DON’T PANIC: Last-Minute Gift Ideas for the Gentleman in Your Life.

I’m going to be straight with you: it’s December 20. Whatever you’re holiday orientation, it’s likely you’re buying gifts for someone. If you’ve waited until the last minute like some people I know (not me–I get that shit done by December 10 every year, but I’m claustrophobic and generally object to strangers touching me), fear not.

Whether you’re looking for stocking stuffers or something more, here are five ideas that dudes in your life will appreciate. Plus, they’re widely available so you don’t need to order online or (gasp) go to a big box store.

1. For the Gentleman

Few gifts are classier than shaving equipment upgrades. I love buying people grooming gifts (and getting them–thanks, Michael!), as I think most folks cut corners in this department, yet a good product can really turn around your day. Here are a few options, but look to your local drugstore, etc. for available stock. Boston’s Colonial Drug is an amazing option for those of us near the Bay State, but weird specialty stores are everywhere

Shaving Bowl from Kinsley, $6.

Shaving brush--this one's only $9!

Most dudes don’t shave with a brush, but being forced to slow down gives you a few quiet, meditative moments to yourself while you shave. Plus you get a way closer shave than you do just smacking on some gel like a college student.

Round this out with a shaving cream from Kiehl’s , and you’ve just made someone’s morning brighter.

2. For the Book Nerd (or, as a public service, for the Philistine)

A lot of people don’t read, which is extremely depressing, especially to a writer (that’s me!) The publishing industry is especially convinced that “men don’t read fiction” (or anything but books on war history or whatever) and, hence, reinforces gross gender binary stereotypes by gearing fiction toward middle-aged white women by publishing book after pandering book about sisterhood, friendship, and white ladies saving Black people.

Help stop the madness. Skip the coffee table book unless you’re buying the Alexander McQueen Exhibition Catalog (which, by the way, the Met is offering $1 express shipping on if you order it by noon tomorrow). There’s no “man book list” (DUMB) but I’ve read several books this year that were spectacular reads,whatever your gender.

I really enjoyed these two blockbusters:

But I read a million books worth your consideration this year, including this amazing bit of reportage:

And my favorite book of the year is most definitely:

Other books I loved this year include Jeffrey Eugenides’ third novel, The Marriage Plot and Karen Russel’s Swamplandia!. I just read Stephen Elliot’s The Adderall Diaries–a year late, but it was fantastic. A book I’m desperate to read but haven’t yet is Justin Torres’ debut  novella, We the Animals. Go to your local bookstore–I’m sure something will jump out at you. (One of my favorite go-to books is Best American Nonrequired Reading, which comes out every year around this time and is all stories picked by high school students, including–usually–some of my former brood, which makes me doubly sure of their editorial taste.)

3. For the Pragmatist

You cannot go wrong with a beautiful scarf, especially if you live in a place with subzero temperatures (and everyone knows that Bay Area folks should be prepared with scarfs for all seasons). Scarves don’t have sizes, and you can find something that fits perfectly within a friend’s aesthetic, or play it safe with a handsome piece that anyone would love.

Woolrich Woolen Mills - Chatnam Scarf for the big spender.

I personally prefer less chunky scarves, due to having a smaller noggin. Consider the size of the skull when determining the thickness of the knit, and you’ll be good to go.

4. For the Open-Minded

I’m a huge believer in buying folks things they wouldn’t typically buy themselves, but would be so amped to do. Gift certificates can seem impersonal, but experience certificates are the jam. Here is a very small list of experiences you can dial up right now and go pick up at your local purveyor of fun/health:

A set of five acupuncture sessions at your local community acupuncturist (when in doubt, use Yelp).

A course/set of classes in welding/cooking/wine tasting/yoga/sailing/archery/straight razor shaving how-to/whatever the dude’s into.

A tarot card reading! I know you can connect with Michelle Tea if you would like a hilarious, brilliant queer writer to read your cards.

Etc.! The sky’s the limit.

5. For the Sensate

The idea that the dude-ish among us don’t enjoy baths or bath products is irritating to me. I love things that smell good and if you don’t, I’m not sure what’s going on with you but probably I don’t care, because you smell bad. A bath is fantastic! So is a face mask. Tell your nervous friend to get secure in his masculinity so he can properly enjoy his life.

Here are a few relaxation products that don’t smell like perfume, so your pal can feel very manly while his pores open and all the toxins leave his body:

Baxter of CA Clarifying Mask -- $15.

And for the shower:

Anthony Logistics Mud Scrub Exfoliating Bar $12.50.

For post-BATH:

St. James Talcum Powder - Chamomile with Wheatgerm, $12.

Finally, a face scrub that is also the best smell in the universe:

Clarins Men Face Scrub, $12.50.

These are just examples, but the point is that you can find something that hits the gift-giving sweet spot at this late date without resorting to buying some crap from the mall. You got this! To happy shopping, bigger brains,  and better grooming!


About Thomas Page McBee

Gentleman first, always. James Dean is my patron saint, poet is my gender. More about me here:


  1. Very timely indeed, Monsieur McBee. I have just such a particular fellow to shop for and this is an excellent list. You just may become my new favorite personal shopper!

  2. I hate the Men Don’t Read Fiction thing. Multiple people have expressed surprise that our book club is coed. Men Read Fiction. The especially brave ones even read fiction written by women!

IBC LOVES your brain, and we encourage thoughtful, lively discussion. We will, however, moderate comments that are abusive or disrespectful. Stay classy!

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