Hi everyone! Neal here. Wherever you are reading this from, I hope you are safe and relatively sane. Despite all that 2020 has been, I’m proud to admit that I remain very excited for the holidays. Maybe even more than usual. I know things look different this year, but I’m grateful for all the extra time Jess and I are getting to spend together.
That brings us to this gift guide. We put a lot of time and effort into it (and had fun doing it!) because 1. I feel like every guy is hard to buy for and 2. if my name is on anything on this blog, I’m not half-assing it!
Whether you’re shopping for your significant other, father, father in law, grandpa, brother, friend, coworker, I think you’ll find some great ideas here! To give you an idea of my conviction in the guide, every single item is either something I already own or something I really want–from small businesses to my favorite larger retailers.
We’ve made this easy and broken the post up into quick-shop categories. Just click the category you want to peruse first, and you’ll be taken straight there.
I realize that this is a list of material items recommended for purchase (stay tuned for our “experience” gift guide coming soon), but I truly hope that a few of these ideas can help you spread a little love and make someone feel special this holiday season. I know we all need it. Thank you for following along and making the GG possible. Your support of my wife means more than you know. Happy Holidays!
Gift Guide: Neal’s Favorite Things + Gifts For Him!
TABLE OF CONTENTS
TABLE OF CONTENTS
— > Fitness <—
— > Work<—
— > Travel <—
— > Bar/Kitchen<—
— > More Favorites <—
Garmin Instinct Watch:
After my research, I decided on this watch over the Apple Watch, because it’s more rugged and fitness oriented. Has lots of cool features and is easy to track miles, steps, calories burned, and more. Plus, the battery lasts forever–up to 14 days in certain modes.
Everyman Jack Body Wipes:
Not a substitute for a shower, just a great item to own for those post-workout meetups. Disclaimer, they’re a sponsor of ours, but they definitely didn’t sponsor the feature in this gift guide. This company is so legit, affordable, clean and I love all their products.
Inexpensive Workout Headphones:
An awesome stocking stuffer or budget gift. If you’re looking for an inexpensive alternative to AirPod Pros, I can’t rave about them enough- sound quality is good (not life-changing, not bad), battery life is great (they charge in their little case), and if you lose them (like I have twice) they cost $20, so you’re not even mad!
Apple AirPod Pros:
On the flip side, if you can splurge, I reluctantly have to admit–the AirPod pros are worth the hype. (I was a hater when they first came out.) The sound quality is amazing and the noise cancellation is an absolute must for anyone sharing a home workspace with their family. They are constantly in my ears and have held up after a year of intense workouts. Worth every penny and it looks like Amazon has them for $50 off right now.
In my old age I need to spend a lot more time on workout recovery. This little kit has almost everything I need and has been especially helpful in helping with plantar fasciitis.
Ten Thousand Workout Shorts:
Ten thousand has become one of my favorite small brands for workout gear. They focus on just a few items, but they make them great. (I am obviously a fan of the short shorts.)
Yeti Backpack Cooler:
Absolutely worth the splurge! I bought this ahead of our van camping trip this summer. It served as a second fridge on the road and it has been a constant companion at the beach, long weekends, picnics, camping trips, and more. Keeps things way colder than a regular cooler and you can’t beat the ease of the backpack straps.
One of my favorite presents I’ve ever received. I got this last year and use it every day. Excellent for any fitness junkie, it’s great for muscle recovery. (Recovery matters more and more to me now that I’m old.)
Jumping rope is an awesome workout, wherever you are. It will improve your cardio, legs and general athleticism. This one is super thin and easy to pack and adjust, so it’s great for small spaces and travel (whenever that happens again).
Lululemon Long Sleeve Breathable Shirts:
I wear long sleeves to do a lot in the gym. These shirts are the best. If he likes the gym, he’ll love these! End of story.
Most of us are of at-home workouts, but these bands are great in any setting – home, travel, or in the gym bag.
Equilibria Relief Cream:
I might be a bit biased (as my wife works for the company) but, I truly believe this company of amazing women produce the best CBD products in the game. I use the relief cream daily and it especially helps with my sore rotator cuffs and Achilles. Would be great for any dads or uncles with arthritis or back pain, too. Use code JESSKEYS for 15% off your first purchase.
