If you’re one of those people who absolutely never knows what to get your boyfriend come V-Day, firstly, relax. Chances are you’re taking this waaaaaay too seriously and that’s what’s getting you stressed–instead of trying to come up with the Best Gift Ever or some kind of showstopper, it’s always better to think about what your boyfriend enjoys and cater to his interests in a thoughtful way. If he’s an accomplished chef, a nice cutting board or kettle goes a long way; if he’s an avid reader, a fresh new read or even bookends for his library might be the right fit. If you’ve used your play-to-his-interests card over and over, however, there does come a day when you run out of ideas–and that’s where we’ve got you, so don’t even bother worrying. Here are some never-fail items that almost universally score with most gents:
A full set of toiletries never hurts, but more importantly, it’s often the first step to getting neanderthal boyfriends to accepting the gospel of self-care and pampering. If you’re worried your particular caveman won’t take to the goodies, get a gift set in a travel size so he can dabble with skincare without feeling cowed by the number of products. Jack Black’s Jet Set Traveller ($44) carries the holy trinity of products for men: shave cream, face wash and a mercifully light sunscreen.
Shopping for techies can be tough since they usually already possess the tech they’re keen on, but it’s rare that computer nerd boyfriends invest in the items that help them keep their tech in check. It’s a small but meaningful gesture to buy your guy one or more of Fitzy’s Cord Keepers ($12): give him the gift that clearly says “I do love you, but I absolutely will not watch you take 15 minutes to detangle your earphones ever again.”
Gruff outdoorsmen and those who work in physically taxing jobs may not always be interested in cute knick knacks or something that excites. For these hard workers, it’s usually smarter to buy a reliable product that can save them from the exposure they’re working with every day. New boots, new hats and new coats would work great, but ultimately, those hands are going to get scratchy and inflamed due to the cold no matter what: keep that flakiness in check with The Body Shop’s Hemp Hard-Working Hand Protector ($21), and you’ll both feel the difference the next time you clasp hands on a date night.
If your boyfriend is one of those ever-practical, no-time-for-frou-frou guys, then it’s often tempting to buy them a pair of artisanal socks or a nice tie and call it a day. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that approach, but just a little more exploration and you can get them something that is both practical and compelling in design. Something as minimal as the Slim memobottle ($40) can still inspire great excitement in your boyfriend once he realizes his backpacks and messenger bags no longer need to bulge out due to the shape of cylindrical water bottles.
Finally, there’s just something about a timepiece that does it for most blokes. Nobody knows what it is about watches, but even men who don’t wear watches go soft and mushy when presented with one–something about the history and craftsmanship about the watch itself must touch one’s core, or at least, that’s my best guess. When picking a watch for someone else, unless you’re really sure about their design preferences, it’s best to keep it simple. Few deliver better on this front than Timex, and their 41MM Fairfield Leather Weekender ($110) is as close as it gets to a one-size-fits-all elegance as we see these days.