From fathers to brothers to lovers, Hetty Chidwick runs through some smart ideas for Christmas presents for the men in your life
Do you break into sweat at the first mention of Christmas shopping? Never fear: here at Country Life we start putting ideas together from July, so we now have a comprehensive view on what to bestow upon lucky friends and family. It is often deemed impossible to conjure up ideas for men’s presents year after year. Men are notoriously difficult to buy for, and for boyfriends we tend to use up all our best ideas early on. Here are some fresh suggestions.
Let’s start at the bottom and work our way up…
For your boyfriend or husband, steer clear of bulk packs of socks (or boxers); nothing will kill romance or mystery quicker on Christmas day. If you do choose to go down the underwear route, it’s worth getting him something special: invest in some luxurious socks from The London Sock Company, who make pairs in a rainbow of colours (steer clear of lilac)
Buying one really special pair is more momentous…well, as momentous as sock giving can be. But, now you can get smart box sets, or even subscriptions, meaning your lucky chap will get a pair sent through the post every month. Again, I’m not sure this will set his heart on fire, but jolly useful and keeps you on his mind. Quiet Rebellion, a newer brand, have fun ones (with a subscription option) with zigzags or tropical fruit patterns on the foot (not ankle). A Gentleman never flashes too much colour but these keep it well hidden, so these are perfect.
Boxer short wise, stick to cotton. After having tried a few pairs myself Thomas Pink make the comfiest ones, the fabric is thick and luxurious, and they wash like a dream, lasting forever. Last year’s Christmas packaging included tissue, a lovely box and jingle bells attached to its ribbon: very fitting!
Sirplus boxer shorts are cool, and will go down better with the eco conscious, they make theirs using ‘cabbage’ – which sounds ominous, but is actually surplus fabric bought from other bigger brands which would otherwise go to waste.
Needless to say in terms of underwear, vests are a no-no, as are any other briefs than boxers.
Braces can make a good present, if you must, for a fun uncle or godfather type. Cordings have a lovely selection, thankfully free from novelty options.
Men don’t carry many accoutrements around with them, so a wallet can often say a lot about a gent. Universally appreciated, wallets are a great present for a grandfather, brother, boyfriend or even the tricky office Secret Santa – but only if you really like them. The best of the bunch are from Ettinger, Aspinal, Collett and Scott and Noble Macmillan.
Tech and games
These are great presents for almost any man you’re close to: boyfriends, husbands, fathers and brothers will all appreciate a lovely Ipad case. Smythson, William & Son or Aspinal make the best quality, most attractive cases I have seen.
For an extra touch, get the case embossed with his initials, which makes the present so much more personal and only adds a small amount to the bill.
Year-round I am asked by my girlfriends where is best to get a travel backgammon set for their boyfriends, and the answer is Noble Macmillan.
Both beautiful and affordable, these sets come in red or blue; I would go for blue. You can get this embossed too, and if it’s a present for your man, you can play together on the exotic holiday he will whisk you away on, so impressed will he be at your present-buying prowess.
Watches, pens, cufflinks
If you’re feeling generous, treat your loved one to a watch- although this really is only a gift for a husband or long-term boyfriend. Choosing one solo can be tricky as a man really likes to know what he is wearing on his wrist. You can’t go wrong with a simple Swatch, he will be sure to wear it at some stage, and, although you can’t sleep with them in the room (the watch, that is – it has the loudest tick) they are fun and comfortable and have an understated cool, for those who don’t like to make too much of a statement.
For something a little more special look to Bremont for a British made watch, beautifully crafted and elegantly manly. It’s practical and made for wearing on the go, whether that’s to the office or up a mountain.
For an elegant and affordable smart watch, that doesn’t look like one, go for Frederick Constant, you get the Swiss watch look but with smart techy features linking to your Iphone.
If he is a thank you letter writer, and we certainly hope he is, then a fountain pen is a lovely present, and will deserve a top-notch thank you letter of its own. The obvious Montblanc is timeless but ST Dupont and Montegrappa (Country Life Editor Mark Hedges’ pen of choice) are more original.
Our latest issue of Gentleman’s Life has an excellent selection of cufflinks – which are a fine present for almost every man, from young to old. Most men’s brands dip their toes in with small collections, but if you want a proper grown-up pair, Deakin & Francis have hundreds of designs for anything a boy might be into – from tractors to lobsters – although be careful as prices easily run into four figures.
Longmire make wonderful hand painted enamel cufflinks, which are miniature works of art, and the perfect heirloom but they’re also a pretty wallet-busting option.
For fun, quirky cufflinks Patrick Mavros is always a good bet. His African-themed creations always go down well with gents of all ages.
Gone are the days when joke bar of soap will cut it for your brother. Men are getting more seriously into their grooming and there are some very fine gift options here.
Taylors of Old Bond Street and Geo F Trumpers make top quality old fashioned shaving sets, with Taylor’s offering a natty little travel set, with mini brush and razor which makes a great present for the regular traveler who can’t bear a disposable.
Floris have introduced their new, rather stylish, Gentleman’s collection recently. The packaging is extremely smart and (I am assured) the shaving cream is up there with the best.
If you really want to spoil them, pick Acqua di Parma’s Collezione Barbiere. Divinely scented, and slick packaging. Just beware; the recipient will get expensive taste after sampling the best.
* For a present sure to please all the men in your life, look no further then a subscription to Country Life.
** More people to buy for? Read our Christmas gift guide for children.