ESQ Bamboo Shirt:
ESQ is one of my go-to’s for custom suiting, and I’m also a huge fan of their Bamboo shirts. Ge Wang, the owner, has become a great friend over the years–he’s incredibly talented and knows his stuff. This shirt is cut to look great in a suit, jeans (or gym shorts for a zoom call). Moisture and sweat-wicking, but looks just as crisp as fresh-pressed cotton. If you really want to spoil your guy, get him this shirt to unwrap, and then make him an appointment to get a custom jacket or suit to match. A great local business to support. Tell Ge we sent you!
Bonobos Italian 5 Pocket Pants:
Fabulous quality. Great whether he needs statement or everyday slacks. They’re easier to dress up than a chino, super comfortable, and really sharp looking. He’ll wear them everywhere from the office to nights out. They run true to size for me.
Catch-All Charger Station:
At $30 on Amazon Prime, this is a great budget-friendly gift for anyone. Your work husband, your brother––perfect for his desk, and he’ll always have you to thank for fully-charged earbuds and iPhone!
Orient Bambino 2 Watch:
A high quality, great value dress watch from a legendary Japanese brand. Comes in 5 colors and will look both stylish for work and weekend.
Handmade Leather Home Office Accessories:
A great gift to make his home office more official-feeling, I love the look of this handmade set from Etsy. Comes with a laptop pad, mouse pad, and pen holder.
My other go-to for custom items is BLVDier, run by husband-wife duo Zach and Kristen Uttich. I’ve had some amazing blazers made from them over the years, and highly recommend them for any custom suiting! They also have some great gifts available in their online shop. These scarves caught my eye–beautiful, versatile, lightweight and warm. Made in Salerno, Italy. They go with just about everything–from work to the weekend. Every guy needs a nice scarf in his wardrobe.
I love Lolë’s Classon Coat and Irving Packable Jacket (and vest!) for different reasons. The Irving is warm AF, and stylish (something that has held me back from puffy jackets), and can collapse to the size of a fist. The Classon is basically the Irvings’ heavier duty big brother. If you have the budget to splurge on a REALLY warm coat–this is it. The Classon is also several inches longer and has a hood, which adds to the warmth as well–either are great, just depends on what he’s looking for!
Bonobos Travel Jeans:
A great change up from traditional denim. Adds some color to an outfit, and you don’t have to worry about the wrinkles. I have several pairs and they’ve held up for years.
Not the MOST original, but Allbirds are popular for good reason! Great for daytime adventures, especially for vacation. I have both the wool runners (good for winter) and the tree runners (good for warmer weather because they’re more breathable) and give both two thumbs up. They’re an awesome, sustainable brand, too!
Topo Weekender Backpack:
I made it through a week in Europe with this on my back. Fits a ton, looks great.
Herschel Toiletry Case:
My constant travel companion. Fits every toiletry I need. (And I have more of them than the average guy. As you can probably guess. 🤷🏻♂️).
UE Boom 3 Portable Speaker:
I’ve had a portable UE speaker for years now and it has been one of the most versatile things ever purchased. We bring it everywhere with us–from the park, to the lake house, to Europe. It’s about the size of a tall boy can and the sound is unbeatable. Would make a great gift for any guy but especially your dad who still plays music from his iPhone while doing yardwork.
Jess got me a passport case before our first international trip together. I love it because I’m reminded of that every time I grab it, but also because it stores my Global Entry card and foreign currency in addition to my passport. Shinola and Mark and Graham both have awesome options, and Etsy has great budget-friendly options, too!
There is a brown, masculine version of the carry-on every blogger you know has. (Including my #1. 😉) And I have it and love it. It fit enough clothes for 10 days in Spain, and is also v stylish.
National Parks Pass:
Good for all national parks in the US, this is an awesome experience gift for him to open that will spark a much bigger adventure! Plus, it helps support and give back to our national parks.
Bearbottom Ripstop Pants:
Awesome mult-functional pants that are great for any outdoor activity or trip. They’re stylish but waterproof, making them great for hiking, camping/etc.
Danner Hiking Shoes:
I bought these for our big hiking trip this past summer and they were awesome. Super comfortable, no rubbing, and great for navigating rocky trails. As far as hiking shoes go, I think this is about as stylish as they come. A great buy for 2020 when we’re all getting outdoors a lot more.
