I’m writing this post on the train to Paddington. My MacBook Pro, which is too big to fit on the pull-down table, is wedged sideways on my lap so that I’m having to type around a corner. My iPhone, which lasts approximately three minutes before running out of battery unless it’s plugged into a power point, is jammed between my thighs.
So not the most comfortable of positions – the creative juices are somewhat stilted – but in a way, it’s fitting. Because I find men’s gift guides quite arduous to write. It’s easy to pull one together if you include things like electric shavers and socks and novelty beer selections, but if you actually want to collate some interesting items then it’s a long slog. Riddled with patches of self-doubt. (Would he really want an ornate magnifying glass disguised as a gecko?)
I hope that the present ideas here act as a sort of spring board to further ideas – if he doesn’t need an ornate magnifying glass, then what about an ornate vintage drinks trolley? If he doesn’t like vintage, but the magnifying glass would appeal, then how about one of those and a huge, framed map, perhaps of his birth city or a far-flung country he travelled through on his gap year?
Magnifying glass too archaic? How about night goggles? You catch my drift. One idea leads to the next. At any rate, I’ve left the nose-hair trimmers out and skipped on the aftershave/shower gel sets; you need only click onto the home pages of any big beauty retailer to find dozens of those…
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…although the men’s gift guide wouldn’t be complete without a Tom Ford fragrance, just because they always look (and smell) so ridiculously sexy. Who wouldn’t want one? Tom Ford’s Ombre Leather is £114 here*. Throw in the coolest handkerchiefs on the block and you have a thoughtful little package – the ones above are £15 from Chase & Wonder. To top it all off? The best-looking hair tamer. Johnny’s Chop Shop pomade has a strong hold and cool sheen – it’s £7 at Boots*.
Lot 2, let’s do it – the first item is the Makita laser measure. OK, so who wouldn’t want one of these? If you’ve ever measured anything longer than your arm span with a tape measure then you’ll know how awkward it is; if you’ve renovated a house and measured for carpets, wallpaper, plug socket positions, bed sizes, wardrobe sizes, window sizes and various ceiling heights then a digital measure that’s accurate and requires no measuring partner (“HAVE YOU GOT YOUR END OF THE TAPE RIGHT IN THE CORNER THOUGH? PULL IT TAUT! FFS!”) seems like a no-brainer. Why don’t we all have one? The Makita model looks the part and is £55 at Amazon*.
The last item in the picture above also gets me a little over-excited; it’s a security camera that connects to your smart devices so that you can check what’s going on at home/downstairs/in the cellar. Creepy horror movie scenarios a go-go with that one. £139 at Amazon here*.
Lot 3. Another random ensemble but bear with. This skull poster is actually huge, but here it looks smaller than the welly. You have to take these flatlays with a pinch of salt; I get carried away and my sense of proportion goes out of the window. Take a look at the skull picture online here*; if you fancy investing in something arty yet relatively safe, it’s £168.
Mr AMR declares (and has done for years) that Muck boots are the comfiest wellies in the world. I have to hand it to him; they are very soft and padded and a lot more pleasant to wear than nearly every other brand I’ve tried. I think I may jump ship… From £68 at Amazon here*.
Lastly on this little square of gifting delight, we have a watch winder. A whatty winder, you might ask? Well, it’s for people who have more than one watch and need the one they’re not wearing to stay wound and therefore keep time. Luxury problems and all that. To be fair, I rarely wear my watch now because it stops if you take it off and don’t wear it for more than a day and setting the time is a pain in the arse, now that I can just look at my iPhone every eight seconds instead, so I do see how a watch winder could be a handy old thing. This one is posh – the Perpetua Walnut Winder – and costs £425 here*.
Talking of posh, the lamp pictured above is one of my favourite lamp designs of all time. Classic, curvy-yet-masculine, the Kaiser Lamp by Fritz Hansen is a thing of utter beauty. If he’s into his interiors and you want something special that he’ll keep forever then check it out – it’s £590 here* and comes in lots of different colours.
