Finding the perfect holiday gift can be maddening — is this the color they’d want? Is it something they already have? Is it so last year? — but really, once you have a sense of a person’s taste, it’s not impossible. This season, we’ll be talking to members of various tribes to find out exactly what to get that serious cook, or golf dad, or picky teen girl in your life. Think of it as a window into their brain trust — or, at least, a very helpful starting point. Today, 14 cis, straight guys on the stuff they want, from nice socks to better luggage.
“I always want to be gifted nice socks, because the socks I buy for myself are garbage socks.” — Brian Faucette, curator/director, Derek Eller Gallery
“I want this very nice thermos to keep my coffee hot on the train in the winter and my cocktail cold for the beach in the summer. This Edward Gorey T-shirt got stolen from me at summer camp when I was in middle school, and I just rediscovered it — I want another one.” — Faucette
“This fishing rod is easy to carry anywhere, even on a hiking trip. Also small enough for my 5 year-old son to hold — I’d like to teach him to fish soon.” — Mark De Pace, co-owner, Ghost Robot Productions
“I have another pair of New Balance sneakers that I like and that fit my wide feet really well. But these let you just pull them on, so you don’t need to retie your laces, and they look like they’d be not too bad to wear in and around the city when it’s all slushy and gross.” — De Pace
“I live in the Northwest where it’s damp, unpleasant, rainy, and increasingly snowy. I need a good, sensible wintertime coat. But I want the fancy version because I would never pay this much for it myself. I’m not that imaginative when it comes to brand names, and this is the obvious way to go. It’s like wanting a Mercedes. Is a Mercedes the nicest or the best car you can get? No, but it definitely sounds like you made it or something.” — Nathaniel Friedman, editor, Victory Journal
“People online have been talking about the Instant Pot for a while: It’s a combo slow cooker, pressure cooker, rice cooker, steamer, and yogurt maker, and it does each thing perfectly. On top of that, it allows you to cook things really quickly that you would normally need days to do — like giant, complicated pieces of meat. I haven’t tried it, but people love it. It’s like the silver bullet of cooking, apparently.” — Andrew Siebengartner, high-school Latin and Greek teacher
“So I’m 36 now, and I don’t travel a ton, but I travel enough, so I want to have adult-looking luggage. I don’t ever want to check bags, but I also don’t want to be carrying my weird duffel bag around at this point in life. Having resisted for a long time the idea of a rolly bag, I now see that they are actually useful and good and make your life easier. And these are pretty affordable for what you get.” — Siebengartner
“The difference between good red-wine vinegar and bad red-wine vinegar just makes the salad. If you mix the smallest amount of this vinegar with oil, salt, and pepper, then dress some nice lettuce with it, people will be like, ‘What is in this salad?!’ It opens up the flavors of lettuces and goes great on a bitter green like radicchio because it’s a little bit sweet. I also like handmade things in general. This pottery is sturdy, well-made, cheap, and beautiful. I love the dinner bowls, but she also makes great serving bowls and mugs.” — Ben Dickinson, film writer and director
“Having really nice, comfy house slippers is the jam, but I would never think ‘I need to buy house slippers.’ I’m usually too focused on buying something else. I wouldn’t wear these out on the street for the day, but they’re the best house slippers ever. They’re not sexy or cool, but seriously one of the best gifts ever.” — Jeremy Kirkland, host of Blamo! podcast
“I really appreciate timeless books about food, and I like Action Bronson a lot. I went to see him live in Paris then started to learn more about him. He’s a crazy, talented artist and an unconditional lover of food. As a French person, I appreciate cakes, too. A little Cedric Grolet box filled with small pastries is always welcome.” — Yassine Rahal, model
“I also enjoy traveling a lot; little gadgets for adventures make me happy, too, like these Beats wireless headphones or a drone. Other than that, I’m not a very materialistic person, so a great Christmas Eve with my friends and family reunited is all I need.” — Rahal
“There are a bunch of different designs, and my wife has given me two so far: one right before each of our children was born. By Christmas, we hope to be moving into a little house we built in L.A., so that seems like another good occasion to add one of these to the collection. It’s a nice way to mark big changes.” — Shinya Hasegawa, clothing designer and founder of Battenwear
“Stephen Powers’s Icy Signs shop is right where we used to live in Brooklyn. I go to New York regularly to keep an eye on our brand’s production in Manhattan’s Garment District, but I don’t make it out as often as I would like to our old neighborhood in Brooklyn. So, I like to have Stephen Powers’s work up in my office and home to remind me of one of my favorite places. I like this ‘For You I Am Here’ one in particular, and have had my eye on it for a while, but any of them would be great.” — Hasegawa
“I guess a great gift would be something that has a utility and spurs me to use it for something I consider productive. I’ve been daydreaming about my first thru-hike of one of the big trails for a long time, and I think it’s finally close to the time. I’ve also been wanting to upgrade my gear for years with a tent, plus a shell jacket and sleeping bag, so it seems an appropriate time to start from scratch and go as light as I can, while maintaining a little bit of comfort. Either that or a dog.” — Boru O’Brien O’Connell, photographer and video artist
“I have one other Ruscha book, and I just lust after his entire series of self-published books. Also, although I am not a big Disney fan, after a lapse of 25 years, I have gone three times in the past year to the parks. I’m not interested in the rides per se, but now examine how the Imagineers have solved architecture, graphic, and landscape solutions. And the endless people-watching.” — Jim Heimann, editor, Taschen
“This is just a very simple, abstract cutout Matisse-looking thing. I’m a new dad, so as I’m thinking about gifts I want, I’m also thinking about things for my son. I like the idea of introducing him to colors gradually. Right now, all his toys are like unpainted wood pretty much, it’s like a Montessori thing. I’m also an admirer of Alec Soth’s work, and this particular project documents the refuges people create to escape civilization.” — Aaron Luckman, art handler
“I want this book, but I think it might be a very California thing — or it’s perfect for somebody who just has yearnings for California in the cold winter.” — Ben Bromley, music producer
“In lieu of fragrances, I like essential oils in earthy scents, like cedar, vetiver, or pine. You can just balance them yourself and use that as a fragrance.” — Bromley
“I like looking fresh, but I also don’t put a lot of energy into it. So a pair of interesting classic sneakers that are adaptable but occasionally get a compliment are right in the pocket. I also have a watch-collecting problem. I have plans to give my watches away to my nephews when they’re old enough, but would want the really fucking nice watch, so I can hand it down one day. That it’s an heirloom automatically.” — Charlie Hewson, actor and musician
“In the freezing cold of winter, are you really going to go to the gym? You’re probably not. So a treadmill is great, but a treadmill is also huge, it’s just a giant, beastly, gnarly thing. But the fold-up version fits in the corner of a room, and when you want to use it, it swings down like a Murphy bed.” — Daniel H. Gallancy, software start-up CEO
“I’ve gotten really into Chartreuse. There’s the regular version, which is fine, but then there’s the fancier version called VEP, which is aged. Chartreuse is one of the only liqueurs that actually still ages in the bottle. In that sense, it has this one weird characteristic like wine, even though it tastes nothing like wine. If you want to go one step further, there are actual Chartreuse vintages that are hard to come by, but I think that’s really interesting, and I’d be pumped to receive that.” — Gallancy
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