My go-to water cup at home, and also excellent for drinks on the road–from camping, to tropical vacations. (This has been clutch for our last two trips to Mexico where your drinks usually get warm in 5 seconds!) Here’s hoping it will be able to make a return visit in 2021.
“Build his Bar” idea:
Nice whiskey tumblers paired with a couple great bottles of whiskey make an incredible, zero fail gift for men of any age. (Tip: men don’t like receiving glassware unless it comes with booze, so don’t forget that part. 😉) We have a couple nice Waterford glasses (like this set for $100) we received for our wedding I love drinking whiskey out of, but we also have these affordable ones from Crate & Barrel! Even better, if he’s into vintage stuff–is to find him a great vintage set. (Etsy is great for this!) Pair it with some great booze–I always recommend Basil Hayden’s, or if you really want to spoil him–Blanton’s, if you can get your hands on some. (This is also an excellent thing to get a guy you just started dating!)
An awesome, novice-friendly wine club. (We know because we belong to it and we know very little about wine.) They work only with small vineyards that produce small-batch wines you can’t find at your normal liquor store. You can get choose the frequency, red, white, or a mix of both. Such a great gift for any wine lover.
Pottery Barn Bar Set:
Every guy who loves cocktails needs a nice bar set, and Pottery Barn makes really beautiful, high-quality sets. I love the look of this one–super classic, and it’ll last him forever.
TC Whiskey Cocktail Cherries:
Truly the best cocktail cherries in the game. (Sometimes Jess just eats them straight from the jar with a spoon.) Support a fantastic Midwestern brand & small business working hard to create magic. Their entire online shop is awesome, and if you ever visit in person, tell Chris and the boys we sent you!
Cocktail smoking kit:
This cool little kit from Etsy is perfect for any guy who loves a smoky cocktail–now he can create it at home with this torch and wooden stave made from a vintage Bourbon barrel!
Weber iGrill Bluetooth Thermometer:
This is great for guys who love to grill. It allows you to get exact, digital reads on your meat through Bluetooth connectivity. Ideal for winters, you can be nice and warm inside and don’t have to worry that you’re overcooking on the grill. The app lets you know when you’ve reached the ideal temperature for your meat- done and done.
Blue Apron gift card:
As you know, Jess and I are big fans of Blue Apron, and I think a gift card would make a great gift for anyone, but especially single guys–like your college-grad nephew, your bachelor brother, or busy best friend in grad school. $120 covers a two-week delivery of 3 recipes on any 2-serving Meal Plan! (Servings are perfect for entertaining a date, or having leftovers for lunch the next day!)
I have definitely sharpened my cooking skills since starting Blue Apron, and the meals are damn good, too. Way better than anything else I could come up with! (Plus, most guys will do anything to avoid the grocery store). *Full disclosure, they are a sponsor, but they deserve a spot in this gift guide because we love them so much and have made cooking over the past couple of months so much easier and a lot more fun!
Grill Light with Bluetooth Speaker:
Another great idea if your guy loves to grill. It lights the grill (nice to have especially in the winter) and plays music to keep you entertained.
Mino’s Prime Steaks:
If you’ve followed us for a while, you know we have been huge proponents of Mino and his crew. A true pandemic success story, Mino and a few colleagues worked in a top tier Chicago steak house and started their small business out of necessity when Covid hit. The concept is simple – steak house cuts at wholesale prices….hand delivered fresh to your door the next day (all of Chicagoland). What’s not to love?? We have used Mino for special occasions at home, meal planning, stocking the freezer, and of course the holidays! Trust me, his fantastic filets or a bone in rib-eye does indeed make a fantastic gift. Especially for the guy that has everything!
Grill Prep Marinade Tray with Carving Board Lid
For the guy who loves to grill, this set is multi-functional with the tray designed for marinating/preparing meat and vegetables. The lid makes it easy to store in the fridge overnight, easy to carry out to the grill, and when the meat is done, just pop it on the cutting board lid, and carve it. No more worrying about cross-contamination.
Stock MFG is my favorite local menswear brand. They are great guys that make great clothes. I especially love my navy chore coat, and right now, 10% of proceeds are donated to Chicago hospitality workers affected by the pandemic.
Bearbottom Stretch Joggers:
I clicked on an instagram add one day and discovered this brand & wow have I been impressed. These joggers nail the “casual but sharp” vibe vs the typical joggers that look more like sweats.
