Remember that episode from season 1 of Gossip Girl when Serena got Dan a really expensive watch for Christmas and he actually made her return it? Finding a gift for your significant other is hard. You have to pick out something in the acceptable price range that’s appropriate for the occasion, and also make sure it’s something special, something he’ll appreciate.
On top of that, boys don’t like “stuff” in general. I helped my guy friend pack for the summer a couple weeks ago, and literally all he had was clothes, a laptop, a basketball and contact solution. Even the people stuck on an island in Lost have more belongings than he does. Guys don’t seem to care for anything beyond basic survival essentials, and there’s nothing romantic about giving your boyfriend shaving cream and video games (obviously a necessity).
They say, “it’s the thought that counts,” and it’s true. It’s established that boys don’t perform close readings of text messages like we do, but they will think about the gift you give them, and show it off to their friends if it’s good. The key to getting your guy the perfect gift is not spending tons of money or trying to think up the most convoluted romantic gesture until your head explodes. Get him something simple and thoughtful to show that you care and that you’ve been listening.
The gift represents to him what you think he wants, and remember, guys are practical creatures. Ideally, you should get him something he’s been meaning to get for himself—if he’s been talking about that new David Sedaris book due in October, preorder it for him on Amazon; if he’s into the World Cup but is too busy investment banking 90 hours a week at his internship, tape the most exciting games for him and add a cute card. This is a chance to show him how well you know him, and you should only give him something homemade if you know you are capable of DIYing something besides a mess or a fire (unlike me). If nothing particular comes to mind, here are a few guidelines for picking out the perfect gift for your guy.
Mr. Frat Daddy
He’s super fratty and he loves guy things. The only things he seems to care about besides you and schoolwork is beer (preferably shotgun) and ESPN. Chick flicks work better than Valium to make him fall asleep, and his diet is comprised of wings and cheeseburgers and he thinks fries are a vegetable. His heroes include Andy Samberg, MacGruber and Keith Stone from Keystone commercials, and his favorite quote on Facebook is “This is SPARTAAAA!”
Don’t buy him anything too fancy, and keep your romantic gestures straightforward.
Also, stay away from mini beer kegs and hot sauce of the month; you are his girlfriend, not his frat bro.
Beatles Rock Band ($53) —a classy game that’s fun for guys and girls.
Classic Shaving Set (28.95) – get him something a little bit fancier than what he’s used to. It’s intimate and luxurious, ideal for those in a stable long-term relationship.
A watch (Swatch, $65) – although most men don’t wear bow ties and suspenders around (unless you’re dating Larry King), a watch is an acceptable functional accessory that he can wear everyday and think of all the wonderful time you guys spent together.
Beanie (Nike, $14)—another accessory a guy’s guy would wear.
His room is rather tasteful for a guy, and he doesn’t hate shopping! He’s also up-to-date on the latest gadgets and has great taste in music, art books, and he likes all the New Age-y buzz—herbal drinks, Moleskine notebooks, hummus, Banksy, converses, Radiohead…(wait, this is a list of its own!)
Desktop drum set (Drumbum, $24) —they accessorize his desk and are also fun to tap on when he’s thinking. Perfect if he’s a music fan.
projection clock (Oregon Scientific, $30): if he’s into gadgets. These alarm clocks project the time onto the ceiling at night so he wouldn’t have to roll over to check the time. It’ll also wake him up every morning, and some models allow you to record a personal greeting.
iPad cover ($19): personalize his favorite gadget! It’s fun and not too expensive, you can even give it to your crush to show interest.
Wallet (Fendi, $249): everyone needs a wallet. Guys like sleek designs and darker colors, and prefer leather (not patent leather) over most other materials. Though you probably shouldn’t spring for this Fendi one, there are many nice, cheaper wallets too.
He’s a real-life Nate Archibald. You love everything from his polo shirts to his heart-throbbing lacrosse skills. You are in luck, your man has great taste and appreciates fashion more than most other guys, and shopping for him may not require a trip to Sharper Image. Yay!
Bathrobe ($75, Ralph Lauren): My friend loved it when his girlfriend got him a bathrobe, and if you’ve been dating for a while, go for it. Otherwise avoid for the mildly suggestive connotations.
Scarf (Burberry, $295): A beanie is just a hat, but a scarf is a fashion statement. Dark blue, black, or rugby (as long as it’s pink-free) are typical guy colors.
Gloves (Timberland, $15): Great especially if you go to school in the Northeast. Good gift for new couples.
Sweater (Lacoste, $155): a safe choice for the beginning of a relationship. Tip: sneak into his closet to figure out his size for the brand you’re buying from.
Call him a nerd, a workaholic, but the man knows what he wants in the future. He’s super smart and crazy good at everything he does, and he’s devoted, too. He dreams big and isn’t afraid to pursue it. He’s not exactly into material things, but it doesn’t mean we can’t find a perfect gift for him.
Leather portfolio (Siskiyou, $54) – is he stressed out for interview season? Calm his nerves with this so he appears sharp and confident for Goldman Sachs.
North Face Jacket ($30 – $500) – a winter necessity that’s also waterproof, reversible and fashionable.
Sunglasses ($155, RayBan) – everyone needs sunglasses. Go for classic but still eye-popping shapes, such as the Ray Ban Wayfarer.
Magazine subscription—it sounds a little strange but my friend got a subscription for Fortune and really liked it (he’s an aspiring Fortune 500 CEO). You can also get a customized gift message if you subscribe for him online. Good gift for someone fresh out of the friend zone since it’s thoughtful but not too personal.
And remember, always write a cute note card to tell him what the gift means to you and him. It’s one thing to give him a camera, but it’s so much more memorable if you tell him you want him to use it to record his last year before graduation and you hope to be in many of the photos. Also, make sure the amount of money you spend is sensible. Keep it within the price range of the most recent gift you got from him; if you’ve never received anything from him before, keep it under $50.
As a bonus, here’s some advice from real guys to keep in mind
“Birthday sex is nice, but if that’s all you get for your boyfriend, some of us might be offended. A gift from you is special and represents what you think of us and what you think we need, and there’s a reason you’re our girlfriend instead of our hook up buddy.” –Ben, Senior, UCLA
“Don’t buy pants in general. Believe it or not, loose jeans need to fit too, they need to be tried on.”—Adam, Sophomore, UPenn
“Don’t mock us. If all of his friends make fun of him for being metro, don’t get him a Vineyard Vines tie. If you know he’s a hardcore nerd, don’t get him The Big Bang Theory DVDs.” – Ian, Junior, UCLA
“My ex-girlfriend once got me a Team Edward t-shirt. It wasn’t funny. AT ALL.”—Jimmy, Sophomore, Cornell
“Get us something that’ll last, something we can keep around and think of you when we see it.” — So if you want to cook/bake for him, take lots of pictures!—John, Junior, Stanford
“Don’t make us girly decorations to hang in the room. We’d be too embarrassed to hang them but we don’t want to disappoint you, so my roommate ended up taking it down and putting it up every time his girlfriend was over all last semester.”—Sam, Junior, Stanford
Have fun shopping!