Stylish book award 2018 goes to the brilliant photography tome called, simply, The Swimming Pool. Find it for £22.75 here*. He could read this whilst perched on his burnt orange footstool, which I want for myself (I’m hoping that Mr AMR reads this to guffaw at my men’s gift choices and then sees that I want the footstool – ditto the laser measure) – it’s from Soho home and is £396 at Liberty here*.
I’d also have the monkey candlesticks, if anyone was offering – they would look brilliant in my dining room! £90 from Liberty* again.
You know what every man needs? A letter opener that’s also an ornate crocodile objet. £45 here*. The book Writers and their Cats also scores style points – it’s very retro – and is a great stocking filler, if his stocking is absolutely flat. And square. The book costs £11.34 here*.
The Tom Ford beard comb has become a bit of a classic, mainly because it’s the cheapest thing you can buy from Tom Ford that has Tom Ford written on it. I think a lipstick even costs more than this comb. Snap it up, it’s a veritable bargain! £30 at John Lewis here*.
Now. Let’s get practical with an excellent coffee machine; I’ve been researching them and this one from Smeg (I will never be at peace with that brand name) comes highly rated time and time again. It’s £259 here*. The Michael Caine print is from amazing online print shop Surface View. They have a huge image inventory and can print onto canvas, wood, wall murals and even onto window blinds. Have a browse – a large black and white photograph, printed and framed, never fails to make a striking present.
Oh, the Rose Shaving Cream from Taylor of Bond Street. I had been buying this for my Dad for his Christmas present for the past few years; he loved it and said that the smell and texture were amazing. He was a stickler for a proper shaving ritual, like his own Dad before him. I wouldn’t have included this if I’d thought it through properly as it has made me a bit sad on the train, but it’s a great little present and I hope that a Dad somewhere gets it on Christmas day and enjoys it as much as mine did. This tub of pure shaving luxury is £10.95 here*.
Again, my sense of proportion has escaped me – the trainer care kit pictured above isn’t a miniature at all, click the link to see it in all its glory! It has loads of special sneaker-cleaning tools and unguents in it. I just chuck my trainers in the washing machine in a pillow case, which is free, but if he likes a bit of a ritual, like car-cleaning (give me strength!) then you can find this kit for £50 here*.
Lot…er…5? GIANT PUG HEAD! Not really, it’s my flatlay trickery again – this is a pen pot. I love the brand that makes all of these vases and jugs and egg cups – you can find the Pug Pen Pot here* for £20 but there are loads of other animals. And you didn’t think I’d get through a post without slipping some bees into the mix? I think that these pyjama bottoms look very pricey and (sort of) royal. An eccentric prince might wear them whilst breakfasting. They are a pleasing £28 at John Lewis*.
I know I said I’d avoid toiletry sets but this one from Liberty, with an amazing Scamp & Dude bag to hold it all in, is excellent. The product prices add up to way more than the price of the set, too – it’s £65 at Liberty here*.
Aha, the ornate gecko magnifying glass. What man cave/office/study/billiards room/library would be complete without one? You can find this L’Objet piece at Liberty here*. What else in this line-up? A very smart coffee press, £55 here* and, for those who like their jewellery chunky, a silver Gucci letter ring. That’s £350 here*. If he has a shortish name, like Norm or Tom or Bob, he could have multiple letter rings and spell his entire name.
And finally (thanks for hanging about until the end, my train-squashed body really appreciates it) some good-looking bits for the discerning wine-drinker/music-listener/egg-eater. The Porter Corkscrew in brass is £48 but will last a lifetime (find it here*); the Sony WH-1000XM3 Noise Cancelling Headphones are epic – not as noise-cancelling as a pair of slow-rebound foam earplugs (see here) but pretty effective. They are £329.99 here*.
Last but not least, the thing on every wishlist up and down the country this year – all the men want one! – an octopus egg cup. I like this for its utter absurdity – it belongs on one of those really long dining tables that you see in stately homes that are open to the public. Where they have to use a loudspeaker to talk to one another at dinner. If that’s you/him, then you can get your egg cup online here* for £16. It’ll be the most luxurious dippy egg he’s ever eaten. Perhaps whilst wearing bee pyjamas.