Bookmark from Kingsly Leather:
This is a really cool Black-owned leather shop I found on Etsy, and they make lots of beautiful leather accessories. I love the idea of this nice leather bookmark to go along with a few new books! An inexpensive, but very thoughtful gift.
A copy of A Promised Land
I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy of Barack Obama’s new book. The perfect gift to go along with that awesome bookmark. Tip: If you buy it via Bookshop.org, you can help support local bookshops.
Some great sunglasses:
If your guy wants something a little bit out of the box though, check out the long-standing Italian brand, Persol. These Steve McQueen inspired shades were one of the few gifts I bought for myself this year. They’re are a bit over the top..but so am I. 😂
Spikeball is an awesome game for anyone who likes to be active and loves friendly competition–from teenagers to fit grandpas. It’s an affordable gift your whole family can get in on, and a good outdoor activity. We’ve given this as a gift to Jess’ nephews and play this on the beach with my family.
Men’s charcoal face mask:
This affordable Black-owned skincare company is co-owned by NBA player Matt Barnes, who is also a philanthropist and activist. The company makes products for all hair and skin types. I like to indulge in some nice skincare now and then, and these make the perfect stocking stuffers. (If you tell him it’s Matt Barnes’ company, he’s way more likely to get excited about a new skincare routine.)
Style is so specific regarding boots, but if you’re looking for great boots that’ll last you a lifetime, Redwing can’t be beat. I love this pair because they’re casual but easily dressed up at the same time, and you don’t have to be afraid of beating them up or getting them dirty–they’re made to last.
Ugg Winter Boots:
For really really cold, snowy weather, these are my go-to boots. They’re waterproof, sherpa-lined, and incredibly warm, but not too bulky.
Another “this is in every blogger gift guide” item, but guys, I’ve never met a Barbour jacket I didn’t love. I have a couple now–I have a quilted one they don’t sell anymore (but this flyweight version is similar and awesome) or any of the classic waxed styles. Jess got me the Bedale for Christmas a couple years back, and I love it and need it for six months of the year. And it is so well made it will outlive me.
Bonobos Flannel Lined Chinos:
These feel like sweats but look like chinos–the best of both worlds. He’ll wear them at home, he can wear them into the office (if he’s going into the office), he’ll wear them to brave the elements to meet his friends for a beer at a social distance. Cozy, but they won’t make him overheat. I love these pants. Run TTS.
Baxter of California Comb:
I know it will surprise no one that I love my hair comb…but seriously, this comb is the best. For any guy that puts effort into his hair (you know who you are), this is the best stocking stuffer. It’s also sold on Amazon, so it’s great as a last-minute gift, too.
Vinyl Me, Please:
This company is setting the world on fire and was actually founded by a high school track teammate of mine. The perfect gift for the avid vinyl music lover–a record subscription!
Custom Giant Jenga
Who doesn’t love life size Jenga!? I happen to be a very big giant Jenga enthusiast and I think this would make a great gift for any guy and the whole family. (Especially great for socially distanced outdoor fun). Plus, you’re supporting a small biz at the same time. Great for the fun-loving guy who has everything.
Continuing on the vinyl theme, if he’s into music and doesn’t yet have a record player, is SUCH a cool gift. We love our Audiotechnica–it’s definitely one of the top quality players for the money.
Kindle + Books:
Jess got me a Kindle last year and I have to admit, I love it a lot more than I thought I would. Even better? Pre-load it with a couple great reads for him to start–I recommend any of the following for any guy: Boys in the Boat, Endurance, Shoe Dog, Grit, and The Chris Farley Show.
Most men don’t read enough for fun (myself included). Help change that.
Seiko Dive Watch:
Affordable, sharp, and probably the most versatile watch I own. It’s a sport (diver) watch made by Seiko. A go-to brand of mine, especially on vacation. This thing is indestructible and I love that it’s so easy to swap watch bands–Amazon has a ton of really affordable options, like this one.
WM Brown Project Magazine:
Matt Hranek is one of my absolute favorite follows on Instagram. He embodies eating, drinking, dressing, and traveling well and never takes himself too seriously. He’s a CondeNast writer by trade and a subscription to his magazine is the perfect gift for the stylish man in your life.