gifts for men

The season for gift-giving is here, with “Cyber Monday” around the corner. Later I’ll be offering some tips and gifts to help you to buy for that new girlfriend or crush…but first, I want to help you with some ideas for you, or a buddy, or a male relative. Or perhaps you’re a woman who’s wandered in here and needs some help with a holiday present for the boyfriend. Manly gifts, you get the idea.

The way I’m going to go about it this year is to borrow a page from Oprah’s book and offer my favorite things. It’s the stuff I’d want for Christmas, if I didn’t already have it. Every testimonial is unbiased and based on my true experience. The links are to the product pages at Amazon, and I do get a small amount of money when you buy there. (So please do.)

Kodak Zi8 Video Camera

Kodak Zi8 video camera

About two months ago I treated myself to a Kodak Zi8 pocket video camera, and so far my only disappointment is that I didn’t get one sooner. If you’ve been looking at Flip cameras, this is Kodak’s version but with the added features of an SD card slot for removable/extra storage, and a mic input for superior audio. The Kodak also sports video stabilization (beware of a video camera that doesn’t), and a large viewing screen for its size and price.

Since getting this little beauty, I’ve been videoing everything in sight: sporting events, parties, and I’ve even been acting as cat paparazzi. In fact, I’ll be bringing you some video posts right here, courtesy of this little gem.

Wool Overcoat

BGSD 3/4-Length Cashmere Blend Coat

I’ve gone over the 6 items of clothing every man should own, and if you’re missing one or two, it could be the rare occasion when clothing is acceptable as a holiday gift. Even better, drop some heavy hints that you’ve got your eye on a kick-ass overcoat.

Once the weather turns cold, I turn to my black wool walking coat [another pre-Christmas sell-out—here’s the similar BGSD Three Quarter Length Cashmere Blend Coat] to keep me warm and resist light moisture. A walking coat runs to about the knee and will give you a more sophisticated look. If you want to stay casual, go for a classic pea coat like this one.

Iron Gym

Iron Gym pull-up bar

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: value for money, the Iron Gym is the best piece of fitness equipment I own. If you have a standard-size door with a standard molding above it, pull-ups with an Iron Gym will help you to mold your body. It’s also useful for push-ups, giving you a hand grip and a bit more range of motion. Read my full Iron Gym review for more of what it does and doesn’t do well.

Best of all, it’s cheap: the basic Iron Gym can be had for under $30, and the “Xtreme Edition” Iron Gym was $38 last time I looked. That would be a “stocking stuffer” price, if you could fit it into a stocking.

Every Man Jack Grooming Kit

Every Man Jack Products

[Note: Amazon seems to have sold through their entire stock of Every Man Jack grooming kits. Instead I recommend The Art of Shaving 4 Elements of The Perfect Shave Starter Kit, or choose from the entire line of Every Man Jack products here.] I’ve had the pleasure to sample a few Every Man Jack products, including their face lotion, shave gel and body wash, and they’re all not only superior products, but the Every Man Jack line is made without a lot of the more questionable ingredients out there, like sodium laureth sulfate and phthalates. There are scented and unscented versions of most of their products. I have a particular soft spot for their shave gel—and that soft spot is my beard.

The perfect introduction to Every Man Jack might be the Every Man Jack Beginner’s Luck Kit, which includes shave gel, body wash, face lotion, body bar and face scrub along with a dopp kit for travel. They’re available from Amazon in citrus and signature mint. If you’d rather sample their stuff a la carte and in person, you can find a full line of their products at Target, which should give you a clue about their value.

Apple iPhone

Apple iPhone 4

Oprah declared the iPad her all-time “favorite thing,” and I hope to be getting one myself at some point, but until then, my number-one favorite is the device that started the revolution in mobile phones, the iPhone. Yes, there are other options, like the hundreds of Android phones, but few offer the sheer simplicity of an Apple device. In addition, there are so many more apps for the iPhone, from versions of the latest console video games to business apps and navigation programs.

My iPhone has bailed me out on many occasions, provided all the directions and info I needed on vacation in Kauai (did you know Hawaii has almost 100% 3G coverage?), saved me from boredom with news and articles, and has been the go-to for movie-night choices. If you don’t want or need a phone but want most of the other features, you might consider an iPod Touch—in fact, you can use Face Time video chat with wi-fi on the Touch, bypassing the cell providers entirely!

What are your favorite things? If I get enough, I might compile another list of reader picks.

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With one week until Christmas, you may be sweating the eventual trip to the jam-packed mall to do battle with the masses over the ugly sweaters and iPod knockoffs that remain. I have done this, and found myself waiting in enormous lines to buy pitiful crap that the recipient must then pretend he likes.

