mold, because you’re giving him more resources to get stuff he actually wants.

Whatever you get him, it’ll remind him of you whenever he uses it, so keep that in mind. What I mean is: At what point in his day do you want him to be thinking of you? Or: Do you really want to be associated with that?

Finally, here is the one best rule for gift-giving: Know the person you’re giving the gift to. Don’t get sports equipment for the couch potato unless he’s asked for it; don’t buy XBox Live for the PC gamer; don’t buy the Almodovar DVD collector’s set for the guy who only watches Bruce Willis movies. Christmas is not about crafting your mate in the image you want him to be, capisce?

Here, then, are the top things my guy friends want for the holidays this year:

– Sex. Yes, this may sound like it’s coming from a complete stereotype, but a lot of guys said they wanted sex, and even if they were joking (I took answers like “a hooker” and “a threesome” as jokes), I’m not too stupid to get the hint. Sex is important to men (not to say it’s not important to women, too, but we’re talking about guys right now), so it shouldn’t be a surprise they’d like some over the holidays. The key to making sex a “present” is to do something you wouldn’t normally do. Maybe consider getting dolled up in a new set of lingerie, or buy a new kind of lube that you can try together. Some of my guy friends suggested arranging a threesome (again, they dismissed it as a joke, but it was a reflex reaction, so we’re going to assume it’s something they’re thinking about), which is something you can consider if you and your partner are into that sort of thing. (Although I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it unless it’s something you’ve both talked about extensively in the past and decided you are both completely comfortable with.) Sometimes, an unexpected BJ can be gift enough (and I just heard about these things [NSFW!], which I haven’t tried, but might be worth it). This is a good time to expand your intimacy repertoire together, so have fun and do something you’re going to really enjoy, too. One guy suggested “Sex Coupons” that a guy can redeem throughout the year, but I think that ruins the fun of it. Best idea is to light some candles, get both of you in the mood, and do something new or really interesting for a change. If the whole idea of having sex this holiday season just freaks you out… you’ve got other things you need to worry about more than what gift you’re getting your BF.

– Technology and toys. The new Transformer Tablet came up several times, as did a camera, phone, and other gadgets. Most guys have a very specific brand, make, and model of what they want, and they won’t mind you asking to double check. If you want to make it a complete surprise, do the research yourself and find the most popular, useful piece of technology that caters to your man’s specific needs. A few of the guys I talked to said “toys” and really meant “toys” — remote-controlled stuff, robots, whatever. This includes video games. If your guy is like any other gamer I have ever known, he’s probably already bought Batman: Arkham City for himself, but if he hasn’t… you know what to do.

– Being taken on a date. Guys dig this as much as ladies do, but this is a particularly idea if he’s always the one taking you out. Get dressed up, pick him up, and take him to a nice dinner and a movie. Or make him his favorite dinner and have the movie he’s been wanting to see queued up on Netflix. Add candles and turn off the phone to make it special. And then you can segue really easily into gift idea #1 above!

– Equipment he needs for his sport/hobby. If your man is really into working out, get him gym stuff. If he’s into motorcycles, motorcycle stuff. Is he thinking about making beer? Get him the kit to get started. One guy told me his dream gift this holiday season would be a carbon fibre tandem bike (and he sent me this pic to boot). While I’ve mentioned that guys won’t take it as personally if you give them something more generic, you still have to be careful about giving gifts that send the wrong message. Sports equipment can fall under this category if he’s got a weight problem you’re both aware of. Err on the side of stuff he’s already interested in, and not stuff you wish he would be interested in. He’ll probably be happy to tell you exactly what stuff he wants, too.

– Toiletries and skin care products he doesn’t even know about. As ladies, we tend to be more in the know about skin and beauty upkeep products than the guys, but they need pampering, too. Use your knowledge for good! Get him the best tools for skincare, shaving, ingrown toenails, or whatever other things plague him. This is good because he may actually be too embarrassed to buy them for himself, but when he starts using them, he’ll be extremely happy. (As one friend put it, “That apricot scrub stuff? I mean, who knew! Awesome!”) Be careful about solving problems that are too medical, because, again, this is something he’s going to associate with you every time he uses it. Plus, nobody wants Preparation H in his stocking, even if he needs it.

– A watch. This depends on the guy, of course, but watches are “jewelry for dudes”, which guys so rarely get to indulge in. (Cuff links are even more specific, because who wears cuff links anymore?) And they can be extremely personal. This falls under the “when I’m wearing it, I think of her” charm, too. Watches can run the gamut from breaking the bank to pretty inexpensive while still maintaining quality. Find something that matches his personality.