Don’t do it.

Let me give you a few options for your buddy, your boyfriend or yourself. Options that are recommended by those who own them, with attractively low prices. The best part is, via Amazon.com you can order these up with two-day or overnight shipping.

Iron Gym Total Upper Body Workout Bar

Iron gym pull-up barI just ordered one of these for myself — the recommendations are awesome. This device fits in most doorways (and doesn’t require bolts or screws) and enables you to do pull-ups whenever you feel like it. You can also use it on the floor to make push-ups easier, and even to hold your feet for sit-ups. The Iron Gym folks also say it lets you do dips, but the range of motion for those dips is so limited you’d be better off using a sturdy bench.

But for pull-ups most Amazon users swear by it.

With this you’ll be able to do virtually the entire no-weights workout at home, giving you a workout option anytime you have a spare 20 minutes.

Kenneth Cole Reaction Men’s Wool Pea Coat

Kenneth Cole pea coatIf you’re going to buy him an article of clothing, you can’t go wrong with a basic pea coat. They’re great for any occasion that isn’t formal, they work with button-downs, t-shirts or sweaters, jeans or slacks, and best of all they keep you warm.

The Kenneth Cole name won’t do you wrong here. It’s 80% wool, which means it’s warm, and it comes in black or charcoal. Just remember that pea coats tend to run a bit large in size, because they’re meant to be overcoats. They also require dry cleaning, but as long as you don’t spill on it or perspire heavily without a shirt on under it, you should only really need to have it cleaned once a year, before you put it away for the warmer months.

You’ll feel like the guy from the Old Spice commercials — except you’ll smell better (as long as you stay off the Old Spice).

Garmin nüvi 260W 4.3-Inch Widescreen Portable GPS Navigator

Garmin nuviPersonally I don’t use a GPS — any directions I need I get with my iPhone and Google Maps. But most of my friends love their GPSes, so who am I to stand in the way of that?

This Garmin is the most popular GPS at Amazon (here’s the whole list), and after 493 reviews has an incredible four-and-a-half-star rating. What about the features? Glad you asked. It has a 4.3-inch screen with 2D and 3D map modes, turn-by-turn voice guidance that reads street names, a rechargeable battery, and a touchscreen with a JPEG picture viewer, world travel clock, currency and measurement converter, calculator and more. You can use it in the car or on foot. It comes preloaded with North American maps, and more features are optional via an SD card slot.

If you or someone you know is directionally challenged, stop driving in circles or pulling off at every other gas station. This small investment can pay off in saved time alone.

A word to the wise though: don’t leave a GPS (or even the suction-cup mount) visible in your unattended car. Thieves love them as much as my friends do.

Rules of the Game

Rules of the GameNeil Strauss’ original book about his experiences as a pickup artist, The Game, is an all-time bestseller on Amazon. For that reason you may not want to give that book as a gift: chances are your friend/boyfriend/husband has already read it.

Instead, if the guy you’re giving the book to is unattached, get him the sequel by Strauss, Rules of the Game. Where The Game was a story about “Style’s” experiences, Rules is a handbook for meeting women and convincing them to go out with you. It includes word-for-word routines and steps you through the whole process, from openers to getting her home.

Keep in mind that Strauss “works” mostly in the world of nightclubs, which requires a different touch than, say, a supermarket or art gallery. You won’t want to breathlessly recite the “two girls fighting” opener to a girl you see at the bookstore, and not every guy is cut out to dress up like a rock star (for example, I give you Jon Gosselin). However, there are some useful tips you can use in your daily life, and the book is full of stories from Strauss’ life among the party culture of LA.

However, if the guy you’re buying for does happen to have a wife or girlfriend, a better choice might be The Book of Basketball. Bill Simmons is such a good writer he almost makes me care about basketball, plus every minute I spend reading him is a minute I’m not reading Rick Reilly or Mitch Albom. Or if he’s not into sports, get him something by Chuck Klosterman — dude is funny.

I hope this has helped. If so, now you’re golden until his birthday. No, a beer bong is not appropriate then, either.

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Christmas Gifts for Men: Weights

December 14, 2009 Health & Fitness

I talk a lot about the importance of working out, and one of the best ways to fit a workout into your daily life is to have a set of weights at home. My dumbbell set is great in combination with some no-weights exercises on the days when I can’t do a full gym workout. […]

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Christmas Gifts for Men: The Shaving Kit

December 9, 2009 Grooming

With Christmas around the corner, I thought it might be a good idea to offer a few ideas for that man on your Xmas list…or for yourself. Let’s start with something every man (except maybe Zach Galifianakis) needs: a close, smooth shave. The kind that doesn’t come from a quick slathering from a can of […]

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