– A new job. This was quite possibly the weirdest response I got, but there were several guys who honestly said this. Obviously, you can’t magically give someone a new job (and there are ethical questions about giving your boyfriend a job even if you could), but I think the fact that this response was so prevalent means a few things. Possibly the most obvious is that we are all a little preoccupied with the economy these days, and not just for monetary reasons. Notice these guys asked for a new job, not a boatload of cash. I think that means they feel that they are stuck in a job that they don’t enjoy or in which they aren’t paid enough because they can’t find another job that’ll take ’em. It’s a mixture of feeling inadequate (“I don’t have enough talent or the right skills to get the job I want”) and trapped (“This organization doesn’t function properly or take care of me but there’s nowhere else for me to go”). While you could spend time finding jobs he could apply to, help him with his resume, and do some networking with him, I think the best gift to give him in this situation is support for when he’s not at work. Make him feel needed, loved, and important. Encourage him to do stuff he enjoys (those aforementioned hobbies and sports) and treat them with the same sort of respect as something that earns him a paycheck. If you know he’s having trouble at work, you’re probably already experiencing some of the backlash in your relationship, so go easy on him as much as you can. Treat him to something that’ll get his mind off of it, and don’t let the holidays make an already stressful situation worse.

That’s basically all the guys I knew said they wanted. Guys can be hard to shop for, because if they don’t have any ideas, they really don’t have any ideas, but as you can see above, they’re pretty easy to please. Remember: You can’t go wrong with a BJ. Mostly.

5 Responses to “what to get your boyfriend this holiday season”

  1. December 1, 2011 at 1:15 pm

    Interesting that you said guys don’t need the element of surprise. I just had a discussion about this the other day with my husband – he doesn’t understand my desire to know what my presents will be (I’ve been known to buy things for myself and sell them to others to give me as gifts). I explained that I am picky and want to make sure I get something I’m going to like and use, rather than clutter I feel obligated to keep. He, on the other hand, would prefer to be surprised by a gift (even if it’s off of a list – he doesn’t want to be sure what he’s getting). I’m going to respect his desire to be surprised, although I still prefer my way. I know some of the surprises I’ve gotten for him in the past are sitting in closets, unused, while the Dutch oven I bought myself last Christmas has become an indispensible part of my kitchen. And it’s my favorite color.

    • December 1, 2011 at 1:53 pm

      Good examples and I’m glad you two have your gift-giving figured out. My sister is much more concerned with surprise than I am — I have absolutely no problem with opening gifts before Christmas or knowing what they are. Some people just like the surprise. I think more of my girlfriends are into surprises than my guy friends, but it depends entirely on the personality. Merry Christmas Kristin 🙂

    • December 1, 2011 at 3:05 pm

      I agree, I absolutely love a good surprise. If I could get something that makes me laugh, or has ties to a fun inside joke, that would mean the world to me.

      Also, I love the watch idea. But, I really don’t think that it needs to be a surprise. Because I would kind of feel weird if she got me a watch I didn’t really want, or like. I wouldn’t want that obligation of having to wear it. What I would absolutely love, is if we were at the store shopping and I found a watch I fell in love with, and she picked up the tab (or part of it) as a last minute surprise. This kind of thing would mean the world to me. The watch I have, reminds me of my GF every time I wear it, because I bought it while we were on a trip to Phoenix. We were at a Fossil store and she picked up the tab on a wallet (because my other one was falling apart). But, I fell in love with a watch, and bought that for myself. When people compliment my watch, I always have that “my girlfriend got it for me, while we were in Phoenix” response. Its weird, but I have a feeling I paid for my own wallet, and she “helped” pay for my watch. Somehow the watch means more to me, as if it’s from her, than my wallet does. Which I know, is weird. But every time i wear it, it totally reminds me of her.

      Also, another suggestion, I would love an impromptu weekend trip to a neighboring city, or a state that is within driving distance. That would be fantastic!

      sorry for the ramble.


  2. 4 Brian
    December 1, 2011 at 4:53 pm

    Good suggestions – except, I must say, for the video games. I’ve known plenty of women who simply don’t see their dudes anymore because they’re so enthralled by video games. Make sure before you purchase something like this that he has demonstrated a healthy relationship with video games in the past and is not spending 80% of his time away from work (including sleep) cranking away on the Xbox. I actually quit video games because of this problem – and the realization that for all the work you’re doing, you aren’t actually accomplishing anything.

  3. December 2, 2011 at 4:34 pm

    So i want carbon fiber cyber-sex rolex’d in an apple arkham city skin at taco cabestee lauder with an upward mobility cinematic cunnilingus position. Guys are so simple.

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